Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My online novel writing class has a couple of openings...

Hi folks,

UPDATE: The class has been filled. Thanks to all who applied. We do have unlimited openings for those who'd like to audit.

Just wanted to let anyone interested know that we have a couple of openings for the next session of our ongoing creative writing (novel) class, which will begin on November 10. Students have dubbed it "Les Edgerton's Boot Camp for Writers." Normally, we don’t have openings, but we have several members who finished their novels in the last class and have secured agents and are taking the time off to work on the notes in their final rewrites before their books go out to market. Some are able to continue the class when this happens, but we have a couple this time who need all the time they can get to get that final polish done. Please contact me if interested or if you’d like more information by emailing me at butchedgerton@comcast.net.

The way our class works is fairly unique. It’s just like being in an “on-ground” class. We restrict class size to ten people so that sufficient quality time is spent on each participant. The way our class works is that each week, members send in up to ten pages of the novel they’re working on. The class is divided into two sections, and when you send your work in, each person in your group is required to read it carefully and provide constructive comments. In turn, that person does the same to his classmates’ work. Each of the two groups will have five members, which means if you join us, you’ll be responsible for reading each week four other writers’ work and providing a solid critique on each of them and they will do the same for you. (You can see the other group's work as well, but only provide crits on your group's work.) I provide comments/critiques on everyone’s work. We don’t subscribe whatsoever to the oft-used “sandwich” method of critique, where you provide a bit of praise, then address a negative, then provide another bit of praise. If the work sucks, the writer is told it sucks. (Nicely, usually...) If it works, he/she will be told it works. It’s a totally honest class and most of the folks in it are extremely knowledgeable about the writing craft. A great many have been with us for several years and have had considerable success with their own work. Nobody is out to be “mean” to a fellow member, but none of us suffer fools gladly. If a writer wants praise and constant pats on the back, our class is probably not for them. It’s not that we don’t dole out praise when it’s earned, but our total focus is on the work and if it’s of publishable quality or not. And, we have an extraordinarily high percentage of success. Most who have stayed the course with us have secured agents and/or book deals. But, it’s only fair to warn those who might be considering joining us, this isn’t a class for sissies or thin-skinned writers. We simply don’t have time for any of that.

I’m probably scaring off folks, but I feel it’s necessary to make potential class members aware that this isn’t an easy class. But, we do end up with almost everyone securing a top agent and/or book deal if they stay the course. For most writers, this will entail at least two or more classes and usually more.

Our only goal is publication. Period. And… legitimate publication by a traditional press.

A new member of class has a large hurdle to overcome. New members are required to submit a particular outline of their novel, which consists of five statements totaling 15-20 words. A handout will be provided which fully describes what we’re looking for and how to write it. New students are only allowed to send in the first five pages of their novel, which must contain the inciting incident that creates and/or reveals the story problem the novel will be concerned with. Seasoned pros who have taken the class and continue to take it each time, have named this “inciting incident hell.” And, it can be. In over four years of offering this class, I have yet to have a single writer escape inc inc hell the first week. On an average, it probably takes three weeks to grasp the concepts we’re teaching and require to be allowed to escape it and graduate to where they can begin sending in up to ten pages each week.

Here’s one of our favorite stories we relate to new folks. Maegan Beaumont took the first class with me several years ago when I was offering it through Phoenix College (accredited class). She came to class with a finished, 700+ page novel. That novel is long gone. The Phoenix College classes were 12 weeks long at that time. Well, Maegan spent ten weeks of the twelve before she escaped inciting incident hell. Which meant that for ten weeks she was required to send in her rewritten first five pages until she got it right. Ten weeks out of a total of 12 for the entire course… Until our last session, she owned the all-time record and finally another writer tied her record. Won’t name that writer, but the quality of the work that person is presently submitting is light-years better than what she began with, just like Maegan did. Maegan’s confessed to me that she absolutely hated me for most of that period. That’s fine. Hate bounces off of me like water off the proverbial duck’s back. I don’t care about people’s feelings—I care about them becoming good writers. (Well, I do care about their feelings, but I try hard not to show it…). Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Well, at the time, I expect Maegan would describe her experience as such. But, little by little she learned to write a publishable novel.

Maegan ended up finishing the novel she began in that first class after several more classes and guess what? She secured a top agent and he got her a two book deal with Midnight Ink, a solid advance, and now they want even more books from her. Her first novel earned rave reviews and is selling tons of copies. Her second comes out this spring. These days, she’s about to begin her third book and is the administrator of our class. What happened is that she decided she wanted to learn now to write quality books and she decided she didn’t need to be coddled or lavished with praise she hadn’t earned. She's also earning a solid reputation in the writing community as the "Plot Queen."

