I am not a fan of online classes, although I probably should think of it more as what we used to call ‘independent study’. I always liked independent study when I could speed through the parts that I felt comfortable with and linger over the parts that were more complex. I just finished a fourteen module program on WriteStoryBooksforChildren.com. The program covers everything from age groups to writing genres and lots of other information in between.
Each module begins with a the Learning Outcomes. I like that–I like that I know right up front what my takeaways are, yea! And in a powerpoint style of bullet points and highlights, you can almost hear the ‘voice’ behind the lessons. With a listing of the major areas of discussion under each module, you can go forward or backward, but you can’t go on to the next lesson until you’ve passed the test.
Each test is ten questions, multiple choice, except the last which is fourteen. You are graded and you must make a passing grade of 70% in order to move to the next module. I would suppose that any type of essay or personal answer would be difficult for this type of course, so multiple choice is not a bad way of getting to a grade. Careful reading and good notes and it’s not that hard.
An amusing part of the presentations was the fact the program originated in the UK. It has a very Brit sensibility about it, using ‘forms’ instead of grades as we do here in the US. Paper is not letter size, but A4. The Fog Scale is used to determine the grade level of the writing. Here in the US we use the Flesch-Kincade readability test. Both are formulas, i.e., number of lines, number of words divided by something and Voila! you have the target age of your writing. Not a fan, personally, but I’m not writing leveled material.
Some of the information was very basic. All stories have beginning, middles and ends. And some were very clarifying. A Synopsis is a map of the story. A Pitch explains in as few word as possible the heart of the story. I know many people who are terrified of a synopsis. I’ve tried writing them after I’ve written my story and I know that the story is lacking because of that. A synopsis written at the beginning of the idea isn’t an ironclad contract that the story will unfold this way, but it does point you continually in the right direction.
And some information was illuminating, not because it was new information, but more because of the way in which it was presented.
Bottom line? You get a chance to participate in this course, yes. Do it!