The Writewell Academy. Ta Da!

Welcome to the opening day of The Writewell Academy. It’s a very stripped down website because we figured people would want to get right to the point, not wade through a lot of stuff to get to the information.

We have an introductory video here (it’s free), and there are two lessons available for download for a small fee (well, ten bucks), Lani’s Discovery Lecture and Jenny’s Conflict Lecture.

Also the School Store is open.

All questions answered by Alastair and Lani from the website or by me here on Argh in the comments.

(I can’t believe we finally did it. Well, we had to. I wrote “established in April of 2012” in the intro video, and we weren’t doing that sucker over again.)

Questions, comments, complaints, requests, general nattering about . . . put it in the comments. Thank you.

The Faculty

47 thoughts on “The Writewell Academy. Ta Da!

  1. Oh, happy day…

    I knew there was a reason to get up early today. Yay! on school starting. I love the introduction and you both sound so smart…because you are. : 0
    I even took a look in the store and now can’t decide between the two mousepads. Off to make announcements that school has started and then coming back to order the first lesson.

    1. They’re half hour lectures, so most of your week is still free.
      Unless our plan works, and the lectures jump start your writing, and you end up writing in a white heat and finish your book. That would be good, too.

  2. I just made a mug of hot chocolate and sat down to watch the intro video, and it won’t play. QuickTime Player (on Mac OS 10.7) and the only alternative my iMac offered (Adobe Media Encoder, which must be part of Creative Suite 5.5) both say there’s a problem with the codec, or something (‘The document โ€œWA101 – Video.aviโ€ could not be opened. A required codec isn’t available.’). I’ve just downloaded it a second time, in case the first version got corrupted in the download, but same problem. Where am I going wrong? My tea break is ruined!

      1. I’m having trouble too. I was able to watch and listen to the introductory lecture just by clicking on the arrow – is that a YouTube version? – and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The pictures are great and I thought your comments were entertaining and informative. However, when I tried to download and save the slideshow, video, and notebook, I ran into problems. I could download the video, but when I tried to play it, I got a similar comment to the one JaneB describes:
        “The document “WA101 – Video.avi” could not be opened. A required codec isn’t available.”
        (My old Apple iBook got completely outdated, so I spent my savings on a new iMac in December. It has Lion 10.7.3, and I just checked “software update” and I’m completely up to date. Apple does seem to be having a lot of problem with Lion, their newest software; don’t know if that’s a factor.) I CAN download and save the notebook and the audio part of the lecture and I can play the audio. I don’t understand how I’ll end up putting the audio and the video together, even once I can open the video, but that part is probably just my own computer ignorance, which is certainly not Writewell’s problem.
        No doubt Alistair is no donning his red tights and cape even as I type, as he prepares to fearlessly handle the video issue. Again, I really enjoyed the introductory lecture; I think you guys got it just write (I mean right) and the other lectures sound terrific. Looking forward to them.

        1. The audio is embedded in the video, you don’t have to do anything. We included an audio track alone for people who’d like to just listen to the audio.

          Of course, that’s assuming you can open the video. We’re on it, I swear.

        2. He’s on it! We’re exporting Mac-compatible (they played on my system, which is Lion system I got in December, but who knows what’s up with that) versions to put on the download pages, so anyone with a Mac who bought a lecture (or wants to download the free one) hit that page in about a half-hour, and there will be a native-Mac version to download as well. Anyone with Windows should be able to watch the .avi version without a problem.

          Or, if you want to watch the .avi version, you can download a codec called Perian, or VLC, a video viewer that will watch pretty much anything. Both are free.

          Meanwhile, I’ll try to get a picture of Alastair in his tights and cape… ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Yaaaaaaaay! and Nooooooo! I’ve been waiting with bated breath but I have other commitments all day today and tomorrow so I won’t get to play until Tuesday. It’s a cruel, cruel world. Of course, this is why the do-it-when-you-can thing is so perfect.

    But mostly, Yaaaaaay! This is going to be wonderful!! Thank you!!!!!!

  4. Alastair has a fix he’s working on. I’d explain it to you, but I’m clueless myself. Something about reformatting on our end. And thank you all for your patience while we work the bugs out.

  5. Yaay!!!! *cartwheels of joy!!* (And I got Scrivener for my birthday yesterday!) I am overflowing with joy!

    I’m off to download immediately.

  6. I’m just giving you this feedback on the off chance it’s useful, but I don’t think you guys should worry about it – because it’s probably just some new problem with my iMac (she whined pathetically). I only had to call AppleCare once in six years for my iBook; I’ve had the iMac in and out of the Genius FOUR times since I bought it in December. (I need a stronger word than arrrrrrrrgh!)
    Just FYI, then: I downloaded the Mac version (.m4v) and I can play it just fine, but I can’t hear it. No audio.
    I do have Intego’s VirusBarrier X6 (the Mac version, of course) on my system; I wouldn’t think that would affect it, but possibly . . .
    Again, unless someone else reports the same problem, don’t worry about it. I’m not going to do anything more with it today or I’ll get depressed. I need a break from computer problems! But, Lani, if you can get that get picture of Alistair in his tights and post it, it would probably cheer me right up. . .

