storymaking – novel-writing

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S T O R Y M A K I N G
Creative Novel Writing online course
An exciting approach to creating story, drawing on myth & archetype in six individually
tutored modules with generous quality feedback.

The first of my correspondence courses, ‘Storymaking: a new approach to writing the novel’ was launched in 2006. This exciting course offers a unique approach to writing a novel rooted in the fertile soil of myth & the archetypal images in the psyche*.

‘Storymaking’ in its current shape was piloted as a five-day course in 2004, following on from seven years of my nine-month Creative Novel Writing course (the latter was featured in The Guardian on World Book Day 1998).

The course provides, in addition to carefully-designed and comprehensive course materials, detailed personal commentaries from me in response to each assignment.

Feedback has been excellent; over and over people tell me that this course is so much better value than most of the others, including some extraordinarily expensive ones, that don’t deliver anything like the comprehensive content or my detailed personal feedback. Several of my previous students have had their novels published.

From time to time offer I offer a weekend intensive to people who are partway through writing a novel; from now (2016), they don’t have to have taken my course. This always seems to be a success, and much laughter and fine veggie dining (why is there always so much cake?) eases the intense programme, too. For NOVELISTS’ BOOTCAMP click here.

*(There is a sister course, face-to-face, that I’ve been leading on and off for 25 years now, that works with your own life-material as narrative psychospiritual therapy rather than to create a novel, and that has been experienced consistently as deeply transformative. This has its foundations in my book commissioned by Element in 1993: ‘RIDING THE DRAGON – myth & the inner journey‘. I am finally going to be putting together the online version over the winter of 2017.)

Practical details
From 2007, I decided to make it possible for people to join the 6-month programme at whatever time is good for them, with the proviso that we stick to the monthly schedule from the date of beginning. I am inviting submissions from people who would like to work with me in this way, & are willing to commit themselves to completing a module a month which, with coursework & associated reading & ongoing novel writing, will require up to 10 hours’ attention each week – that’s in addition to the actual ongoing novel-writing process itself… Please note that my commitment to you is to read your work in depth, and respond by the end of the month following the submission of each assignment.

What you can expect

Given the current publishing climate, clearly there can be no guarantee of publishing success at the end of the course. However, because of the depth & focus of the material, you can expect that:

  • your confidence & writing style will have improved
  • your increased awareness of & attention to the aspects of fiction as detailed below will ensure that your voice & style will have developed
  • your characters & plot will have more depth & be more robust & credible
  • your book will be an altogether stronger & more original creation.

S T O R Y M A K I N G
Perhaps you have a story you need to tell; or perhaps there is a story which needs to be told. Probably you will have already embarked on the exhilarating, terrifying & rewarding journey of writing a novel. This course does not take you step-by-step through a sequential writing of chapters. What it does is to ask you to look at the major dynamics of a story, the internal workings – a story’s inner life, if you like – with a view to helping you create depth, breadth & dimension in your writing. What working in this way, side-by-side with a sympathetic tutor who is herself also a writer, can offer is clear & fruitful advice & guidance, & support to help you move through those times when you lose your way, your courage or your faith in either your skill or in the imaginative process.

BEFORE YOU SIGN UP, you need to be clear that this course asks of you commitment both to ‘staying the course’, & to the sometimes-difficult work of regularly making time to complete the assignments & send them in on the agreed dates. Not for the faint-hearted! Alongside the writing exercises set, you will still be writing the novel’s narrative in your own time, incorporating suggestions & material as appropriate from this course. Within each assignment I shall also ask you for a reflective ‘report’ on the process of working through each module, with a view to your illuminating for yourself your relationship to your own creative processes. Throughout there will also be supplementary suggestions.

You need to know too that as we work also with your own life story the process involves some inward reflection, and won’t always be easy. You will handle it all better if you give yourself time, and maybe either have some support or are willing to contact others on the course for mutual exchange.

MODULES

Introduction
Once Upon a Time… the origins of story
C G Jung found that the same symbols & motifs recur throughout culture & history. These symbols appear in the folk tales & fairy stories of each culture. He concluded that there were universal symbols embedded in the human psyche, each of which plays a part in the way we live our lives. He called these archetypes. An awareness of these motivating forces in the psyche can help us create strong, engaging plots & believable characters…

Module 1
The Living Story Part 1 The story web
Storytelling is the heart of all culture. It comes from the origins of human life, & is a way of preserving the wisdom of our species, of feeding the soul & imagination, of keeping our inner fires alight, a way of healing, of weaving spells. Ultimately stories are about relationships: with ourselves & our place, with other people, with other species, with history, with the land. There’s something profoundly life-affirming about telling or writing stories, both as maker & as listener. We inhabit stories as they inhabit us. What are the threads we hold in our hands, the themes we live out, the stories that want to be told through us & the stories we most want to tell?

