Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Grateful for Great Courses

In a month of gratitude, I want to put a shout out to all those who help other writers become better at their craft so they can continue to feed my book addiction.

My motto has always been: Life is Too Short for Bad Fiction.

You can see my own contributions (the Story Building Blocks series) to this effort on my website.

I love looking through the Great Courses Catalog that comes through the mail. A long string of classes on DVDs and books line our shelves. You can learn everything from history, mathematics, and science to the humanities all in the comfort of your living room, office, or car, via DVD player or downloads onto your PC.

Years ago I found the course Building Great Sentences by Brooks Landon . It changed my writing forever. I vaguely remembered diagramming sentences in high school, but this course turned language into building blocks that are as colorful and versatile as LEGO®s.

As if reading my mind that writers needed more master classes in writing, a course was added by one of my favorite conference attendees, Jane Friedman. If you have been hiding in a cave and don't know who she is, I suggest a visit to her website. She is a great friend to writers everywhere.

I was thrilled to find she was asked to create a Great Course for writers on How to Publish Your Book.

To my delight, I found additional writing courses in my November issue:

1Writing Great Fiction: Story Telling Tips and Techniques by James Hynes, Novelist and Writing Instructor.

2Analysis and Critique: How to Engage and Write about Anything by Professor Dorsey Armstrong, Ph.D. Purdue University.

3The Secrets of Great Mystery and Suspense Fiction by David Schmid, Ph.D.
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.

4How Great Science Fiction Works by Professor Gary K. Wolfe, Ph.D.

5. Redefining Reality: The Intellectual Implications of Modern Science by Professor Steven Gimbel, Ph.D. Gettysburg College

6. Masterpieces of Short Fiction by Professor Michael Krasny, Ph.D., San Francisco State University.

7. English Grammar Bootcamp by Professor Anne Curzon, Ph.D. University of Michigan

The list prices for the courses are rather high for struggling authors. But there are frequent sales with up to 70% off. Some are also sold in sets. Share them with your writing pals or critique group if you have one. Perhaps you could all chip in together.

You can order via the catalog order form, by phone, or online.

Also check your local library, it is possible a course has been donated.

I cannot recommend these courses highly enough, especially for those going it alone that can't find local resources for master classes. There are too few! Most conferences cater to beginning writers. The more you learn about your craft, the better your writing will be.

Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Love your motto; life is most definitely too short for bad fiction. I am impressed by the list of resources you provided. Many of us have not had the advantage of conventional training, so great do-it-yourself books that fill that void can make the difference between a successful writing career and a lifelong struggle to "make it" for writers who are otherwise going it alone. Great post, Diana!

  2. Thanks for the links.

    Hope you have a pleasant Thanksgiving, Diana.

  3. Good stuff, Diana ... thanks for the tips. Happy turkey day, BRP folks ... Homey is setting out on a great adventure and his presence will be sporadic over the next few months ... but he will be thinking about you. May be an occasional update on his Facebook page. Keep up the good work!

  4. Most writers I know are more than willing to share tips. Belonging to a writing organization also helps. I've learned a lot from the critiques at my RWA meetings.


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