Every one of us has a story to tell. And when you’ve been as far and done as much as you have, you’ve probably got more than one story that’s just bursting to get out.
What’s involved in writing compelling fiction – or non-fiction? Great stories – well, you’ve got those in abundance, we imagine. A grasp of the essential skills of writing creatively.
Here’s an online creative writing course designed to provide you with the skills and encouragement every writer needs to tell your own story. It allows you to work at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home – but with plenty of personal interaction and attention. It provides the best of both worlds.
We take a non-formulaic approach distinguished by the feedback and encouragement we give each participant in every session. It stimulates creativity and allows each writer to find their own individual voice. The course provides a range of skills to translate your vision into a publishable manuscript.
The course is designed to be completed within twenty weeks and we’ll release a new module every two weeks. However, we are happy for participants to work at a rate which suits their lifestyle. Each module ends in an assignment, and you will receive personal feedback from Richard or Jo-Anne on every one.
Who will benefit?
- Anyone wanting to start or finish writing a novel, a screenplay, a work of creative non-fiction or a collection of short stories.
- Those with no specific project in mind, but who long to unlock their creative selves and to tell their own story.
Each of the modules tackles a key skill and challenges participants with carefully crafted writing exercises, to which we’ll give written and individual feedback. The skills focused on are:
- Finding your Voice
- Ideas: where to find and develop them
- Building characters
- Building the narrative
- Writing scenes
- Point of view
- Writing dialogue
- Beginnings, middles and ends
- Creating suspense
- Showing, not telling
The Benefits of our Course:
- Learn the skills to write both fiction and non-fiction.
- Writing practice in every module.
- Full feedback on assignments in every module.
- We promise to be honest, but kind.
- Enjoy on-going support in our online writers’ group.
- A number of our former participants have been published.
Cost: R5500 Price in South African Rand. Please click here for a currency converter. You can pay by EFT in South African Rand or via PayPal in US$ at the exchange rate on the day of invoicing.
Booking details: Please email us for the booking form and bank details.
1. Finding your voice – We give you the techniques to fight self-consciousness. Use skills such as free-writing and personal myth-making to develop a unique style and voice. Learn the skills to avoid self-judgment and to write with flair.
How journaling can help your writing. How to use personal writing to develop a writer’s consciousness. How to view the world like a writer, developing the quality of active observation.
2. Ideas – Where does that first idea come from and how do you develop it from a fragment into a fully fledged outline. We give you some of the tools you’ll need, from brain-storming to story-boarding.
3. Building characters (real or fictional)– Characters are the most important part of any narrative. If they don’t hold us, if we don’t find them compelling, we won’t be drawn into their story.
Characters drive plot. The story should flow out of who they are and how they react. As readers, we should believe the story exists because of the people – the way they act, and how they react to events around them. How they react to what is said and done around them should make psychological sense.
We encourage you to look at what makes them tick. Then we transfer that knowledge to the development of characters that stand out from the page. We show you how to build compelling, psychologically believable people.
4. What is the story?– No matter how plot- or character-driven, every narrative will contain certain elements that we expect of a story. If an element is fudged or, in experimental writing, implied or left out altogether, it needs to be done artfully and for literary effect.
This is equally true for fiction and non-fiction. The successful creative non-fiction writer should be equally concerned with the elements of narrative, constructing a plot through careful selection of the material available to him.
Elbert Hubbard said that life was just one damned thing after another. This is not what we want in a story (nor, in fact, is it the ideal way of looking at life). Every story must have an arc that draws us through it.
5. Writing in Scenes – This module deals with the greatly under-rated, hugely important building block of any narrative: the scene.
This is an important skill for writers of fiction and non-fiction. When people talk of creative non-fiction having borrowed from the skills of fiction, this is the most important of them.
What do we mean by “writing in scenes”, and how do we do it? The scene is the most basic element of “showing” rather than “telling”. It eliminates the distance between your reader and the action. It drops readers into the middle of the action – to experience and interpret it for themselves.
If your story is a castle, its scenes are the bricks you will use to construct it.
6. Point of view – Literary point of view is far more complex than was ever suggested by the grammatical treatment of POV we were taught in school.
The decision you make on point of view is a crucial one. Change point of view and you will fundamentally alter the nature of your work. This module deals with the ways in which different literary POVs can be used, with many examples.
All points of view have advantages and drawbacks. But even some of those drawbacks can be used to your advantage. We look at these advantages and disadvantages in all their complexity.
