The Writewell Academy for Wayward Authors

Lani and I have been talking about a new project, The Writewell Academy for Wayward Authors, a collection of hour-long, downloadable lectures in narrated slideshow format that would include a short PDF workbook with each class (“workbook” does not mean “textbook,” it would be an outline for taking notes). We have a tentative list of courses and a tentative idea of what to charge, but the key word is “tentative.”

The Academy coursework would be divided into different levels. One hundred level courses would be the basics: a very general overview of story (that one would be free), introduction to discovery, and introduction to story core elements. Two hundred level courses would be about specific aspects of character (protagonist, antagonist, supporting characters, etc.) and plot (four act structure, 7 anchor scenes, scene, etc. Three hundred level courses would be about more advanced concepts–theme, metaphor and symbol, etc. And four hundred level would be application of all those things in different ways, such as analysis of a single story using all of the concept, Lani taking apart one of her books and me taking apart one of mine. Or something like that. We’re still figuring it out, which is why I’d like your input, since you’ve seen most of these concepts float past you here on Argh in the past years.

So here’s what I want to know:

What lecture topics do you think should be covered? (Remember, the lectures are an hour, so they have to be very focused. “Plot” is not an option.)
How much is it fair to charge? (We’re both behind on our books and we’d like to pay the mortgage, but we’re not into ripping off writers, either.)

Oh, and I designed T-shirts because every school has T-shirts. I was inspired by my fave college T-shirt of all time from when I taught at Antioch: “Antioch College: No Football Team Since 1929.” (They did used to play naked frisbee on campus, though.)

The front would be something like:

With several different backs:

So what do you think?

88 thoughts on “The Writewell Academy for Wayward Authors

  1. That’s such great news! Where do I sign up? I looooove the second back slogan (heehee). As far as charging, we are just grateful that you are offering this at all!

    1. Sounds interesting. I would definitely be interested since I can’t go to an actual class with my weird work schedule. I guess it would depend on the price. I LOVE to have synopsis and query letter covered.

      I like the second shirt back best!

    1. It’s a lecture not a workshop, so there wouldn’t be any during the actual lecture. It’s possible that we’d add a Q&A somehow, but for now, assume we wouldn’t. So you’d just be paying for course materials.
      Of course, I answer questions here all the time, but I can’t assume that everybody would know to come here, so that’s not a solution.

  2. I love the second one as well as the wine and cookies. I think that sounds like a brilliant idea. Definitely a writing course I would be willing to pay for.

  3. I’m raring to go, as well (and my fave backs are the second and third). It’s a bit hard to know what to say about price without knowing how many lectures there’d be; but I was happy paying $10 for Lani’s downloadable class (and will be happier with the better video quality I know she’s going for now).

    I’m right at the beginning, and the two things I need to work out for myself (but which probably aren’t relevant to anyone else) are exactly what kind of stories do I want to tell (what kind would be true for me, as well as being fun)? And how do I deal with real life: I mean, how much is it wise to steal from my own life and experiences (for characters, etc.); or should I try and avoid all that (while knowing it will obviously affect what I write).

    Would there perhaps be a forum for people taking these courses? That might be a way for us to support each other, without it turning into a big time commitment for you and Lani.

    1. At the moment in the plan we’re looking at, there are three at the 100 level, ten at the 200 level, and about nine at the 300 level, with the 400 level to be determined later if this actually works. But we’d start with the first three at the one hundred level and then add the 200, etc. We’d suggest that you take the 100 level courses first, and then take anything you wanted in the 200 level in whatever order you wanted.

      This wouldn’t be video, it would be a slide show lecture. Think of the big survey courses in college where there were 200 people in a room and a big screen and a prof with a microphone in front of it. Like that. The first one would be free so you could see if you liked that approach to teaching without shelling out any cash.

      Forums: The problem with forums is that somebody has to run them, for free, and we’re already swamped here. So if we add forums, the price for the classes has to go up. So the question is, if we double or triple the price for a class–say make it $25 instead of $10–does that price too many people out of the opportunity to get the information? Plus, some people hate forums and would not be happy to pay the extra. So I’m thinking no on the forums, although I’d love a way to answer questions. I thought about adding comments to the class description pages, but at that point, I’m teaching the class for anybody who reads that page so . . .
      It would have to be private and restricted in time. I dunno. Thinking about it.
      I do like the idea of supporting each other.

