Freedrama Online Writing School
for New Writers


free online writing class school for new writers

PHASE 1 - IDEAS AND PLANNING

Welcome to the Freedrama Online Writing School, a place where you can get help with your creative writing.

This class is for new writers including young students who are starting to write for the first time. Any level of writer is welcome, but I would like everyone to approach this like you are new and inexperienced so you are open to what I am teaching with fresh eyes.

Any type of writer is welcome. I write plays, but I am happy to work with prose and poetry writers too. If you would like to write poetry, let me know. The first 6 lessons will work for all types of writers but I will need to modify the second half of the class for poets.

Since this is a new class, please email me feedback and questions. I would like this class to be helpful to you and future students.

If you’re a teacher, feel free to test this out with your students. I would love to hear your feedback after using these lessons, and I would be happy to talk with your students and give feedback. You can get a low cost PDF of this class at CurrClick.com

The focus on this class is to develop some basic creative writing skills. This class is not about publishing or making money. It is about developing a love of writing and having fun with it.

At the end of the class, you will receive a certificate and feedback on your writing from instructor Doug Larson. Doug's BIO and BOOKS written by Doug

START THE CLASS ON THE FREEDRAMA BLOG

Copyright notice: We would love to have you share a link to this free online class but please do not repost the text of the class onto another website. You can get a low cost PDF of this class at CurrClick.com




Lesson 1 - WRITE! Write, write and write some more. Write about anything. Write about everything. Keep a journal or notebook and write about your day. You can simply make a list of things that happen. Try to do something different during your day as a way to get inspiration. Go to a new store or restaurant, read a new book, watch a new show or movie. Also watch or read the news and make notes about interesting stories you see. Keep a notebook and write down your thoughts during the day. Write as much as possible and don’t worry about it being good. Just do some writing and put some thoughts down on paper… as many as possible.

ASSIGNMENT 1A: Create a lot of notes this week to be ready for Lesson 2.

ASSIGNMENT 1B: Post in the blog comments an introduction of yourself and why you’re interested in writing.

OPTIONAL BONUS: Respond to a post by another student and discuss writing. Keep the posts positive and supportive. Students who are negative toward other students will not receive a certificate or instructor feedback at the end of the class.

Need help? Have questions? Email your instructor Doug Larson at doug@freedrama.net
Lesson 2 - IDEAS - Look at your notes. Is there anything interesting you would like to write more about? Add ideas to your notes. Be creative. Maybe you wrote a note about this great dessert you ate. Add more details about how good it was. Or be creative and write about how the dessert comes to life and tries to eat you! Or maybe the dessert gives you superpowers. Have fun with your notes. Be wacky. Be weird. Just have fun playing with new ideas.

ASSIGNMENT 2A: Expand on as many of your notes as possible by adding new and creative ideas to each. Save these notes for Lesson 3.

ASSIGNMENT 2B: Post in the blog comments about some of your favorite writers and why you like their writing.

OPTIONAL BONUS: Respond to a post by another student and discuss writing. Keep the posts positive and supportive. Students who are negative toward other students will not receive a certificate or instructor feedback at the end of the class.

Need help? Have questions? Email your instructor Doug Larson at doug@freedrama.net

                                    


Lesson 3 - CHARACTERS - Look at your notes and pick one of the ideas you find the most interesting. Expand this good idea in three ways to make a story: characters, setting and plot.

First, come up with some characters. Who are some characters that can be in this story? Give them names and describe them. What are these characters like? Why are they in this story? What makes them important to the story? Come up with at least 2 characters.

ASSIGNMENT 3A: Write as much as possible about each of these characters. If you can draw, make a picture of them. Or find a famous actor you think could play this character. Or find a song that could be a theme song for this character. Really get to know your character inside and out. All the notes do not need to be in your finished story but you should know as much as possible about your characters before you write something. Save these notes for Lesson 4.

ASSIGNMENT 3B: Post in the comments - Who are some of your favorite characters in books and movies? Why do you enjoy these characters? Why do you think these characters are better than most?

OPTIONAL BONUS: Respond to a post by another student and discuss writing. Keep the posts positive and supportive. Students who are negative toward other students will not receive a certificate or instructor feedback at the end of the class.

If you need help at any time, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net




Lesson 4 - SETTING - Next you will come up with a setting for your story. Look at your notes and ideas, as well as your characters. Where should your story take place? Where is a good place for your ideas to happen? What kind of place would you find your characters in? A setting is so important that it is almost like another character in your story.

