ProTalk Discussion: About Writing Courses - 9/21/04


*** Verla has set the topic on channel #kidlit to ProTalk Discussion -About Writing Courses - IN PROGRESS
Verla: Okay everyone...
Deetie: hey, hey, hey.
Anne_Marie: It's FAAAAAAT albert
Anne_Marie: Sorry, I couldn't resist. :)
els: I was thinking that too, lol
Verla: Tonight is the fourth in our series of 34 ProTalk Discussions and the topic tonight is About Writing Courses
els: heya Terse!
els: hi LJ
Terseverse: Hi!
els: oops
dystar: els, stop wiggling
els: I *can't*
Verla pounds on the table. BEHAVE attendees! <lol>
Verla: This ProTalk Discussion is NOW IN SESSION
WriterMel: humph.
LindaJoy: (hi to everyone)
Verla: (good grief. Els, open the dungeon door please... if anyone gets outta line here, throw em down there)
els: ok!
WriterMel: and what about ELS?
WriterMel: Who's gonna throw HER down, I wanna know?
Anne_Marie: I'll shiver her timbers for her if she gets out of line.
els: I can give myself a turn or two ont he rack if need be- We updated to electronic
Verla: YOU may have that privilage, mel
Verla: Okay... who besides me has taken any kind of writing courses?
dystar: I have
Anne_Marie: I have, Verla!!
varia: not me
Terseverse: not as an adult
Anne_Marie: I've also taught them. Hee hee.
Verla: wow... you have, AM?
els: I've taken a writing course or two
Deetie: i took a few courses, verla.
LindaJoy: I've never taken any writing courses...just here for support
Verla: cool!
els: and I dropped out halfway through both
Anne_Marie: Community college
ShirleyH: I taught a couple. Does that count?
Verla: so we have lots of different experiences
Anne_Marie: High school
Verla: yes, it certainly does, Shirley and AM
LindaJoy: My dad took a class for me when I was 14, does that count?
Verla: no lj
ShirleyH: LOL
dystar: I took one on kidlit last spring
Verla: okay...
LindaJoy: I was rejected by a writing course when I was 14...does that count?
WriterMel: and I've taken one.
varia: i forgot my pen (whispering
shelly: i've never taken any
WriterMel passes varia a pen
LindaJoy: here's a pen (whispering)
Verla: dy was first to say she'd taken a course... tell us about it, dy
Verla: what kind of course was it?
Verla: where?
varia: thank you (still whispering)
dystar: it was local, here in Calgary, taught by a local author
dystar: specifically on writing for children and young adults
dystar: Cathy Beveridge was the teacher, if you're interested
dystar: she has 4 books out now (I think) and is a school teacher
Verla: Oh, cool, dy
Verla: What did you get out of the course, specifically , dy?
els: (Hi Pamela!!! whispering...)
Verla: QUIET els!
Terseverse: Does ICL give an option as to which classes to take?
NOTE: ICL is the Institute of Children's Literature correspondence course
PamelaRoss: Hi all... School's in, Back to Work {} sssh, whispering back
PamelaRoss: {}
dystar: we went over the basics, which was useful -- although i was depressed to find out that I'd taken notes on the same thing from a course i'd taken years ago, and they were the same
Verla: Good question, terseverse...
dystar: I'd just forgotten them!
Terseverse: Or do you start at level one and move up?
els zips her lips
Verla: what kind of money did you have to pay for the course, dy?
dystar: she also brought in a guest speaker one night, to talk about humour, which was VERY useful
Verla: and would you recommend that kind of local class for others?
dystar: you know, I can't remember, Verla ... i think it was around $200
Verla: and how long did the class last, dy?
dystar: oh yes, I'd recommend it
dystar: weekly for 4 months
Verla: nice
Verla: Okay...AM has also taught and attended classes...
dystar: she taught us, then we did critiques of each other's works
Verla: which ones, AM?
Anne_Marie: Yup.
Verla: (oh, sorry. I didn't know you weren't done, dy. Anything else you want to share while you are still on the podium?)
dystar: just that I did find it useful
Anne_Marie: I had writing courses in both college and graduate school. Because I was preparing to teach English, we had to learn to teach writing, and the best way for that to happen is a writing-intensive workshop type thing. I've also taken the first ICL course.