      Oh, wait a minute. We’re revamping the Cherry Forums this spring. Entirely new interface, you can sign up with your Facebook or Twitter account, and there are private forums available. That might be a way. Let me cogitate.

  4. Brilliant! I love it.

    As for how much to pay, I don’t know. I tend to be strapped for cash all the time anymore (not like the old days, sigh). But I would be willing to save and take the courses a bit at a time.

    Would these be courses offered just one at a time, here and there, or would they always be there and be available to take? Would there be student/teacher interaction? That all makes a different in the price.

    And I love the shirts. Especially the 3rd back. You need mugs, too, but in Latin.

    1. We’d add them slowly, but you could get them any time you wanted. Kind of like a talking e-book, only not.

      Yeah, I’m very leery of making the price too high. That’s why I need concrete numbers here. Hint.

      1. I’m seeing these numbers of $10 and $25 per class tossed around and I’m saying Hell Yeah! If THAT’S what the classes were priced at, I could certainly afford them. I am getting all frugal, but I’m also trying to actually start writing for reals again. One published story over 20 years ago does not a writing career make. And moving up to novels would require some serious education that the novel-writing class I took when I went back to college did not provide. (It didn’t really provide much other than a prof with opinions that she dispensed like the next set of Godly commandments. Erg.) Yes, I would buy the classes at these prices.

  5. Would there perhaps be a forum for people taking these courses? That might be a way for us to support each other, without it turning into a big time commitment for you and Lani.

    If you did have this, and there was therefore in effect a classroom where all the students could meet, perhaps you could also have guests who’d visit the academy and give additional seminars and/or be willing to answer questions from the students. Or am I taking the idea of an “academy” a bit too literally?

    1. No, that’s an academy.
      The problem is that we want to keep this cheap for students. And the minute you add forums, you’re adding two hours a day to somebody’s work week, and that’s got to go into the cost of the class. So while I think something like that is necessary, I have to find a way to work it so that everything stays cheap.

      1. Adding forums is a big deal, and they don’t always work as well as you’d hope; some people just hate them and never show up. However, if you have questions, you can always e-mail either of us, and we’re available that way.

        1. I get that — and you’re both super good about it — but that also makes more work for you, since I would anticipate that you’d get repeat questions from different people. So that’s not saving time… Just thinking here.

        2. Or, maybe a dedicated yahoogroups loop that requires a student to sign up/pay before being admitted, and then there’s the ability to allow conversation there, Q&A as needed, plus it has a section for Files, etc., if you need to add to it. It’s not like having your own dedicated forum, but it runs pretty smoothly.

          1. Yes but somebody has to moderate it. We’re known for blogs where people are civil to each other, but we also spend a chunk of time every day monitoring those blogs. I have Argh and Cherry Forums (although the mods do all the work there, thank God), Lani has Lucy March and Story Wonk, we’re sharing PopD and ReFab (with Krissie) . . . NO MORE BLOGS OR FORUMS. I’m already blowing a minimum of a couple hours a day on online stuff (factor in Facebook which Mollie insists on and TPM which I insist on), so no more stuff there.

      2. What about an intern? You’re likely close to a college that has some sort of an English program where a student would likely love to do the work of maintaining a forum in exchange for access to the materials, and I’m sure there are IT/English students (says the girl who did Classics/Philosophy and worked in IT). Would that help with making it work yet still cheap?

        If it’s a horrible idea, I apologize.

        1. It’s not a horrible idea, it just has a lot of baggage with it. This is Lani and I putting on a show in the barn. Alastair and Mollie aren’t even in on this one. Very lean. We move faster that way.

  6. Because you don’t already have enough to do, right?:)

    I’m thinking from your description that these would be available individually. If so, I could see writers stuck on something liking these as well as newbies.

    I would think:
    1) Topics like pacing, finding your voice, letting the reader breath, etc. could be good additions.
    2) Interaction and the opportunity to ask questions would be desired by some folks.
    3) At the 400 level, would be good to include analysis of books neither of you wrote too for a more objective deconstruction of both some stories that work and some that don’t.

    T-shirt idea is good. But for those who “graduate,” something extra would be nice. Considering your crafty side, thinking maybe a “Writing Witch” similar to the “Kitchen Witch” that brings good luck and is supposed to induce productivity or something. The Writing Witch could similarly bring good luck and inspire productivity/creativity, but she could also come with her own collection of doll-sized t-shirts with different mantras for different writing moods. Who wouldn’t want one? People would download all the lectures just to get a one:)

  7. Love the t-shirts especially the 2nd one.

    How would these differ from Lani’s classes? Would someone who has taken Lani’s discovery class still benefit from the discovery lecture? I would assume so, but just wondering about the overlap.

