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Colourfingers

Has anyone on FPN ever done one or completed one? What were your experiences and what did it lead to if anything?

I've just signed up for a free online one myself so I'm hoping to find it both inspiring and rewarding.

 

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Karmachanic

Contemplated it. Still on the list.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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inkstainedruth

I took some writing courses in college, and ended up minoring in Creative Writing.  I had placed out of Freshman English because of my AP English exam, and the professor who was my original advisor suggested I take a poetry writing class instead for my non-major core because I had worked on my high school literary magazine, and it went from there.  

A couple of years ago, I took an adult-ed beginning creative writing class at the local community college's main branch (just a few miles from my house) which was interesting because I was just starting to try my hand at fiction.  I'm now contemplating taking their novel-writing class, but at the moment it's all remote learning; last summer it was a night class and a night where sometimes my husband has to be on the computer in the evening for work (I can't get Zoom to work right on my laptop, so I have to have him set me up on his work computer).  I just got the course schedule for the spring a week or so ago, and am now considering it again -- but this time it's on a Saturday morning (the idea of being coherent enough at 9 AM to  be remotely creative is sort of mind numbing, so I'm stalling... :huh:; OTOH, it is only around $100 US).  There's also a short story class (on Tuesday evenings) taught by the same guy who taught the beginning writing class, for ten bucks less -- but I don't really see myself as being able to (mostly) distill something to its essence, fiction-wise (that's what writing poetry is for... B)).

I'm not familiar with other things like what ParamattaPaul posted the link to (and the main page doesn't seem to talk about how much that program costs).  But when I was a kid I read through the binder my mom had of when she took the Palmer Writer course (which was by mail) -- I'm guessing she did that sometime between the late 1940s and early 1960s).  And it must have worked for her -- she published something like 40 novels, from mysteries to science fiction to bodice rippers (sexy historicals -- those paid really well till the market for them in the 1980s dropped out, at which point she switched to writing squeaky clean Regency romances).  Even a couple of Oz books (although the second one was published by the International Wizard of Oz Club).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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I'm skeptical of creative writing courses taught by those who aren't even mid-listers. So when I found a book called On Writing by Stephen King, I paid attention. Ditto a book by Ben Bova. In my more cynical moments, I wonder about the whole genre targeted to those who want to be writers.

 

Honestly, I don't know. I'd be exceedingly lucky to make it to mid lister, so I'm the last person to give advice on writing. I'm simply cynical about it.

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JayHomeBody

This is mostly unrelated, but I do consider this as "creative writing."  There's a written rpg called adventure. All it takes is a notebook, a pen, and a deck of cards. You write your own story, using the prompts and the choices the cards give you. I haven't tried it yet because kids, procrastination, and just a lack of time I can put aside for it. It's this link....  https://jameschip.itch.io/the-adventurer/devlog/120311/a-little-bit-of-background-on-why-there-are-no-stats-or-dice 

I am the tarot reading, bookworm, whiskey drinking, witchcraft practicing, old fashioned writing, aunt Beasty in my family and I love it. Tarot readings for sale or trade, especially ink as I've lost all of my pen stuff from a bad burglary last year. And I need penpals! Anyone interested, please PM me!

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Colourfingers
1 hour ago, BigBlot said:

I'm skeptical of creative writing courses taught by those who aren't even mid-listers. So when I found a book called On Writing by Stephen King, I paid attention. Ditto a book by Ben Bova. In my more cynical moments, I wonder about the whole genre targeted to those who want to be writers.

 

Honestly, I don't know. I'd be exceedingly lucky to make it to mid lister, so I'm the last person to give advice on writing. I'm simply cynical about it.

This is on the Open University so I'm hoping it'll be pretty good. I'll look out for that Stephen King book though.

 

Edited by Colourfingers
Typo and emphasis.
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Colourfingers
1 hour ago, JayHomeBody said:

This is mostly unrelated, but I do consider this as "creative writing."  There's a written rpg called adventure. All it takes is a notebook, a pen, and a deck of cards. You write your own story, using the prompts and the choices the cards give you. I haven't tried it yet because kids, procrastination, and just a lack of time I can put aside for it. It's this link....  https://jameschip.itch.io/the-adventurer/devlog/120311/a-little-bit-of-background-on-why-there-are-no-stats-or-dice 

Thanks I might look into that.

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Colourfingers
On 1/16/2021 at 4:17 AM, inkstainedruth said:

I took some writing courses in college, and ended up minoring in Creative Writing.  I had placed out of Freshman English because of my AP English exam, and the professor who was my original advisor suggested I take a poetry writing class instead for my non-major core because I had worked on my high school literary magazine, and it went from there.  

