GUEST POST: HOW DO I CHOOSE THE BEST #WRITING COURSE FOR ME?

I’d like to thank author Juliet M Sampson for contributing this guest post about writing courses. Juliet M. Sampson is the author of best-seller, Behind the Mask.  Her second novel Bon Voyage! was inspired from travelling many countries in the world. Juliet’s genre is contemporary realism. On her writing journey, she has been fortunate to undertake Bryce Courtenay’s and Fiona McIntosh’s Master Classes. These have further inspired Juliet to follow her dreams and keep writing. She is currently writing her third novel.To learn more about Juliet, visit her website and like her Facebook page.

As a new writer, there are many writing courses you can attend, but how do you know which one to select and if the course is worthwhile? In this article I am going to discuss four courses I attended which really shone for me, Bryce Courtenay’s final Master Class, Fiona McIntosh’s inaugural Master Class, Writing For Children with Hazel Edwards and Getting Published as a Writer for Children.

There are many places that offer writing courses and as an author I suggest becoming a member of your state’s writers association and the Australian Society of Authors. It is extremely important to keep up to date about what is happening in the profession. However, three of the courses that are mentioned in this article were not found through these avenues. Be clear when searching for a course the reason for selecting the particular one and how it may be beneficial for you and your writing journey.

Bryce Courtenay’s final Master Class was any writer’s dream come true. I felt over the moon to take part in the ‘Guru of Writing’ Bryce’s course. A chance meeting with Bryce allowed me to exchange a few words. He mentioned to me that he took writing classes. I never knew he did this. I had already written one novel and I was keen to learn more. Who better to teach me?

Bryce’s course was very professional. As a master storyteller who had written twenty books, the content he covered and skills he taught were priceless. Reading this article you are probably thinking damn I can’t do this course as Bryce is no longer with us. However, Bryce was clever in many ways and had thought about this. Firstly, a recording was taken of this final Master Class. The DVD ‘The Last Class’ captures skills and knowledge he shared with the class and is available through the Bryce Courtenay website. Also, his final book, The Silver Moon (released October 2014), shares short pieces of writing such as ‘Bum Glue’ and ‘I am a writer’ which contain concepts Bryce taught that will stay with me forever. Bryce’s Master Class taught me to believe in myself and to continue to follow my dreams as a writer.

Another dream came true when I discovered Fiona McIntosh through Bryce Courtenay; she was a speaker at this final Master Class. Fiona McIntosh is the female ‘Guru of Writing.’ Like Bryce, she is a master storyteller who has written 30 novels. Her latest book Nightingale was released in October 2014. Fiona is the perfect choice to continue teaching Master classes and I was fortunate to be a student in her inaugural Master Class. Fiona’s course is ideal for learning to write commercial fiction. She is highly professional and the skills and knowledge she shares are guaranteed to assist you to write the best novel you possibly can. This course is a must. Who could be a better teacher than Fiona who has so much knowledge about composing a best-selling novel?

In this course I learnt many important skills and techniques to improve my writing. Fiona’s course is truly unique and there are parts that I guarantee no other writing course will ever offer you but I will not spoil this. You must do it. A number of students who have attended Fiona’s course are now published authors. I highly recommend this course – visit Fiona McIntosh’s website for more information.

Hazel Edwards is the ‘Guru of Children’s Writing.’ Her famous picture book There’s a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake, is a favourite of mine. I remember reading this story when I was at school. So, when Writers Victoria and The Australian Society of Authors announced that Hazel was taking a course, I jumped at the opportunity. Being a primary teacher as well as an author, I have a passion for reading and writing with children and knew that Writing for Children was the course for me.

At the age of 27, Hazel’s first book was published. She has written over 200 books and was awarded an OAM for literature in 2013. Her expertise, knowledge and guidance are precious gems of wisdom. It’s a truly valuable and worthwhile course to attend as Hazel has been working in the profession for many years. Her website shares information for aspiring writers.

I came across the final course I wanted to share through a friend who knows I am an author. The course, Getting Published as a Writer for Children, has so much to offer. There were two guest lecturers: Meredith Costain and Ann James. Meredith Costain writes for children. She has written in many forms such as picture books, novels, poetry, beginner readers for children, educational magazines and many more. The information she provides suggests many opportunities to write in varied forms. Ann James, the other guest lecturer, is a children’s book illustrator. It was very interesting to see her beautiful artwork and get insights into how an illustrator’s world works. The course director works at Allen & Unwin. The material she provides is precious and she gives the participants information and insight on how the world of publishing works. If you are close to publishing your work, this course will provide the guidance and valuable advice needed.

I hope this article has provided some insight and helpful advice about valuable courses to do as a writer. I must mention one more course I have attended and if you want to write a picture book, look no further. Dr. Virginia Lowe’s course, Create a Kid’s Book, really teaches the ins and outs regarding structure and format involved in writing a picture book. Picture books are the hardest to get published in the trade and Virginia Lowe has a wealth of knowledge having been a judge for the Children’s Book Council’s Book Awards.

Good luck and happy writing to all.

‘Spread sunshine and inspiration.’ Juliet M Sampson