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What Kind Of Writing Course Is Best For You?

August 4th, 2017

First, thanks to Maria for last week’s blog. It must be great to attend one of her courses in such a wonderful setting. I can feel myself turning green just thinking about it!

Like her, I’ve no interest in criticizing taking a master’s degree in writing, but there’s no getting away from the fact that this option is now horribly expensive and I have talked to a number of people who really have been quite disappointed by the experience. Whereas they wanted (and expected) something practical, instead they have been faced with theory and found themselves no nearer publication at the end than at the beginning. In addition, they’ve felt there has been a lack of interaction with their tutor.

So, my advice would be to always do your research thoroughly before making any decision – or paying any money! Look at all the options, whether it’s a university course, a week-long course (like the one Maria runs, or those organised by Arvon at their various sites) or a distance learning course where you have one-to-one contact with and feedback from your tutor. Then decide what’s best for you.

And don’t forget, if you are considering the distance learning option (like our Writers Bureau courses) you usually have a trial period where you can send for the course, and look through it before actually committing yourself. This does provide a safeguard, so always make sure that any organisation you research offers this feature.

I’ve just been looking at details of the Caledonian Novel Award for 2018. It’s for unpublished novels by unpublished or self-published, un-agented writers. The work may be in any genre and should be at least 50,000 words. To enter you should email the first 20 pages of your novel and a 200-word synopsis to them (if you are longlisted your completed novel must be available by 6 December!) Full details are available on their website. The entry fee is a hefty £25 but the prize is £1000 and an additional special prize of a week-long writing course at Moniack Mhor, which until 2015 was part of the Arvon group which I mentioned earlier.

And while were back on the subject of Arvon, their Lumb Bank centre is an 18th-century mill-owner’s house in West Yorkshire, which once belonged to Ted Hughes. The house has a breathtaking view to the valley below –  a Pennine landscape of woods and rivers, weavers’ cottages, packhorse trails and ruins of old mills. It’s half a mile from the historic village of Heptonstall which is one of my favourite places in the world. The ruins of the old church and the churchyard of St Thomas is incredibly atmospheric (especially at sunrise, early evening and in bad weather) and it’s interesting to note that although Ted Hughes isn’t buried there his wife, Sylvia Plath, is. We’ve all eventually to be buried or have our ashes scattered somewhere, and I can’t think of a better place.

Finally, the deadline for our Limerick Competition has been extended until 6th August – so you’ve still time to enter if you get your skates on.

My guest next week is Elise Raven who will be explaining how she achieves cinematic vision when she’s writing screen plays.

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About The Author: Diana Nadin

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