How many of you are familiar with The Teaching Company’s “Great Courses”? The Teaching Company is an organization that prides itself on getting award-winning professors on video to lecture on subjects ranging from the best in music to mathematics. I just finished watching the “Art of Reading” with professor Timothy Spurgin on DVD. This course was not just for readers to read well but to give readers a greater understanding of how fiction can be enjoyed and be even more fun than it already is.
I learned how to ask the important questions while reading about where the plot was going and whether or not the characters are growing and how. Timothy Spurgin encouraged the reader to skim and look ahead by pre-reading. He wants us to see how the work is broken up in chapters, scenes, summaries, and dialogue. He wants us to begin our questioning after reading the first half of the first chapter.
The course gave excellent examples of exemplary novels and short stories. Books and short stories I can’t wait to read.
While I learned a great deal about how to be a more artful reader, I also learned these eleven tips on writing. I learned to look for…
1 – How authors approached the task of writing.
2 – If authors begin with big themes and big ideas or,
3 – If authors begin with characters, situations and images.
4 –If the author’s personality is relevant to his/her works.
5 –If authors start with a message or moral when the novel has a message.
6 –Why an author would use a first person narrator, third person narrator or free indirect discourse.
7-Why authors like to use scene and summary inside chapters to create suspense.
8- How to create subtext and why that’s important.
9- What makes for good, convincing, delightful dialogue and how that differs from boring, flat dialogue.
10-How to create dialogue that’s different so that every character had his own way of speaking, and
11- How body language is crucial to what the characters are thinking and feeling.
What writing tips can you think of from reading novels or short stories?
Here are the links to “The Great Courses”
United States and other countries www.thegreatcourses.com
United Kingdom www.thegreatcourses.co.uk
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