Writing is an art and a craft that takes time to master. Our Four Week Unlocking Creativity Course gives writers practical tools and techniques designed to unlock their creativity.
Below are six key elements to creating powerful fiction, which will dramatically improve the quality of your writing and understanding of classic storytelling.
"Writing, like life, is a journey of discovery."
When it comes to writing, learning to tap into the power of your imagination makes all the difference.
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create."
We believe the imagination is the true source of creative power that gives your writing that quality that makes readers want to read what you have written.
“The power and resources of our intuition, imagination and unconscious are greater than the rational mind can imagine ... A man's reach should exceed his grasp.”
When someone asked Thomas Keneally where his stories came from, he replied - "From somewhere over the rainbow." That is where we aim to take writers during our 4-Week Unlocking Creativity Course
One of the great things about being part of the course is that from the very first session, whether doing the course Live or Online, is seeing people go on a profound journey.
People start the course feeling anxious about their writing and questioning their creative ability. But by the end of the first session, after they and their classmates have applied practical tools and techniques designed to access the power of their imagination, they are on a creative high from seeing just how talented they and everyone else in the course can be.
"And the growth in my writing… WOW. Just wow! I never realised how much the stories in my head would just FLOW, if only I would let them! I have always been so critical of myself that I never allowed the words to find their way easily onto the page. Now, I am writing things that are so much more interesting than anything I’ve ever put on paper before, because I am allowing myself freedom to create, rather than stagnate. Instead of editing a paragraph, I am writing another one. And that is how the story flows."
"The first rule of successful storytelling is ... find a feeling.”
Dwight Swain, Techniques of the Selling Writer
Writing fiction is not an intellectual exercise. One of the keys to creating powerful fiction is to evoke emotion in your readers. This is what draws readers into your fictional world and keeps them there.
In fiction, it is not about writing what actually happened, rather it is about connecting with the emotional truth of a situation, the universal emotional truth.
When people learn how to do this in Session Two of Unlocking Creativity, their characters come alive on the page and their writing goes to another level.
“All art, therefore, appeals primarily to the senses, and the artistic aim when expressing itself in written words must also make its appeal to the senses, if its high desire is to reach the secret springs of responsive emotion. To make you see, to make you hear, to make you feel, that is all and that is everything.”
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
You can’t just tell the reader the emotion your character is experiencing, you have to show them. You do this by using bricks of significant detail. That is the details that show your characters emotional state.
You want to create images that evoke emotions and create dream in your readers' mind. It is about learning to see the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.
“We read five words on the first page of a really good novel and we begin to forget we are reading printed words on a page; we begin to see images - a dog hunting through garbage cans, a plane circling above Alaskan mountains, an old lady furtively licking her napkin at a party. We slip into a dream, forgetting the room we're sitting in, forgetting it's lunchtime or time to go to work.”
John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist
"Reading back over my first novel, I'm aware of a change at the point where I started doing the Writers' Studio course (Unlocking Creativity). It's where my descriptions went from run of the mill to, I think, much more visual. No one can give you a secret formula for 'how to write', but the Writers' Studio seems able to unleash the wild writer beast in us all!"
One of the keys to make your story work is developing a practical understanding of how classic story structure works.
Story structure gives your writing shape and meaning, takes your reader on an emotional and spiritual journey and keeps them turning the pages wanting to know what happens next.
If you learn the craft and put the work in, you will write stories that other people will want to read.
“You might have the insights of Buddha, but if you can’t tell a story, your ideas will be as dry as dust. Craft is the sum total of all means used to draw the audience into deep involvement, to hold that involvement and ultimately reward it with a moving and meaningful experience.”
Robert McKee, Story
"Before I did the Unlocking Creativity course I knew I loved to write creatively but had no idea how I might start to channel that into something like a novel. The course teaches the basics of storytelling in a really accessible and inspiring way. Things like the importance of sensory detail in scene setting, writing a character’s emotion and conflict on every page. The techniques really worked for me and I’m still a little bit amazed I was able to write a book and have it published using them. I refer to the notes I took during Unlocking Creativity even while I’m working on my second book for Penguin."
Vanessa Stubbs - author of Star Attraction
"Feelings tell you what to say. Technique gives you tools with which to say it. Faculty lies in knowing what to do next.
To know what to do next, you must master process ... an ordered step-by-step presentation of materials that presses emotional buttons in your reader, so he feels the way you want him to feel."
Writing a novel or screenplay can be overwhelming. You need to break the process down into manageable chunks.
To write the best story you are capable of writing and to enjoy the experience, you need a process to guide you every step of the way.
Having a process helps you connect with the power of your imagination while writing fiction that takes you, your characters and ultimately your readers on a profound journey.
“When forced to work within a strict framework, the imagination is taxed to its utmost – and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom, the work is likely to sprawl.”
"After two unsuccessful manuscripts I was searching for a creative writing course I could do to give me the confidence and tools needed to find a stronger voice and allow me to tap into my imagination. Unlocking creativity did all this and more.I walked away from this course feeling much more confident in my own abilities as well as full of motivation to start my next manuscript, which turned into my first fictional crime novel Sinister Intent, published this year."
“Applaud every small victory, because every time you applaud a small victory, you create an environment in which a larger victory can grow.” Victoria Nelson
Giving and receiving positive feedback is an essential part of the Unlocking Creativity process. Many people find this a challenging concept. Our competitive culture has made it easier for us to criticise and to receive criticism rather than praise. And it has played havoc with our self-confidence and self-image.
We want to silence this inner critic, this censor, this editor at every level. It is all part of the process. As with any other kind of creative development, we first begin to see ourselves through someone else’s eyes and ears. Many people may initially feel exposed and vulnerable during this process.
The more open, honest and non-judgmental we all are, the more we can help and support each other on our writing journeys.
Editing, which is where every word must count, comes into play in later drafts. Most people find this an uplifting experience because when you take out what is not working in your writing and just leave what is, the writing jumps to another level. This is an uplifting experience.
"I’ve just completed the most amazing course, one I set out to do not knowing what to expect or whether it would really benefit and nurture my dormant creative side. I never intended on even wanting to write fiction because I didn’t think I had the imagination to deliver a good story. I always felt creativity there but couldn’t find a way of awakening it. This has been quite a journey, a daunting one to begin but never one I felt I couldn’t do because the structure is so well prepared to gradually and gently increase my writing ability with a huge difference being evident between start to finish. I discovered that writing doesn’t need to be a scary experience but one to be embraced. It's irrelevant if you think you can or can't write because it’s deeper than what words can produce on paper, it’s a connection to something more within.'"