2 May 2014

It's not easy having a blog when you're someone like me with lots of ideas but who's not good at writing them in an interesting manner. And I would never consider myself a writer, just someone who likes to jot things down.

However I did attend a short course on creative writing - one put on by Torbay Care Trust for people who were carers for family members.  

Having introduced herself, the tutor went round the table asking people what had inspired them to come on the course.  

  • one person was starting to write poetry 
  • another wanted to write her memoirs for her grandchildren 
  • and there was someone who had ideas for a novel. 

But when it came to me I had no idea as I couldn't even remember signing up for the course!  I'm not sure if someone had signed up for me and I've never had any ambition to be a writer, but it seemed a good idea to make the most of the opportunity.

The first week we were asked to write a paragraph or so about any topic we liked. And our homework was to write about something from our past.  I wrote about our first house which had damp, had sitting tenants, wood boring weevils; the list could have gone on and one.  So this was easy to write.

During the whole series of classes we were never pushed to read out our work in class but we were encouraged to and most people did.  Then we were invited to make (constructive) comments, followed by ideas from our tutor.

The next week's homework was to write a short story - eek!  We were given some basic rules for this, such as: introduce some dialogue, have a problem which you must resolve by the end of the piece, don't introduce another problem as one's quite enough for a short story, and also don't have too many characters.  We were told that it's vital to actually have a point to the story.

Creative writing should always some sort of impression on the reader - and preferably not boredom!  

It should express feelings, emotions, entertain, educate, spread awareness of something or simply to express one's thoughts.

Our tutor suggested that we carry a notebook around and jot down ideas and observations.  Even bits of dialogue overheard can stimulate ideas.  She also suggested when reading that we notice how an author writes, how he/she introduces ideas or characters, even how we're led through the story.

One day I'll dig out the paperwork for this course as it was very interesting and put more on here.

In the interim, here are a few quotes which resonated with us:

The whole duty of a writer is to please and satisfy himself, and the true writer always play to an audience of one - William Strunk (prof of English at Cornell University)

A writer and nothing else: a man alone in a room with the English language, trying to get human feelings right - John K Hutchens (book critic)

You become a good writer just as you become a good joiner: by planing down your sentences (unknown but rather cute)

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self - Cyril Connolly (literary critic and writer)

And finally, as a granma who reads to her little granddaughter the same book over and over again!:  I conceive that the right way to write a story for boys is to write so that it will not only interest boys but strongly interest any man who has ever been a boy.  That immensely enlarges the audience - Mark Twain. 

See also: 

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