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Learning the Rules of Writing

Sep 17, 2008
Yes, writing has rules, just like everything else. One of the greatest things about writing is that most people can become good, selling writers in only two years. One of the biggest problems in writing is that most people produce in their spare time and don't try to find their potential.

Many wannabe writers hide behind the excuse that they didn't learn punctuation and English basics well enough in their formative years. If that is your situation, most good schools have brush-up courses for that purpose.

Some students will say they are to old to learn new things, but to that I say, "Bah. Humbug." I have no short-term memory, yet I keep managing to learn as long as I apply myself daily, and I'm closing in on 70 years of age. If I can do it, you most certainly can, too.

Writing is a great hobby. It will give you a chance to spread your wings. Some people will be better at it than others, but that's okay. Give yourself permission to not be at the head of the class. My guess is you won't be at the rear, either.

If you want to learn Short Story writing, a course will teach you how to set a theme, develop a plot, target your audience, and choose your point of view. You will learn how to cast your characters, create good dialog, and use word imagery for settings. Next, you must learn to build the conflict, cut your verbiage, and perhaps most important of all, learn "Show, Don't Tell". There's a lot to short story writing and it's fun.

To learn writing for children (which is not any easier than writing for adults, trust me), you will begin by outlining your story, fleshing out your characters, studying market techniques, building your point of view, Show, Don't Tell, creating good dialog, editing your drafts, polishing your final draft, and creating queries and cover letters.

If you're interested in learning Fantasy writing, you will learn histories of the genre, and subgenres. You will learn how to find inspiration, create fantasy characters, create a fantasy world, and create the elements necessary to transport your readers into a believable atmosphere. You will learn how to outline, create a spell that will enchant your readers, and mix magic potions. You'll learn the difference between fantasy writing, horror writing and sci-fi writing.

Writing will teach you to have a 'tougher skin' so that more advanced students can offer comments on your work. You will learn to profit by it instead of getting hurt and sulking into a corner. As a writer, you must have this attitude. It is one of the few absolutes. Rejection is a large part of writing, and you should know that going in.

I would leave you with one last piece of advice. I thought I was the exception to the rule, and that I could skip ahead to advanced learning because I wanted it bad enough and I had an excellent foundation in English. I was so wrong. I skipped the beginning elements and when I got deeper into advanced writing, I had to take a brush-up course to learn what I had missed. My pride was crushed.

After I had taken a few courses, I realized how they meshed together to create a larger picture, and I learned that skipping any part of the package only caused me grief in the long run. Alas, I saved neither time nor money.

Please - start at the beginning and work your way through the courses patiently. Learn each one well. Study regularly, listen to your mentors, and do extra homework that is above and beyond the call of duty. In this way, you will ensure a writing career that has no holes in its foundation, and you will be fulfilled.
About the Author
Deborah Owen is the CEO & Founder of a new writing school - Creative Writing Institute. The non-profit school uses mentors to escort each student to their highest potential. Registration opens with a great sale - eight-week courses for only $250. No added fees. School opens Oct. 5. http://www.creativewritinginstitute.com
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