Verla holds dy and AM apart... NO fighting over the podium, girls!
dystar leaps off
Anne_Marie: The college courses were mainly good about learning the writing process, really digging deep into what writing is supposed to accomplish and various ways to approach a piece of work.
Verla: awesome, AM... what did you find most helpful in terms of writing for kids?
Anne_Marie: Reading Peter Elbow, Donald Murray, etc.
Anne_Marie: In terms of writing for kids . ..
Verla: so they were better for the mechanics of writing well, in your opinion....
Anne_Marie: I went into the ICL course thinking I knew everything.
Verla: (Don't we all, AM?)
Anne_Marie: Because I really did have a good grasp on the writing process, I felt it would be pretty elementary.
Verla: I know I went into the course thinking the same thing, AM (With ICL)
Anne_Marie: In some ways it was.
Verla: yep
Anne_Marie: But what ICL does is it pulls together a lot of information in one package.
WriterMel: (I'm also an ICL graduate)
varia: Knowing the recommended reading is good AM
Anne_Marie: It reviews the writing process, then applies what you've learning or reviewing to writing for kids, which is a totally different ball game than journalism or academic writing.
Anne_Marie: Plus, I had a great instructor.
Verla: but.. it also made me dig deep inside myself, too. Taught me how to find stories inside myself, how to craft them well for today's kids, and then how to market them. It also taught me PATIENCE, as it was all done via snail mail... just like most real subs are
Verla: what did you get out of your ICL course, mel?
Anne_Marie: For me, it kept me on track. I had little kids, no time for a critique group, and no knowledge of how to find one.
Anne_Marie: The lessons kept me writing and the feedback kept me encouraged.
WriterMel: First, I learned to accept critiques of my work.
Anne_Marie: That's a good point, Mel--not everyone is ready for that.
Verla: (And to answer your question from earlier, Terseverse, yes, ICL now has different courses. They have a short story/articles only one, and a full course - that I know of.)
WriterMel: I never knew there was so much more to writing than what I ever thought.
Verla: yep. I agree.
Terseverse: Can I choose which to take?
els: I dropped out of ICL
Verla: Even when you already write well, you can still benefit from that "one on one" instruction/TLC you get from ICL
WriterMel: And I had two different instructors...both had different ways.
WriterMel: Oh, Els!
WriterMel: Absolutely!
WriterMel: and no, Terse, you can't.
Verla: yes, terse... I think they are different prices, too. Short story/mag course is less expensive, I believe)
WriterMel: ICL is picky about their students... but they did an awesome thing for me.
varia: Picky? in getting in mel?
WriterMel: That's the graduate course, Verla, and I don't think you can take it first.
Anne_Marie: No, Mel, sorry but there is a new short course and you can pick it.
WriterMel: Can I tell what ICL did for me? How AWESOME they were?
Verla: nope, they have two primary courses now, mel
Anne_Marie: You're thinking of the advanced courses.
Verla: Jan Fields is an instructor for one of them
WriterMel: Really? Super!
Anne_Marie: There are four total--two beginner, two advanced.
Verla: they still have a graduate course for the "main" one
WriterMel: I can tell you one thing.... ICL is NOT in it only for the money.
Verla: okay, I didn't know about the other advanced one, AM
WriterMel: I'm living proof.
Anne_Marie: One for books and one advanced magazines.
Verla: They truly CARE about their students, yes, mel
WriterMel: Can I tell? huh? Can I?
Verla: I tried for several years to become an instructor for them, but I didn't have enough publishing credits for them.
Anne_Marie: Well, let's be realistic. It's a for-profit business.
dystar: how much does ICL cost?
Anne_Marie: That doesn't mean they don't provide a good product at a good value.
Anne_Marie: But they are trying to make money.
WriterMel: Well, AM, they DID NOT make money off of me.
Terseverse: $675
els: about $600 american, Dy
WriterMel: I had to drop out of the course.
Verla: when I finally did go through their training stuff, they literally put me through the mill.
WriterMel: And three years later, they sent me a letter. Offering to let me come back.
Verla: yes, it's expensive. But they do allow you to pay a small down payment and make monthly payments. It's the only way I could afford it
Verla: but it was WELL worth it.