We show how POV can assist you in fiction and creative non-fiction. We deal with successful POV switching, unreliable narrators, and some more experimental uses of POV.
7. Dialogue – A story can succeed or fail on its dialogue. Badly done, it is actively off-putting. Well done, it can take a mediocre story to another level.
We look at the uses of dialogue and how to deploy it most effectively. Dialogue is not speech as it is used in real-life. It is the appearance of real speech. How do you achieve this?
8. Beginnings and Middles – Once you have developed your characters and worked out the elements of your story, you are ready to begin. But where should that be?
This module looks at the importance of the first line, the first page and the first chapter (or equivalent). What are the jobs they should do? How best can they draw readers in and feed them just enough to keep them reading.
Then we look at the book’s basic structure. How can it most successfully be structured? We take a look at some of the basics of keeping a story moving. How to avoid the dreaded sag, how to vary your pacing and avoid exposition.
9. Suspense – The word “suspense” tends to make us think of plot-driven thrillers. But our definition is wide. We like to see it as anything that draws the reader forward. This is as relevant for non-fiction writers as for novelists.
We look at the ways in which you can create an appetite for events yet to be described – a tension between the present moment, and the anticipated moment.
There is no story without some form of conflict. It’s the essential ingredient that keeps us reading. Something’s at stake, and the equilibrium is disturbed. In life, we long for equilibrium (unless we’re a war correspondent). But in stories, when equilibrium’s achieved, the story ends.
10. Showing not telling– We present a central truth about good writing: it is almost always better to show your story and your characters, than to tell us about them.
When you tell your readers something, you’re explaining it to them. When you show your readers, you allow them to see, hear, taste or smell it for themselves. From this, your engaged and active readers make their own deductions about the people and events you’ve shown them.
We analyse exactly what we mean by “showing”. And we look at the different ways in which we can achieve it, with extensive examples.
We look at detail … in detail. Every detail has a job to do, whether it exists for textural reasons, or to show us more about characters or situations.
Allaboutwriting is a partnership between Richard Beynon and Jo-Anne Richards who have both made their livings from writing for many years. They’re passionate about good writing, and have devised the courses to help communicate that passion – plus the skills that make it all much more than an academic exercise – to others with a similar calling. The sessions are split between Jo-Anne and Richard whose unique skills create a rich and varied experience for participants.
Jo-Anne Richards is a writer and has for close on fifteen years lectured in the Wits University journalism department. Her novels include The Innocence of Roast Chicken (recently included in the Picador African Classics collection), Touching the Lighthouse, Sad at the Edges and My Brother’s Book. Her 5th novel, The Imagined Child was published in 2013. Five of her short stories have been published in collections, both here and overseas.
Richard Beynon is an award-winning film and television scriptwriter with a long and accomplished career in the local industry. He has written for – or headed the writing teams of – many of country’s most popular soaps, dramas and comedies. These include S’gudi snaysi, Going Up, Soul City, Isidingo, Scandal, Rhythm City and Isibaya.He has lectured on writing for film and television at Wits.
TESTIMONIALS FROM PAST PARTICIPANTS
The facilitators were just great together. They complemented one another beautifully, and gave a perfect mix of hard (though always constructive) criticism, and encouragement. Jo-Anne and Richard are nothing short of inspirational. But also so down-to-earth and approachable. Tara Turkington, media specialist and trainer
The nice thing about Richard and Jo-Anne is that they never impose their own voice on you. They help you uncover your own voice, your way of telling the story and understanding the characters. This comes from their own unique understanding of the position of the writer, and their sensitivity towards that. They are great teachers, and I have benefited immeasurably from their advice which is always practical, and always constructive. Jackie, journalist
My Creative writing experience was one of the most positive and enjoyable experiences of my life and I did learned a lot! What I liked best about the course was the teaching style and camaraderie of Richard and Jo-Anne. Marietta Hindy
Thank you, so much, for what has been a truly excellent writing course! Each week I’ve come away with practical answers to questions that have plagued me in my writing to date.Catherine McCormack
Richard and Joanne are fantastic teachers and their comfortable banter helps to make everyone feel at ease and of course serves to illustrate many of the points they teach very effectively. Tanya Haffern
I found Allaboutwriting’s writing course expansive in style, educative in content and entertaining in delivery. Jo-Anne and Richard present a full gamut of learning and insight on creative writing seemingly effortlessly, with the welcome addition of real verve and wit. It was pure pleasure to participate. Tim Cohen