An online writing course for beginners

I’m moving to my own website!

I have now upgraded my blog to my OWN WEBSITE!  It is the same interactive online writing course, but it looks fancier and I have more options now!  Please check it out, try some of the activities and post a comment on the site.  Since it is new, it will be hard to find on Google yet so you will have to type in the URL.  Please like this on Facebook and pass it on to everyone you know so I can get some followers. www.ucanwrite2.com
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Inspiration Book Scenario 2

Okay everyone…you seem to be shy about posting your creativity on the blog…so here is a challenge:

I am giving you 3 pictures and I want YOU to post one scenario for this set of character, setting, and plot.  Eeek! I can’t do that!  I’m not ready.  I need to research…analyze the situation…wait until I am more comfortable writing… Nope, just jump right in!  We are all friends here so it doesn’t have to be the next great novel – just a few point form ideas that evolve when you look at these pictures.  This will get our conversation going I hope.  So start posting!

Confident Basketball Player Barn and Silo Firefighters Putting Out a Fire

Inspiration Book Scenario 1

So you’ve got a collection of pictures started…I hope!  But now you are stumped on how to begin.  Maybe this will help.  Over the next few days I will post a picture of a character, setting, and plot and write a few possible scenarios as to where this combination could lead you.  It is amazing that with the same 3 pictures, you could develop totally different stories!  If you have any other crazy or creative ideas for these pictures, please post for others to see.

Senior woman gardening

las vrgas neon casino sign

Wedding

Possible story lines:

  1. Old woman lives alone with her niece – niece decides to surprise her aunt with a trip to Las Vegas – niece meets handsome young man at casino – falls in love and gets married – finds out he owns casino and is rich – niece, handsome man and aunt live happily (and rich) ever after!  Feel Good Romance
  2. Old woman decides to live it up for her 75th birthday -she and her 3 zany girlfriends decide to fly to Vegas together – they reminisce about their lives and how they long for excitement – they lose bitterly at the casino so they decide in a last ditch effort to pool all of their remaining money and try one more time – they strike it rich!  The ladies share the fortune and live the “good life” in Vegas, attracting a lot of young gold diggers – they realize these men are just after their money, but decide life is short…so they marry them! (you can just use the idea of a wedding from the picture.  It doesn’t have to be the actual characters in the photo)  Comedy
  3. Reverse the order of the pictures and have a young girl marry the man of her dreams in Las Vegas – life is not what she dreamed – he becomes abusive and she murders him to escape her life – detail the events of her life and have the story end as her being an old woman who has kept this secret her entire life…until the neighbour down the road starts piecing things together and realizes who she is and what she has done!  Suspense and Mystery

See…the same 3 pictures can lead to 3 completely different stories.  Tune in for the next post with 3 different pictures and ideas.

A Picture’s Worth No More Than 1000 Words!

  • Step one:  create your Inspiration Book.
  • Step two:  Write a story, no more than 2 pages single-spaced typed, involving one character, one setting, and one plot line, chosen by you from your Inspiration Book. It may seem like a daunting task, especially if you are new to writing, but just try to absorb the picture, tell what you see and let your imagination go!  Describe the people, the setting, the action, and the story will flow from there.  Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect (grammar, etc.) just yet!  This is our warm-up to get the creative juices flowing. 
  •  Step three:  READ your story aloud to someone you trust.  It’s nerve-wracking at first, but good writers need to learn to be good speakers, especially when you are doing interviews on Oprah!  Finally (and most importantly) post your success on this blog!

My Family “Picture”

My FamilyM

Enough about me (almost)

A few years ago, I became co-author of the book, “Quinte Quill” which is a collection of short stories and poems by local writers.  I then went on to teach my own writing course and published a second collection of short stories and poems from the group called “Patchworks”.  I have taken several writing courses at the college and university level and have experience teaching adult literacy in Trenton, Ontario.  I spent two years as the Behavioural Accident Prevention Process Facilitator at ExxonMobil.  In that role, I helped develop the training program for the proactive safety process and also taught several of the sessions.  I was involved in creating other safety presentations as well, and delivered one of these to a group of over one hundred people during a conference in Atlanta Georgia.  More recently, I have written and produced two plays which have served as fund-raisers for our local church (I have since written a third and am in the process of producing it).  They were both huge successes!

Now enough about me!  I would like you to get to know YOU a little bit better.  If you can write down your successes, interests, and goals on paper, you will be more focused and will be well on your way to beginning your writing career!  Take a few moments and answer the following questions (feel free to post these if you like):

  • What things have I accomplished in my life so far that I am proud of ?
  • What is my experience with writing/reading?
  • What are my strengths when it comes to writing (if any)?
  • What are my expectations?
  • What are my goals?

“A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words”

“A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words”:

The “Inspiration Book” is a great idea to help with writers’ block!  Go through a variety of magazines and cut out pictures of people, places, and situations that catch your eye.  Be brave and search through publications you might not normally read (i.e. Field and Stream, People, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, etc.).  You never know what you might find.  When you have a good selection, put them in a binder and divide them into categories such as “Character”, “Setting”, and “Plot”.  When you need inspiration for something to write about, look through your pictures and select a character, setting, and plot and use them to “jump-start” your creativity.  Sometimes it is easier to describe people and situations when you have something tangible in front of you to look at, rather than trying to create purely from memory or thought.  If you are looking for a challenge, close your eyes and randomly select one from each category and see what happens!  The pictures may seem totally unrelated at first, but your imagination will guide you through an amazing (but tough) literary journey!  You may even end up with a great comedy!

Writers need to be great observers and listeners.  You should always carry a small notebook and pen with you and jot down “snapshots of life” (i.e. snippets of conversations you hear at the bus stop, descriptions of people waiting in line at the bank, the emotions that flow when you look into the eyes of your child, or the taste of your favourite pizza).  If done discretely, people won’t think you are a pervert or a stalker and you will have a wealth of “data” to use in your future writing creations!  Especially if something pops into your head while you are doing laundry, or if you have an interesting dream – write it down right away because you will forget it later!  Capture the moments as they happen.

Read, write, read, write, read, and write!  The more you read, the more you learn and the more you write, the more you will improve.  Branch out and read different styles of books, from the “greats” to the “not so greats” – from Hemmingway to Stephen King, to a new author on the scene.  See what is out there, and what people want and like to read.  Look through magazines that you are interested  in and see what kinds of stories they publish.  Is there something you could write about in your area that might satisfy their requirements?  Writing is like a sport – you need to warm up first and practice, practice, practice!  You can’t peel yourself off the couch after ten years of inactivity, leap onto your rusty old bike and win the Tour de France!  You need to stretch, limber up, get in shape, maintain your equipment and start off slowly.  Eventually you will be able to go the long haul, but start off with baby steps.  The same holds true for writing.  You need to get a decent computer (or pen and paper will do for now), learn the basics of writing (you may already have them, or you will hopefully learn them through this website), brush up on you skills, take a deep breath and start writing something – anything to get you headed down the path of writing.  Soon you’ll be busting through the finish line of your first book!

Most importantly, surround yourself with loved ones and people who share your joy of writing and reading.  They will inspire you and give you the strength to follow your dreams.  Writing for profit is a TOUGH business to crack into.  Write first because you love the craft and your passion will ignite your work.  Only then will you be a great writer (maybe not a rich author, but a great writer!).  Have patience and faith that hard work does pay off.  It may take years, but hang in there !  And lastly, savour the small victories and use them to fuel your spirit.  If but one person is inspired or touched by your writing, then you will have fulfilled your dream!