Improving my writing

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ninafromnorway
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Improving my writing

Post by ninafromnorway » August 9th, 2010, 6:21 pm

Are there any courses out there which would really improve my writing? Of course I would rather move abroad and go to an English speaking school, but unfortunately I'm a little late for that, as I have other priorities in life for the moment being. Therefore an internet course would suit me better, and I wonder if anyone out there knows of a good writing course, which gives you value for money.

I'm afraid that no matter how exciting my trilogy is, no publishers would want it as there would be too much editing to do.
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Holly
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by Holly » August 9th, 2010, 7:01 pm

You might contact Odyssey: http://www.sff.net/odyssey/

Here is their page about online classes: http://www.sff.net/odyssey/online.html

Odyssey is an award-winning writing program that holds workshops you can attend in person or take online. They are expensive, though.

You didn't mention your genre. If Odyssey is not for you, they might have some suggestions.

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polymath
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by polymath » August 9th, 2010, 7:41 pm

ed2go.com offers creative writing courses online. Course sections cost $65 (USD) when affiliated with a local community college continuing education program here in the U.S. I don't have any idea how much for someone in Norway. Reading the course syllabi suggests the coursework are nuts and bolts approaches to creative writing. I imagine what can be taught is taught. The course instructors have appropriate credentials. For example, the advanced fiction writing course is taught by Steve Alcorn, author of several novels. Sections can be repeated. They run six weeks long. Ann Linquist instructs the beginning writing workshop.

http://www.ed2go.com/online_courses/cw/ ... iting.html
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ninafromnorway
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by ninafromnorway » August 10th, 2010, 6:04 am

Thank you for your replies. I will check out both of the courses.

Do you know if a course like this would be a plus in the book of an agent?
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

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Holly
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by Holly » August 10th, 2010, 7:05 am

ninafromnorway wrote:Thank you for your replies. I will check out both of the courses.

Do you know if a course like this would be a plus in the book of an agent?
Agent Colleen Lindsay says to mention it in the query letter. The Odyssey website says agents sometimes appear at the program.

What are your goals? To improve your English as well as your writing (...but your English looks fine here)? It might be better to take a less expensive program first. You should talk to a counselor before you sign up for a course. Good luck.

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polymath
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by polymath » August 10th, 2010, 9:01 am

ninafromnorway wrote:Do you know if a course like this would be a plus in the book of an agent?
Education credits don't do anything for most agents. There was a time when an MFA got noticed somewhat. In fact, some agents, screening readers, and editors single out graduate program writers for derision. It's become cliché, both as a writer stereotype and as non-MFA's bashing MFA's.

In the final analysis, the only thing that speaks for itself is a good, dynamic narrative.
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Margo
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by Margo » August 10th, 2010, 10:51 am

polymath wrote:
ninafromnorway wrote:Do you know if a course like this would be a plus in the book of an agent?
Education credits don't do anything for most agents. There was a time when an MFA got noticed somewhat. In fact, some agents, screening readers, and editors single out graduate program writers for derision. It's become cliché, both as a writer stereotype and as non-MFA's bashing MFA's.

In the final analysis, the only thing that speaks for itself is a good, dynamic narrative.
Actually, courses like Odyssey and Clarion/West absolutely do get you noticed in those genres. I don't know if there are comparable courses in other genres. I do know that because of my attendance at two industry specific workshops (one by invitation only) I have access that others straight out of the slush pile would not have with a particular editor at one publishing house and an agent. Two published writers who taught at one workshop offered an agent referral if I wanted one. And as Holly already pointed out, other agents have said point blank "if you've been to this workshop (Odyssey, in that case) mention it, because I do notice that."

No, it won't get bad writing published, but people don't come out of those workshops with the glaring problems that plague the majority of the slush pile. Six weeks of writing bootcamp with some of the most impressive talent in the industry will do that to ya.
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johndavid
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by johndavid » August 10th, 2010, 11:46 am

I would look into a local community college. I doubt it is really "too late" for something like that. I am 40 and have been attending a local community college for two years. My girlfriend is 50 and is about to start her third year to beome an RN. I think most people have a community college nearby. Check it out, see what they have to offer. You're never TOO old or too busy. The hardest part about doing something like that is taking that first step. I had my doubts, I thought "you're too old to got to college at 38. You'll be 42 when four years is up." Then I thought...I'll be 42 in four years whether I go to college or not.Now I am really glad I took that first step and met with an advisor. I LOVE going to school. For the record, I quit high school when I was 16 and had to get my GED before I could go to college. What I am saying is don't doubt your ability. Follow your dreams! If you want to do it...do it!

wetair
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by wetair » August 10th, 2010, 12:22 pm

does norway have community colleges? with english writing classes?

ninafromnorway
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by ninafromnorway » August 10th, 2010, 1:46 pm

wetair wrote:does norway have community colleges? with english writing classes?
Not as advanced as I wish them to be. But I still have to show up at evening - classes, and this is a problem when you have two children, and a husband who is a sailor. =)

