Monday, August 30, 2010

A good night out: Tune up your writing and publishing skills

If you're in the Greater Toronto area and are looking for a course that will help you tune up your writing skills, I can recommend David Hayes's Advanced Feature Writing night school course at Ryerson University. It's not intended for beginners, but for people with some writing experience and such feature writing builds skills for corporate work, work on the web and in magazines and newspapers. It starts 16 September, but it's a good idea to register by September 7.
The course emphasizes what is called literary journalism, which combines journalism's concern for solid reporting and factual accuracy with many of the dramatic techniques of fiction. At its best, this kind of feature writing holds readers' interest, entertaining them while simultaneously providing the depth and context necessary to understand complex issues and events or capture the essence of a profile subject. There will be short writing assignments as well as one longer feature, which must contain some or all of the elements of the course: evidence of on-the-scene reporting, a narrative arc consisting of a well-crafted beginning-middle-end, character development, the use of dialogue instead of (or in addition to) traditional quotation, the use of symbol to support theme, etc. Students are expected to come to the first class prepared to discuss story ideas and move on quickly to writing a query letter.
 If you're new to magazine and web writing, consider instead Margaret Webb's course Writing for Magazines and the Web, which begins September 15.  Many students take Margaret's course and then David's.
[This is a self-interested promotional message since David and Margaret are colleagues and I, too, teach at Ryerson as part of the same night school program; my is course called Magazine and Website Publishing (starting September 13) which is an overview dealing with the business aspects of making magazines on paper and online.]

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