    1. Sorry, Rainy — it’s not you, it’s us! I accidentally uploaded the wrong version of the Mac-compatible video file, and it didn’t have the audio track attached. I’ve fixed the problem, so go ahead and re-download the file from Writewell at your own convenience.

      Apologies to everyone who’s battling inconvenience today, but we’re getting there! ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Oh, bless you, bless you all, Writewell Faculty and I.T. Department. I’m so incredibly happy that it’s not my computer!!!! And I watched and listened to the lecture again, all the way through (just to make absolutely sure everything was working) and it’s absolutely great – a lot of fun and exciting too, which is my favorite kind of educational experience. Thank you all. And now I really am going to leave the computer alone for the rest of the day, and this time I really mean it! Probably . . .

      2. Super Alastair to the rescue! I have a PC, and watched the intro video on Facebook where Lani posted it. I shared there, to spread the word, and I’d be happy to post it on my blog, if that would be helpful.

  7. So excited to see Writewell Academy up and running. I’ve already downloaded the two lectures. Just starting my way through the notebooks and exercises. Way cool, guys!

    I also am on a Mac and ran into the same problem. I downloaded a VLC app and I can run the video with that just fine — though instead of clicking the file and allowing it to open (which it still tells me it can’t do), I right click to get the “Open With” options and then I click the VLC app. I figured you guys would have a fix up soon but I was impatient.

    Now I just need to decide which mug and which mousepad because . . . you know . . . way cool. Thanks!

  8. Huzzah! Woo! Yay! Cupcakes!

    Um, where do we go for that Alastair pic again? I ask this in a completely respectful and asexual manner. Of course.

  9. Congratulations on your launch! Can’t wait to check out the lectures.

    (Just a note that the store link to the tote bag goes to the main page and not the specific item.)

  10. Yay! I can’t wait to sit down (in my PJ’s) and get started. I downloaded the lectures, workbooks and notebooks onto my iMac and everything works perfectly (just thought you’d like to know)! 9pm can’t get here quickly enough (that’s when I will have some “me time”)!

  11. Awesome! I can’t wait to check it out, but wait I must. I haven’t the time to check it out tonight. Oh, alright, maybe just a peek. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. *squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee* ohmygodohmygodohmygod *squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee*

  13. I downloaded the lecture (yaaay!) but Windows Media Player only gives me sound, no picture. I then tried QuickTime and it opened, started to say that I needed a plugin (but didn’t tell me which one) and then I could see the time passing on the counter thingee but there was no audio or video. I’m using Windows XP.

  14. I’m a day late but that means I got here after all the bugs have been…debugged. And this is perfect timing as I finally put words to the page on the new WIP yesterday. I’m at the dang interfering day job, but I’ll be watching and downloading tonight!

    Thanks again for doing this. I know it sucked up a lot of your precious time. As always the generosity of Romance writers knows no bounds!

  15. Love it! Thanks so much for putting this together and making it affordable and accessible. It’s brilliant.

  16. So excited! Thursday is the beginning of a four-day weekend for me, and I’m going to devote three hours Thursday morning to figuring out how to download this and pay for it. (-: If I turn out to be wildly pessimistic about my computer skilz, then I will have plenty of time to actually WRITE (well, edit), too! I want to thank everyone who has helped with the debugging, because that means I get it easier later on (-:. And of course, thanks to Jenny, Lani and Alistair for making all this possible!

  17. I finally had one hour without commitment or obligation this evening, and I opted to watch Writewell 103 instead of showering. I’m happy with my choice, although my family may not be.

    It was good. It’s an intro level course, and there wasn’t anything I hadn’t known about before. That made me pretty happy. Even better, as I reviewed my characters in my head and thought about my plot during the lecture, I had two moments where I said, “Well, duh! Why am I not doing that here?” Considering that this came from material I was familiar with, those moments alone were worth the price of admission.

    I’m not sure if you want comments or suggestions on the presentation itself, but I’ll throw in my two cents. You must be used to that here.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Edna and Bernie, Cindy, and the mountain climber (although my friends who climb mountains would have been seriously POed by the dissing of man vs nature, which just made it more funny to me). The examples were brilliant in terms of illuminating the concepts. The lecture was very well paced, clearly spoken, and pleasant to listen to. You’re right, you did sound a little stuffy just occasionally, but I don’t think I would have noticed if you hadn’t mentioned it on the blog. It was an extremely well-structured lesson with amusing and memorable examples highlighted by wonderful illustrations. Pretty much what I’d expect from you. Must be tough when the expectations are so high, but for me you definitely delivered.