WriterMel: They would send me all new materials... but GAVE ME CREDIT for the money I'd previously paid in!
Verla: and yes, they are wonderful about that, mel
WriterMel: I agree, Verla.
Anne_Marie: That's great, Mel.
WriterMel: I got everything all over again, brand new.
Terseverse: What if I do't sigh up by my deadline of Oct 6
WriterMel: And I only had to pay $240
Anne_Marie: When you consider how much professional critiques cost, plus the materials, it's comparable.
Anne_Marie: Terse, you can sign up whenever you like.
WriterMel: Sign up anyway... you'll get a different instructor, maybe.
Terseverse: I am waiting for responses for 3 manuscripts that were requested by an editor
ponytailmo: or just one conference even
Anne_Marie: They'll wait.
Verla: I had to stop for about a year when we were in that terrible earthquake in 1987. Couldn't write for almost a year afterwards... I just couldn't concentrate
Verla: they patiently waited for me
Terseverse: and I don't want to start something on top of something else
Anne_Marie: It took me six and a half years to finish because I kept having babies!
varia: how many writing projects are in one course?
Verla: don't worry about the deadline, terse, unless you specifically want THAT instructor.
Verla: Another will be available for you when you are ready to start the course
els: was it 12, I think, Varia?
Terseverse: At this point I don't have a preference
LindaJoy: do they give you a choice of teachers or just assign?
Anne_Marie: Varia, there are 7 or 10 assignments, depending on which course you take. Most of the assignments give you a finished piece. Not all--some of them build on each other.
Anne_Marie: They assign but you can ask for someone else.
Verla: LOL AM
Anne_Marie: And you can switch.
Verla: I got mine done in three years, I think
Anne_Marie: Or you can say, "When so and so is available, I'll start"
WriterMel: They also teach you how to research your markets and target your writing toward those markets.
Verla: there's less lessons in the new magazine course
Terseverse: any recommendations?
Verla: I know there's 10 lessons in the main course... with two extra ones if you are writing a picture book
Verla: thanks, AM.
Verla: BUT... I do NOT recommend switching unless it is absolutely VITAL
WriterMel: I would suggest read all about their instructors online, and pick the one that writes what you write.
Terseverse: Verla, did yoiu have someone that wrote in verse?
Verla: No I didn't, terse
Verla: but I didn't write anything in verse during the course
LindaJoy: oh, so the instructors are listed online? That would be helpful.
Verla: each instructor has a different way of teaching/instructing. And if you stay with the same instructor through the entire course, you truly build a close relationship with her/him
Terseverse: Does it matter?
Verla: nope
Terseverse: Would it have helped if they had?
Verla: you are learning to write well...
Verla: everything you learn you can apply to your verse later, terse
Verla: I think it would have hindered my total "learning" package, terse.
WriterMel: yes, on ICL's website they have pictures & bio's of the teachers. I'm not sure if all of the teachers are listed, though.
Verla: if you learn to write/craft a really good story in prose, then you know what needs to be in your verse stories
varia: what is ICL's web address?
Verla: (I'll get it for you, varia)
varia: thank you verla
Verla: Okay... Shirley? Els? You both said you took/taught classes.
Verla: Tell us about them please?
els: I took an online course through Barnes and Noble, I think it was, that I found difficult to navigate. I dropped that one fairly soon.
els: that was about 4 or 5 years ago
els: I also took the ICL class, up to about lesson 5
ShirleyH: I've never taken a real class. I learned from reading a lot--and also from another writer who used to come to chat. She took me under her wing and taught me.
els: at which point I decided to drop the class
ponytailmo: why did you drop els?
els: For several reasons- one, I started trying to write for kids because I thought that would be more acceptable to my family than writing what I really loved- adult fantasy
els: I just can't seem to really write for kids, though- it isn't in me, so the course wasn;'t well suited
els: two, my ICL instructor was more interested in writing to me about her horses than about my work
els: I guess those were the two main considerations
els: so I agree the course is great for those wanting to write for kids for more pure reasons than I had. :)
Terseverse: Verla, how long after you decided to write for kids did you take the ICL course?
Verla: Almost immediately, terse.
