Expensive University Courses
If you want to become a writer but worry about how expensive university courses are, save your money. Learn what they teach you on a Creative Writing degree, without the expensive debt.
Here are the top 5 things they teach on a Creative Writing BA … Ready? Let’s go!
1) Think like a writer
It might sound strange but the first thing they teach you on a Creative Writing BA is how to “think like a writer”. That should go without saying you might think, but here are some handy tips they taught us …
- Make sure you’re always reading something
- Carry a notebook and pen
- Get involved in the literature discussion a.k.a. talk to other writers
- Keep tabs on the bestseller list and who’s at the top of the movie & TV charts
- Wake up every morning and think, “what am I going to write next?”
2) Find your voice
You can pick up a Douglas Adams novel and know immediately it’s it’s a Douglas Adams novel. Same with Charles Dickens. Same with Gillian Flynn. As a writer, that’s what you want, too – to make an impression!
So you need to find “your voice” – this is how you write, how you sound on paper. Essentially what this boils down to your uniqueness. Your voice is so important and it’s what publishers and producers are going to be looking out for. You want people to pick up a piece of writing without knowing who wrote it, but recognise you’re the author straight away.
You don’t have to stick to one medium, genre or style of writing but it helps (especially when you start out). As they say, practice makes perfect – a cliché but true!
It’s great to try out lots of different types of writing to see what excites you most. When you’ve found a genre or type of writing stick to it, at least for a couple of years. It’ll grow your knowledge of that particular genre, style or medium.
Once you’ve learned the rules of what works, then you can break the rules … and that’s when you’ll truly stand out to producers and publishers.
This might seem obvious but take a look at the world around you. Go sit in a cafe, a park, a pub; bring your notebook and just jot down what you see, hear, smell. These observations might feel fruitless but those moments can be used to make your narrative feel more authentic and real.
Little moments are what make a story relatable to the reader. And keep in mind, without truly observing the world around you, it’s easy to write in clichés.
In this modern age, research is essential. Even if you’re setting your book or screenplay in a totally fantastical universe, there will still need to be some fact-checking while you’re writing. It only takes a reader one quick Google search to disprove something! So you need to do your research, especially when writing something you haven’t experienced. Plus, truth makes writing more believable. MORE: 5 Ways Of Bringing Real Life Into Storytelling
BIO: Patrick Walsh, founded PublishingPush.com in 2014. PublishingPush.com is a self-publishing company based in the UK. Patrick started the company because he didn’t feel like the current publishing strategies were fair on authors. Writing after all, is an art form, not a commodity; and he wanted to give everyone the chance to get published.
You really do have to learn how to see before you can learn how to write. Having an expensive university education in something else gives a context but nothing beats lived experience. The difference between Robert Ludlum’s spy novels (he was an actor, not a spook)and John Le Care novels (Real name David Cornwell, who was a spook) is not in their entertainment value, but in the audience they attract.
One has to be aware of realities outside your own knowledge. Stories that really suck are the ones where the story teller has missed something important when they looked at the world. Some fall hard at the first hurdle – a lot of writers and directors get it badly wrong when they put an aeroplane or helicopter into their story. There are a lot of really badly designed space ships out there too.
Audiences are increasingly demanding ‘authenticity’ and that’s where detailed knowledge is necessary. Robert Ludlum and David Cornwell both used real locations they’d actually seen in their stories, up to putting their character in the same chair in the hotel restaurant, looked at the pictures on the walls and knew the story of the place.