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Writing has rules. Like Terry Eagleton rightly pointed out, if you do not believe in one set of rules, it only means that you do believe in another. So, pick up as many rules on writing as possible so that you have a lot to choose from and can make some of your own. Be creative!
We offer one-on-one creative writing classes for all ages. It starts with reading and end with writing. In between, there are tours through theories, homework, feedback on everything you send us, patented lessons in grammar for quick editing, rewriting, online publishing, taking part in competitions, Google meet sessions and Clubhouse discussions with your classmates.
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We have given the syllabus for short fiction right here. We can send you the syllabi for other genres on demand. The book shown here is an international anthology of poems edited by Charles Ades Fishman from New York University. My poems too is there.
You may register for the course or ask for details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Syllabus for Short Fiction
Part I (Beginner Level – 20 hours)
Lesson 1: Parts of a short story
To discuss stories conveniently, we should give some names to their parts. Short stories have at least 12 parts or aspects and some of these become more important than the others as trends change. A good idea of these aspects can help you in analyzing and discussing your own stories as well as the others’.
Homework 1.1 : Give an example for each of the elements of the short story Kids in the Kindergarten.
Homework 1.2 : Write a short story in 500 – 800 words, based on the given picture.
Lesson 2: Short Story and Literary Theory
Short Story is a very popular form of literature as of now. It shares certain aspects with other genres of literature and differs in other aspects. A good idea about Structuralism, Psychoanalysis, Reader Reception, Phenomenology, Deconstruction, Post Modernism and Humanism can can help you get more out of the stories you read.
Homework 2.1 : Based on the model given, write a review on a story of your choice from any two of the following perspectives: Structuralism, Psychoanalysis, Reader Reception, Phenomenology, Deconstruction, Post Modernism and Humanism
Homework 2.2 : Complete the given short story.
Lesson 3: Theme and Title
All stories have themes and it is good to know in advance the theme of the story you are writing. A title is a good way to suggest the theme of your short story. It can also be used to distract the reader from easily figuring out the theme of your story, if you choose to do so.
Homework 3.1 : Write down 6 themes on which you may write stories. Suggest titles for each of them.
Homework 3.2 : Write the other side of the given short story.
Lesson 4: Plot, plotting and universal plots.
A plot is more than a proper arrangement of events in a story. A graph can be used to assess and monitor the emotional power and dynamics of your plot. There are easy ways to generate events to fill up the plot line. It is said that there are only seven plot patterns whose permutation and combination can give us any number of plots. Knowing them can be of help in creating plot milestones in stories. This concept has the power to help us brainstorm on how to fill the plot graph.
Homework 4.1 : Find two examples for each of the universal plot patterns.
Homework 4.2 : Create a plot and an emotional graph of the same using the methods suggested in the class.
Homework 4.3 : Write a story in which all the seven universal plot patterns appear.
Homework 4.4 : Arrange the given plot points in three different ways, good, better and best.
Lesson 5: Narration
The narrator has five different functions in the story and narration could happen at four different levels. This is where the author makes his presence felt, even though the whole story comes from the author. This is a very complex act which demands much decision making and selection. A narrator could be outside the story proper, inside the story, be a character in the story or even the main character. The narration could be done from different points of view and in different voices. It could also be fast paced or slow paced. Narration is also how the narrator manipulates time to make the story concise and precise. Together these are known as the narrative instance. It is by using clever narrative devices that the boundary between truth and fiction is blurred.
Homework 5.1: Analyze the story Around the Bent to find different levels and functions of the narrator.
Homework 5.2: Rewrite Brown Girl in the Ring altering its narrative instance.
Lesson 6: Characters
It is good to pick up some little bit of psychology and other ways to brand personality types which we can mix and use to create characters. A good awareness of the internal life of a character will make the character you create very convincing.
Homework 6.1 : You are on a bus. At every stop you change your seat to get to know the co-passengers. Describe any 6 of your co-passengers as realistically as possible.
Homework 6.2 : Write a short story around the given character sketch.
Lesson 7: Dialogue
Dialogue in a story has different purposes. It can either show or hide the motive of a character. It is also used by the author for character revelation.
Homework 7.1 : Mute the voice and watch the following movie clips and then guess and write down the dialogues.
Homework 7.2 : Analyze the six dialogue sequences given and explore the characters present.
Homework 7.3 : 10% of the given story is dialogue and the rest is narration. Rewrite the story reversing the proportion.
Lesson 8: Settings
Details of the place where the story unfolds will make the story more realistic and interesting. Settings can also add to the literary value of the story and give it several layers of meaning.