Verla: I didn't have a clue how to submit stories...where to send them... etc. And felt I needed "guidance". I didn't realize I also needed to know how to CRAFT my stories for kids
Terseverse: had you submitted before you took the class?
Verla: No, because I didn't know where to send my stories, terse
Verla: (I was starting stories with.. Johnny woke up in the morning, got out of bed, brushed his teeth, got dressed and went downstairs. He ate his breakfast of cereal, milk, juice and toast, picked up his school books and walked down the street to wait for the bus....
els: lol, kia
Verla: instead of starting stories with, Johnny punched Sam in the nose. "Take that!" he yelled, stuffing his pet boa back into his backpack.
WriterMel: That's a good story start, Verla.
Verla: I mean, really. Which story would YOU want to read?
Verla: It is, isn't it, mel? I should write it. LOL
Verla: I have another course I'd like to mention...
Verla: I also took the Writer's Digest Novel Writing correspondence course
Verla: I was writing a YA novel...
els: how was that Verla?
Verla: and my ICL instructor told me I could NOT write it for children, because of the content. <sigh. How I wish I'd just gone ahead with my gut instincts. It would have been one of the first cutting edge YA's to be published if it had been picked up)
Amishka: Verla, good thing you didn't send out that Johnny story
els: I am developing a fantasy writing world building course for Writing City, though (yeek, how could I forget to mention that...)
dystar: that's neat, els
varia: what is writing city?
els: (I'll tell you in a minute, varia)
Verla: It had an Aides theme, els
els: wow
Verla: so I changed the entire story line to an adult mystery and took the WD Novel Writing Course
Verla: my first instructor left after about 5 weeks...
Verla: the second instructor came on board and the first thing she said was, "This isn't an adult story.. This is YA."
Verla: Screeeeeeeeech!
Verla: so I changed the story line BACK to my original one, and tried again.
els: yerk
Verla: Then that instructor left and I got another instructor
ponytailmo: oh dear
Verla: (Did I have BO or something?)
dystar: was this the WD course, verla?
Verla: the next instructor didn't like YA... Sigh
Verla: Writer's Digest Novel Writing Course, yes, dy
varia: sniff sniff
WriterMel: Geez, Verla.
els: very frustrating, Kia
WriterMel: Did you get anything of value out of the course at all?
dystar: so ... you wouldn't recommend that one, then?
Verla: then they sent me my diploma, before I'd even sent in the last lesson!
els: oh man!
Verla: I got nothing of value from the instructors...
ponytailmo: you were just so good, they had to do something ;0
Verla: but the course materials they sent me were awesome
varia: cost?
Amishka: It might be different with different instructors
Verla: It was a fraction of the ICL course, varia... back then (in the early 90's) I think it was around $250
PamelaRoss: This is definitely not a celebrity endorsement for the WD course. :{
Verla: ah, but their course materials alone were worth the price, pamela
Verla: who needs their instructors?
ponytailmo: good point
dystar: what were the materials?
Verla: I got terrific info from the course materials (which I still have and treasure)
PamelaRoss: Glad something good came out if it. {}
WriterMel: LOL! Apparently not you, Verla?
Verla: well, more to the point, I didn't GET their instructors, mel. LOL
Verla: they sent me folders for my story elements
Verla: showed me how to set the scene for the story
Verla: how to build characters
Verla: how to build story "arcs"
ponytailmo: how do you think it compares to the ICL course?
Verla: with minor climaxes leading up to the major climax point of the story
Verla: I never took a novel writing course via ICL, pony... so that's a little like comparing apples and oranges. But...
Verla: I do know that ICL taught me the basics of what creates a really good CHILDREN's story. WD course taught me how to write a NOVEL
Verla: I loved one of the WD ideas...
Verla: to do a character sketch of each main character, and of the minor ones, too. Then.. find pictures in catalogs/magazines that look like your character at different times of their life throughout your story
Verla: and put the character's picture on a page along with his/her "bio"
els: hey, I do that now- except I draw my characters
Verla: it made a "bible" to use throughout the book so you didn't forget that she had blue eyes, and a birthmark on her right shoulder
Verla: yeah, but you are an artist, els. You can draw.
PamelaRoss: Nice idea.
els: well- I didn't mean it that way, just that that is what I do- no one told me to, lol.
