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Well I myself finished my novel before taking any writing courses, though I have taken part in creative writing workshops in the past. Creative writing courses are always helpful as far as I know. They help you to develop active writing skills and a kind of creative process, plus they encourage you to write in different styles as well. I don’t think they are necessary to furthering your own abilities, but they do help. I know many published authors have suggested that the best advice for aspiring authors is simply to read a lot and write a lot, without stopping, and to continually practice. So perhaps that is really all you need…. I know nothing about writing programs, however, so I can’t really suggest anything there. I wish you well though!
Edward is thinking about his trip this weekend.
Writing courses? It depends. I have been in good writing courses and very bad ones. The good ones teach [or reinforce] good writing habits, grammar, style, and other mechanical aspects of writing. Bad ones are mutual admiration societies wherein you go around the room listening to other people’s crap and complimenting it half-heartedly because it’s crap. Buyer beware.
Writing software? No, I don’t. But I am not a professional writer either. If I was, perhaps I would like having software that helped with preparing manuscripts according to a particular style. Or if I wrote genre fiction, screenplays, or something that was highly structured, having software that organized the project would be helpful. But for me, an amateur, any text editor will do. But I imagine writing software, like favorite pens or writing locations, are highly personal choices that vary widely from person to person. I would suggest downloading demo versions and trying some out.
Writing courses – Don’t know
Writing Programs – Next to useless
Writing Group/Buddy – Rock!
While I never went to a writing course, I want to. I’m in the process of looking for a reputable one that will give me good feedback. I consider myself a novice, and I don’t see where “book-learnin’” is a bad idea for people who want to write a book. :-)
I bought a writing program, Writer’s DreamKit, which I ended up not using for my novel. I think that a program that allows you to keep track of your characters, settings, plot points, etc. is a good idea. I just use notebooks and text files.
I wrote my two published novels without taking a writing course. However, since then I have take several onliine courses, but they were specific to romance and more specifically to something about the genre that I wanted to know about.
I’ve never used a writing program.
I do recommend finding a writers’ group geared toward whatever you are writing. I wouldn’t join a literary group if I am writing genre fiction due to possible (probable) snobbiness and a tendency for literary types to look down their noses at genre fiction. I would find a group/critique partner that understands the kind of fiction you are interested in writing. If you do, that alone is invaluable.
Are novel guides and classes worth it? I’ve learned a lot from both but I’ve also felt kind of cheated by some as well.
The main key to writing a novel, or anything really, is to sit down and write. You can read and study and listen to lectures all day long, but if you don’t get to the part where you start pouring out the story inside you of you, you’re not going to get it done.
So, here’s a poem to motiveate you:
A Writer Writes
A writer writes.
A writer writes when he wants to
and when he doesn’t.
A writer writes when he is inspired
and when he isn’t.
A writer writes when the words are flowing from his mind like drops off of a waterfall
and when the words are as scarce as republicans in Boston.
A writer writes because he is a writer,
not because there are people who will cheer him on when he is finished.
Sure, most writers dream of the cheers,
but a writer who will be a writer tomorrow
is one who writes even when the fans don’t show up.
A writer writes when everything looks hopeless
and when everything is falling into place.
A writer writes as a baby coos.
A writer writes as a child plays.
A writer writes as a teenager dreams.
And a writer writes as a grownup worries.
A writer isn’t a writer because he was chosen.
A writer writes because it is what he has chosen.
What does a writer write when the words are scarce?
Many scarce words.
What does a writer write when the words are abundant?
Words in abundance.
A writer doesn’t wait for inspiration to hit,
he writes until inspiration catches up with him.
A writer doesn’t write only when the muse is on duty,
he writes until the muse feels shamed and shows up.
A writer does not seek fame,
though fame often seeks writers.
A writer does not seek fortune,
though fortune, too, often seeks writers.
A writer doesn’t seek anything but the satisfaction of writing,
for fame and fortune are fickle and writing only for them leads to many a blank page.
If I write something meaningful and it is not accepted,
is it no longer meaningful?
If I write words never before combined,
will people rave over my originality,
or complain about my lack of skill?
I am a writer and so it doesn’t really matter.
Wow. I really needed that poem. Right now I’m trying to write something due tomorrow morning, and tomorrow I have something else to edit and rewrite by evening, plus another piece to submit by midnight the same day. And I procrastinated like I never have before, and could’t understand why something that more often than not that comes easily (for the first draft, at least) wasn’t for these few items. I did pretty well this afternoon, which was good, because it I was beginning to get scared I wouldn’t meet deadline, but I got into a slump again. Hence the reason why I’m browsing 43 Things. Thanks a lot- time to get off the net and get back to writing!
(The only thing I don’t like are the pronouns used…)
Thanks for your kind words. Yeah, a number of people didn’t like how I switched to first person for the last stanza. I respect everyone’s opinion, but I did it to highlight that this piece was for me. :-)
Oh, it’s nothing to do with changing to first person in the last stanza, that’s fine. I’m talking about the pronoun “he”- but now that you say that the piece was about/for you, I think it’s acceptable…
After I commented, I went back and read it and I kind of wondered if you weren’t talking about the masculine pronouns instead. Well, definitely change them for you because the important thing to remember is that if you have a writing dream, you can reach it, no matter what it is, but you have to do the legwork. And for writing, that’s writing.
I think a good first step is to go to the library (or bookstore) and read a lot of “how-to write” books. There are hundreds of books on character development, writing scenes, editing, foreshadowing, grammar, manuscript formatting, dialog, inspiration, style/voice, etc. You can learn quite a bit. Here’s a link to many listings:
Writing software isn’t worth it.
