I’ve finished going through Of the North, and have about 9,600 words of lines worth keeping verbatim, and some of those now I’m not so sure about. 9,600 out of 50,000 is a pretty small percentage.
One more note about college, before I go on. I don’t mean to suggest that I’ve wasted my time there, or that I have learned nothing about writing from the writing classes. I just haven’t learned very much, yet. It may be that way because I still have a year to go, and you don’t really get into the writing classes until the third year. Or maybe you get out what you put in, and I haven’t been putting much in. Grades don’t always reflect how much you’ve actually been learning, because sometimes teachers grade unreasonably high or low. Also, a lot of the early classes are for people who are just figuring out their voice or even the fact that they write, not so much for someone who’s already developed a voice and focus. And about two-thirds of it is poetry, for some reason.
Hope, whom I mentioned earlier, joined an online writing magazine thing and told me about it, but I didn’t pay much attention at the time. Eventually I started stalking it, reading their articles and forum threads, and watching their writing videos. I didn’t join, though, being reluctant to join yet another group that I’d probably end up leaving in a year or so.
But I did start to like it, and it was offering good advice, and I got to know some of the most common people on the forum (without them ever knowing I existed), and they seemed to be growing, and far ahead of me, and committed to the place. So in December, I think, last year, after finishing another semester still alive, I joined.
Kingdom Pen started as an online magazine for Christian writers, but by now it’s more than that. They publish articles, short stories, and poems. They do videos of writing advice. There’s the forum, too. They’ve started doing online classes, sometimes free and sometimes not, as well. I’ve learned a lot, most especially about plot structure and theme, since starting to stalk the website. Now if I have a writing question, there’s a group of people I can ask it of, without having to worry about adjusting for bad worldviews.
For example, the one course, Jumpstart Your Novel, says conflict is important because readers read to see other people, like them, battling the same things they do, and learning how to overcome them. Whereas one of my teachers is of the opinion that people read fiction in order to escape from their troubles, and they like conflict because it shows that someone else has it worse than they do, and furthermore, fiction not only should not teach lessons, it doesn’t necessarily do so. Whereas Jumpstart Your Novel says all stories teach something whether they mean to or not.
Then there’s the forum. A lot of us write fantasy, but there’s the occasional few who write historical fiction (and some who even like to read it!) among other genres, and several poets. Also, you won’t think of raspberries, ice cream, or extra-large frogs the same way again. Or even candy bars.
If that sounded like an advertisement, that’s probably because it is.
In other news, if you’re writing a novel set just after the Norman Conquest, don’t start off with an apparently respectable Anglisc woman walking around bareheaded and taking refuge in a storeroom for potatoes apparently intended for human consumption. She should also not be wearing a velvet cloak. And if you’re going to review such a book, don’t recommend it to lovers of Renaissance history unless you explain yourself. (Finding comparable books for Of the North is turning out to be hard.)