    1. The Discovery lecture at Writewell will be about Discovery, so it will cover a lot of the same material that’s in my longer Discovery workshop at StoryWonk. If you’ve taken that, I think you can skip my Discovery lecture. If you’re not sure about the commitment to the longer classes at StoryWonk, it’s a great one to take to get a sense of things.

  8. Yes please, everything you suggested and especially the third t-shirt. Straight lectures (like the character one on Storywonk, which was very helpful!) would be great, and keeps a) costs down for us, and b) time invested down for you.

  9. I lost my day job this week and am back to freelancing and hoping books and articles will pay the bills, so every penny counts around here. Nothing but good times ahead. I’m willing to pay more for a forum-style class where the teacher is at my disposal during certain times to answer email questions. If it’s a simple box lecture that I can download anytime, but can’t interact with, I think $10-15 is fair. More than that and I begin to question how much I can get out of it. So sayeth the woman who has a collection of RWA tapes (yes tapes, they’re THAT old) for sessions she didn’t get to and that make little sense on their own.

  10. I like the idea of learning without leaving my house. Those conferences get expensive.

    I can’t drink the wine, and I shouldn’t eat the cookies, but I have been wayward. So, I would like something along the line of “Finding writers, and their books, since 2012.”

    RWA chapters offer courses all the time, so you could trawl the internet a bit and price accordingly (which means more.)

  11. I love the idea. I would join, and I would wear the t-shirt, most probably the first or second one, which speaks to those darn people in my head, for some reason. 🙂

  12. Dashing in for a hit and run comment~

    In addition to what’s beens aid.
    1. Things you must have in your first 5 pages. Perhaps coupled with the things you mustn’t.
    2. A book is a visual treat too. How to use white space, section and section breaks to your best advantage.
    3. Things that don’t work (subtitled: Don’t shoot the dog)

    My own interest is in conflict. It is the spine of the book. You can overdo it, or you can underfeed it. Any tips would be vastly appreciated.

    Sign me up, Jenny & Lani.

    1. 103 is called The Heart of the Story which is a lousy title but it’s all about the central conflict. I kind of wanted to called Story Engine but that was too cute. And there’s a 300 level one planned on theme that’s essentially the intellectual spine of your book. Conflict is more the fuel for the story engine. (See, way too cute.)

  13. You might consider differential fees, depending on the amount of support a participant might want. A purchased code for access to the forums might work.

    I really like JaneB’s suggestions for topics, though I don’t know whether they would fit in an introductory course. I wonder whether a short history of women’s romance literature might be useful (links between social problems and mores and novel plots, for example). It is a way of thinking about what might be interesting to write now, what might sell, and what might be useful as well as entertaining to readers.

    Personally, I am particularly interested in how one goes about writing light-hearted fiction. Every time I think I have a good idea, it gets so darned serious.

    By the way, I’ll take 3 of T-Shirt #3 to start with!


    1. We talked about genre lectures for the 400 level. Lani can do romance, I could do one on romantic comedy, although if you stuck with us for nine months of free popcorn dialogues podcasts, you know all we know about romantic comedy. There’s a chance one of us could do mystery if we live through the current mystery Pop D series. Alastair is considering doing one on sf/fantasy. But that’s 400 level stuff. We’re writing 100 level right now, so don’t hold your breath.

  14. I am happily into being a hermit these days. I love the idea of taking classes from home in my shorts and obnoxious tee shirts even if it is freezing outside. I think $10 for each class would be a good starting point, especially for the 100 level courses, and maybe increase the price for the higher level courses.
    I tend to be a lurker wherever there are forums, so increasing the price just to add forums would not entice me to take any classes. Forums tend to annoy the crap out of me in a very short period of time. Facebook is curretnly annoying me, so I am seeing how long I can go without logging onto facebook. 6 weeks so far, and I don’t have a twitter account because just the name annoys me and “followeres” is way too stalkerish for me.
    I love the tee shirts. My personal favorite is #3, although I would wear any of them, becuase I happen to have an obsession with tee shirts.
    Would the tee shirts be available for purchase on their own or would at least one class be required to buy one? I love coffee mugs too, but my husband will proabaly divorce me if I buy any more (okay, that he knows about, I have a stash he hasn’t seen ever.)
    Have you considered a whole line of Writewell Acedemy items: hoodies, tote bags, book marks, buttons, teddy bears with itty bitty tee shirts, coffee mugs, etc.
    How about differnt designs for the differnet levels of classes taken.

