Creative Writing Course – Weeks 1 & 2

As some of you may know, I love writing. Ok, a bit obvious as I have my own blog, but my love of writing goes further than my ramblings about what I’m cooking, wearing or doing – I actually have my own novel in the making. I’ve been writing it for about 7 years now – bearing in mind that when I started writing it I was 16, so it’s been through a few incarnations and not got that far really. It all started with a dream I had, which looking back isn’t much like what the novel is turning out to be, but I decided to go with it and loved writing it for years, but I have hit a bit of writer’s block recently. At first I figured that once I’d moved out, got my stuff together and the wedding was over I’d have more time to write, but I’m still drawing up blank.

So, as myself, my hubby and my dad are all in a fairly similar situation (although Dad has finished writing one of his books, and it is amazing!) we decided to book onto a creative writing course together. It was nicer to do this kind of thing in a group, it takes away the nervousness of the first few sessions, and leaves you more comfortable and confident to produce and share your work. We were all there for different reasons; Dad wanted to get his creative flow back again – he always knew where his books were going,  but for whatever reason it just dried up. Dave wanted to gain confidence in getting his thoughts written down, as well as being able to share his work, being very protective over it up till now (even I haven’t been allowed to read much of his work). As for me, I could do with some tips on organising my notes, as well as some help developing characters, and small plot points that keep the story ticking over until the major stuff happens.

The first week we arrived at the class, and I was surprised at how many people were there. The class was oversubscribed, and we had about 15 people in the room. After going around and chatting about who we were, what we wrote, and what we hoped to gain out of the course, I was again surprised to find people from all backgrounds, as well as more sci-fi/fantasy writers than I was expecting. It’s lovely to see people with ideas wanting help to get it off the ground, as well as people who just want to learn to write for the pure enjoyment of it. After going through all that, we were given a set of pictures to look through, and our first assignment. Just to gauge our writing style, we were asked to pick a picture and write a 1500 word short story based on our inspiration from it.

Obviously with a  class of 15 not everyone will get to share every week, so a group of people were selected in advance. The first week, Dad was selected! It was so lovely to see, he was at the back of the group looking at the photos, and one just jumped out at him, so he managed to get that straight away, and sat furiously writing for the last half hour of the class until we left. He’d finished his piece in 3 days! With daughter privileges I got a sneaky preview, and it was just as good as his first book. When we left the class the first time round, he was beaming so much, so pleased that he’d ‘got his mojo back’ (his words, not mine – he’s got an amazing writing style though, I promise!) that me and Dave said even if we get nothing out of the course, it’s so worth seeing Dad back writing again. In the seminar like session the following week, his piece went down very well, and I can already see how it’s going to slot nicely into the rest of his work which is fantastic. The seminar way of learning is fantastic, as you can hear the opinions of so many different viewpoints as well as from the professional writer; it’s a wealth of information and feedback which is the only way to learn with writing I think.

Bizarrely enough, my short story ended up nothing at all like what I normally write. My novel has dragons and magic and swords in it, whereas what I wrote was a really dark piece about suicide. Go figure. I enjoyed writing it, it was nice to take a break and write something different from what I have done so far, especially as until we get further into the course, I’m stuck on my own work anyway. The problem I faced was keeping it down to the 1500 word length; I ended up finishing about 2300 words and edited it back to 1650 – good old university 10% wiggle room! I think I may have found another problem with my writing :s Anyway, I was very pleased with it, and shall keep it in the vaults should I ever wish to come back to it.

This week we’re working on characterisation – Yippee!!! And even better, its my turn to show and tell. Fortunately I’ve had in mind a section of the novel where the main character, who is very closed off and cagey throughout the story, lets it all go and we hear and understand his back story. I’ve been working on that this week, and hoping that going through it at the course will flag up any problems I’m having with motivation, back story, and general realness of the character. I’ve always been a big believer that the characters are the most important part of any story – you have to fall in love with them, be it wishing you were the heroine, wishing you were with the hero, or loving to hate the villains. It’s what I’ve always loved in my favourite series of books – The Wit’ch War Saga by James Clemens, as well as many other books I’ve read. The characters are believable, they have deep relationships, as well as human flaws and strengths. Whilst sometimes it gets me down reading these books, thinking I’ll never be able to write like that, I still think that reading is a massive part of being a writer. It’s not just research and inspiration, but also motivation, for those days where you think, I CAN write like that!

I’ll keep you posted with how the course goes, and who knows, maybe you’ll someday see the names Richard Hilton, Dave Rhodes or Abbie Rhodes on your bookshelves!

Yours,

The Vintage Housewife x

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