ASSIGNMENT 4A: Create a lot of details about your setting. Search online or in books for pictures that look like your setting or better yet, go out and take a picture of a place where the story could take place. Write as many detailed notes about this place as possible. All these notes don’t need to be in your finished story but they are good for you to know before you start writing. Saves these notes for Lesson 5.

ASSIGNMENT 4B: What is a story or movie that you love that has a fun and unique setting? What is different about this setting that you enjoy? Could the story happen anywhere else or is the setting important to the story? Post your comments in the blog

OPTIONAL BONUS: Respond to a post by another student and discuss writing. Keep the posts positive and supportive. Students who are negative toward other students will not receive a certificate or instructor feedback at the end of the class.

If you need help at any time, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net




Lesson 5 - PLOT - Now you will make notes about what happens. What happens in the story? When does the story take place? Does the story happen now, in the past or in the future?

Look at your characters and your setting and your original notes and ideas. What is something that can happen to your characters in the setting you picked?

ASSIGNMENT 5A: Brainstorm as many ideas as possible about what could happen to your characters, and what might happen in the setting you picked. Go back over your ideas and pick your favorites. Ideally, come up with one favorite thing that will happen, or a series of related things for your plot. Save these notes for Lesson 6.

ASSIGNMENT 5B: In the comments, talk about a story or movie that had a really interesting or surprising plot that is memorable. What is a movie or book you watch or read again and again? Is the plot something that keeps you coming back for more? Why?

OPTIONAL BONUS: Respond to a post by another student and discuss writing. Keep the posts positive and supportive. Students who are negative toward other students will not receive a certificate or instructor feedback at the end of the class.

If you need help at any time, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net




Lesson 6 - REVIEW - Review your notes. Can you answer these important questions:

Who is in the story? Who are your characters?
Where does the story take place? Where is the setting?
When does the story happen?
What happens in the story? What is the plot?

If you can answer all these questions, then you’re probably ready to start writing.

ASSIGNMENT 6A: Put all these notes together and see how they fit. Do they work together? Do they make sense together? Expand on your notes by adding a couple more thoughts. First, why is the story happening? Why are these characters together? Why is the setting important? Why does the story matter to you? Organize your notes and prepare for Phase 2 of the class. If you need help at any time, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net

ASSIGNMENT 6B: Which part of this class has been the more helpful so far? Which part do you have questions about? Post comments in the blog

OPTIONAL BONUS: Respond to a post by another student and discuss writing. Keep the posts positive and supportive. Students who are negative toward other students will not receive a certificate or instructor feedback at the end of the class.




PHASE 2 - ACTUAL WRITING

The main rule for this class is to have fun. Don’t worry about your writing being good. You can always rewrite it later. For now, just play around and enjoy the process.

I have ordered the lessons so they go in order of a story’s structure. Feel free to jump around in these lessons. When you write, you do not need to write in order. Many times, I actually jump around and write out of order. Sometimes I write the ending first. Sometimes I write a key part of the story first. And sometimes I might just write a random scene with the characters.

As a writer, you will want to read a lot as well. Read the masters of the type of writing you want to write. I read tons of plays when I started out as a playwright. My favorite play (and movie) is Amadeus. I read the play and watched the movie many times. It was very inspiring and became a model for my early writing.

But I’ll pick a more family friendly, well known movie, play/musical and story to look at as an example in this class: The Wizard of Oz. As much as I’d love to write something as amazing as Amadeus, I know that the Wizard of Oz is more my style as a writer. My scripts for kids tend to be the most popular of my plays and they are fun to write. I even wrote my own Oz type script called “Holka Polka” so the Wizard of Oz is a story I have a lot of respect for, and see as an inspirational work for my writing.

So find a good model for the type of writing you would like to do, and there is nothing wrong with trying different styles. Don’t force yourself into a box or a category right away. Be open to different types of writing. I tried to write more serious plays at first and wrote a terrible play that I hoped would be my Amadeus. I learned a lot from it though, and eventually found my niche: light comedy and family plays. I enjoy comedy and family plays, and have fun with them. Audiences like them too. I would be more than happy to write something as classic as Wizard of Oz that has been loved by many generations.

Start writing your story or play now. If you are writing poetry, please contact me and we’ll discuss how we’ll do the upcoming lessons.




Lesson 7 - GOAL

What is your goal for the story?

Is there something you want to say?

For example, The Wizard of Oz might be trying to say “There’s no place like home.” In other words, appreciate what you have. Or it might be asking the question, “Is the grass greener on the other side?” (Oz being the other side) Maybe it looks great at first, but there are witches lurking.