Homework 8.1 : Choose a day, like the twenty-third, of each of the past six months and describe a different place you were in on that day.
Homework 8.2 : Describe 6 places that correspond to the six of your emotions.
Homework 8.3 : Write a story which happens in the scene given in the picture.
Lesson 9: Tone
The tone of a story is how you tell the story. You can be involved or detached, casual or emotional.
Homework 9.1 : Rewrite the following excerpts from famous short stories in a different mood.
Homework 9.2 : Choose a different tone to retell the suggested historic events.
Lesson 10: Mood
Mood is the emotion you plan to create in the mind of the reader. It can be comic or tragic.
Homework 10.1 &2 : Based on the same theme, write a comedy and a tragedy.
Part II (Advanced – 20 hours)
Lesson 11: Time
To make the story interesting and to provide emphasis and proportion a short story writer has to manipulate time though not as much as a novelist. This requires skill and an awareness about the use of order, pace and frequency.
Homework 11.1 : Rewrite the short story altering its time and arrangement of events
Homework 11.2 : Comment on how time is manipulated in the story Reflections
Lesson 12: Language: slang, dialect, langue and parole
The words, phrases and language variations you choose are important when you write a short story. A rough idea about how language works as images and symbols can improve the quality of your writing.
Homework 12.1 : Identify the images and symbols in the given story. Comment on how they add to the quality of the story.
Homework 12.2 : Write a story using the prompts given. Make sure that your generous use of images and symbols make the story read like a poem.
Lesson 13 : Conflicts, inner and outer
Narrative literature mostly depends on drama and without conflicts and tension there is no drama. Finding ways of pitching the characters against one another or against what is not human or even alive, you can create great tension in the reader’s mind.
Homework 13.1 : Identify the ten greatest moments of conflict in the short stories or novels you have come across.
Homework 13.2 : Write a short story which does not depend on conflicts but is still interesting.
Lesson 14 : How to start and how to end
Well begun is half done and if you have a good ending also it is totally well done. It helps a lot to have a clear idea about hooks, first sentences, climax and landing.
Homework 14.1 : Write down the starting paragraphs of five of your favorite stories and suggest five different endings for each of them.
Homework 14.2 : Write a short story which begins in delight and ends in wisdom. You may use a poem by Robert Frost for a story line.
Lesson 15 : Points of View
There are several points of view which you can take when you are telling a story. Employing a point of view which fits your purpose will surely make your story highly effective.
Homework 15.1 : Retell a famous story from a different point of view.
Homework 15.2 : Write an original story using nothing but letters, diary entries and newspaper reports.
Lesson 16 : Emoting the reader using character identification
Effective storytelling is when the reader thinks it is his own life and emotionally undergoes whatever the hero undergoes. There are ways in which great writers make this happen. Once you know a good number of them, your stories too will move your readers.
Homework 16.1 : List ten incidents in stories or movies which made you cry and ten which made your smile but not laugh.
Homework 16.2 : Write a short story without mentioning death, disease or poverty but still has the power to move your readers to tears.
Lesson 17: Great Writers, Great Devices
All writers have their favorite literary devices, some of which are their own inventions. Once you become familiar with such devices, you can make use of them or creates some of your own.
Homework 17.1 : Find five devices from five different writers. Say why you think so in each case.
Homework 17.2 : Rewrite the given story to altering the devices used.
Lesson 18: Rasa and Dhwani in Indian aesthetics
Even though Indian aesthetics is prescriptive in nature, there are ways in which it can be made use of in creating stories that have good emotional power. Moreover, it is absolutely stunning.
Homework 18.1 : Write one incident which can evoke each of the rasas.
Homework 18.2 : Choose any two rasas and write a story to highlight them. You may use the prompts given.
Lesson 19: Metaphors and Layers of meaning
Great stories do have a metaphorical meaning which is usually caught by the readers. This gives the story layers and layers of meaning and interpretations. There are ways in which this can be achieved.
Homework 19.1 : Find five stories which by telling simple tales of ordinary people shows the human condition in clear terms. Add your comments on how it is done in each case.
Homework 19.2 : Adapt a famous crime thriller to make it read also like a metaphor of life.
Lesson 20: Editing and Packing Up
Whatever you write may be OK for your reading but it is not yet fit to be read by others. Thorough editing and rewriting is more than 75% of your work as a writer. There are certain principles in editing a story which can help you to a large extent. There are certain ways to get your story published. Blogs and websites are now free and very important for a writer to have.
Homework 20.1 : Edit and rewrite the given first draft to make it a proper story which fits your standard.
Homework 20.2 : Get two of your stories published in print media.