Monthly Archives: January 2016
There are many types and subtypes of writing services to choose from when you decide you want to become a writer/author. Decide which area suits you best and begin to explore the options in that area. Ex: script writing Explore the areas where scripts are used: writing for movies, television or theater would be the places to start to research how your skill could be used in that area. Then make it even more specific as to the type of writing within that area.
Continue to search until you find an exact area where you can experience contributing something you have written. You will begin to identify if the area you are trying to work in is a match for you and your level of skill. If you need to get additional training to improve in the area of your choice, you can locate the exact type of training you need to improve in your area.
Narrowing the focus will help you to find the area that is a match for you. Keeping your search too broad will have you trying to go in too many directions and that wastes your creative energy. You will hear of this process of narrowing your focus referred to as drilling down, chunking down, bite sizing, refining and other references to moving from a larger to smaller areas of selection.
Select one area at a time to review and if it is not something you really enjoy when you reach the final specific area then try researching in a similar area with a slightly different end point. This will allow you to use the bigger area topic and all of the research you have done and fine tune to another part of that larger area.
It is very much like deciding to move to a state, then choosing a city in that state, then an area of that city until you find the area that suits you best. Writing can really show off your skill if you will fine tune your final type of writing to a general area then a more specific area that really showcases you and your ability. Make it fun for yourself as you discover the area of writing services you want to offer to your readers.
There are four main problems with most creative writing courses:
- they usually cost a lot of money
- they aren’t very flexible – you have to study set topics when they tell you to
- some of them have a high drop-out rate – they put you off writing when they should be supporting and encouraging you
- some of them can take a year or two of intensive study, when most people would rather be getting on with some real writing, and perhaps making some money from it
We each have different ways of learning, so what suits me might not suit you. But here’s what I would do if I was starting from scratch today:
(1) I’d start by signing up for a local creative writing class for beginners – probably an evening course at a school or college. These are usually short courses, inexpensive, and the perfect introduction to the subject.
(2) Then I’d read ‘The Creative Writing Coursebook’ by Julia Bell and Paul Magrs, and do all the exercises in it (that’s very important).
This book is based on the Creative Writing course run by the University of East Anglia in the UK. Many well-known writers began their careers there, and it has an excellent reputation. For those of us who are unable to attend the real course, this is the next best thing – and much cheaper!
It’s a big book with lots of exercises, so while this might not be the fastest option, it is a thorough one. But you can work at your own pace; you can skip the parts that don’t interest or apply to you; and you can work on your own writing projects while you’re learning.
(3) Next, I’d look for an intermediate/advanced creative writing class in my local area, or perhaps in the nearest city, just to polish up my skills and meet people again after all that book learning.
(4) My next step would be to submit a piece of writing to a professional editor or critique service (they advertise in all the writing magazines). This would show me where my weaknesses were – plotting, characterisation, description, or whatever it might be.
Another good option would be to enter some writing competitions that give detailed feedback on each entry. I’d send the same piece of writing to each of them, because the judges might have different opinions. This would be cheaper than a professional critique, but it would take much longer to receive the feedback. When all the responses had been returned I’d look through them to see what the judges agreed were my weak points.
(5) I’d then look for a course that covered those specific problem areas, or find some books on those topics – again making sure I did all the exercises in them to get the full benefit.
(6) With those topics mastered, and my former weaknesses turned into strengths, I’d submit another piece of writing for professional review, or enter it for a few competitions, to find out whether it was now up to standard or if I needed further tuition.
(7) I’d repeat this process until:
- the feedback said my work was of a professional standard in all aspects
- or I won a notable competition, or at least a handful of smaller ones
- or I started getting published regularly
- or I stopped learning anything new
When I reached that point, I’d know it was time to stop learning and start writing for real.
Whatever you do, don’t just dive in and start writing without taking the time to learn how it works. I made that mistake at the start of my career, and wasted three entire years. Take a little time to learn the basics: how to structure a story properly; how to make your characters and plots realistic; how to create drama and tension; how to vary the pace; when to switch viewpoints and when not to; the proper way to set out a manuscript and submit it for publication; what editors, agents and publishers are looking for; and so on.
There’s a lot to learn, but it should be enormous fun. And there will always be other people at the same stage as you who would welcome a new friend to share their ideas and problems with. Perhaps you could form a small writing group with some of the other students from the classes you took.
Brainstorming creative writing ideas is the first step in the creative writing process. Most writers find it very difficult to come up with original and creative writing ideas. This is partly due to the fact that man discovered the art of writing eons ago and writers have written about almost every topic under the sun since then. Though the list of subjects to write about is non-exhaustive and humans themselves have a lot in their inner world to write about, it is slightly difficult to come up with something original.
Nevertheless, creative writers still have much hope. A slightly different perspective can show the world in a different light altogether and help you write a totally different story. At a time when writers used a straight, plain narrative or a surreal narrative to convey their stories, Ambrose Bierce came up with “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” Although it has a very simple plot about a man about to be hanged, the innovative and unique way of narrating the story manages to hold the readers’ attention till the very end. This proves that creative writing ideas need not be extraordinary but can be about the simplest of things happening around us, provided that the presentation is different and catchy.