A couple of years ago, I took an adult-ed beginning creative writing class at the local community college's main branch (just a few miles from my house) which was interesting because I was just starting to try my hand at fiction.  I'm now contemplating taking their novel-writing class, but at the moment it's all remote learning; last summer it was a night class and a night where sometimes my husband has to be on the computer in the evening for work (I can't get Zoom to work right on my laptop, so I have to have him set me up on his work computer).  I just got the course schedule for the spring a week or so ago, and am now considering it again -- but this time it's on a Saturday morning (the idea of being coherent enough at 9 AM to  be remotely creative is sort of mind numbing, so I'm stalling... :huh:; OTOH, it is only around $100 US).  There's also a short story class (on Tuesday evenings) taught by the same guy who taught the beginning writing class, for ten bucks less -- but I don't really see myself as being able to (mostly) distill something to its essence, fiction-wise (that's what writing poetry is for... B)).

I'm not familiar with other things like what ParamattaPaul posted the link to (and the main page doesn't seem to talk about how much that program costs).  But when I was a kid I read through the binder my mom had of when she took the Palmer Writer course (which was by mail) -- I'm guessing she did that sometime between the late 1940s and early 1960s).  And it must have worked for her -- she published something like 40 novels, from mysteries to science fiction to bodice rippers (sexy historicals -- those paid really well till the market for them in the 1980s dropped out, at which point she switched to writing squeaky clean Regency romances).  Even a couple of Oz books (although the second one was published by the International Wizard of Oz Club).

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

Ink Stained Ruth. Yours was a fascinating post. I wonder if they still do that course. My Grandmothers used to read the Mills & Boon type book you referred to. I love reading so if you want you can PM me your Mums pen name and I'll look out for her books on my visits to Second Hand bookshops if they ever open in this country again.

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HogwldFLTR

Never taken a creative writing course per se but took a number of lit courses and poetry which required creative writing back when I was an English major. I strongly believe that the best approach to learning creative writing is two fold, 1) reading voraciously and 2) getting words down on paper or in text of some sort.

 

The thing a course can do is hold you accountable to getting tasks accomplished.

-Lee

Edited by HogwldFLTR
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Karmachanic
1 hour ago, HogwldFLTR said:

I strongly believe that the best approach to learning creative writing is two fold, 1) reading voraciously and 2) getting words down on paper or in text of some sort.

 

 

Reminds me of how, in the previous Century, I became a working photographer. Look at lots of photos by the greats. Analyze placement, light, composition, tension, leading lines, negative space. Learn how to see. Take photos, at least a roll of HP5 36 frames a week; becoming very selective. 1 camera, 1 lens, one year, turned into 20 years.

 

Same approach would undoubtedly work with writing, starting with the 5 Ws of journalism.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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inkstainedruth
3 hours ago, BigBlot said:

I'm skeptical of creative writing courses taught by those who aren't even mid-listers. So when I found a book called On Writing by Stephen King, I paid attention. Ditto a book by Ben Bova. In my more cynical moments, I wonder about the whole genre targeted to those who want to be writers.

 

Honestly, I don't know. I'd be exceedingly lucky to make it to mid lister, so I'm the last person to give advice on writing. I'm simply cynical about it.

The guy who taught my first poetry writing class used to complain about how he was the best modern poet nobody'd ever heard of.  The guy who taught some of my other writing classes in college had some SF short stories published and also some really hilarious SF themed poetry.  The guy who taught the adult-ed class I took a couple of years ago is self-published, and hoping to get enough sales through Amazon for them to actually take notice (he also said that he really wanted to be a poet).  But of course poetry doesn't "sell" and you're lucky if you get contributor's copies in poetry journals.

Funny, I don't think of Ben Bova being a writer, so much as him editing Analog for decades (my mom sold one story to it, that was rather silly but which generated more letters to "Brass Tacks" than she'd remembered ever SEEING).

I go through spells where I look at books on writing, and try to NOT by the stupee ones.  Someplace in the house I've got one based on writing classes John Gardner taught in the 1960s, IIRC.  And there's one that looks at different aspics of the process (plot, dialogue, setting post of view, etc.) and then has passages from various works as illustrations of the techniques (some famous authors, some not so much).  I also have some other books (one has essays from various writers about different techniques).  What I DON'T have is any of the "How to get a [fill in the genre blank] book published" because they all have seen pretty specious....

But the best advice I've ever seen/read is to READ.  A lot -- and I mean actual fiction, not the "how to" books.  Because just absorbing stuff is as good a lesson as any.  And read intelligently; and pay attention to stuff such as where there are typos and plot holes and such.  (Yeah, reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in that class in high school ruined the book for me but taught me a HUGE amount about critical analysis -- which has done me a world of good years later in recognizing the BS in social media posts and on some news "analysis" shows for what it is (instead of just taking it at face value)....  (Also read BAD fiction -- with the understanding that it somehow got published anyway, like a certain porn trilogy series that started out life as *BAD* fan-fic (and then the author had to change all the names so she wouldn't get sued for copyright infringement or something...).  I read 3 pages of the first volume just to see what the fuss was about and it was just lame writing.  But that meant I didn't have to read the rest of it.... :rolleyes:

I don't have the Stephen King book.  I have heard that it's good, and that he's an excellent writing teacher.  But I read a couple of his horror novels early on and they didn't wow me, so I've been hesitant in getting it (afraid of it being too much of him being "Stephen King, famous writer").  I've just got to figure out where the John Gardner one ended up (I absolutely adored Grendel).  I suspect that if Gregory Maguire did a book on writing I'd probably read that as well (and always wondered what my mom would have thought about the Wicked series -- his stuff is definitely odd; I didn't much care for Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister which is way darker than "the Disney version" movie.  But the "Nutcracker" one is fabulous -- I couldn't put it down.  So if he wrote a "how to" book I'd definitely buy it.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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ParramattaPaul

Colourfingers memtioned Open University courses.  I have taken a number of free courses from OU, and enjoyed them.  Here is a list of what they offer when I searched for 'creative writing':  Search Results - OpenLearn - Open University

 

These are FREE courses.

