Monster Hunter Nation

Taught my first creative writing class last night

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.

  1. Get good enough people will give you money for your stuff.
  2. Find the people who will give you money for your stuff.

Part 1: Getting good enough.

On the “rules” of writing.

  1. Does your audience like it? Leave it in.
  2. Does your audience hate it? Take it out.

The spark and where ideas come from/contagious enthusiasm

Outlining vs. Discovery Writing

Plotting

1st vs. 3rd Person

Creating characters

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

Charity stuff! Medical fund for Mason Hall
A Long Time Until Now by Michael Z. Williamson, on sale now!
T.L. Knighton
Guest

On the “rules” of writing.

1. Does your audience like it? Leave it in.
2. Does your audience hate it? Take it out.

Finally, real rules for writing that actually WORK!

Every other “rule” really works out as “strong suggestions”.

David, internet troll
Guest

Actually, they aren’t “rules,” so much as guidelines…

(Bet you didn’t see that one coming, did you?)

David

Warren
Guest

Do we need to to talk about Parley?

Lea
Guest

Rule 1. Obey all the Rules
Rule 2. No writing on the walls.

Kristophr
Guest

You’re not the boss of me.

( writes on walls. )

Vlad
Guest

Fantastic!

Will there be a archive of the lectures later on? Is there a possibility of posting some of them to Youtube, or at least interesting excerpts?

Thanks in advance for your answers.

Kate Julicher
Guest

Hoping there will be video of this available. Are there videos of some of your lectures at LTUE? I’ve heard mention of your combat panel. It’s really hard to find good advice on writing combat scenes…

Shadowdancer
Guest

Oh gods yes, I wish. I wonder if there would be recordings of Larry, or other authors who’re fantastic at writing action scenes (not just fight scenes) giving advice.

HJP
Guest

I’ve always lumped courtroom drama in with fight scenes. I’ve also seen sex scenes, of all things, equated with fight scenes.

Shawna
Guest

I can totally see the “sex scene/fight scene” comparison. They’re both action scenes, after all, both very physical, and both need to reveal/develop character and/or progress the plot in order to be interesting. And they’re also both things that a lot of people either naturally have the knack for or don’t.

Feather Blade
Guest

If you are of the “learn by reading” persuasion, Rafael Sabatini apparently wrote fight scenes so well that they can be used, as is, for fight choreography direction.

Aaron Allred
Guest

John Brown has a link up for a video he did with Larry:

http://www.johndbrown.com/how-to-write-a-story-that-rocks/

Christopher M. Chupik
Guest
Christopher M. Chupik

Indeed. I don’t live anywhere near Utah and my travel budget is . . . laughable. I would recommend Larry for my local convention, but I think that *might* prove *slightly* controversial at the moment.

Instinct
Guest

great class. Wasn’t able to be there live (bedtime for the kids) but watched late in the evening. I think the resources you mentioned for publishing, agents and contracts was the best.

Every other writing class I have taken has always been about character and story, which is fine, but this is giving the most important part – get paid!

My only question is how many online students are there and did you break the online registration system? 🙂

Dorothy Grant
Guest

Are you able to watch recorded lectures, then, not just live-streaming? I wanted to attend, but my work schedule overlaps the class time.

Ray
Guest

So jealous, wish I lived in Utah. Especially as these are many of the questions I need answered as I grind on with my first book.

David, internet troll
Guest
OK, so I am attending the class (via the inner webtubes) and I took reasonably good notes last night. I have been trying to take what Larry said and hammer it into a shape that fits in with his outline. It is a little challenging, because Larry has a tendency to tell great stories to illustrate his points, but the stories tend a get a bit *ahem* “far afield” occasionally. So, I am taking what he said and picking the pieces apart and then reassembling them into something that fits into his outline. Not sure it will be worth it… Read more »
Jill
Guest

This would be great as long as it’s okay with the host. Thanks for being willing to pull the info together.

Shadowdancer
Guest

Yeah, if Larry’s okay with it, I’d love to read that, but if no, then that’s fair and okay too.

Rick Ewald
Guest

Boy I wish I lived closer.

Doug Northcote
Guest

A youtube type recording of the class would be fantastic!

I don’t know that I ever want to be a writer vs a consumer, but to hear all the nuts and bolts of this kind of thing would be so awesome.

David, how are you doing the classes? I’m guessing through the school site…?? Needs more info here please!

Lawrence
Guest

http://continue.weber.edu/communityed/fictionwriter.aspx

That is the link to the class website. I’m attending the class in the classroom, and it’s a ton of fun. Larry is a natural, leading us through his personal experience to get published. The administrator told us that they’re leaving the video up for a week so that the online participants have the opportunity to view the classroom excitement. My wife and I are really looking forward to the next class. Thanks Larry you’re doing a great job!

Doug Northcote
Guest

Thank you very very much Lawrence!

Dave H
Guest

Yes, thank you. I just signed up for online attendance. Having the video available for time shifting makes all the difference.

Murgy
Guest

Dan Wells, John D Brown, Brandon Sanderson AND one Mr. L. Correia have videos up on youtube, describing elements of writing and story telling.