Courses are ok for beginners, but I’ve found they are much too basic for me to learn much.
Personally, I haven’t tried writing courses. The only thing I would be comfortable with -which I intend to do at some point, is take some creative writing classes at the local community college.
Personally, I will probably never pay for an online writing course – because the idea of paying those high prices for something I have no guarantee will be worthwhile (quality-wise) or not an attempt to scam me, just doesn’t sit well with me.
As for writing software, I have never bought any. I have tried a free novel writing program called Ywriter that I used to write my Nanowrimo novel last year – I’m very happy with it.
Other than that, I doubt I would ever pay for writing software, when I’m not a professional writer and couldn’t justify the expense. besides, Word and OpenOffice are good enough -plus there’s free software to be found online.
Best wishes in your endeavors. :)
Oh by the way – I have a list of Writing Resource links listed in my web site’s Links Directory here: http://www.escape-ism.com/index.php?option=com_weblinks&catid=25&Itemid=153
Some of the sites might be what you’re looking for.
I agree with Garrett – it depends on how confident you are with how you write. Self-study for improvement is always a good thing as long as you choose the right materials.
And I don’t believe in fancy writing software either. Some writers write entire novels in longhand. It’s not the tool that matters, it’s how you use it ;)
As far as writing classes go, I haven’t taken any since high school (which was way long ago), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t of value. A good course looks at the basics (as mentioned earlier by edward, I believe), but also really challenges your choices. Why did you say that? Can you make these sentences better? What is your character doing and why? What is your point? (Note that a lot of these are not questions that should be asked after the first draft is done and needs ripping apart).
Writing programs are useful for specialty writing (screenplays) or for getting your thoughts in order (note-card programs) if you feel the need to do that. There are free ones out there, so look for them first and test them out before you pay for one.
As for me, I’m on my fourth novel written and I’ve never used anything other than a word processing program.
lyeshea is resting for her tri tomorrow
The only writing course that I ever took was a short story class my freshman year of college. I enjoyed it, but it made writing into too much of a chore and it took me years to get back into the groove of writing afterwards. The main thing I learned in that, is read what you want to write. Read that format, so you want to write short stories, read a lot of short stories. Analyze them, look at what makes them work. You want to read a novel, read novels. Which, is also the advice that a lot of writers give in their books on craft.
Personally, like many of the people above me, I would recommend books that you can get at your local library or used book store.
As for writing software, there’s actually some really good stuff for writers out there that’s free. Such as Rough Draft, SuperNoteCard, and others. Check them out. Personally, I do use “novel writing software,” but like I said, it’s free. I wouldn’t pay for it, or I wouldn’t pay too much for it.I use a mac, and I swear by Jersnovelwriter, (jerssoftwarehut.com), but it’s macs only. It’s not necessary; it just makes it easier to keep everything in one place because you can write notes in your margins, keep your character notes and stuff in the same file as the novel. It’s handy if you’re not the most organized person in the world, but a word processor (or even a typewriter) and maybe a notebook is all that you really need.
I meant to edit not to delete… wasn’t thinking. Anyway, I’d also like to point out that there are critique groups online and there are also free writing courses online. Barnes and Noble has three here: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/bn?category.id=Writing
also, I’m a big fan of Holly Lisle’s website hse has a lot of articles for the starting writer.
Everything that needs to be said here has been said, but I thought I’d give a quick second to yWriter, already mentioned above – it’s very popular among the November noveling crowd and for good reason – it’s simple and it has a strange way of kicking your butt toward a finished product. I’m a happy customer; couldn’t have finished my latest novel without it. Better, it’s free. So, I guess the answer to your question is no, don’t bother spending money on programs (I’ve tried just about all of them less than $100) or courses (the ones worth going to are a lot more valuable to the published author anyway). Just write.
I’ve never taken any kind of writing instruction unless you count high school English. However, I have found that my skills in writing have mostly come from two things: Writing, and reading others’ work and isolating what I don’t like about it.
I’m an editor and when I edit I have to justify not liking something. Sometimes it’s sentence structure, and sometimes it’s plot, and sometimes it’s character. Focusing on those things for others does help you focus on them for yourself.
I’m working on my eleventh novel.
Writing software/programs? Don’t even know what those are.
Peer critiques are very valuable, though the trade-off is that you don’t know how accomplished your partner is. Regardless, it can’t hurt. I venture to say that entering a training program can hurt you if the program is bad or if you just aren’t the type to respond well. They can make you feel inferior or make you over-analyze yourself. And I think having a unique style and developing it largely on your own is the most important part of writing.
Look at books you love and figure out why you love them. Try to write so readers similar to yourself will love yours. That’s about it.
LizdeBiz is on her way.
Thanks, everyone. I really appreciate your advice, resources and encouragement.
1. Write Badly.
Yes, you read correctly.
Write badly. I’m not saying try to do your worst, I’m saying don’t try to be a proffesional. Stick with He/Said
2. Draw your characters!
I don't want to hear ANY WRITER say that they can't draw. I don't give a Spit. When you have writer's block, draw your characters, make a funny interveiw with them, put them in a scenerio, do what ever it takes to obsess with your characters. If you say this is too much, then I am ashamed that you call yourself a writer. Writing is a lifestyle, not a hobby.
Read as much as you can, even if you hate it, or it's the back of a shampoo bottle. It will give you nice vocabulary words (But don't go overboard, like on tip 1) And it will inspire you. Watch as little as TV as possible (Unless you like a voice with you, and that can even be replaced with music)
P.S. The picture is of my favorite Character, Shine. She is the main character, and I admire her.
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