Where to next?

Hope you’re all well.

I am coming to the end of a very productive Short Story Course (https://www.writers-online.co.uk/writing-courses/courses/short-story-course-first-edition/). The course covers various areas, including ‘Shaping Your Characters’, ‘Narration and Dialogue’, ‘Writing Style’ and more. I’ve been paired with a tutor, Lesley Eames (https://lesleyeames.com/), who has been helpful and provided some very useful feedback. Several things she has advised will stay with me for as long as I write.

Amongst those things was something that makes so much sense but has never been advised to me before. That is:

The tag for dialogue is part of the sentence.

More than likely, that sounds standard to most, but it’s new to me. After the dialogue, you put a comma before the ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ part. I’ve never been told that or come across it before in feedback or otherwise. It makes sense, but I find it strange it’s never crossed my path. One of the many benefits I’ve seen from doing a course on the craft of writing. I never want to stop learning things like this.

I’ve made plenty of notes and devoured all the feedback that Lesley has provided me. But she commented just before I started my current and penultimate course unit, ‘The Writer at Work’, which covers the writer actually doing the work. She said:

This will be the penultimate assignment in the current course, but it’s possible to book some extension assignments if you feel it would be helpful to continue to receive feedback on your writing. Alternatively, you might consider the challenge of a new course such as Fiction, which deals with longer stories, or Crime Writing. Another possibility is to submit work under the critiquing scheme.

             This got me thinking, where to next?

             I’ve always wanted to write a story or two using all the experience I’ve gained from working in the banking sector, which is around 18 years now. The ideas have always been there. But, as I enjoy writing Fantasy and Sci-Fi related stories, I didn’t know how to mesh the two together. And I preferred to write Fantasy and Sci-Fi that in no way involved my working life and to keep things separate. I’m not sure why, but I think it may have been a way of keeping my two worlds apart.

But then, an idea emerged.

This came about when I started to write my journal. The idea revolves around the banking industry and magic. I’m still working it out, but I’m enjoying it, and I’ve started to write it each day on my writing note app Evernote. Well, it’s now almost every day, but it’s moving along nicely.

I am making notes on the story as I go, which isn’t the usual way I like to work, but I’ll stick with it now. If you’d like to know more, see my previous post for more details(https://johnrsermon.com/2021/09/25/a-journal-to-start-and-stop/).

             This idea got me thinking about all the other ideas I’ve had and more so the ones I’ve turned into stories of varying lengths. And what to do with those stories in particular. The one part of Writing Life that alludes to me is being published. I won’t lie; seeing my name on a book I’ve created being published on any scale would be a dream come true. But, how do I accomplish this?

             This thought pushed me to sign up for another course, ‘How to Make Money from your Writing’. I’m hoping to learn a lot from this and take a big step in my writing life. 

             With this in mind, what further writing education have you done? Can you recommend any writing courses?  Please comment below. I’m interested to hear from you.  

Possible Perfectionist

I think I’m very close to being a perfectionist. About 100% as per the graph below:

I’ve known this for a while, but I don’t always apply the 100% to everything I do. Just the essential things in my life like my fiancé, family, and friends. And my writing

Anyway, I’m currently in the middle of an Assignment as part of the Short Story Writing Course I’m completing. This was purchased via The Writing Magazine (https://www.writers-online.co.uk/writing-courses). So far, I’ve worked my way through five sections of the eight that make up the course. Those are First Principles, Shaping Your Characters, Characters and Plotting, Narration and Dialogue, and Writing Style. Each has its own assignment, and you’ve got as much time as you need to complete them. Well, not all the time, but they are pretty casual about the timescales but recommend getting into a routine while doing the course to help you gain the most from it. 

The latest section, Writing Style, has set an assignment to write in 1,000 words a story that builds a strong sense of atmosphere and/or place. When I was given this assignment, I’ll admit it seemed a bit daunting to me and a little bit scary. I had a rough idea of how I would do it, but I wasn’t sure if I’d ever done it before. But I must’ve done. Right?

I’ve finished First Drafts for Novels and Short Stories so far in my Writing Career and created the atmosphere I needed to tell my story correctly. So, why am I scared now?

Not sure, really. I think it’s because I’ve never sat down and just written a piece that only focuses on creating a sense of anything. Let alone atmosphere and/or place. I knew that I had to come up with some ideas, but what to use?

In my previous assignments, I’ve used such scenarios as manager-team member conflict (Conflicting Characters – Characters and Plotting) Friends living together (Narration and Dialogue – Three-Way Conversation). Still, I didn’t want to just revisit these as that seemed too easy.

Then, it hit me. I really enjoy writing fight and battle scenes, so why not use this? The sense of atmosphere within a battle (I imagine) is strong and can change (again, I imagine) quickly. I settled on my scenario for my assignment, now to write it.

That went quite well. I crafted a piece about a soldier fighting demons as part of an army. Looking like they are on top, only to have the demons retreat as a bigger foe, one they are even petrified of, came into the picture. This allowed me to change the atmosphere from happy and carefree (Winning the battle) to fear and dread (Probably going to lose the battle) midday through the story.

I considered rewriting the story and focusing all 1,000 words on one sense of atmosphere. But I preferred the challenge of conveying the shift in atmosphere partway through—about halfway to be exact. Then I considered changing it. I always edit my assignments, even though I’m looking for feedback, so if I didn’t, it would be fine.

But, I’m a writer. I’m not wired like that at all.

And thus, began weeks and weeks of edits that have become never-ending. Now, I’m aware this is part of my writing life, and that’s fine but, how far should I go with an edit for a Writing Course Assignment? Or should I just send it off and see what happens?

This leads me to a question.

Whilst completing a short piece of writing for submission (1,000 to 2,000 words) to be submitted, would you send the first draft of your assignment or edit it before submission?