Well worth wasting an hour or 3 over there.

Posting college course videos? I’d be concerned about copyrights and legal permissions. Just my 2¢.

Justin Watson
Guest

It was a great first class, Larry, (lurking online attendee here) thanks!

Joe
Guest

Does anyone know if the online course is only available live or are the classes available as a video to watch later? The course page is a bit light on information about how the online course works. The 6-8pm (mountain time) class time doesn’t completely fit into my schedule.

Kevin Goodrich
Guest

The web streaming is available for watching for a week for those who are signed up for it. (there are still a few openings left for the streaming version)

Dave H
Guest

It would have been nice for Weber State to say that on the signup page. I’d have enrolled if they had.

Dave H
Guest

There are a number of places that sell audio & video recordings of college courses & lectures. I think Audible even has some. There’s obviously a market because the class sold out pretty quickly as I recall. If the school wants to sell the videos, I’ll buy.

Rawle Nyanzi
Guest

Online student here.

It was a nice lecture, chock full of useful information. I even made some contacts there on the chat window. $99 well spent; Larry should do these more often.

Glenfilthie
Guest
I am not a writer, but used to be a big fan. One of my gripes, Larry, was that a lot of the stuff being written…well…it read like stuff that was cranked out of a work shop. It was unoriginal and the bulk of it read like a chitty rip off of Scalzi or some other twit that was basically ripping off somebody else. From my lofty perch in the peanut gallery…I don’t want to see any more Larry’s or Scalzi’s or Heinlein’s. I want something ORIGINAL that will make me sit up, take notice and make me think after… Read more »
Dave H
Guest

Larry’s teaching is more in the line of “how to,” not “what to.” And while there are a boatload of writers who will give you advice on the craft of writing, there are darned few who teach the business of writing. (And most of what I’ve seen in that vein is from agents who have appointed themselves the gatekeepers of publishing, and who expect you to respect their authority.)

Cadeyrn
Guest

So, ummm… what are you doing here? Not being hostile, but you’re going to show up, try to compare Mr. C to Scalzi, don’t mention which book you actually read, and claim that Mr. C’s work is “boring” and “stale.”

Name me one other author who created a good 30’s noir with hard magic system, extra-dimensional beings, global geopolitics, secret societies, and both heroes and villains that were absolute badasses. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Dan Lane
Guest

If you do decide to do another class, please let us know. I can’t do it this year- have the *money* for a change, but not the *time.* I’m still scribbling bits and scraps here and there, but eventually it’s put up or shut up time, and I’d like to do it right.

Good on ya, you lucky dogs that are taking the class, though! Don’t mind my jealousy over here, I’m sure it will burn itself out in a few months… *chuckle*

TANSTAAFL
Guest

“The acme of prose style is exemplified by that simple, graceful clause: “Pay to the order of. . . .”‘”
-Robert A. Heinlein

Max Florschutz
Guest

That is an awesome quote. I want that on my wall.

Synova
Guest

It was impossible to take this class just now so I really hope that you do it again sometime.

Holly Stockley
Guest
My husband is signed up for the class via the intarweebs. As a marital benefit, I got to listen in here and there last night (when not chasing the youngest Wee Thing around and trying to chivy her into bed). Possibly I’ll get a second look if he plays through it again. Thus far, it seemed to me like an excellent round-up of the advice you’d have gotten from reading Writer’s Digest for 20 years and removed the filter of people who are ears deep in the publishing industry proper. Also peppered with anecdotes and advice from the front lines… Read more »
Coop
Guest

I’m still looking for that Space Pokemon project you mentioned.

At Last !
Guest

Larry,
Would you please video these sessions and make them available to purchase.

Your outline is EXACTLY what I need to know, and while obviously it will date, there is absolutely nothing stopping you updating it every year or two as market conditions fluctuate.

I am in Australia and DESPERATE to attend, but it is not possible other than say via Skype / Go-To-Meeting / Adobe Connect or similar software.

Shadowdancer
Guest

Yeah us poor sods living over here miss out T_T

Benjamin Tyler Smith
Guest
Larry, great class last night! Took down a lot of notes, especially with the business side of things. Enjoyed the many anecdotes. You would get along well with a friend of mine from church. Gun nut as well, and full of stories about everything! My greatest take away, though, was on the “writing better” side of things and how you shredded the mystique behind plotting. It’s something I’ve always struggled with whenever I’ve sat down to work on a piece of long fiction. I have A and Z figured out, and maybe M and O, but what about the rest?… Read more »
David MacKinnon
Guest

Larry,
I had the pleasure last summer of hearing you in several panels at a small con. For story telling, you are a modern day Mark Twain.
A large, liberal stupidity crushing, International Lord of Hatey hate hate, Tetsubo wielding Mark Twain.