In the class that just ended, we had three people secure an agent with their finished novels, with two or three more about to do the same. All of their novels will be placed with top publishers. Each of them has worked their asses off to get there. Another student who dropped out after being with us for four or five sessions had essentially finished her novel in class and has just signed with a top agent. The only reason she dropped out when she did was for time purposes for a new job (we require a high and serious commitment to the class), but her novel was essentially completed. This isn’t NaNoWrite or whatever that thing is called. In fact, it’s probably the antithesis of that event. There may be other classes with as high a percentage of members getting published, but I’m not aware of any. At this point, there’s not a single writer in class who isn’t writing at a publishable level. Not one. And, probably none of them was even close to that state before beginning. I’m very, very proud of these folks! They’ve all become writers and not a one of them are… typists…

Whatever genre you’re writing in doesn’t matter. We have literary novels, thrillers, YAs, middle-grade novels, fantasy, sci-fi, mainstream, historical fiction, comic novels, and just about every genre you can imagine. Doesn’t matter.

I realize I’ve given you a lot of reasons to not take our class! It’s hard, hard work, it represents a significant time commitment, and there isn’t any semblance of instant gratification. In other words, it’s a class for writers, not wannabe writers who want to have written a book but aren’t particularly crazy about doing the actual work required. If despite all this, you’re interested, please contact me. Openings won’t last long if past classes are any indication.

The nuts and bolts:

Cost: $400 for 10 weeks. Nonrefundable. The reason it’s nonrefundable is because, other than S.S. this is my main source of income. If a person decides after a week or two it’s too hard for them or for any reason they can’t continue, there’s no way to add replacements. I like to eat and make my house payment so I have to make it a nonrefundable basis. I also work privately with clients and that charge is $100 per hour. I give the same level of attention to everyone in class that I do with private students, so this is a much more affordable cost for most. As those who join us will see, I give much more than an hour to each person each week. And, before anyone asks, I’m sorry but I’m fully booked with private clients at present, although that can always change.

Start date: November 10. Ordinarily, we’ll take a week and sometimes two off during the class to recharge our batteries and, in this case, because of the upcoming holidays.

Option: We also offer an auditing opportunity for $50. Auditors have access to everything we do. The only difference is they don’t participate actively with us. Many have found auditing a valuable alternative. I had a young man tell me after he’d audited one of our classes that he’d learned much more during that period than he had in the entire four years of his college years in writing classes. It’s also where we usually draw new students from when an opening occurs. They’re given first choice. In fact, the students who had to take a leave of absence from this coming session to perform the final polish to their novels have chosen to audit the class. There is no limit to how many sign up to audit the class. We also have several editors and publishers and even agents who've audited the class.

If anyone would like to talk to any of the folks who’re taking the class, I’d be happy to put you in touch with any and all of them. Just ask.

Hope this is something a few of you are looking for. If so, please contact me.

And, thanks for reading and your consideration!

Blue skies,

 Top Photo: Maegan Beaumont delivering a talk and a signing at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Phoenix. Maegan's husband Joe flew me out to Phoenix as a surprise to his talented wife. The Poisoned Pen is one of the oldest and best-known bookstores in the country. Maegan knocked 'em dead! (Kind of like her character Sabrina does in her thrillers...)
 Middle Photo: Some of the students who gathered for Maegan's launch for her novel CARVED IN DARKNESS in Phoenix at Harold's Corral. L-R: Kristen Boe (just signed with an agent), Carson Flanders (just signed with an agent), moi, Susana Orozco, Maegan Beaumont, and Linda Thompson (just signed with an agent).
Bottom Photo: More of the students who came from all over the U.S. to help Maegan celebrate her novel launch. L-R: Holly Love, Linda Thompson, moi, Dr. Mary Edelson (just signed with an agent), and our "star" Maegan Beaumont. Joe Beaumont was taking this shot and it was Joe's idea to fly me out to surprise Maegan on her big day.  

I love these folks and all the others in our class. They are all talented and hard-working writers and each and every one of them is destined for big, big things. With all the ones who just signed with agents in the past few weeks... keep in mind what Joe did... I've got my bags packed... Just sayin'...


kennyGene said...

S usual, Les; you're spot on!

kennyGene said...

Sorry, that's "As usual... "

Les Edgerton said...

Thanks, Kenn, but my wife would probably disagree...

Unknown said...

Just wanted to let anyone interested know that we have a couple of openings for the next session of our ongoing creative writing (novel) class, which will begin on November 10. Students have dubbed it "Les Edgerton's Boot Camp for Writers. Writers Conference