    1. We’re just getting started on this, so merchandising hasn’t figured in yet, but sure anybody could buy one. We’re very open-minded here (g).

      1. Meant to add, the official school uniform is pajamas. And the very minimal research I did into merchandising did turn up a site that had pajamas. So it could REALLY be the official school uniform. T-shirts and sweats count as pajamas.

  15. My sister and I are IN. We’re rabid readers with no formal training in writing, but a desire to share the voices in our heads. (It’s loud in there.) Needless to say, we love the second shirt idea. We think $10 is a steal and $20-$25 is reasonable with the a la carte format.

    (Also, I teach at a school with a strong Entrepreneurship in Arts program within an easy day’s drive from Squalor On The River. I think the Squalor cast of characters would make EXCELLENT speakers for the program.)

  16. This sounds great. Like an interactive book. Independent study type? 🙂 How about instead of forums, a private chat a la chatzy where students can talk things out? chances are between us we could figure out some stuff and not have to bother you. And I figure the biggest reason for the forums would be for the hands-on component. So, how does the students’ work fit within these new guidelines. And if we are to become alumni of the Writewell Academy for Wayward Authors, why not help each other?

  17. This would be wonderful. Love the T-shirt, and the third phrase for the back. I’d say you’d get more participation by going with $10 per class.

    Regarding the forums that you currently have, if there was a section for discussion titled The Writewell Academy, it would not necessarily have to provide feedback from either you or Lani. It could be discussion between participants, with a moderator overseeing that the discussions stay on track.

    I always loved your master class on metaphor and simile. Also, some years ago you did a great one, Brainstorming Character Basics, also I’d love Deep Editing, and maybe something like the Top Seven Reasons to Rewrite a Scene. Anything about writing with authenticity, getting emotion onto the page. And even though you don’t have to write synopses this is something that all new writers need guidance on. So, a class on synopsis, query letters, loglines, pitching your story to an agent or editor, would be extremely helpful. Especially in the months prior to RWA National.

  18. This rocks, even though I’ve accepted my future as a non-author. I’d read and buy the lectures out of curiosity and for enjoyment, despite my non-writing or publishing future. No forums/fora— that would drive me away unless carefully moderated, and you two haven’t the time. Forums seem to lack civility.

    Perhaps $10-15 per class? Love the last two tees.

  19. I agree with everyone–love the tee shirts, love the idea, and yes, $10/class is very reasonable.

    I took your “Turning Points” workshop at RWA DC in 2009 and it changed my life. (Well, okay, maybe it didn’t change my life. But it changed my writing. And believe me–that was a good thing 🙂 ) I would download that one in a heartbeat. What level would you put that at? 200? 300?

    I like the idea of having the different levels, too. As a published author, I don’t need to take 100 level classes (although there are times when a review on something basic probably wouldn’t hurt.) And I already took Lani’s wonderful Discovery class, so I don’t need that one, either. But classes on “Increasing pace” or “Ramping up tension” would be good. Or a Crusie/Lani specialty… “Writing the quirky character.”

    Love this whole idea!

    1. There’s a 200 level course called The Four Act Structure that has that in it. And then a 300 level lecture on time and pacing that builds on the idea of turning points.

      What I’ve learned from teaching in jr. high, high school, and college is that you’re better off giving student as much as they can absorb at one time, letting them work with that, and then going back and reviewing that and taking it a step farther.

      So the first course 101 would define turning points.
      The second course which I think is 201, would talk about how turning points work within structure.
      And the third course would talk about using turning points for time and pacing.

      But it’s all interrelated, so while there’s definitely a 200 level course just on scene structure, and a 300 level course on beginning and ending scenes, I can see where the need might be there for a 300 level course on turning point scenes. It just depends on how much info I can get into a lecture without putting so much in that it all turns to garbage. Small bites are better than big ones when it comes to efficient digestion of anything.

  20. Oh, I want a t-shirt even if the Academy never is, though I hope the Academy happens as it would be much more useful than another t-shirt. 🙂

    As for price, it would depend on what I’m buying. Let’s do a little rough figuring…
    If there are 4 courses for each level and 4 levels, that makes 16 courses. At $5 per course that comes to $80 total; $10 per course comes to $160; $30 per course is $480 (or a course at my local University).