Verla: stick figures of three people are hard to tell the difference between. LOL
Deetie: for you, maybe, verla.
Verla: I also created a really GOOD character outline
WriterMel: I have a writer friend that buys photo clip art, and uses it for pictures of her characters.. she'll find several pics of the same person.
Verla: which I'm trying to get posted on my website, IF I ever get the Getting Started page the rest of the way upgraded
Verla: yep. Same idea, mel
dystar: writing plays taught me the value of characterization
els: you mean like a worksheet to create a character with, Verla?
Verla: yes, els
els: neato keen!
Verla: I have a really detailed one I made up
Verla: It's somewhere...
NOTE: The character chart was located and is now posted on Verla Kay's website. It's listed in Resources on the Getting Started Page.
Verla: and the information of what went into it came directly from that WD writing courswe
Verla: course
dystar: I've been using character sheets. They are amazingly helpful
Verla: if someone really wants to write novels, that IS a good course to take
Verla: yep, dy. I agree
els: so you do recommend it despite the difficulties you had?
Verla: yes, I believe I just had a "bad run of luck" with my instructors, els. I've talked to others that took it and had great instructors
Verla: sometimes, that just happens. things just don't work out right for someone
els: yes- like with me and my ICL instructor- everyone else I know has had great experiences.
Verla: yep, els. Exactly
Verla: I literally worship my first instructor.
Verla: from ICL, I mean
Verla: Patricia Calvert was my first instructor with ICL
els: Verla, do you mind if I post the link to writing city U for varia?
Verla: please do, els!
els: Writing City is a new online university started by our own Greg Fishbone- also known as Tem2
Verla: Yes, I'm supposed to be writing a course for that, els. <bad me!>
els: he is pulling together inexpensive courses for writers.
els: hehe, Verla
els: to take online, with 24/7 access
*** Guest364 has joined channel #Kidlit
WriterMel: How much is it, Els?
Verla: I don't think it has started yet, has it els?
els: it depends on which course you take, Mel, and most of them aren't posted yet- it is new. I think there is one free course posted now
Verla: Hi guest...
Verla: we're talking about differences between writing courses right now... Jump in and join us, Guest!
els: maybe none of them are posted yet- I've been a bit out of touch with it lately- still developing my own course
Verla: so has anyone else had any experiences with different writing courses that they would like to share? Or questions they'd like answered?
els: yes- Disputes in Grammar and Usage is posted, and that one is free
dystar: thanks for telling us about it, els
els: and a second one-
Terseverse: Off topic, but Verla do you do manuscript exchange thru SCBWI?
els: Seperated by a Common Language
PamelaRoss: I studied with Connie Epstein-- one of the Board members from SCBWI. Based the course on her WRITING FOR CHILDREN book. She is nurturing and wise.
Guest364: Thanks for hosting this chat. Sorry if you've discussed it earlier: what I'm looking for is an online critique group for children's picture books. I found one group childrens-writers but didn't see any critique rather other questions. Thanks.
Verla: I used to, terse... but let's talk about that after this ProTalk Discussion is ended (in about 6 minutes....)
Terseverse: Thanks.
Verla: ah.. you need to post a message on the list asking for other picture book writers to start up a critique group with you, terse
els: umm, thats separated, not seperated (els blushes crimson)
Verla: I'm sorry. That was guest that asked that, not terse!
Verla turns herself over to els for punishment
varia: els mentioned B & N courses, has anyone anything good to say about any of their courses?
Terseverse: LOL
els: mwahaha
Verla: eeek, els!
els: they were free, Varia!
els: thats always good.
Verla: they were, els?
varia: the books aren't
Verla: that's good for limited budgets
els: the course I took was
els: but it was a pain in the neck to navigate- and I was new to the net
Verla: has anyone here taken any of Anastasia's courses?
Verla: I have heard nothing but great things from her online courses
dystar: her book is good
Verla: about her courses I mean, not from her courses
PamelaRoss: Verla: I did but had to leave mid-way when my mom became sick. {} She is fantastic.
Verla: Oh, I'm sorry, pamela. Would she let you pick up and finish the course midway during the next one?
Verla: or did you ever ask her about that?