My writing in here might appear to be ok, but I really have to think when I write. My best friends at the moment are the book of Thesaurus + the Oxford English Dictionary, and it annoys me that English doesn't come as natural as I wish it to. I am hoping that an English course will help me with that.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

wetair
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by wetair » August 10th, 2010, 2:07 pm

ninafromnorway wrote:
wetair wrote:does norway have community colleges? with english writing classes?
Not as advanced as I wish them to be. But I still have to show up at evening - classes, and this is a problem when you have two children, and a husband who is a sailor. =)

My writing in here might appear to be ok, but I really have to think when I write. My best friends at the moment are the book of Thesaurus + the Oxford English Dictionary, and it annoys me that English doesn't come as natural as I wish it to. I am hoping that an English course will help me with that.
oh. well only practice will make it come naturally. lots and lots of practice. tons of practice. :P

I tried learning french. Well, I did learn it, but writing even short essays in it was always so hard. I would have to go over every line and look for grammar mistakes, mistakes in tense and all. I learned to stop translating english into french, just make french sentences, but it still wasn't quite right. Still my teacher always took off points because she said it didn't sound natural and I needed to think in French, which I don't know how to do. Felt kind of futile. I would hate to try to write fiction in a different language.

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Re: Improving my writing

Post by Margo » August 10th, 2010, 2:59 pm

Sorry, I think our posts went off on a genre tangent.

You might find it helpful to read as many English language novels as you can get ahold of, especially in your chosen genre. Your technical command of English is better than some native speakers (yes, I mean Americans). Reading English language fiction should help with idioms, the varieties of sentence structure, and vocabulary through context.
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theepicwinner
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by theepicwinner » August 12th, 2010, 5:57 pm

Just a point I want to make. Having a good self-contained dictionary/thesaurus isn't necessarily a good thing. Never write a word you don't think your target audience will understand. I hate when I'm reading a novel and I see words I haven't heard of or seen before. No, I'm not an idiot. I just don't write words people won't have seen unless they've a doctorate in English or something.
"If you can think it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it" - Evan Taubenfeld

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ninafromnorway
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by ninafromnorway » August 12th, 2010, 6:45 pm

theepicwinner:

May I then ask if you have read Twilight? I haven't read many English novels, but I have read Twilight and there I found some words difficult and I had to look them up. I'm not sure if some of her words are a little university degree-ish, but I know that her books is written for teenagers, and I am way past that stage and still not understanding those words.

So, usually I'll find a synonyme of a word in the Thesaurus, then I'll check the definition of it to see if it is misplaced or not, then I'll decide weather to use it or not.

But here is my weak spot. Since I think Norwegian when I write (and Norwegian is a very limited language) I have to translate the words directly to English. In Norwegian you can have 2 synonyms for a word that you in English may have 6 synonyms for. So I have to be a little more creative writing in English rather than in Norwegian. In Norwegian I could write "appears" in most sentences. "She appears to be angry", "it appears to be cold outside" etc. While in English the word "seems" might be more appropriate in some of the cases. And last I checked "seems" and "appears" are quite regular words in the English language, and I have to admit that when I started writing 7 months ago, I actually had to look that up *shame*...

Here are some of the words I had to look up from Twilight. Are these regular words, because I am really curious about that? (I do know the meaning of them now).
Incandescent
Scintillating
Disconcerting
Facets
Iridescent
Cadences
Circuitous
Acerbic
Exuberant
Chasm
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polymath
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Re: Improving my writing

Post by polymath » August 12th, 2010, 7:00 pm

"It was his lookout on the world." Sentence from a manuscript that garnered all kinds of disapproval in a college writing workshop for the odd seeming compounded word lookout. The professor, the writer--me--and one out of twenty others took a minority stand. I was in the cone of silence. The stand takers said lookout is a normal word in most any dictionary, meaning view, outlook, or watcher or watch. It's worth noting lookout has a military-maritime sense while outlook has a public street connotation sense.

Metonymy, there it is, an apparently molybdenum brick of a word in Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections used in a conventional way. I didn't need to look it up. It would seem out of place in fiction writing as a bit too sophisticated, decidedly metafictional. But the theme of the novel is corrections, including creative writing revisions and the revisions people make to their behaviors, their lives, impose on their loved ones, their works. In other words, corrections is used as a metonymy, a figure of speech referencing someone or something by one of its attributes. The characters of the novel engage in corrections. Franzen's viewpoint character narrator reports corrections as a metonymy and reveals the theme unifying the novel and its characters' dramatic complications and purposes in life. People are ongoing corrections.

Metonymies occur in everyday speech to the point they're taken for granted. "All hands on deck" is a dual-tiered metonymy, hands stand for the attributes of the most work productive parts of a crew and the crew itself who do the work. I picture a stampede of disembodied hands climbing ladders and rigging, and scurrying about gun decks.

I'm not fully satisfied with a novel if I haven't had to resort to a dictionary at least once. I'm not as partial to a thesaurus. I prefer a dictionary of synonyms for the nuances of distinguished senses between synonym and hypernym and hyponym words. Like lookout and outlook and viewpoint and point of view.
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