In my continual quest to improve my writing craft, I watched the recorded Brandon Sanderson’ course on Creative Writing. I seriously recommend it to anyone writing novels, especially SciFi / Fantasy. Below are my thoughts about how to make the best use of it.
This is a series of lectures given yearly by Sanderson at BYU for graduate students, and is made available on YouTube. Sanderson focuses on his forte (epic fantasy), but touches enough on other genre fiction to make it worthwhile for all authors. He covers plotting, characterisation, world building (setting), writing style, etc., as well as lectures on finding agents and getting published.
His basic approach is, as he puts it, the difference between a cook and a chef. It’s not about a formula or hard-and-fast rules, but rather to encourage the student to think and try out various techniques and tools. I found this very useful, as it helps to take a step back and consciously put an effort to think about one’s own writing and ways to improve them.
There are recordings of previous years as well, but I watched, start to finish, the 2016 lectures. This seems to be the most polished recording set, as can be expected. I’ve taken a look at previous years, and most of the content is the same, with the notable exception of guest lectures. Of course, even when content is the same there are variations (the lectures are live, with student participation).
I would suggest that you watch a series from start to end, and then visit the other years for the guest lecturers or perhaps to skim around and delve into areas worth reviewing. Here’s a link to a playlist with all twelve 2016 lectures:
Some of the guest lecturers were Eric James Stone (short stories), Howard Tayler (humour), Janci Patterson (YA), and Brandon Mull (MG).
How do you learn to improve your craft? Got any other similar resources you can recommend?