I used to believe that I wasn’t cut out for writing fiction.
That was until I did an online writing course at the Gotham Writers’ Workshop.
(I should point out that I am as yet unpublished as a fiction writer, so for all I know I’m utterly shite at it).
I wanted to try my hand at fiction because, after spending a year and a half researching and writing about death, I needed a break. I wanted to have some fun.
With a hefty dose of encouragement (and heftier dose of nagging) from hubby, I found the Gotham Writers’ Workshop and signed up for one of their online courses in writing science fiction and fantasy.
Best. Thing. Ever.
It might seem strange that, despite being a voracious reader of fiction since a very early age, I had really never thought about what is involved in actually writing the stuff. I had no idea that there was this thing called a ‘plot’, and of equal importance are the setting and the characters.
If I’d thought about it enough, I might have realised this over time, but I’ve never really been a critical reader. I read the way a starving person eats – quickly, hungrily, skipping boring bits, racing to the finish line.
Occasionally, a book will grip me so tightly that I’m forced to slow down and read every word (William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways springs to mind as one example, and anything written by the inimitable Terry Pratchett).
So it was something of a revelation to discover the extraordinary complexity that goes into making a work of fiction. And I have Gotham to thank for that.
Their courses are great. There’s a major practical component, you get homework (cue adult nerdgasm), and at least twice in the ten weeks, you have to present something you have written yourself for the class to critique.
That was the other, equally useful thing I learned from Gotham – how to read critically. Before Gotham, I thought solely in terms of ‘like’ or ‘dislike’. Now I ask myself ‘why?’. It’s a very important step because it has also made me read my own writing critically.
Some people are just natural at writing fiction, and have found their way to it without external assistance. I am not one of those people, and if you’re in my camp but are thinking of dabbling in fiction, give Gotham’s finest a look.