    So I guess it depends on the format. Will there be interaction? Feedback? You said ” a collection of hour-long, downloadable lectures in narrated slideshow format that would include a short PDF workbook with each class (“workbook” does not mean “textbook,” it would be an outline for taking notes).” This sounds like an online textbook more than interactive lectures, so I’d be willing to pay textbook prices, say something like $100 for the whole series, or $5 per lecture, depending on the number of lectures. (These are very rough figures based on sparse info. I’d want to try out a lecture for free before spending money.)

    As for topics, being a wayward writer working to improve her craft, I’d probably want all the courses just so I didn’t miss anything. Right now, I’m specifically working on (struggling with) plot structure, character arcs, and setting.

    1. No feedback. We just can’t do it.

      Lani and I had lunch today and she suggested a “Buy five, get one free,” which I’m fine with but I kind of like the idea of people buying them one at a time, working with them, and then figuring out which one they want next. So while it seems like a good deal financially, it might actually be cheaper for people to sign up for one at a time. I think those buyX get on free deals are almost always better for the seller than the buyer, but I could be wrong. Unless it’s like, you know, Snickers.

  21. I love all of it, especially the t-shirts! Can’t wait to get one when the school opens.

    I’d say $10 to $25 per class is reasonable and what I’d be willing and able to pay.

  22. Yes, sign me up right away. Maybe even write away. I love the slide show plan love love it. And $10-15 seems right, depending on the complexity of the lecture.

    Topics I’d love some bouncing around on:
    1. beating the blocking – this is about being afraid of going on
    2. building tension especially around acts 2-3 and 4-5.
    3. sustaining voice in first draft
    4. building voice in second/third draft
    5. revision tips
    6. harnessing the lightbulb (erm just excuse that mixed metaphor please, but you know when you have a lightbulb moment and then you write it all up and you realize that your lightbulb has gone from 100W to 25W and flickery).
    7. Distinguishing the darlings you should cherish from the darlings you should destroy.

    There is loads more, but I hope that is a useful kick around for you guys. Love the name, love the t-shirts, definitely want mugs.

  23. I struggled with getting deep POV. When to use it, how to use, how to get it deep rather than not, etc. Oh, and voice. How the he*# do I learn to describe my voice.

    I like the t-shirt back with the “reality” buzz.

  24. Okay, I haven’t finished reading the comments, so reader beware. (In other words this may be old news.) However, price: The dilemma for us as students is this – we want to pay huge amounts of money because you two are fabulous teachers and well worth it – except that none of us have any money (speaking for myself here). $10 or $15 a lesson is likely doable. That way we (I) can save up for a couple of weeks or a month and then do another and another, so on and so forth.

    I think it’s a really nice idea, btw. Very forward thinking.

  25. As regards the forum/participation ideas…have you guys used wikis such as PB Works, etc.? I’ve got more and more professors using them – it’s a nice way to keep them closed (if you want) to those who are invited (paying customers) but people can get in there and discuss and you can pop in whenever and add your $10.00 worth. Similar to FB page, but allows you to edit and add a variety of pages, links, etc. Just an idea. Once they’re set up – not too much maintenance and they have the advantage of allowing you to upload documents, photos, etc. that might pertain to the lecture.

    I love the idea – not sure I’d take one because I’m knee deep in school/lectures anyway, but $10-25 sounds kind of low to me. Once you put the info out there…pretty good bet it will get hijacked in some fashion, so wondering if you shouldn’t make sure you profit in the beginning. (Not trying to foster a greedy mentality, but you ARE doing it to make a living.)

    1. I think it’s going to be like e-book pirating. Some people steal, nothing you can do about it, but it’s not fair to penalize good people by making them pay more.

      Definitely looking into the Wiki idea. Thank you!

  26. What?!? No academ-y seal, crest or other logo-ish thing? Although I would be sorely tempted field-alter the second catch phrase to add “And we don’t like that.” in blood red fabric paint.

    for a canned slideshow lecture $10 would be okay. How long will the lectures run? An hour? More? Less? My tutoring fee (which is what you’re doing) is $10 an hour.

    Skip the message boards for now, unless it takes off. then you can add a $15 workshop fee on top of the $10 lecture fee for instruction and moderation.

    1. Forty-five minutes. That’s a good file size for downloading and it’s also about the longest time you talk to people before they get brain fried. If we have a lecture that needs to go longer, we’d break it into two parts and sell it as a two-parter for twice the price, but we’re going to try not to do that.

