East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Writing a writing course

That’s what I will do during the two weeks of vacations that start today – I will write a writing course.

The idea started after a long chat with a friend, about how there is people out there – mostly kids – spending hundreds of euros on writing courses in which individuals with very dubious qualifications but very aggressive propaganda teach them poorly the very basics, usually in such a soulless, dogmatic way that the poor kids emerge completely crippled.

Now, how to defuse such a state of affairs?

Of course, if you are fluent in English, you can follow Brandon Sanderson’s lessons for free on Youtube, and for about 150 bucks per year you can get the Masterclass writing courses, if that’s your cup of tea, and learn all you can from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Joyce Carol Oates, David Mamet or Margaret Atwood.
But here’s the rub – a lot of Italian teenagers are not that hot with English, and so they end up shelling out their hard-earned savings to get some commonplace writing guidelines (“show don’t tell”, “write what you know”) from individuals that would not manage to write their way out of a paper bag.

So, why not put together a very basic writing course, one covering all the basics, a course that’s easy to read and fun, and then give it away for free?
Say, applying to it a Creative Commons license?

And that’s what I am doing – I have currently about 2500 words of it.
It will be in both Italian and English, and I will try and distribute it through a variety of channels, starting with my Patreon pages and then my blogs and socials.
The idea is too provide the basic writer’s toolbox to all that are interested, and also to nurture a mindset that will make it harder for self-styled gurus to push their half-assed belief systems on the unwary … because they will not be unwary any longer.

And for starters… it’s a lot harder going than I thought it would be.


A complete writing course for 4 bucks

So, the idea was to check out a few short story collections to use them as writing handbooks. And the real problem is, as usual, to select the right books. There’s a few personal collections I’d recommend, like Bradbury’s and Dahl’s from Everyman Classics, or The Best of Charles De Lint, and a few others – say Chandler’s The Simple Art of Murder. These I have mentioned often in the past, and are wort checking out (and make for great gifts at Christmas).

But right now I’d like to point out a series of books that might be worth a look, that by providing a grab-bag of different authors writing within one genre and about a narrow range of topics, make for a great resource as one-stop tutorials.

Continue reading


A new MOOC and journaling

what_is_moocToday I took the first lesson in a new MOOC I’ve joined – the Futurelearn Start Writing Fiction MOOC presented by the Open University.

I like the idea of learning more about what’s fast becoming my everyday job – and joining an online course is both entertaining and a good way to put some order in the jumble of skills I’ve taught myself through the years. Continue reading