Monday, December 15, 2014

A review of Brian Henry’s Intensive Creative Writing course by Adrienne Zoe

The Wednesday afternoon Intensive class gets into the holiday spirit

I grew up in Borneo, and really, Ontario is way too cold for me. But every time I contemplate leaving, I think of all the blessings here that I will miss, and Brian’s Intensive Creative Writing course is one of them. 

I first met Brian when I took his one-day memoir writing workshop.  At the time I was writing my childhood stories.  It was my first writing course, and far from being dry and academic, both Brian and his guest speaker made the day fun and entertaining and packed with useful information. I was hooked, and I continued to take more Saturday workshops with Brian.

My goal was to write so that my stories would come alive with my characters jumping off the page and have appeal to a wider audience.  My friends and family who reviewed my work were well-intentioned but they didn’t have the skills to give me the kind of feedback I needed.   I discussed my needs with Brian and decided on taking his Intensive Creative Writing course. 

For over a year now, I have been commuting an hour-plus to keep taking this course in Burlington.  At the beginning of each class, Brian addresses questions and concerns of the participants and opens the floor for sharing news.  Students in this group are active in competitions, publishing articles in magazines and newspapers, pursuing agents, and getting books published, and I get many pointers on how to pursue being a writer.

Whenever I have a question I can't find the answer for, I really appreciate having Brian there to address it and discuss in class.  I have asked him questions such as, “What makes a good first chapter?” and “What makes a good opening paragraph?”  He prepares for the topic, often using our writing as examples so his teaching has direct impact.

The rest of class time is used for feedback.  This crowd of passionate writers gives great feedback – imaginative, insightful and constructive.  This has been key to improving my writing and moving it along. I have also learned to critique other people’s work.  And along the way, an unexpected thing happened.   By the time I had taken the course twice, I had gained confidence as a writer – confidence I would not have gained so fast, or at all, had I continued writing on my own. 

Many students take the course over and over again while working on their novels or short pieces, even those who are already published authors.  I have come to understand why they keep returning, me included.  This group is set apart from other writers’ groups because it has Brian, a writing instructor and live editor, providing invaluable support and guidance.  

Taking this course, is the best thing I’ve done for my writing – for the instruction, the support and the friends I’ve made.

Adrienne Zoe is a stay-at-home mom and is writing her childhood memoir of growing up in Borneo.  Much to her delight, the biggest fan of her stories is her youngest son, eleven years old.   She is also a gifted photographer and looks forward to one day combining photography and her writing. Visit Adrienne on Facebook here

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

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including 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, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Stouffville, Sudbury, Toronto, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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