      No, we haven’t designed a seal yet. We just got the brilliant idea two days ago. It’s a miracle we bought the font.

  27. Would I take these classes: Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes!

    What I would like to see: I don’t know. Plot. (Humor. Har.) I think I would need a pre-made list to choose from, although nothing about coming up with characters or ideas. I have too many of those already.

    Price: At $25 a class, I would take about half the classes you are offering (according to the numbers in your response above). At $10 a class, I could take them all. But would I have the time? Probably not, so you may as well charge me the $25 a class for the ones I’ll actually take. Which brings me to…

    Timing: How long will these be available? In all probability it will take me years to work my way through these classes. I would aim to do two a month, but it would probably average out to one a month.

    Forums: meh. Would I go there? Probably not. I would be more likely to email questions, but I’m not really much of a question asker anyway. Also, I think you would be insane to open yourself up to email questions. That could get very time consuming.

    T-shirts: I like the T-shirts, but I have finally learned not to buy them. I never wear them, they take up room in my closet for decades, and then I still feel guilty when I get rid of them.

    I am really grateful you guys are considering offering these classes! Hopefully, it will help you out, too.

    1. They’d be available permanently. The idea is that you could pick and choose what you want and learn at your own pace.

  28. I’m not a writer… if you don’t count my PhD thesis, and academic writing… (I have always thought I wouldn’t mind one day, maybe….) But my point is – I’m a voracious reader, and I would pay to attend these lectures… I find your writing discussions in this blog fascinating. They make me rethink everything. Oh and I love the third back. It’s perfect.

  29. Love the idea of the classes. Sign me up.

    Pricing is tricky.You might think about how much time you will have to put in (then triple the estimate, of course) and ponder how many students are likely to take the course. That may be hard to gage, of course.

    I’ve taken several online courses now and prices vary — Gwen Hernandez’s Scrivener class is a steal at 25$. I’m taking a Margie Lawson class that is 40 dollars and includes tons of material, as well as running on-line for a month with forums and assignments. Margie is providing feedback on those though I think she is shaping the assignments to keep that relatively minimal. I’m taking an extended course that cost several hundred dollars but it runs for six months, with weekly lessons, includes videos, handouts galore, etc.

    I can also say, somewhat delicately, that you have hugely popular name recognition going for you. That should count for something.

    In summation, my experience is that on-line instruction, for the most part, seems to be priced pretty low for what you get. (I teach at a university, so I’m used to tuition dollars. Everything else is insanely low by comparison — only because tuition is insanely high, of course).

    I get that “plot” as a topic is too unfocused — but perhaps broken down into separate plot elements?

    For myself, I’d like to know the questions to ask to move from initial glimmer to a “this is it.” I don’t mean a fully outlined novel, just a sense of the major characters and how it ties into major plot movement. I see a lot of plotting aids that provide questionnaires about character — but they seem to presume I already know a fair amount about my character to answer the questions. So I’d love to look into how you integrate — if you start with a plot concept, what questions do you ask to start to know who your characters are (must be? should be?). Or, if you start with a glimmer of character, what do you ask to start getting the plot off the ground?

    I have to admit, I feel foolish asking those questions. Is this the kind of thing I should just know?

    Also, as to forum — forums would probably be fun but I get that they would (and should) increase the cost. Is it possible to offer dual options?

    1. What you’re asking about is called Discovery and Lani is a genius at teaching it. She has a class for it now on Storywonk, and she’d put up a lecture for it here, too. Lots of people here on Argh have taken the class and can chime in here if they read this.

      1. I’ve got Storywonk bookmarked now and will keep an eye out for the next outing on it. (There’s going to be another outing, right?) Thanks for letting me know because I really want to take it — here, there, anywhere.

      2. Yes, Lani’s Discovery class is awesome. Truly. Lots of play and fun and great tools to get you past that “glimmer” stage.

  30. I don’t write but I really want that third t-shirt.
    Perhaps among all this interest you can find people who would help with the forums in exchange for classes? I ran through several courses doing house and office work for the teachers back when I had lots of time and energy but no money.

  31. PLEASE!! Do this. I need this. I can’t afford it beause I have kids in college and old people, but if you will make them available all the time, and not take them away after a deadline 10- 25$ is VERY reasonable. Even for the walking poor.

    Did I mean the please part…?

