My Story: Crafting Personal Life into Art


The strongest stories are often personal ones because you have lived the experience and recount that experience from the heart. Yet, how can you transform mere biographical/anecdotal accounts and cringing naval-gazing material into thought-provoking and touching tales that will fascinate the audience of your choice? In My Story, you will gain valuable, and practical, tips on how to shape real-life experience into compelling works of fiction.

Areas Covered

Session #1: Crafting
• Why tell personal tales?
• When is telling a personal tale appropriate?
• Different types of personal tales
• How to crafting your personal story

Session #2: Polishing
• Review of the story that you have crafted
• Tips on how to polish the story

Pre-Workshop Preparation

For Participants

Please bring:
  • pen/pencil and paper or laptop/tablet for the writing exercises
  • a personal object or picture of sentimental value that represents the aspect of your personal life that you would like to fictionalise.

For Organisers

Please provide:

  • a quiet, fair-sized room that allows all participants to sit (with writing surfaces), preferably in a large circle or U-shape formation
  • pens/pencils & paper for participants (if they require)
  • a large whiteboard/flipchart and pens
  • copies of handouts that will be emailed prior to the workshop.


Participants' Feedback


What aspects of this workshop benefitted you the most?

“The writing exercises, small intimate setting, the facilitated critiquing of each other’s writing & Verena’s own life examples from her body of work.”

 Wong Kwei Ming

“Feedback on the style of writing. Being given direction.”

 Matthew Rickard

“Exercising my mind in storytelling. In particular, the need to have the ‘concrete’ bit; having an anchor. What can I say? It’s just right.”

 Chew Lip Heng

“(a) Methodology. (b) Frame work. (c) Scenario. Great!!!”

Alvin Lee

 “Practical steps in capturing and writing down all the pieces and nuggets of stories collected, for a walk towards completing a decent piece of work.”

Catherine Erica Cheok

“The sharing. The interaction with the other classmates & hearing their thoughts. Have more please!”

Jeanne Wong

“Understanding how the ‘nugget’ works and leading questions to guide me in my writing. Wonderful setting.”

Brenda Tan

“Think it was really a great workshop. I never knew I could write stories!”


“The writing prompts & the sharing.”

Aster Goh

“The actual act of writing.”

Michelle Lim

“Group space and personal space / time to write! Just getting started is good.”

Melissa Kwee

“The workshop helped me start thinking and writing.”

 Peh Hanying

“Getting given prompts to take my writing in a different direction.”

 Annabel Drysdale

“The actual process of writing and the prompts Verena gave during the third & final round of writing. It is helpful to get someone else to prompt you to explore a direction/area you never would’ve considered.”


“The guided process of writing – that helped/forced me to just start writing something. And in doing so – just writing my thoughts – I found it quite cathartic.”

 Jerry Ong

“I’ve always love to write but all I write is reports (and other work-related things). I loved the opportunity to write a bit of fiction (partial). I also really enjoyed hearing other people’s stories! A lot of fun. Verena gives great comments!”

 Cheryl Chung

"Verena was a good writing instructor who conducted the workshop well. Imparted great skills to aspiring writers."

Sim Chong Teck

"Listening to a range of perspectives and learning how different 'objects' can be very authentic, quirky. Advice to be true to self.
Thanks. I wanted a kickstart to my writing and I got it."


"Verena knew her 'stuff' & guided us well in our writing & thinking."

Lee Mei Chuen

"Verena's input on how a piece of writing can be improved, e.g. instead of just using adjectives, use concrete description."

Renee Ho

"Recalling my particular objects, ideas, situations/occasions which are importantn/fascinated/bugged me. Consider ways of distancing your story from yourself."

Jessie Seng

About the Facilitator

A Singaporean writer, editor, storyteller and theatre practitioner, Verena Tay has published a short story collection, Spectre: Stories from Dark to Light (2012), and three play collections, and edited various fiction anthologies, including the bestselling Balik Kampung series of short stories published by Math Paper Press. She possesses three Masters: English Literature (National University of Singapore, 1993); Voice Studies (Central School of Speech and Drama, London, 2005); and Creative Writing (City University of Hong Kong, 2015). Since 2005, she has been helping people to improve their communication skills and has taught voice, speech and presentation skills, storytelling and creative writing.