Module 2
The Living Story Part 2 Themes, stories, plots…
A story is a delicate intermeshing of person & situation, or character & plot. This module covers shaping a narrative, from choosing the theme to creating a plot to finding the right shape for that plot, as well as ensuring that the storyline has a vital spark which can be fanned into a sustaining flame. We will also be investigating the agendas both of protagonist & antagonist, & looking at the connections between motivating factor & story.

Module 3
The Living Story Part 3 Creating character
This module takes an in-depth look at creating character. You will be exploring the figures in your own psyche (known in some branches of psychology as ‘sub-personalities’); writing thumbnail portraits of both real & imagined people, & investigating various aspects of the ‘human condition’ in terms of character motivation.

Module 4
The Living Story Part 4 Dialogue, scenes & settings
One of the most common mistakes of a beginning novelist is the simple recounting, blow by blow, of a sequence of events – ‘telling rather than showing’. To add variety of pace, vitality & texture to any story the magic ingredient is dialogue, especially in conjunction with an action scene. This module offers guidance on creating believable dialogue (which of course includes what you leave out, as well as what you include!), & you will also be working with the senses, scenes & settings.

Module 5
In the beginning… opening pages
Your opening pages under the spotlight! You will initially be asked to assess the opening sentence, paragraph & page of several existing novels, & this month’s assignment will take you through the requirements for a strong opening in relation to your own writing. I will be sending you a report on the whole of that opening chapter.

Module 6
Holding it all together: shape, strategy & synopsis
This final tutored module covers the requirements of plot dynamics from beginning to middle to climax to end, & offers strategies to help you keep spirits & middles from drooping! The assignment will include the writing of a synopsis; this offers not only a pitch to publishers but also a superstructure & framework for you. I will be commenting briefly on your work to date & giving you an overview, where relevant, based on this & the synopsis.

Supplement
Getting into print
More books seem to be being published than ever before, yet paradoxically it seems harder to bring out a novel. In a publishing market dominated by celebrity culture, what options are available to a first-time novelist?

Biography
I have been leading courses & retreats in creative & reflective writing, as well as in personal development centred on an exploration of myth & archetype, since 1991. I run the Fire in the Head writing programme & The Wild Ways, an ecopsychology programme designed to restore an imaginative connection with land, & have tutored extensively for other organisations & bodies such as Oxford University, the Open College of the Arts & the Arvon Foundation, and have been writer-in-residence at Sherborne School, Dauntsey’s, and on various creative projects in- and outdoors with an environmental arts group, genius loci.

My books include: Riding the Dragon (an exploration of myth & psychology); Creative Novel Writing, Looking For Icarus, Writing the Bright Moment, Bardo, Imago (novel),  All the Missing Names of Love, River Suite, and The Burning Ground (novel). YOU CAN PURCHASE MOST OF THESE, INCLUDING MY BOOK CREATIVE NOVEL WRITING (PUB. ROBERT HALE) FROM ME (CNW IS IN EFFECT THE COURSE IN BOOK FORM). Please contact me for details

Fee
Someone who’s just completed this course said to me, along with much fulsome praise (to be posted here soon!):
Incidentally, looking at the cost of other online writing courses in the press, all I can say is that you should increase the fee for yours (easy to say now that I’ve finished!). But seriously, it’s worth so much more than the meagre fee you charge. You’re too kind!’

So I have. It’s true that I spend a ridiculous number of hours, sometimes stretching into days, responding to each assignment. The course fee for 2016 is now £795. A first instalment of £400 is required on booking; the balance is payable with the return of your third module.

An alternative possibility is that I simply send you each module once a month for 6 months, and you work at it on your own, with no tutoring or feedback from me. This option costs you £120, but if you can I’d recommend the tutored course – it’s easy to flag and give up on your own.

