That is not to say that I haven’t been working on my writing skills. Last I posted, I was about to start my Intermediate Writing Class with The Complete Creative Writing course people. Another 6 weeks course where you delve a little deeper in the areas you touched on with the Beginners Class. For this course, we mostly dealt with authors Naomi Wood (who got her second book published whilst teaching us, to great acclaim too) and Howard Cunnell. I like both their teaching styles very much, although they are very different from each other. Course founder, Maggie Hamand took care of one of the sessions (on Plots, as it is her favourite area). I can only recommend giving this a try as it is so important to be able to get feedback on your efforts. In combination to the course, I am reading Larry Brook‘s Story Engineering (which I have mentioned previously). I find this book really easy to read and it goes into really interesting and important details on “how to” do things, without preaching too much. In class, although we get 3 hours, you don’t get to go into too much details but what you get is the opportunity to do exercises and that most important of all: feedback. Of course, you get what you put in. If you don’t do the homework or volunteer to read your efforts, then you get less out of it.
I am grateful that I have such a great group of people (most of them whom I have met at the Beginners Course, but not all) as feedback is always done generously and constructively. We are all in the same boat, right? I have to confess though, that sometimes I do feel a little tentative as most of the other writers (I shall call them that) are much more poetic and deep in their writing. I feel really silly when I have to read an extract where I have werewolves or witches chasing each other. I seem to be the only one in my group interested in Fantasy. They all seem to go into more meaningful and deep type of writing…Gah! I have been too bored senseless by French literature when I was a student to try that myself.
For the course, we had to commit to a writing project – each person had their own one – and mine was to write 1500 words per week, pick one project out of all the started ones I had and have a short story ready for the end of the course. This Saturday is the last class and so far I have met all my targets but one: I haven’t got a finished first draft. For 2 reasons:
1. I kept re-writing the same first 3 chapters, discovering by Chapter 3 that I didn’t like how my story started…
2. Because I am reading Story Engineering and there is a strong emphasis on planning, I decided not to write v.5 of my story before I actually had an outline, if only a brief one
So Saturday I am going in there without a completed story (well that’s not entirely true – I have actually managed to write a really short, short story) but I am ok with that. I can look at the tutor in the eye and said “I made that decision knowingly and not because I procrastinated”. That’s not to say I didn’t procrastinate a bit…Well, you can’t give up the bad habits this easily. I do, however, have a notebook full of ideas, plot points, back story, characterization, etc. My Google Drive is also full of characters, settings and scenes notes. Once I have figured out what it is that I want my heroine (at least I know that bit) to do, then I should be able to write a first draft in no time…at least that’s what Larry promises.
Let’s see how this will work out for me.