    OK, now I’m going to nitpick. Sorry! But it’s good to know both what works for people and what doesn’t, right? Right?

    There were a couple of times when the graphics sat on top of the words for too long. Even if I’m listening to you talk, I want to refer back to the words on the screen. I found myself starting to lean right and left trying to look around things to read. Doh! Also, the moving conflict boxes made me sick. I mean, literally. I get car sick very easily and when words I’m reading on the screen move around I get nauseated. Yes, I’m pathetic. OK, last thing- the worksheet for us to print out refers to different colored boxes. Since I don’t have a color printer, all my boxes are the same color. Of course, I’m probably the only person on the planet who doesn’t have a color printer so that may not be a common concern. You know, like trying to look around objects on the screen or getting motion sick watching moving boxes are common concerns. Right.

    I think this is going to be great for me. I hope it’s useful for lots of people, and that you and Lani also get what you need from it, both the teaching high and the cash flow. Do you know what the approximate release times will be for lectures?

    1. Thank you, this is exactly what I needed.
      Yeah, the betas pointed the problem of the graphics over the print. I think I added the graphics later and didn’t think about it. I almost did the slideshow over, I did have to fix some glitches, but in the end, I just couldn’t take in any more. It will never happen again.
      Never thought about not having a color printer so that won’t happen again, either.
      Nausea. There’s one place in the next lecture when I’m talking about turning points, so I had the slides swing around. At about the sixth one, I thought, “People are going to be throwing up about now. I think there are two slide that have images that revolve now, and that’s it. Sorry about the sliding boxes, though.
      The plan is that I put the 211 4 Act Structure one up on Sunday, but at the moment, it’s still a slide show, a script and the rough draft of a notebook and workbook. It’s possible I’ll still get it done. Probably.
      Here’s the big question: Was it worth ten bucks?

  18. Another lecture up that soon? That’s wonderful news!

    Yes, it’s definitely worth ten bucks to me, even though I’m viewing 103 as the introductory remarks before the heart of the material. The workbook and notebook add a nice solidity that make it feel like a complete package. For someone who is new to the material, this would be a real bargain.

    Thank you again for doing this. I’m thrilled that so much information will be easily accessible, laid out clearly and succinctly in one location. When it’s complete it will be a great resource for a wide audience.

    1. We can only hope.
      The 200 level is still pretty much introductory. The website will always have the list of topics covered, though, so you can gauge if you need it or not.

      1. The 200 level will be introductory for some, but not for me. I need Scene Structure and Action Scenes. I haven’t written fiction before my current effort, and the haphazard selection of books I’ve read on the topic have left lots of gaps in my knowledge. Of course, that’s why I’m having so much fun. Trying something completely different and building a new skill set is exhilarating.

        Looking forward to the next offerings!

  19. I just want to take a moment to ignore all the very worthy comments about content and the very nerdy comments about technology and say that I love love love the logo. And even if I knew nothing about you and Lani or the lecture series, I would want to be involved, just because of the old fashioned typewriter and font. And I’ve always wanted to be in an Academy. Do I get to wear a straw hat with a plaid scarf around it?

  20. I haven’t had time to check it out, but I will make time in the next few days. (though, in truth, I am waiting for the more advanced levels.)

    Congrats on getting past the first hurdles and working the kinks out. ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. As you’ve probably noticed, there’s no new lesson up at Writewell. My allergies are laying me low at the moment. As soon as I find a way to manage the symptoms, I’ll be back to work. I’m about ready to try Eye of Newt, so it could be awhile.

    1. OK, then, I’ll stop checking obsessively. Thanks for the update. Allergies are bad here, too. I have an air purifier going in every room, and each family member has been issued their allergy drug of choice. Feel better soon.

  22. Hope you feel better soon. Meanwhile, even though you’re going with the stripped-down approach, consider making it easier for people to find the free sample. A line on the home page would be helpful. Otherwise, someone who doesn’t know the whole Writewell story has to click on the 100 link and then read the description of the first lecture to find out about it. People aren’t that patient.

    1. I’ll tell Alastair. Well, I’ll e-mail Alastair. I’m holed up in my bedroom with a HEPA filter and four dogs. Can’t understand why my allergies aren’t better. (If the dogs go, I go.)

  23. Sorry you’re being held hostage by your sinuses, Jenny. I hope it gets better soonest.

    I’m so excited about Writewell that I’m doing a blog post about it. I plan to include the logo and trailer video, as well as providing links, and I hope that’s OK.

    Thanks again for offering such a wonderful resource!


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