One of the best tips I can give to an aspiring author is never stop trying to learn. I don’t care whether you’ve never picked up a pen before or if you’ve written thirty best sellers. There is always something you can learn, or something you will feel a need to improve. I recently took the Write a Great Novel class from The Complete Creative and I found it incredibly helpful. A lot of the creative content was information I’d learned before but had failed to implement in my own writing. When I took the class, it was free (I’m not sure if that was a special promotion or if it’s always free) but the other classes at The Complete Creative range from $20-400. Even if this course had been $400 I would have been happy to pay that, especially if I was a complete beginner and had never written a book before. $400 for a basic outline to improve your writing is much easier on the wallet than what I paid for my degree. Even if you go on to do a degree (or have already done one) $400 isn’t an outrageous price to pay to improve your skills and increase marketability.
Write a Great Novel is a fantastic resource for new authors. If you have never written a story before this class will help you. It will give you all the basics you need to write a story, except for the idea for your novel and your use of language. All the creative content covered in this class was covered in the three-year Writing degree I did ten years ago (wow that makes me feel old) and Russell makes the content clear, concise, and engaging. Even with a degree and four published novels behind me I found tips within the course that were helpful to me (especially the module on writing better blurbs).
The content in Write a Great Novel (WAGN) is written specifically to help you become a better author and to drive sales through great content. A writing degree can help you make great content but it (or at least when I was at Uni) focused on traditional publishing. WAGN is especially helpful for Indie Authors, giving advice on how to format, find editors, find cover art and more. Russell is a successful Indie author himself and all the methods and advice he relates in the course content has come from his 10+ years of experience of writing and publishing.
The WAGN course can be done in about 4.5 hours if you set aside a rainy Sunday afternoon to do it in one hit. I did the course over the better part of two weeks, simply fitting in modules where I could. The course is entirely videos, mostly with Russell narrating as you watch what he’s doing on screen. This visual step by step approach was helpful to me, showing exactly what the steps are as you go.
There are 22 video modules in the series ranging from 1:57 minutes and 32:02 mins. If you aren’t doing the course in one hit (or if you share a computer and don’t want to leave the course open on your desktop) you can easily log in and out of The Complete Creative site. The modules cover character creation, storytelling/structure, world building, writing prose, editing, mindset, formatting ebooks, covers, blurbs, and more. There is also a section at the end with resources and templates (like character creation) you can download to use in your own writing practice.
Honestly, this course wouldn’t replace a university degree (you can’t condense 3 years worth of learning into 4.5 hours), but it is a solid foundation for a newbie author to gain an understanding of how to write well. If I had known 10 years ago that Indie authors would have the resources, networking, and opportunities available to them that we do now I might not have done a writing degree. I don’t regret doing my degree, but courses like WAGN prove it’s not necessary to do a degree to be a successful writer. Indeed, even many traditionally published authors have not done a writing degree.
My experience of traditional publishing made getting a writing degree seem like a pre-requisite. You needed a degree, and an agent to get published. My understanding is that unless you were already famous/published it’s incredibly hard to break into the Trad scene and get an agent (let alone a book deal). Indie Publishing was a dirty word when I was beginning my degree. Indie Publishing was “vanity publishing” and generally denoted you could afford to publish your own work but weren’t “good enough” to be picked up by a traditional publisher. The Indie Publishing scene has grown and developed since then, and while it’s not unusual to find published books that could have used more developing/editing, there are countless talented authors fighting to prove that they have what it takes to be successful and change public perception of Indie Publishing. I’ve discussed it before, but you could be a fantastic author and never get traditionally published due to a number of vectors that have nothing to do with your ability to write.
Will WAGN teach you to write fantastic prose with beautiful imagery and clever one liners? No. But it will help you create compelling characters, it will help you structure your story into a story telling format that readers are familiar/comfortable with, and create drama through conflict. WAGN will help you set up a story that can span five novels or more. It will help you with the technical side of Indie Publishing, how to find a reliable editor (finding good ones can be hard! I know from experience), it helps you know where to begin looking for covers to purchase for your books, and to write an engaging blurb so readers (drawn in by your cover) will become invested enough to purchase. Russell even gives advice on ebook pricing, something that can frustrate new authors.
As always, I’m not getting paid to promote this course. I genuinely found it helpful and a quality course. I thought you might too.
All images from The Complete Creative have been screen shotted so you can see what it looks like. These are not my images obviously.
If you want to check out Write a Great Novel or Russell’s other classes click The Complete Creative logo below.