Category Archives: old blogs

Future Learning

Dear Reader

Future Learning

For the past 8 weeks I have undertaken an online course, Start Writing Fiction hosted on FutureLearn web site. I had already taken one course from FutureLearn which was very good. It was a criminology course, another short 8 weeks introduction very much a taster. These online courses give thousands the chance to see how education has changed or just explore a little further something that grabs their interest.

CSI, NCIS and shows of this nature have piqued many people’s interest into just what is the science behind these stories. These short courses give a glimpse behind the real scenes. It was an opener indeed.

So when I saw the creative writing, I knew that was for me.  Signing up was simple, no requirements other than a wish to learn.  The course was run over 8 weeks like many other and had a good structure.  Each week was aimed towards the last short story by looking at characters, plot, editing and reading. Many might think if you read the types of books you wish to write, that it is wrong. It is the reverse. We also had to submit short 300 word pieces for others to comment on and help  understand what like-minded people thought.

That could have been difficult, however Futurelearn did this rather well by keeping it to three questions. This helped teach how to read others work and comment without being negative. There is nothing worse than feeling dejected when you have crafted a piece of work, thought it was well written only to find the metaphorical rug pulled from underneath your feet. It can be difficult to take well constructed criticism sometimes and this course has helped in explaining it.

It is hard to put your work out into the open for others to read, but that’s what you have to do if you wish to be published. The course finished with a final short 1000 word story. Not easy to do. However, I did complete the task and got very good comments which pleased me.  My story was a twist on an old sci-fi theme and I will rewrite it later for myself.

I enjoyed the course a lot, the structure made sense and it gave me a new insight into where I need to build. Over the weeks, I created a couple of characters which it turns out have given me ideas for stories. I also am close to finishing my first novel, which will then need a few edits.

Would I recommend this to others? Yes indeed I would for a number of reasons. if your interested in discovering more this free taster helps, it makes you think about progressing to maybe a degree or a weekend retreat. Don’t forget that it does cost to get a degree these days and many people can’t afford to waste hard-earned money.

So what next for me? Well more blogs, short stories and developing the two characters into longer stories. Self-publishing is my next goal, which in itself is not easy.

FutureLearn has taken off in a big way. It is easy to do, you work at your pace at home, no messing around and understandable. There are people available to offer advice as well as many other students all wishing to learn. Is this the way to draw people into further education? Could well be in my view, but at the end of the day it is the cost of doing a degree which I would say puts off many mature students.

Tagline; “998 words for my last short story, which two words to add? The End”

500 words for 500 words

Hello Dear Reader,

How many of you have tried to write a short story in just 500 words? Well, over 90,000 children did just that for BBC Radio 2 and Chris Evans show. I listened to this last year and the depth and brilliance of the stories were amazing. What was the most remarkable was the response to a simple radio request. Send in your stories.

Again this year it was announced and again thousands of young adults wrote their story. I made sure I listened to the show, which was broadcast live from Hay-on-wye. Itself a famous book town which I have visited more than once. Basically, it’s just books. Shops and shops of books. Almost like heaven.

I was taken aback by the winners as I am sure many were. They had some great ideas, beautiful sentences and really did set the atmosphere in their own way. You have to give credit to Radio 2 and Chris Evans for going with something that a few would think impossible given todays digital age.

Yet 90,000 odd wrote 500 words. That is a staggering 45 million words and more. The top 50 stories are online to read and I did hear the top ones read out this morning by some very famous people. They admitted how nervous they were to read such work, to make sure they did justice to the words. You could tell the passion, inspiration and sheer joy each story held.

You really should go and read the top stories. Forget the ages at first, just read. The imagination that goes to create these stories is wonderful. Within 500 words each of them create a world, one that can be explored further. Now look at the ages. There is a certain ‘wow’ factor. How many others will be inspired for next year? How many parents will encourage their children to take part?

What I did wonder, was how many parents felt the pressure of being asked about a competition like this? Could they cope with trying to understand the complex world created before them? Have people lost the ability to use or see words anymore? I know how difficult it can be to just write 500 words for a blog. Most times I rattle on about a topic, which does have a start and end sometimes. But to build a short story that takes something else.

In this digital age where stories are pushed at people, it is pleasing to find that stories are still being written. This event makes young people seek out what is in their imagination and let others see what they feel.

500 words may not seem much but in the right hands those words can create a whole new world. The stories will encourage others I am sure. Chris Evans has made this his own and good for him. These stories will pluck at the heart-strings, will make you laugh and entertain.

Tagline – 500 word stories. Read and enjoy.