Another writing course completed

Excited by the first writing course, I did another one. Same university, different topic. Although the mandatory reading material was boring as hell, I did learn how to write “thisness”, which is a subject-matter word for tangible/vivid description. For the main assignment, I submitted a scene from my current project “Dark depths of water” (which you can read about via the front page of my website).

Here’s hoping I passed the course!

Feedback from the writing course

One of the assignments from the creative writing course was to outline a Young Adult fiction book. A relatively easy assignment since I’ve already begun and outlined several novels. Though, sending them off to a professional at Oxford University to critique is anything but easy…

Halfway through a bottle of wine, I dared to open the attachment with the grading and teacher’s feedback.

Quote from teacher about overall novel outline and plot:
A complex but satisfying plot with plenty of tension and jeopardy. The main protagonist finds the truth of her past and comes to terms with her ‘curse.’ Think about simplifying your sentence structure to make your writing easier to follow. I think you should definitely write this.

A sense of relief washed over me. I had not written total crap. I just write it overly complex. Perhaps as this blog proceeds, my sentences will be easier to follow 😉

A second assignment was to hand in the first chapter of the novel.

The feedback here too was positive and constructive. There were notes about what worked and what could be improved. Here are some abstracts:

This is potentially very good. The characterisation is arresting and some of the metaphors really interesting but it would benefit from some ruthless editing and clarification. Sometimes your focus on the internal state of your protagonist leaves the reader confused: eg ‘the smell of coffee snapped the puppet strings.’

This is a really interesting story idea with plenty of potential, just perhaps shape it more carefully so that there are moments of calm as well as moments of high tension. If the whole story takes place at one pitch it is more difficult to keep the reader interested.

You might consider drip feeding the information the reader needs a little more clearly. I really like the fact that you haven’t treated the reader to an enormous info dump, but I think when you do convey information you could do so more effectively.

All in all, however, this is a good piece of work with an interesting protagonist, a suitably intriguing plot and a great sense of jeopardy. Well done.

After letting the feedback sink in, I’m feeling motivated to continue the novel and thereafter attack the writing with ruthless editing as recommended by the teacher.

Course completed!

I enrolled into a writing course with the University of Oxford part-time and online, and over the span of a couple of months I’ve been getting insight into writing styles and methods, in particular for Young Adult fiction. Although I wasn’t able to dedicate as much time as I wanted to, the time I did set aside was invaluable. And here’s why:

Being “forced” to read outside my preferred genres
Most of the time I read for pleasure or to explore the range of fiction within the genre I’m writing — meaning I limit myself to one or two genres. The course led to go outside my comfort zone and explore fiction I would never have chosen to read myself but definitely added a dimension to a holistic writing approach.

Reading with experimental exercises
Generally I read and write short stories or novels as separate efforts. I don’t take the time to read a section and then interlink the text with an experiment of my own for the sake of learning. Too eager to write my own stories, I forget to set aside time for experiments and reflections.

Interaction with other aspiring authors
The expectation for the course is an interaction with other students on the online platform. At first, I complied out of obligation, but eventually I sought out their thoughts and opinions because they added depth to my knowledge with their interpretations of texts and exercises. Diversity in thought allows for broader learning.

The course finished at the end of November, and I’m eager to continue with the next course but I don’t have adequate time and focus to maximise learning. Instead, I’m taking a break from my studies and use the limited time to continue experimenting and writing. Once my schedule opens up again, I’m jumping on the nerd wagon and enrolling onto the next writing course!

Life happens

I had the best intentions in updating the blog and writing furiously toward my new novel… but life happens.

To maximise remaining mental capacity, I prioritised writing short stories — one which received a placement in a writing competition — and fulfilling requirements for my writing course with the University of Oxford (which I am loving so far, by the way).

I’m trying to get on my feet again, and will slowly but surely start to get more involved in my blog. Hopefully life will stabilise and let me continue on the course of becoming a published author.

Never been dumber

I’m going to throw the PC out the window. Seriously. What the heck is with wordpress.

(takes a deep breath)

Nevermind. I found the widgets. Hurrah!

This is the reason why I should research before jumping into writing — messy, messy, messy. I’ve tried to learn learned that writing novels and pantsing it, is not for me. Much like creating an author website apparently.

Testing out the blog posting now… Please let me get it right!