An Eclectic Writing Class

Once upon a time...

The Lessons Thus Far



An Eclectic Writing Class is a blog series that I created first and foremost for myself. With all of the writing resources out there, it’s tempting to just bookmark articles, buy ebooks, pin infographics—and never actually read or use them. Even when I did read an article or a book, I rarely sat down and answered the questions or did the exercises that the author suggested. I needed to change that. I needed to do the homework.

As a bonus, now I get to share my favorite writing resources with all of you. I’ve organized them into Writing Roundup lessons that come out every four weeks.  Let’s dive into the categories.


The Categories Explained


Productivity

This category includes a mixture of materials on motivation, inspiration, time-managementwriting psychology, goal-setting and tracking, etc. This is the kind of stuff that life coaches teach. It’s also one of my favorite sections.

Some of it is writing specific, but a lot of it applies to anyone who wants to succeed at anything—because it turns out that being a productive human and resisting the distraction of the Internet is also a problem for people who aren’t writers. Go figure!

In any given lesson I might share an inspiring quote or infographic, a link to an article, a Youtube video, or even a personal story of how I’ve been able to boost my own productivity and track my goals.


Writing-Craft

I’m at a stage in my writing journey where it would be absurd of me to give writing advice. Maybe I’ll have something to say after publishing a few books, but for now it makes more sense to point you to a few shiny gems I’ve pulled out of the multitude of great articles, videos, podcasts, books, and so on, created by experienced writers.

The resources I choose tend to be most applicable to writing novels, especially fantasy because that’s what I like to write. A lot of the information can be applied across writing disciplines, but may not be as helpful for writing information-based blog posts, articles, etc.

Sometimes I refer to a paid resource like a book or a class that I enjoyed, but I try to find a similar free resource on the topic for those who might not have the funds, time, or desire to buy it.

There are a ton of great resources out there, but for these lessons, I limit myself to one or two things, because if I’m going to truly internalize the information, I need to allow myself time to apply it.


Prompt

The prompts I create usually take the form of a short phrase to include in a scene. I try to choose phrases that could spark a scene in your imagination, but that leave all of the details of that scene up to you, because as interesting as it is to write about your villain having tea with her grandmother, that’s probably never going to make it into your novel, and if you’re like me, you don’t want to waste your time writing that.

 The prompts are generic enough that they could work in virtually any genre, but if you need to tweak something in the phrase to make it work for your story, like changing a pronoun or swapping an animal out for a different one, go for it. I recommend setting a timer for 20 or 25 minutes and writing whatever pops into your head, Pomodoro style. There are no rules here.  Just write.

I post my basically unedited attempts on Wattpad and link to them from the lessons. They are all part of An Eclectic Writing Class - Prompt Writing. Placeholder words are in [square brackets] and notes to myself for later are in {curly brackets}.

I recommend adding the work to your Wattpad library so that new additions pop up in your newsfeed. With the mobile app, you can even get notifications on your phone. You can also follow me on Wattpad to see any new projects.

If you would like me to see your attempt, send me a link, or share it on Twitter with the hashtag:
#eclecticwritingclass


Technical Stuff

This section includes a short assignment on grammar or other technical stuff. The first four posts of this series no longer have this section because the online resource I used became unusable. Starting in Writing Roundup #5 we'll go through William Strunk's The Elements of Style. I have a third edition with revisions and additions by E.B. White. You won't need my exact edition to follow along with most of it, especially at first, but that is the one I'm going to reference so it might be worth picking up a third or fourth edition rather than downloading the original public domain book for free.


Vocabulary

I have a personal pet peeve. It’s when an author uses a long obscure word when a short common word would work just as well. You know what I mean: the word looks like the author pulled it out of a thesaurus for variety, but it just looks clunky and unnatural without changing the meaning of the sentence at all. Or (worse) the word gives a shade of meaning that the author didn’t intend. This kind of word usage leads to recommendations for adult writers like “write for a fifth-grade reading level,” which is another one of my pet peeves.

English has an abundance of incredibly precise words. These can bring a sense of realism to a story, especially in genres like fantasy or historical fiction.

When choosing vocabulary words, I like to pick ones I might actually use. The easiest way to do that is to take them from my reading. Anytime I see a word I'm not absolutely certain I know how to use, I write it down for later.

In this section, I share a list of 10-28 words, complete with Webster’s Dictionary links. I’ve even made a Memrise course for this class with pretty straight-from-the-dictionary definitions. You're welcome to use my words or find your own. A lot of mine are specific to the genres I read and may not transfer well past fantasy or historical.

Either way, I recommend that you look up examples of the words used in sentences and practice using them yourself because otherwise, you will commit my first pet peeve.


Progress

In this section, I give a brief update on how my writing is going, what I’ve been able to accomplish since the last post, and what I hope to accomplish before the next post. Knowing that you’re all out there reading this really helps to keep me going, so thank you for reading. I hope you get as much value out of these lessons as I do. Be sure to let me know if there are any other elements you think I should add to An Eclectic Writing Class. And be sure to do your homework, or my hairless ghost lemur will haunt your dreams…

Free Writing Class | An Eclectic English Class Pinterest Graphic | Lydia Sanders

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