Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Online opportunities to improve your writing - by Kathleen Cook

Yes, we’re all definitely tired of this pandemic by now! If you are going stir crazy and looking for more online opportunities to improve your writing, here are a few courses you might enjoy. Remember, all of them are FREE, although they may offer optional extras. I have tested all of them and I’ve found the courses to be worthwhile and interesting. 

Fallacies, ABC 

This course is offered by Iversity, a Berlin-based online education center. In it, you’ll learn how to spot bad arguments and avoid them in your own writing. While not geared specifically to writers, it’s an excellent way to improve your own work. From the website: “In this course we will learn how to recognize and resist the most common 15 fallacies, from Loaded Question and Slippery Slope to Red Herring and Straw Man. Each fallacy is illustrated with examples, funny dialogues, a case study discourse, and there's even a quiz show at the end to test your knowledge. We describe the mechanism for each of these rational traps, and we learn proper ways to refute it. Fallacies are like crime novels: if you know who the killer is, the whole plot seems transparent. In the same manner, this course acts like a vaccine: once we learn to recognize and counteract a fallacy, we cannot be deceived again. Enjoy!” 

How to Make Digital Content 

Another course by Iversity, this one will teach you what you need to know to produce quality content for digital media. The course description says it’s “intended for anyone who needs to use digital communication in some way. In the end, this course is really for everyone.” If you’ve ever wanted to write online and build a following, this is for you. The course is laid out as follows, according to the website: 

1. First, you will receive a short introduction to the topic of content. 
2. Afterwards, we’ll look at analyzing our target audience, using this to create a meaningful audience persona. 
3. In the next section, I’ll explain various strategies and techniques for developing content and thematic contexts that fit both us and our target audience. 
4. In the next lesson, we’ll develop a customer journey for the target audience persona. 
5. In the fifth lesson, you’ll learn how content is planned and organized. 
6. In the penultimate lesson, I’ll present the production process, which will help you to create relevant, valuable digital content with a high conversion rate. 

To sum up, you’ll get another overview of the necessary steps for quickly and successfully creating content. 

How to Read a Novel 

This course is from FutureLearn, a British online educational center affiliated with many of the top universities in Britain. The website’s course description (note the British spelling) says: 

“What makes a great novel? How is a novel woven together? How can we best appreciate works of fiction? Answer these questions and more with this course from The University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. On the course you’ll discover four of the main building blocks of modern fiction: plot, characterisation, dialogue, and setting, using examples from a range of texts including the four novels shortlisted for the 2020 James Tait Black fiction prize. You’ll also explore the formal strategies authors use, how they came to be, and how they affect us as readers.”

If you have to be cooped up due to covid, this is a great time to improve your skills and come out the other side of the pandemic ready to shine! If you’re an author or simply a still-unpublished but inevitable author, these courses will take your talents to the next level, so that you’ll look back at this pandemic and say, “Well, at least I put the time to good use.” 

Kathleen Cook is a free-lance editor and the author of twenty books. A former copy writer/editor for Demand Studios, she also served as the Fictional Religion Editor for the ODP (Open Directory Project). She is currently the Arizona Authors Association newsletter editor. 

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