  32. Wondering if writing groups or critque groups would be formed by “teachers” ..Will there be writing assignments to incorporate the lessons taught? For me the price i’m willing to pay has a lot to do with how much interaction I get, if your willing to read my work and give feedback. And what about what happens program is finish, do you tell “students” how to submit to pub. houses? do you discuss e-pub vs self pub vs pub house? I’m just wondering..

    1. The writing assignments depends on the topic, but for the rough draft I’m doing right now for the 4 act structure lecture, there’s a hand-out with fill-in-the-blanks and diagrams for you to look at your own work. The problem is, it’s a lecture, so I wouldn’t be discussing it with you.

      There’s always a possibility that I might want to teach an online workshop course someday, but it would be expensive. Basically ten students only, ten weeks, and we’d workshop one student’s work every week, using basic story concepts. So they’d be courses on synopses, on first scenes, etc. And they’d be around $500 because that’s a terrific time sink for me. Basically, I don’t think it would be worth it, for me or for you. But next year, two years, if I figure out how to make it work, maybe ?

      Publishing, probably not, but never say never.

  33. I’d pay $25 for a first class and if felt it was good, would probably continue to pick and choose. Seems imminently reasonable (which probably means underpriced!). 🙂 I like that it would be a la carte. My question would be with the different levels, would you have to demonstrate that you have mastered, say, 100 level class topics, to take the higher levels? Or is that mainly just to give potential students a feel for what level the classes are at. (Just asking because there’s that implication as well–that you have to prove mastery before moving on.) I think too if you offered a “so many classes purchased up front, get a discount” type deal, that might be popular. (Say, 5 classes for $110 or such?) Or even better, a sort of virtual punchcard, where once you take 5 classes you could take one for free, or for $10 or…. That might entice people to go for more at once, or once they take one they like, plunk down the money for a bigger batch for subsequent ones.

    You might want to consider doing Master Classes or a structured Independent Study, where you’d choose how many people you and/or Lani would interact with. I would imagine these would be quite popular, and could be offered at a premium (like say more than $100 or more per group). The chance to have individual feedback or with a much smaller group would probably get you some takers. But of course depends on how much of your valuable time you really want to devote to this. Maybe it’s just something to keep in your back pocket for later consideration?

    The T-shirts are cool. I like the 3rd one. And what about certificates? I know Univ. of Chicago continuing ed publishing program offers certificates upon completion of so many hours in given areas of their offerings. Yours could be resume-worthy, given both of your reputations and other scholarly activities. I also like the grass-roots, everyone-is-welcome style of this academy! 🙂

    1. We can certainly do certificates. I love doing that kind of stuff.

      What we’re thinking is putting at the head of each description the classes that we feel you should have taken before taking this particular class, along with a list of things you should know. That way people who haven’t taken the previous class but think they know what was in it can double check by looking at the list. But we wouldn’t stop anybody from taking anything they wanted. OTOH, we’re not giving any refunds, either, so choose wisely (said the tones of the old guy at the end of the Grail movie).

  34. I love this idea. I’ve taken workshops at conferences with you before, and have always really enjoyed them.
    $10 is reasonable for the 100 level courses. $15 for 200 and 300, $20-$25 for the 400. You’re going to put more work into the higher level courses, so you should price accordingly.
    Would there be a final? Something like $50 for a 25 page critique, if the person has taken X amount of courses? Because while I like the idea of the classes and I know that I would learn a lot, there is this HUGE part of me that needs some sort of validation. I need that gold star from someone saying “YES, you actually GET it!”. Otherwise, I doubt myself. Then I stop writing. Again.

    1. I like the idea of the investment increasing with the course level — that makes sense and will offer a good intro to folks without scaring them away, but still have more info for those who want it.

    2. Clearly certificates are in order here.

      Anything that involves direct participation of me with a student and his or her work is going to cost big bucks. You want a twenty-five page critique from me, prepare to mortgage the family home. Hell, you’d need that much money just to pay for the wine you’d need to drink to live through one of my critiques. Lani won’t even let me critique her stuff any more, I’m too savage. So I’d just pass on that one if I were you.

  35. Thinking about it, it doesn’t even need to be a 25 page critique. My goodness, that would take you FOREVER! Maybe just 10 pages? Or 5 even. Just something where people that have taken all the way through the 400 classes have something to point to, something tangible like a critique of their work, to show that they finished.
    Does that make sense? I feel like I’m just babbling. I think I’m probably hungry. Or I need wine. Or both.