The fee includes an introduction, all modules with their relevant exercises, comments plus a detailed individually-tailored report on the main exercise per module, a ‘getting into print’ supplement, and a final overview with personal recommendations for the continuation of your novel. (For reasons of time, it does not include my reading of the novel outside of the coursework modules.) Work can be emailed as a Word attachment, or posted to me. (Please let me know when signing up whether you prefer working by email or Royal Mail.)

TO APPLY PLEASE SEND:

  • a covering letter explaining why you want to take this course & what you would like to achieve by working through it
  • two sample pages of your work, single-spaced (applicants are selected on the basis of the above two pieces of writing)
  • the first instalment of the fee (£400): cheque made payable to Roselle Angwin or by bank transfer/Paypal. Please email me for details of all this (roselle[at]fire-in-the-head[dot]co[dot]uk). If for any reason I need to return your application this will be refunded.

THE SMALL PRINT: Please note that no refunds are made once I have responded to your first assignment. If for any reason you decide, on receipt of the Introduction and the first two modules, that the course is not for you, I will refund your deposit minus a £50 admin fee provided you return all the course materials within a fortnight of their receipt. No one has yet asked for a refund in the 10 years this course has been available as distance learning!

All material remains copyright, which means that you don’t have my permission to use the contents of the course in any context other than for your own personal writing.

For further details, including where to send application or cheques, contact Roselle by clicking here

Student feedback at the end of the first course in 2006:

N H
It’s hard to know how to sum up this course… [it] as a whole has been so good for me – as I knew it would be. It’s given me exactly what I wanted, which is a structure for me to write within… I’ve come a long way with my story from the start and all the exercises have been useful.  Each month I’ve added something valuable to my writing of the story, and something that I probably wouldn’t have written otherwise. So thank you so much for boosting my confidence every month and for your great skill of giving the perfect critical advice.

J D
The whole of these six months has proved a challenge, but a truly stimulating challenge… From the other end, I feel very strongly that it has been a wonderful thing to have in my life, that it has been a real achievement to work through the course and that I have learned many things that I will be taking on as I continue to write. I have also found that my working methods have developed. So I finish this in a very different, more optimistic, state of mind than I started. Thanks so much for all the work you have put into the course, Roselle. It has been really great: hard work, but inspiring. I am very sad that it has come to an end. It’s been a great journey.

J P
I don’t really know how to begin a reflection on everything that has happened. This whole course has been a huge journey… I also want to say that I feel very grateful to you as a teacher – your support has been very important and I hope to work some more with you.

S S
I have surprised myself with some of the writing exercises and now have to resist shoehorning them all in, somewhere! I have been equally surprised by the warmth and generosity of your comments…

A T
The course has been very useful in that it got me writing again – finally! Thank you for your support and detailed feedback.

H H
I think my writing has developed and changed… You’ve also been very supportive because I know what I write wasn’t easy for you to read, but you’ve always read it on its own terms. Your comments have always been helpful and have pinpointed things that I haven’t realised or haven’t thought through. This course has been intense and hard, but always stretching and thought provoking… I’ve got a lot out of [it]. You’ve been a really helpful, interesting and thought provoking tutor, making me see things and think about things differently. It’s been a great journey, and one that I’m going to continue.

T R
The whole process has been interesting and stimulating. I’m very pleased I took it on… The work has made me think in different ways about what I’ve written. I feel I have grown and improved as a writer. I feel I have the confidence to finish. Thank you so much for all your help; I shall miss hearing from you. The course has been a tremendous help to me on all levels… my writing has greatly improved.

H W:
I have gained tremendously from the last six months of doing the course, in many different ways. The process of looking at other novels, seeing how they were written and then writing myself was particularly effective… the course has fulfilled my expectations. It has helped me with my personal process as well as with my novel-writing skills.

LA:
This course has been such an amazing experience and process for me, and I’m so grateful to you for providing that.  I feel as if I am growing into a sense of myself as a writer and discovering my voice in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

MH:
I trusted the course – it’s excellently designed, engagingly-written. Each month I felt that childlike excitement you get, turning the pages of a new picture-book. I had nothing to lose. I’ve grown in confidence and versatility throughout the course. It’s been one of the best experiences of my life, completely worthwhile, even if this complex, convoluted novel of mine is never born!

SJ:
This has undoubtedly been one of the most beneficial and worthwhile things I have ever done, so thank you so much for your hard work in guiding me through.

JW:
I did the first year of a creative writing degree & got nowhere near the level of understanding of my abilities and weaknesses as a writer as I have in six months on this course.