Yesterday I attended a lecture through the Writewell Academy. This venerable institution, established in April 2012 by bestselling authors Jennifer Crusie and Lani Diane Rich, consists of slide show lectures and exercises for writers who want to sharpen their creative writing skills and who may not have the time, money, or pretension to pursue an MFA. In other words, me.
The 100-level lectures in discovery and conflict are designed for those who may or may not have written a novel before, and want to sharpen their skills, while the 200- and 300-level lectures are for those who have a book written and need help refining it. All lectures cost $10 except for the 101 introductory course, which is free.
Since the Academy is still young, not all of the lectures are available. So far only the 100-level lectures and the 200-level lecture on the basics of character are completed. However, the all-important school store is open. It's important to have your priorities straight.
I downloaded Lani's 102: Introduction to Discovery lecture, and really enjoyed it. The lecture was a little over thirty minutes long, was quite witty, and gave me some new ideas for how to come up with new ideas.
I did one of the exercises this morning, which was a character questionnaire. I decided I would try to answer the questionnaire as Katelyn, who is that accountant who I'm trying to convince to do something interesting enough to warrant a book. The first question was what her best childhood memory was, and I nearly quit right there. The woman is thirty years old, and was convinced she was born that way. It was a hard slog, but I finally got her to 'fess up to a past, and the questionnaire got easier after that. Eventually she'd spilled quite a few of her deepest, darkest secrets, and I felt like we'd bonded over a cup of coffee and a slice of cake I shouldn't have eaten. Thanks to Lani's lecture, Kate has the potential to do something other than complain about her ex-husband. That might be worth ten bucks right there.
If you want to refine your writing skills, Writewell Academy is a cheap and fun option. Their target audience is definitely female, but a very self-confident man could acquire some tools for his writing toolbox from the Academy if he dared.