It’s been really interesting working on these first courses. The 101 lecture is just an introduction to Writewell itself, but I’ve finished the slides and notes for 103 (Conflict), and I’ll finish 211 (4 Act Structure) today, and I’ve got a good start on 221 (Scene). Some of the time was spent learning the very basic skills I needed for illustration and animation (and I mean basic), but most of it was taking all the stuff I knew about the one particular topic and synthesizing it down into three support points and then making them as clear as possible. I’ve done the 103 lecture at least a dozen times, trying to find a balance between abstract information (“You need conflict”) and application (“Here’s an example of conflict”) that can then be extrapolated into exercises so people can use their own stories as examples of the concepts. Trying to hit the people who learn by watching, the people who learn by listening, the people who learn by hands-on doing, and the people who learn by reading is challenging. I’ve pretty much decided that the people who like to learn by reading paragraphs are going to be the ones short-changed here because I don’t want to write a book for each lecture. I’m thinking that the video lecture with voiceover, the separate audio (which will have to make some sense on its own even though it’ll be referring to the slides), and the support materials for hands-on learning (which for me will be a notebook* for ideas as you watch the slide show and a workbook to use for your own story) will cover it.
What always amazes me is how, no matter what I teach, getting ready for a class affects the story I’m working on. It’s impossible to think about these concepts without applying them to the story in my head, and I’ve had any number of lightbulb moments since I started this. They’re such basic concepts until you use them as lenses to see your stories through, and then they’re like one of those prism kaleidoscopes: what they mean depends on what you’re looking at. If I can make that happen for other people, that’ll be a good, good thing.
We have hit a couple of small snags, one of which is that there is no automatic download feature, so evidently after Paypal gets the cash, it sends us a notification and then we send the lecture on. Since we’re all on the computer pretty much all the time, there shouldn’t be much of a lag time, but it isn’t as swiftly automated as I’d have liked. On the other hand, it’ll work. I can’t imagine it ever taking longer than twenty-four hours for us to see an e-mail, so that’s probably what we’ll promise.
Still a lot has been fun. Getting the clip art together for the first lectures has been a blast. Once I decided that the only aesthetic guideline I needed was black and white drawings, I’ve been mixing and matching illustration styles and periods with abandon. My Virgo heart clutches sometimes when I see how much abandon, but since I’ll probably be using the same protagonist and antagonist clips throughout all my lectures, and since I love them, I’m stifling my inner iron-out-all-the-wrinkles and going for it. I’m counting on people liking dorky illustration and animation, but I also know that everything I’m putting in there really does make the concepts clearer, so I think I’m safe. Kinda. Maybe.
Also, we’re working out a way to have Writewell forums within the Cherry Forums structure, and they’ll launch when the lectures go live and the Cherry revamp is complete. Lots of new stuff here, but then it’s spring. New growth! Or something much like it.
We may not make the April 1 launch date (that’s only five days away ARGH), but we’ll definitely be up and running soon, and it’ll be a much, much better thing because of all of you. I am grateful as always to Argh Nation. You have the patiences of saints and the revision skills of surgeons. Thank you all so much.
Edited to add: This is sort of what a sample notebook page will look like (much better margins): One of the main slides (not all of the slides) with a grid underneath for taking notes (because I like quad-ruled better than regular ruled paper when I take notes):