Every year, the International Prize For Arabic Fiction invites emerging writers to “nadwa”, a workshop at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort, where they can develop their skills with two established authors. This month, Emirati author Lamees Yousef took part. Her novel Rock, Paper, Scissors was published in 2014, and her follow-up, White Clothes in the Cooking Pot, is due out soon.
“Nadwa was an astounding experience, not least because I was chosen to participate by one of my favourite authors in the Arabic world, Mohammed Hasan Alwan. I was able to work with him on my new novel, but it was also so good to meet authors from various Arabic countries, discover their different writing techniques and ideas, and exchange opinions and constructive criticism on the scripts we wrote during the nadwa.
“So what did we learn? How to build up a strong plot, write a structured sequence of events, pick the perfect words and sentence length, build various different characters and pay attention to the details that we tend to forget as upcoming writers.
“Previous nadwa writers have gone on to be shortlisted or even win the IPAF, and of course any author would consider it an honour to receive an award like that.
“IPAF has a very high literary value. It’s played a very important role in the encouragement of reading, and also in the translation of winning works into other languages, but to win shouldn’t be the main goal for an author: we should focus simply on improving writing skills.”