Before I head into the details of this current blog post I just want to update you on a new series I want to run. On Saturday I ran a post showing SJI Holliday’s debut novel cover along with some questions. It proved a popular post. Readers enjoyed the insight the questions added to the cover, so I thought I’d do the same questions with any cover reveals authors are interested in doing on the blog. So if you’re a reader of the blog or crime novelist and you want your cover revealing and fancy answering the same questions, then let me know. You can find Susi’s post Here.
This week the focus was on editing. Reviewing and rewriting. It wanted you to learn how to be ruthless with your own work, explaining that the initial writing was to be done with perfect freedom and without censorship.
It provided an example of an overly wordy piece of text and asked you to edit it down to just two sentences. It then showed you a version of two sentences you could have chosen and why it worked that way and why they had cut out the rest. It explained the need to cut out overused words such as “quite” and “really” as well as needing to consider style, voice and rhythm.
The course then asked you to start a story using between 200-350 words and submit it for critique by your fellow students. I decided to start the opening paragraph to a novel that has been running through my head for a while but that isn’t part of the Hannah Robbins series.
Next, we had to critique between one and three of these pieces submitted by other students doing the same. We had guidelines to follow for this. I did three. The first one was okay to do. The second two were a lot more difficult because the stories made no sense. And I mean absolutely no sense. This was the biggest lesson of the week for me. Critiquing someone with kindness when you don’t understand what they have said or written.
It did illuminate that this is not a course for someone wanting to get some serious skills out of a creative writing course. For that you need one that is going to offer tutor input and a free course, one that is just supplying materials and leaving students to get the gist themselves, is not going to offer that.
The most interesting part of the course this week was starting that opening paragraph to another novel!