  36. I think this is a good idea. I’m not sure I would take the classes, but I am newly unemployed. 🙁 Subject suggestions anyway. How bout a section on writing excercises?

  37. I’m with everybody else. Love the idea. Love. It.

    Price point — I’m poor too, but am feeling like the prices folks’re suggesting are definitely workable for me. And I’d go higher, but would just have to space them out more to do it.

    I don’t know if this would actually fit, because I’m not sure it’s in y’all’s wheelhouse (I have every faith you CAN do it, I just don’t know that you WANT to!), but I’d also love something about the less traditional story structures. I was fascinated by the conversation about patterned structure in the PopD of Out of Sight, but I didn’t totally *get* it yet. That kind of thing would be awesome.

    Did I mention I love this idea?

    1. I absolutely love it! Sign me up!

      The tee-shirts are fabulous – I would have one of each… can there be a ladies cut V-neck? Just asking…

      Classes… One hour in length… hmmm…

      Outlining? Character interview techniques? Setting – when your setting is so good it has a personality all it’s own? Blogging (as it pertains to platform building)? POV? Beginnings? Middles? Ends? Essay writing? The first chapter? Collaging for your novel? Brainstorming? Overcoming writer’s block?

      The following is only a suggested model:

      100 level classes could cost less since they are required – $20? Then move up from there:
      200 level – $40
      300 level – $60
      400 level – $80

      You could also sell packages:

      Access to all 100 level classes for a month (assuming 4 – 100 level classes regularly priced at $20 each) – $65

      Access to all 200 level classes for a month (assuming 4 – 200 level classes regularly priced at $40 each) – $125

      And so forth…

      Also, you could offer one on one critique on a specific piece of writing (say 10 pages, 20 pages, 50 pages). This is more time consuming – so maybe charge $80 to $100/ hr or by the page? I would take you up on this immediately – as I am submitting work for grad school admissions and would love to have direction from you. You would have complete control over this – stating that it is by appointment only (if you only have time for a 10-page review and someone needs a 50-page review – simply decline the request).

      And – I know this is a long shot – but… you could, if you really wanted to, hold live workshops a few times a year at a resort or hotel. That would give those of us that want interaction a nice way to mingle while learning…

      And I am so happy the Cherry forums are making a comeback! Yay! =)

  38. That was actually in our original list of subjects: Non-Traditional Structure. I took it out because I thought nobody would be interested. Must stop doing that.

    1. Well, I might be the odd duck, but I would love that. Nothing I write ends up traditionally structured. But I’m never sure the patterns work either! 🙂

      (or if maybe I should be trying something else and am just not clear on WHAT)

    2. I love that you’re already working on a rough of the four act structure — I definitely am interested in that. That said, I think one on non-traditional structure would be really interesting as well.

  39. I love this idea! I think I can afford at $10 each.

    My favorite tshirt is #3.

    I hate forums myself, so I’d probably never use them. Would a yahoo groups listserv for Q & A be manageable? If not, a wiki page sounds good too.


  40. Love it! Personally, I could use help with POV, introducing backstory elements and setting the scene, keeping it fresh, balance between dialogue and non-dialogue parts… I couldn’t begin to suggest how much to charge for the classes (I’m too cheap–I’m sure whatever I suggest would be too low 😉 Good luck!

  41. Dear Ladies…you have to live, and times are hard.
    Most months I spend $15-25 on a workshop of some sort, and to be honest, I only get what I want about once in three. I keep getting caught by the catchy titles. With you two, I know I’m getting quality, experience, charm and humour. Just don’t charge all at once, thats the only thing that will knock me out. Oh and I’ll take t-shirts 2 and 3 please.

  42. WEBS. Wonderful ideas. LOVE IT!! Can’t wait.
    @Deb/ Jenny- I was at that workshop in DC, too. I tell people about it all the time!
    Now I’m trying to think of the posts that I go back to and reference the most…4 act structure, turning points, conflict box, elements of a scene – gosh, I know there are more but this stupid computer won’t let me see my bookmarks tonight. Good thing it’s cute or I’d drop kick it through the uprights.
    Well, that’s my first take on the plan. CAN’T WAIT.

  43. Based on what you’ve all said here, Lani and I worked out a tentative (TENTATIVE) plan that I’m putting up in the next post. So I’m closing the comments here to keep the discussion organized. Go to the next post to say whatever you wanted to say about this one, please. Thank you.


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