Assignment 7A: What is your goal for your project? What are you trying to say? Add to your notes and then continue to Lesson 8.

Assignment 7B: What is one of your favorite books or movies you enjoy over and over again? What do you think the writers were trying to say? Accomplish? Post your comments on the blog

If you need help at any time, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net




Lesson 8 - The Hook - How will you start your story? Once upon a time? It was a dark and stormy night? You want to start with a good hook.

Look back at your notes. Is there something that jumps out at you as really important? Something really exciting? Something very funny?

For example in the movie, The Wizard of Oz, the hook would be the tornado that takes Dorothy to Oz and the discovery of the new land.

You can use the hook describe the setting or set the stage. You definitely want it to create a mood.

Don’t get stuck here though. Don’t let this overwhelm you. If you have trouble skip to Lesson 8 and come back.

Assignment 8A: What might be a good hook for your story? This can be a tough part to figure out so you can skip to other lessons while you think about it. If you need help, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net

Assignment 8B: What was the hook for your favorite book or movie? What drew you in? Did it happen right away, or did it take a while? Post your comments on the blog

Remember - Don’t worry about being good or making the story a certain length. Have fun!




Lesson 9 - Dialog

Have your characters talk to each other. Focus on two characters first.

Do not have them explain the plot. Just think of normal conversation between these characters. Let the plot happen. It is more important that your characters seem real and are having real conversation. Keep the plot in mind and in the back of your head, but let the characters talk first. Help us to get to know them through the way they speak.

Read the dialog out loud, ideally with another person. Does the dialog feel natural, like real speech? If not, try rewriting the dialog.

Do the two characters sound different?

In the Wizard of Oz, you’ll notice that Dorothy speaks differently than the people from Oz. And many of the characters have their own way of speaking.

Examples:

Do you see any difference in the way these characters speak?

Miss Gulch: [stopping bicycle and getting off] Mister Gale!
Uncle Henry Gale: Well, howdy, Miss Gulch.
Miss Gulch: [comes into the Gales' yard] I want to see you and your wife right away about Dorothy!
Uncle Henry Gale: Dorothy? Well, what has Dorothy done?
Miss Gulch: What she's done? I'm all but lame from the bite on my leg!
Uncle Henry Gale: Oh! You mean she bit you?
Miss Gulch: No, her dog!
Uncle Henry Gale: Oh, she bit her dog, eh?
[Uncle Henry tries to shut the gate, but it hits her on the backside]
Miss Gulch: [exasperated] No!
(from imbd.com)

I would say that the pacing is different. Miss Gulch’s speech is to the point and Uncle Henry takes his time and also has a playfulness to his speech.

In this next example, you’ll see a clear difference between Dorothy and the Witch. Dorothy is very young sounding and focused on her dog, unaware and innocent. The witch sounds older and analyzes the situation which comes out in her words.

Dorothy: [Toto is held hostage by the Witch and one of her monkeys] What are you gonna do to my dog? Give him back to me!
Wicked Witch of the West: All in good time, my little pretty. All in good time.
Dorothy: Oh, please give me back my dog?
Wicked Witch of the West: Certainly. Certainly. When you give me those slippers.
Dorothy: But, The Good Witch of the North told me not to.
Wicked Witch of the West: Very well.
[to her flying monkey]
Wicked Witch of the West: Throw that basket into the river and drown him!
Dorothy: No, no, no! Here... You can have your old slippers. But, give me back Toto!
Wicked Witch of the West: That's a good little girl. I know you'd see reason!
[the Witch stoops to steal the shoes. But, fire burns Dorothy's toes and the Witch's hands. she reacts in pain]
Wicked Witch of the West: Ohhhh!
Dorothy: I'm sorry! I didn't do it. Can I still have my dog?
Wicked Witch of the West: No! Fool that I am! I should have remembered! Those slippers will never come off as long as you're alive. But's that not what's worrying me. It's how to do it. These things must be done delicately or you hurt the spell.
(from imbd.com)

When writing dialog, consider your character’s ages and motives. Giving them unique slang and phrases is helpful too. In the Uncle Henry example, you’ll see he says “oh” and “well” a lot and even throws in a “howdy” which fits his character well.

ASSIGNMENT 9A: Write a short scene between two of your characters and have them discuss something. Read the dialog out loud, ideally with another person. Does the dialog feel natural, like real speech? If not, think about how your characters are different and give them some unique ways of speaking, including slang and phrases they like to use.

ASSIGNMENT 9B: What is a movie or tv show or book you enjoy with two really different characters in a scene together? Is their dialog and way of speaking different from each other? In what ways do the characters speak differently? Post your answers in the blog post below.

