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Thread: [Workshops] Bainbridge Artisan Resource Network / BARN

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  1. #4
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Ellen Writer View Post
    Just looking for advice before I leap into expense and perhaps poor advice.

    I live in the Tacoma area and was considering taking a multi-part novel course offered by the BARN on Bainbridge Island. I knew they had a new writing program after hearing about several courses from friends. Right now I am taking another course there and it's pretty good, but the instructor seems a bit unable to answer questions beyond the basics.

    Regardless, the BARN novel in four months course appears comprehensive and interesting. Write a 60,000 word novel in only a few months. Is that enough words? Anyway, I was just about to take out the credit card when I decided to really dig deep into the instructor's Google past. To my surprise I could not find a single credential. She's never been in the publishing business, large or small, never been an agent, never even taken submissions or worked for a short fiction journal of any kind. She's never taught writing, but used to teach in high school. She's never been published unless you count something that appears on Amazon that doesn't even appear to have a real book cover, just something slipshod. She does have an MA, but she won't say from where. That raised another flag for me.

    The money isn't a lot, but what I am concerned about is this: will I be receiving suitably good advice from an instructor who really has few if any credentials at all? Is she qualified to be leading me through all the various twists and turns of writing a novel from start to finish?

    I'm interested to hear what the community thinks, and if anyone can offer advice perhaps for a different and better course in the Sea-Tac area.

    Thank you!!!
    I have no idea about that particular course, instructor or school -- so take with a large grain of salt.

    There are a couple things here, and I think it largely depends on what you're really looking to get out of a class.

    Some people have trouble working consistently or keeping a basic plot structure working. If that's an issue, having to show up with work, each class, that other people will read and comment on can be a really good motivator. Some people have or can find good critique groups in their areas that serve that purpose, but it can be hard. Sometimes people don't show, or monopolize time, or are rude about work. Having a group that paid for the time, with a moderating instructor, usually does away with those kinds of issues. If you're mostly looking for structure and accountability, a decently-priced class (which that seems to be, considering the number of sessions), can be worth it. The other people in any class though, are what they are. Might be fabulous, insightful people who will help immensely, might be people whose critiques aren't as helpful.

    If, however, you're looking for more guidance w/re the writing itself, technical questions, specifics, advice on developing plots, structure, characterization, whatever, and your experience with the school's instructors thus far has not been fruitful, that might be more frustrating than helpful. This instructor might be great, despite having few credentials, but the lack of credentials of kind of any kind would make me wary to begin with and what you've noted about your questions and previous experience wouldn't help.

    You can find a lot of help for the latter types of questions here; if you haven't looked around check out some of the different sections. In short, I think it depends on what you want to get out of the class.

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