Sunday, November 23, 2014

Two reviews of Brian Henry's introductory creative writing course, by Paul Dias and Vera Ninos

Brian Henry leading a writing class with Barbara Fairhead and Beverley Cunningham (and someone in yellow obscured behind Barbara)

Brian Henry’s Welcome to Creative Writing Class, 
reviewed by Paul Dias

Every Tuesday for nine weeks, fifteen or more aspiring writers gather at the feet of Brian Henry, with the hope of becoming more proficient in writing stories. To this end, Le Chef D’Orchestre – a man with tremendous experience in the science and the art of skillfully delivering a compelling story in a captivating manner, holds court.

There is an abundance of raw talent in the group. To unleash their creativity, Brian has deliberately maintained a playful yet informative atmosphere. This has disarmed the participants and put them at ease. With their inhibitions suppressed, the participants allow themselves  to write stories from the depths of their souls. It is a thing of beauty and truly magical to behold.

Over the weeks of class, common errors and practices that ruin a good story are discussed. Various technical aspects of styles of writing and the dos and don’ts of creating a good story are also showcased. Brian’s natural aptitude for teaching and motivating his pupils quickly results in their writing skills improving dramatically. His protégés begin to regularly deliver praiseworthy pieces.       

Paul Dias
This gathering of minds and their cumulative wealth of experience soon reveals the presence of several good writers. More importantly, the classes have served to help each participant discover their own unique ability  to write a good story.

Paul Dias is a Jamaican by birth, who now calls Canada home. He dabbles in painting, and is a natural story-teller who dreams of writing his first best-seller.  After living and working in the British Virgin Islands for eighteen years, he moved to Burlington with his wife four years ago.
photo on file

Welcome to Creative Writing class, reviewed by Vera Ninos

The first time I came across Brian Henry's name I was at a writing workshop sponsored by the Hamilton Public Library.  Two women were discussing an upcoming one day workshop of his which they would be attending.  I wrote down his name and promptly tucked it in a drawer with my writing journal where it was forgotten.

Months later, still dabbling and skirting the edges of my desire, I attended another library workshop, where I was again intrigued by conversation about this Brian Henry.  Who was he and why was he so popular?

Though I googled him when I returned home and my level of intrigue spiked I still did nothing until weeks later when I sat at my computer registering my kids for fall activities. What the heck, I decided, and while I registered myself for an activity, too, one of Brian’s weekly course: Welcome to Creative Writing.

That's how I came to find myself spending two hours every Tuesday morning in a sunny room in a Burlington Church with other aspiring writers.

Each week, while humorously dispensing his vast knowledge of writing and writing culture, Brian is encouraging, inspiring and supportive.

Class begins with a harmonizing review of everyone's weekly writing challenges and accomplishments, then proceeds with three students presenting a show and share piece.  As in the primary years of school, a tangible article is shown. Unlike kindergarten, the article is accompanied by a short written piece.

In the safety of this warm and intimate setting, the writers often delve deep within their psyche to share personal stories of sorrow and victory, which are often both revealing and deeply moving.

From there, a weekly lesson or focus is introduced such as Showing and Telling what your characters are thinking, First Person Narratives and how to write a book review – or other kinds of reviews (hence this piece).

As class continues, students are given an opportunity to apply the lesson by beginning a written piece in class which they then share with a small group of other students.

Each week, a handful of writers bring in longer written pieces, and Brian critiques them and gives helpful suggestions.

It’s a lively class, and in addition, sounds from the daycare which is likewise housed in the church tend to filter in through the thin walls. But the murmur of children more often adds to the ambiance rather than detracting from the experience.

As each week rolls into the next, I find my body of writing expanding, my ability to access the writer in me easing, and my desire to share what I have written increasing.

Vera Ninos
I would highly recommend this class to anyone interested in tapping into their creative potential or even if you're just wondering if you have creative potential. Regardless, the class is a treasure.

Note: Read other reviews of Brian's various weekly courses and workshops here.

Vera Ninos is Hamilton based mother of four.  You can read more of her writing here.  

See Brian Henry's schedule hereincluding writing workshops and creative writing courses in Barrie, Brampton, Bolton, Burlington, Caledon, Cambridge, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Niagara on the Lake, Oakville, Orillia, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond. 

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