Good Day, Students!
Please take your seats and class will begin. :-)
Actually, nobody was more surprised than me when, about 17 years ago, I realized that I had accumulated enough information and handouts through workshopping with famous and infamous editors, regular critique sessions with the SlugTribe study group and convention-going and networking, that I had created a whole "bootstrap yourself up to pro writer status" packet. I figured with an hour or so to present some of the ideas and discuss them, another hour or two to critique whatever stories students bring in, this stuff could easily be made into a 4-nights class. And so it began!
Now I've taught two types of fiction classes for the University of Texas Informal Classes, co-coordinated several writing workshops at science fiction conventions, given special writing craft lectures for various nonprofit groups, etc. My estimates are that there are over 300 Wendy Alumni out there!
Writers I Have Known & Taught
The University of Texas Informal Classes people thought my fiction-writing class was a good idea. I taught it for them about two dozen times, and once or twice for other community classes in the Austin area. A few times I've taught an intermediate class for UT called "Honing the Tools of Fiction." (heh heh, she said "tools") I've also done fast, one-hour versions of the high points from Class One for groups and clubs. Some of my students have gone on to make sales, win fiction awards, win fellowships -- like the Wallace Stegner Memorial and Michener!
I don't say those things happened because I'm some hot-dog teacher. I believe that making the time and money commitment to take a fiction class can send a message to your subconscious that you're serious about writing. And that's when things can start to pop!
Nothing scheduled right now, plus UT decided to defund the classes and they've been in flux. I usually teach one or two classes a year through the University of Texas at Austin Informal Classes. Click on "Liberal Arts" to see what's being offered right now under writing. As my UT catalog blurb says, "Most writers are in touch with their creative flow. This class teaches the other half of writing fiction, the craft." We discuss the beginnings, middles, and ends of stories, and what the reader expects in each one. Examples are taken from published works and from students' stories.
The Seven-Point Plot Outline
To learn about the 7-point plot outline, which is one of the first things I teach in my class, click here. It's the simplest way I know of to show somebody what you should find in a "real" story. By that, I mean a genre story, not a typical literary or mainstream story.
Notes From 1st Class
To read the notes I hand out at the end of my the 1st beginners' class, click here. It pretty much covers my theory about writing and teaching writing. The good news is: I believe that if you're a reader, you can become a writer. It's mostly about a change of consciousness!
Clustering, by Dr. Gabriele Rico
One of the best pieces of advice I give students in my class, IMO, is to check out "Writing the Natural Way" by Dr. Gabriele Rico, if they haven't already. It's a wonderful and immediate way to hook into whole-brain creativity. A key element of this is "clustering." I've done a little Powerpoint presentation to explain (download to your desktop then open in Powerpoint; it should run by itself with you clicking to go to the next screen). It's also on Dr. Rico's own website! Go check out http://www.gabrielerico.com for an example. Dr. Rico used the clustering techniques back in the 70's to teach her students to write poetry and essays easier. Then she realized she had a book in her. She did one big cluster for the book. That gave her 13 separate sections. She clustered on each
section, and had the 13 chapters of the book. She wrote up a book outline, and in three days had a book proposal! I think it sold pretty quick, too.