Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Going Back to School

I was talking today with a family member about what we remembered from our college days. Amidst our reflections, I mentioned that one of the things I missed about college was actually being required to learn things and demonstrate these acquired skills and knowledge by means of homework, grades, and tests. It seems strange, but for whatever reason, it is much harder to learn and improve your craft when there isn't some accountability that provides the necessary incentives to get it done.

For much the same reason, I know of writers who have decided to return to school to get a degree in creative writing. While they realize that they will improve their craft along the way, the biggest motivator for them is that they know it will force them to actually write in a consistent fashion. The psychology of that need is a post for another day. Instead, today I want to reference a great resource that is the closest thing you can get to pursuing a creative writing degree without paying a single dime or leaving the relative peace and quiet of your Internet browser.

For my long-time readers, it should come as no surprise that I am a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson. One of the things that I admire about him is his dedication to inspire and give back to the next generation of aspiring writers. To that end, once a year he teaches a class at Brigham Young University on Creative Writing, with a particular emphasis on Science Fiction and Fantasy. Last fall, he graciously allowed one of his students to record the entirety of his lectures for the class, and full video of these lectures are now available online through this student's blog, entitled Write About Dragons.

There are 13 lectures in all, broken down into 5-10 minute pieces for easy viewing. Most of these lectures also include written summaries of each section for review and reference. There is also a complete set of detailed notes available here. The class covers both the craft and business of writing, covering such diverse topics as Ideas Are Cheap, Giving Characters A Life Beyond the Plot, Three Goals When Meeting Agents, and Business Models for Self-Publishing. All in all this is excellent information available for free at your virtual fingertips. Definitely worth checking out!

Finally, the blog author is currently planning a special Summer 2013 class that, in addition to new videos of the most recent class, will include writing requirements that will be subjected to an interactive feedback system. This will be starting up in June, and if you want in on this opportunity, all you have to do is browse over to this link and sign up on his blog. Again, this is a great resource, and one that I certainly intend to make use of!

Hope you find these resources helpful. As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. See you next time.

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