I'm just getting back my life after the Book Passage Mystery Writing Conference that takes place every summer at my fabulous local bookstore Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA.
Some of the attendees I see clearly have the spark and all they need is some suggestion on pacing or focus or plot development. For others no amount of writing classes will ever make them a published author. It's rather like me and painting. I love to paint. I can create a pretty good picture if I copy reality or somebody shows me what to do, but my painting instructor can look at a scene, give a few magic flourishes with her brush and suddenly there it is in living color with an whole new twist to it.
Every year I am asked what writing courses I took before I started out. The answer, none. I taught myself to be a writer by writing. As a small child I lived in a world of pretend. I played the part of princess, good fairy, girl lost in the woods, even queen of my own country. Later I wrote down stories with myself as heroine. I wrote movie scripts I wanted to star in. And during my professional writing career I have usually written a book that I want to read but is not already on the shelf.
What I see at conferences is that everybody probably has one book in them--everyone's life has one riveting moment that makes a good story. But not everybody has the ability to leap from their own life into someone else's world. And certainly not everybody has the ability to tell a story so that it comes alive, so that we ask, "And what happens next?"
What are your experience of writing classes? Good? Bad? Do they help?