Last night I taught my first creative writing class. I think it went pretty good. I talked for two hours straight, only taking breaks when people asked questions, and every single topic was something we could have talked about more. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.
There are 84 people enrolled. We filled the biggest classroom they had at this location, and they still had to turn people away. Right now we’re doing it in the same building as the police academy (I requested that because it was closest to the freeway, so I thought it would be the easiest for people coming from Salt Lake City) but if I end up doing this again we’ll have to move it to the Ogden campus where they’ve got bigger classrooms available.
With this class I’m trying to focus on the professional, making a living aspect, rather than the artsy literati side of creative writing. I’m trying to keep it nuts and bolts, practical, pragmatic, get it done and get paid.
This is from the handout. It is more of a checklist of things I want to talk about, than an official schedule. Like last night we spent the first hour on how to write better, and the second half on how to sell your stuff. I think I touched briefly on everything in the business section, but only scratched the surface on a few things. Now I’ve got a list of comments and questions from the online streaming students to incorporate into next week’s lesson.
Creative Writing Class Outline
The two steps to becoming a successful professional author.
- Get good enough people will give you money for your stuff.
- Find the people who will give you money for your stuff.
Part 1: Getting good enough.
On the “rules” of writing.
- Does your audience like it? Leave it in.
- Does your audience hate it? Take it out.
The spark and where ideas come from/contagious enthusiasm
Outlining vs. Discovery Writing
1st vs. 3rd Person
Pacing and intensity
Dialog, and why it is different than talking
The pros and cons of “writing what you know”
Accuracy and research
Time management for writers and the evil myth of Writer’s Block
Message/the author works for the reader, not the other way around
Editing, if it sucks, fix it
Alpha Readers, or your mom might not be your target audience
Pros and cons of Writing Groups
Finished? Now write the next one.
Part 2: Getting Paid
Ugly Fact Time: Author pay scale and failure rate
How traditional publishing works
- Small press vs. Large press
- What are literary agents and do you need one?
How self-publishing works
Novels vs. short fiction markets
Contracts and what to watch out for
Advances and earning out
Structuring your business and paying taxes
Other rights (foreign translations, audiobook, movie options)
Networking, marketing, and finding your target audience
When to quit your day job