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4 hours ago, Karmachanic said:

 

Reminds me of how, in the previous Century, I became a working photographer. Look at lots of photos by the greats. Analyze placement, light, composition, tension, leading lines, negative space. Learn how to see. Take photos, at least a roll of HP5 36 frames a week; becoming very selective. 1 camera, 1 lens, one year, turned into 20 years.

 

Same approach would undoubtedly work with writing, starting with the 5 Ws of journalism.

Umm...Maybe. I think author Jerry Pournelle said it took about a million written words to make a writer, meaning words in completed works ready for submission. It's also quite heartening to read in King's On Writing about the nail in the wall that he filled up with rejection slips. That said, what sells now is not necessarily what sold at another time. To this day I can't get into the novel Ben Hur due to it's beginning, and yet it was a popular novel at the time. I like H.P. Lovecraft's stories, but can't imagine some of his works selling now. OTOH, I don't really like Stephen King stories, but did read a few of his anthologies to see how he crafted a short story, because he clearly knows what he's doing.

 

In that same vein, I can't imagine some of the works I like appearing in a serious literature magazine. It's a completely different type of creative writing.

 

Some advice I came across years ago was, when you see a story or article in a magazine is to try to look at the nuts and bolts to get some idea why they bought it. Unfortunately, that doesn't work with "They bought that?" stories you sometimes come across.

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inkstainedruth
2 minutes ago, BigBlot said:

Some advice I came across years ago was, when you see a story or article in a magazine is to try to look at the nuts and bolts to get some idea why they bought it. Unfortunately, that doesn't work with "They bought that?" stories you sometimes come across.

True. When my mom was writing the bodice rippers, her editor got another project dropped in her lap when another editor left.  It was a series of what I'd guess could be called soft-core porn, that had previously been written by two men (not sure if it was them writing together or one taking over for the other or what).  Mom's editor said "Hey -- you want in on this? " and got told "Sure, why not!  Send me stuff to read so I can match the style (it was written under I think a house pseudonym of the publisher).  

And the editor's response?  "Uh, no...  you REALLY don't want to read this swill.  It was a case where the editor worked very very VERY closely with the author(s)...."  Basically meaning that the editor was doing massive re-writes.  Well, my mom took the job anyway.  Her name appears NOWHERE on the book -- not even on the publishing info page.  She got paid $6000 for it, and paid for my parents' trip to Mainland China in 1980, when China was first being opened back up to the West.  My mother had bloody war with the editor over when to use "which" and when to use "that" and gave up.  She also gave up when one character, wearing a Kelly green dress, had the pearl necklace swapped out for emeralds and she told me "NOBODY in their right mind would do that -- let alone someone who is supposed to be a fashion designer!"  But basically then said, "Oh scr*w it...." and took the six grand advance and shut up.  

As for the silly story in Analog, and all the crazy letters published about it in the next issue?  She was going "I just thought I was being funny.  And Ben bought it because HE thought it was funny...."  (It was making fun of the English vs. metric system, with stuff like "Her heart kilogrammed with fear...."; the pro-metric people thought she was being pro-metric, and the anti-metric people thought she was being anti-metric; and she was just basically facepalming while reading all the letters....

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

"It's very nice, but frankly, when I signed that list for a P-51, what I had in mind was a fountain pen."

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Karmachanic

Came across a review of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain.  Written by George Saunders "a critically acclaimed, best-selling novelist, who also happens to be a highly sought-after creative writing teacher, setting out the curriculum of his over-subscribed ‘How to Write’ class" Syracuse University, NY .

 

The classes are based on 19th C  Russian short stories by Chekov, Tolstoy, Gogol and Turgenev.

"Simplicate and add Lightness."

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HogwldFLTR
On 1/17/2021 at 8:52 AM, BigBlot said:

I'm skeptical of creative writing courses taught by those who aren't even mid-listers. So when I found a book called On Writing by Stephen King, I paid attention. Ditto a book by Ben Bova. In my more cynical moments, I wonder about the whole genre targeted to those who want to be writers.

 

Honestly, I don't know. I'd be exceedingly lucky to make it to mid lister, so I'm the last person to give advice on writing. I'm simply cynical about it.

I always wanted to take a course from John Barth; unfortunately that wasn't a possibility. Aside from that I switched from English to Engineering (strangely both starting with "eng."). Barth is one of my favorite writers; I've no idea what sort of teacher he was however.

Edited by HogwldFLTR
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