Sunday, November 02, 2014

Creative Writing 101

Yesterday I had the first session of the continuing education course I'm teaching in creative writing for Northeast Texas Community College. We meet Saturdays at 2 PM in the downtown Mount Pleasant campus, which used to be the school administration building and was originally the high school.

One student had already contacted me and had an excused absence, but otherwise everyone else was there. The class a small enough that we had excellent interaction; there were lots of questions and a  lot of back and forth exchanges.

That was important because it helped the time go by quickly and gave direction to the class; I was able to get a good idea what the students want to get out of the class.

I handed out a prepared outline of the six weeks, as well as so useful handouts I think students will enjoy as reference.

The time passed quickly and I think everyone enjoyed it. At the very least they will learn something in a relatively painless manner.

I think everyone in a class has the goal of becoming a published writer of some kind, although what they envision ultimately publishing varies greatly. Some are really just into creative self-expression, others are interested in speculative fiction such as horror and fantasy. Some of them are into screenplays, others into poetry, and one student I know is ultimately looking at advice on how to write a true crime novel, in so far as a member of her family for the subject of a brutal murder 18 years ago (and the killer is finally just getting his appointment with the execution chamber in a month or so).

For my part I stood the whole time and talked on my feet, it was so interesting. Although I have participated on panels at conventions and conferences in the past, this is the first time I really did something approaching classroom instruction.

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"It’s possible that you haven’t run into the stories of Lou Antonelli. Since 2003, he’s been publishing delightful short tales of alternate history all over the nooks and crannies of the SF world. Thanks to Fantastic Books, we now have 28 of these little gems in one place. "Many of Antonelli’s stories have an unexpected twist ending. And many of them are what he calls “secret history” stories, which aren’t exactly alternate history—they’re set in our familiar history, but there’s always some element that contemporary observers missed. " -

- Don Sakers, The Reference Library, Analog July-Aug. 2014

A better path develops for a distraught man in “Double Exposure” by Lou Antonelli (debut 6/11 and reviewed by Frank D). Jake is about to end it all. He has been trying to keep his high maintenance wife happy for decades and has needed to embezzle to satisfy her spending habits. Now, on the verge of indictment and abandoned by his spouse, he buys a gun. Before he pulls the trigger, he spies a Kodak one-day photo hut. Curious, he pulls up to the window. They are holding pictures of him and his last girlfriend from 30 years before. The package is a lot thicker than it should be. Double Exposure” is listed as an Alternative History story but I would classify it as a Magical Realism tale. It is set as a second chance tale, a look into a life that should have been. The author is inspired by his memories of the old photo huts (I remember them) and of their disappearance. A cool idea (photos of another life), one that I could imagine would make for a great anthology.

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