If you need help at any time, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net




Lesson 10 - Conflict

What will be the conflict in your story? Conflict drives most stories. It doesn’t have to be a Bad Guy vs. a Good Guy. Two friends can have a conflict. Or it could be something external such as a storm/tornado/flood/snowstorm that creates the conflict. Or someone could be struggling with an internal problem that makes a conflict. Basically, what is the problem in the story that needs to be solved?

The main conflict in the Wizard of Oz is between Dorothy (who wants to get home) and the Wicked Witch who wants the shoes Dorothy got from her sister. The motives of these two characters are not the same, but the ruby slippers have created an unintended conflict between them. Dorothy and the Witch did not plan on being enemies but what happens in the plot creates the conflict. First Dorothy’s house falls on the Witch’s sister and kills her. Then Glenda gives the ruby slippers to Dorothy, which the Witch wants.

You can have two excellent characters you like, but maybe something happens that creates an unexpected conflict. Or maybe an external force (weather, aliens, etc.) creates a conflict that bring enemies together.

ASSIGNMENT 10A: Write about the conflict in your story. What will the main conflict be? What will create it?

ASSIGNMENT 10B: What is the main conflict in one of your favorite books or movies? Post comments in the blog

If you need help at any time, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net




Lesson 11 - CLIMAX

The climax is the most exciting part of your story. Everything in your story leads up to this moment. This is the key to everything, the key moment that is the most important to the entire story. This is the breaking point that changes everything. The conflict causes this moment to happen.

The Wizard of Oz has several important moments, but I would say the Climax is when Dorothy defeats the Witch, since this is tied to the main conflict. Unfortunately, this may not be the most exciting moment in the movie but it is memorable. Who can forget the witch melting away after Dorothy throws water on her. Such a simple solution to such a big problem.

One might argue that the plot of getting to see the Wizard is the main one, so this climax is not as clear as some movies. And some movies do have multiple climatic moments. Recent superhero movies seem to have multiple major moments such as Captain America: Civil War. You have the big moment between the two set of superheroes facing off at the airport, but then you have another major moment where Captain America and Iron Man have a final face off. How many big climactic scenes does one movie need? One is enough, but Marvel will disagree I’m sure.

A movie with a very clear climax is the original Star Wars movie (a New Hope). It’s all about blowing up the Death Star, and it all leads up to that moment where Luke does the honors. There is a subplot of being a Jedi, which culminates at the death of Ben Kenobi, but the movie is very much about destroying the Death Star, and everything is tied to that in the end.

ASSIGNMENT 11A: What will be climax of your story? What will everything lead up to? What dramatic/major moment will be created by your climax and help bring about a resolution in the end? If you need help, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net

Assignment 11B: Take a look at one of your favorite books or movies. What was the climax? What was the main moment it all led up to? How did everything in the story lead up to this moment? Post your comments in the blog.




Lesson 12 - Resolution and Ending

The resolution in the Wizard of Oz is discovering who the Wizard really is, getting their rewards, and Dorothy is able to return home with the shoes… “There’s no place like home.”

ASSIGNMENT 12A: How will you complete your story? Will you have a happy ending? Tragic ending? Or will you leave your ending open-ended and mysterious?

ASSIGNMENT 12B: Think of your favorite story or movie. How does it end? Is it satisfying? Does it end well or leave you wanting more (in a good way or a bad way)? Post your comments in the blog

If you need help at any time, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net




Lesson 13 - Share your writing

Share with a friend or family member. The more people that read your writing the better.

You can give them the following questions to think about before they read it:

What was your favorite part?
Was there a part where you got confused?
Which character did you enjoy the most?
Which character did you want to know more about?
What do you think the story was about?
If the story is complete, ask their feedback on the ending too.

They don’t have to answer all these but it gives them something to think about when they give you feedback.

ASSIGNMENT 13A: What kind of feedback did you get? What changes will you make?

Optional - not required - ASSIGNMENT 13B: You may also post what you have written online and leave a link in the comments if you’d like feedback from the rest of the class.

If you need help at any time, type up your notes and email your question and your notes to me at doug@freedrama.net




Lesson 14 - FINAL Send me what you’ve written for feedback. The story or play does not need to be complete. I’m happy to see what you have so far, even if it is one page. Type up what you have and email it to doug@freedrama.net I will give suggestions, and then I would like you to rewrite what you have based on those suggestion. After you make some of the suggested changes, you will get your certificate.

Post any questions in the blog



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