David, internet troll
Guest

OK, with the kind permission of Larry, I have posted the first part of my writeup of my notes from last night’s class. This basically corresponds to the first hour of the presentation. I will have the second half up in the next couple of days. I intend to provide a full set of notes for the entire class that people can refer to. Once the class is over and I have a full set of notes, I will probably collect them into a document and make a PDF or something of them

The URL is

http://harrdharrharr.org/correia-first-week-1-of-2/

Enjoy, everyone.

David

Jon Nials
Guest

Dude. That’s not notes, that’s an annotated transcript. Thank, I was going to have to listen again to take notes. 🙂

@correia45: As one of the intarweb lurkers I really appreciated it. The only thing that detracted was technical problems with the mic’s. I suspect the tech staff will have that fixed before the next one.

Steve Moss
Guest

Awesome work, David.

Shadowdancer
Guest

Oooooh, if you do make it into a PDF, do let us know! <3 Thanks David! And Thank You! Larry!

Doug Northcote
Guest

Fantastic work David! Thank you very much.

And if you’re going to be an Internet Troll. You need to work on it some more.

Your skills as a troll are terrible. You’re helpful, and obviously hard working and smart.

Go read MHI Vendetta again. Or maybe you’re Larry’s troll, in that case, keep up the good work!

Zsuzsa
Guest

Just had to say that those were awesome, and I’m looking forward to the next installment. Thanks to both you and Larry.

David, internet troll
Guest

OK, it took long enough, and I barely got it in before the next class, but the next installment of the notes is up at

http://harrdharrharr.org/correia-first-week-2-of-2/

Sorry for the delay.

David

Zsuzsa
Guest
Excellent! One question that came to mind reading the “novels vs. short stories” section: I’ve been told that short stories are a good way to build yourself up for being a “real” writer: you can churn out a bunch of them, get practice figuring out how this writing stuff is done, and sell the ones that are any good. Then when you present yourself to an agent or publisher, you can include in your cover letter, “I’m the author of 3 stories purchased by Weird Tales and 1 purchased by The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction” and that makes… Read more »
Old NFO
Guest

I wish to hell I was going to be around enough this month to have been able to take it via the net, but overseas they knock the bandwidth down so low it’d take 8 hours to get the two hours of video… sigh

Planetary Defense Commander
Guest

I think it went really well. Looking forward to the character, pacing, and dialogue sections.

Jared Anjewierden
Guest
I’ve been a lot of writing classes over the years. (Including a degree in English that didn’t even suck the fun out of reading for me. I mean, jeez, I had classes on Star Trek and comparing sci-fi novels to the films) A lot of the stuff Larry said I’d heard in one form or another at some point. Aside from the stuff I hadn’t heard, the single biggest thing I got out of this week’s class was Larry’s friggin contagious enthusiasm. After being on the edges of the Hugo fights on FB (and participating some) that was something I… Read more »
Benny
Guest
Hey Larry. First time posting to your fine website. It is fitting I would first break the ice on a class on creative writing. Some of the last “real” classes I took on CW were in college, which nearly destroyed me. I learned how to apologize for my opinions, fumble and bumble until a mentor of mine years later taught me how to stop BSing and say what I think. Anyway, I’m now a published author myself, 1 book out, sequel with my publisher, and a 3rd in second draft. I’m sure you’re buried with new authors who would love… Read more »
Richard McEnroe
Guest

Got a great opening line but I’m having trouble following up on it:

“Damn,” said the Duchess, as she put down her cigar on a dark and stormy night…

Richard McEnroe
Guest

Woops. Cancel that. The moment I typed I realized who the Duchess was and what I needed her to do. thanks guys!

Murgy
Guest

“Damn, ” said the Duchess, putting out her cigar on the shoulder of her nearest Renfield. “Igor, the lighting has tripped the breaker. Fix it!”

Igor looked at the writhing figure on the slab, then out at the drenching rain pounding on the window of the laboratory. Getting wet or getting experimented on? Easy choice. “Yesss, mistress.”

Kevin Findley
Guest

Aym Geronimo should come to his rescue.

Fruitbat44
Guest

Mr Correiga – I hope that your students came away feeling that learnt something or at least that they had fun. Or possibly both.

Richard McEnroe
Guest

BTW, reading and loving Into The Storm so far…

Richard McEnroe
Guest

Finished Into The Storm. More things could have exploded (jes’ kiddin’) but a great read and sequels in that verse will be eagerly anticipated.

Samuel Edwards
Guest

I’d love to attend the class! Don’t have time for it at the moment though.
Fingers-crossed they allow purchasing the class recordings later!

trackback

[…] Author of multiple NYT best-selling books and bane of all SJWs, Larry Correia, has recently started teaching a course on creative-writing at Weber State University. […]

Morgon
Guest

Hi Larry! I’ve really been enjoying the class. I just wanted to drop by and let you know that me and several other of the online students have started a closed Facebook group for students in your class. We thought we would use it to continue discussions, ask for tips, share information, etc. The link for it is here if you would like to share it with other members of the class:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/publishinghunters/

Thanks again for the great class!

trackback

[…] Author of multiple NYT best-selling books and bane of all SJWs, Larry Correia, has recently started teaching a course on creative-writing at Weber State University. […]

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