PamelaRoss: I suppose she would have... Didn't even think to do that. <g> And my mom is doing great so alls well that ends well. <g>
Verla: Anastasia is a wonderful writer! And apparently a very good teacher, too
Guest364: Has anyone any experience/opinion about Uma Krishnaswami's children's writing course?
Verla: well, contact her and ASK, pamela. Doesn't hurt to ASK. All she can say is, No. And we writers are used to hearing THAT word, right? (At least most of us are. LOL)
els: lol
Verla: I haven't guest.. anyone else had?
varia: Ha Ha Ha verla LOL
Verla: anything else anyone wants to share before we close?
els: I have no experience, but I have met Uma- she knows her stuff
Verla: Over all, I would highly recommend SOME course for most people. If nothing else, it helps to discipline you into regular writing habits.
Guest364: Has anyone any opinion/experience about Institute for Children's Writing? Their courses seem rather pricey.
els: Verla- are you going to post the transcript for this chat?
Verla: yes, we talked extensively about them earlier, guest. I'll post the transcript tonight on the Transcripts page so you can read all about what was said
Verla: yes, els. GRIN
els: hehe
els: great minds
els: wot wot
Verla: as soon as I leave here, I'll get it up ASAP
Verla: yep, els
WriterMel: LOL, Guest.
Verla: Okay... any last words from anyone?
WriterMel: I *adored* their course and they work with you extensively.
*** kimmar has joined channel #Kidlit
els: I think once the transcript is up a lot of questions about ICL will be answered for you, Guest
Verla: The most important thing is to WRITE
els: Hi Kimmar!
kimmar: hi all!
Verla: and to learn all you can before submitting
varia: Hi Kim
PamelaRoss: Kim {}
kimmar: pamela???????
Verla: so that you know what you are submitting is publishable material
PamelaRoss: Like the phoenix, I rise again <g>
Verla: editors say that 90% of what they get is NOT publishable
kimmar: {{{{}}}}
WriterMel: hey, kimmar!
WriterMel: How goes the writing?
kimmar: is the protalk over?
Verla: so if you are in that 10%, your manuscripts will shine like jewels!
varia: not yet but near
els: just about, Kim
dystar: got to go, night all
Verla: just ending, kimmar
els: night Dy
kimmar: dance class, lol, sorry so late
Verla: Thanks for coming everyone...
els: thanks for having us!
els: Guest- is this your first time in here?
varia: good stuff Verla
Terseverse: Thank you for all the info
Verla: and... Next Time, on October 5th, our discussion will be...
Verla: Plotting Perfect Stories
els: oooh- good subject, Verla!
varia: I wrote down several courses
Guest364: Yes.
els: welcome
els: and welcome to you too, Terse Verse!
WriterMel: Then, Guest, you MUST visit Verla's Board.
Guest364: i'll try it. thanks for telling me about it.
Terseverse: thanks, I've been a lurker for over a year now on Verla's site
els: gasp- a LURKER
kimmar: verla do you post transcripts?
Verla: And I will be counting on all of you to share your best plotting tips with us
Verla: yes, kimmar
els: now we know you are there you have to post
varia: Hi Terse
Verla: this one will be up in a couple of hours
els: Hi Mir!
Verla: or sooner...
varia: I was a lurker too
Verla: :-)
kimmar: yippee
WriterMel: Guest! You shouldn't say that in front of VERLA! *gasps*
Verla: oooooo, LURKERS, eh?
varia: but one night here was all it took
Amishka: Kimmar I just sent you ITG
Verla hands the whip to els and says, "Go Get 'em, Els!"
Verla: LOL varia...
els: Mwahahahahahahahaha
varia: but Verla I am active now
Guest364: Why?
Verla: we are really a friendly bunch. (When we aren't torturing people in the dungeon...)
Amishka: she was just kidding guest
els: oh, just joking, guest
Verla: (because I might turn els .... our local dungeon mistress who LOVES to torture people... onto you, guest)
varia: No she WAS NOT AMI and you know that
kimmar: good mish! I look forward to it
varia: she always tortures people
Verla: heh heh... we really love each other in here, guest
Verla: and love to have FUN as well as learn. See you all next time, people! On October 5th...
Log file closed at: 9/21/04 7:08:58 PM

Verla Kay
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