Likewise, the concept of Anterograde Amnesia has been used so often in movies and literature that all of us thought that nothing was left untold. However, Jonathan Nolan had a lot of creative writing ideas and wrote the short story “Memento Mori.” Perhaps only then did people realize that for the first time, the helplessness and suffering of the condition had been portrayed effectively. With his unique way of narration, he ensures that the reader himself experiences the condition along with the protagonist. Such was the beauty of this concept that Christopher Nolan adapted it into a screenplay and made the movie ‘Memento’ using a non-linear narrative technique. This movie won several accolades and continues to be a cult favorite. It is important to observe your surroundings and use your imagination to develop characters and plots.
Newspapers are often the best place to find interesting plots and characters. Among all those events happening around the world, you may find one which may interest you and inspire new ideas.
There are also numerous websites that offer creative writing ideas and prompts to budding writers. You may begin by exercising your imagination and writing skills on one of these ideas. Once you have learned to view and analyze things in a different perspective, you may start writing about things which come to your mind more naturally.
And for those of us who find it extremely difficult to come up with creative writing ideas, there are also websites which offer writing tips and techniques. For instance, we know that every work of art is based on the human emotions which are very few in number. And most of the stories and movies are mainly about a conflict. Although the nature of the conflict can be different (a war, conflict in a relationship or a conflict between nature and the machines etc), the basics remain constant. All you need is two characters (or two families or gangs or communities) and a conflict, which takes place between them. You may then develop the characters and subplots to strengthen the story.
The advantage of developing creative writing ideas this way is that there are infinite permutations and combinations and you may selectively use the basic concepts in a systematic way to come up with a slightly different way of telling the story. It is also a good idea to seek help from professionals for creative writing ideas. Creative writing services offer to help with ideas, write or add to a work, and edit into a final draft.
Choosing a creative writing course may seem easy, but there are lots of important points to think about before making a final decision. Putting a little effort into research at this stage can save a lot of heartache, and wasted money, later. Follow the advice below and the outcome should be a course that delivers on both creative writing content and practical needs.
What to Consider
Any decision about which course to choose should include, at the very least, the following considerations:
• type of creative writing course – there are full time, home study, night classes and residential courses available
• subjects covered – some courses cover all types of creative writing, some only cover certain aspects, such as short stories or non-fiction books
• regulation or accreditation – colleges who are regulated or accredited need to have course materials, tutors and administration that meets the high standards required for membership
• price – this varies widely depending on what type of course you do
• time limit – there are creative writing courses that last six months, others have no time limits on them
• depth of study – complete beginners usually require a different kind of creative writing course than someone who is experienced
• publication or pleasure – creative writing courses that teach about writing for publication will contain different information to those designed to help writers improve for pleasure only
• certificate or diploma – there are creative writing courses that offer certificates and diplomas upon completion, others emphasise the benefit of the course is a portfolio of published work
• funding – some creative writing courses qualify for funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans in the UK, others do not
• tutor experience – course tutors may be published writers, or they could simply be people who have a knowledge of the publishing world but no experience of being a writer themselves
Practical Considerations To Think About
Practical considerations are just as important as what the course contains. There’s no point enrolling on a course that requires attendance at classes if the college is 100 miles away! So, if the course is taught by night-classes or full or part-time attendance at a college, it would be wise to:
o attend open-days to look around the campus, meet your potential class-mates and evaluate the tutors
o find out class times and length
o determine the distance of the college from your home
o locate public transport links and find out the price
o find out the local parking facilities and check cost and availability
o discover other facilities available, such as a cafe or convenience store
Those considering a residential course should also think about:
o accommodation type and cost
o food choices available
o free time and any activities on offer
Equipment is another consideration. Will the course require regular access to a:
o computer or typewriter – most probably will as most publishers refuse to accept hand written work anymore
o the internet – essential for research, communication and submission of manuscripts
o printer – not essential to have one at home as access is usually available, for a small cost, in newsagents, libraries and print shops
What Information Do You Need?
Searching online is the quickest way to find a course that fits the requirements identified from the questions above. Once a selection of suitable courses has been found, the next step is to request further information. Request the following so a thorough course comparison can be carried out:
• a synopsis of the subjects covered
• time limits
• average completion times
• identities, qualifications or credentials of the tutors
• details of how tutors are matched to students
• contact method and time allowed with tutors
• class sizes
• additional help available to students
• other facilities or services offered – forums, publications and so on
• total price
• payment methods and installment plans available
What Do Others Think of The Course/College?
Next, it is time to find out what other people think of the course and college chosen. It’s useful to know about the:
• content and course materials provided
• services or facilities on offer
• tuition provided
Where to Find Reviews of Courses And Colleges
Those with experience of the course are the best people to ask for their opinion. The first place to check is the college website and literature. This may contain a page of testimonials or feedback from previous and current students and the website may have a forum where you can view the conversations going on between students. In the UK it is illegal to use testimonials that are untrue and the Advertising Standards Association monitors this. However, in other countries this may not be the case. Do also keep in mind that most companies will not publish unfavourable reviews. So, it is often worth searching review websites or forums for other impartial opinions. Finding the college on Twitter or Facebook and reading the kinds of messages that are left can be quite revealing too.