COURSES FROM THE PLANET BEV

 

How to Write “How To”

Writing “How To” books can be fun and lucrative. But the construction of these non-fiction books is much more difficult than introducing the reader to building a better mousetrap in three easy lessons. Within the architecture of all successful “How To” books are secret underpinnings that compel a reader to pick up the book, trust the author completely, turn the pages until the end, and look for the next book. Once a writer masters the craft of constructing underpinnings, the joys of writing and teaching take over page after page. This course gives the writer understanding of the psychology of expertise, merging material with markets, establishing relationship and inviolable agreement with the reader, and organizing material into text that meshes with the reader’s ability and sensibilities. In addition, we will discuss the elements of the book proposal that help sell.

 





Shimmer

Telling a story is one thing. It’s another matter to write it, when the written words have to stand alone without the benefit of your gesture, facial expression, tone of voice, volume, eye contact, and feedback. Knowing how to craft a sentence to manipulate response and amplify meaning is a technical amalgamation of art and science. Once mastered, it’s the difference between a good piece and a great one. The technique’s name, “Shimmer,” refers to the transparent layers that create subtle dimension in written work. This class will have some hands-on exercises for some of the most amazing polishing and editing you’ve ever done, so bring a notebook and pen.

 

“Shimmer” is the most requested class in my curriculum. It spans all genres. One author remarked afterward, “You gotta love a class where you get to eat fine Belgian chocolate and then think for sure you’re going to die all within the same hour. It changed my writing forever.”

 





The Writer’s Life

(Caution: Contains Graphic Content. Not for the weak-kneed.) Frank discussion conducted by a seasoned veteran of professional, full-time writing. Course includes: forcing 26 hours out of a 24-hour day, discipline vs. duct tape for staying in the chair, workspaces that work, essential equipment and supplies, avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome and other maladies associated with suspended animation, voice-activated software and other helpful toys, wrangling unwieldy amounts of research material, rituals and icons – results of a survey of writers’ practices that will make you feel less weird (unless you already have an altar with dead poultry on it), and overcoming writer’s block without therapy, drugs, and alcohol. For writers who have decided to “go pro,” we’ll discuss writing as a business, making the transition to pro, managing the team of people who stream into your life right behind your first contract, and marketing yourself and your work. Actual contracts will be shared.

 





Memoir Writing Master Class

Few stories are as interesting or as fun to tell as the ones you live. This is why memoir is gaining in popularity. The class explores the art of seeing yourself as a character, the skill of “casting” your story with other people, reconciling moral dilemmas in tell-alls, the laws that will protect you from suit, and the fine points of writing fiction that apply to spinning tales of real life so that a reader is riveted. Whether you’re telling your story for your own introspection, creating a legacy for a beloved family, or plotting a course straight to a publisher, this class will give your work focus, direction, and depth.

            This workshop can be taught in two parts, the second being a hands-on exercise in organizing your memoir and getting a chapter launched. We will work and gently critique together.

 





Stories in the Palm of Your Hand

For kids only (or grownups that refuse to leave childhood far behind)

For educational specialists, this course is described as a supervised merger of ancient art forms: puppetry and storytelling. But in reality, it’s an insanely hilarious, rollicking free-for-all with glue and googly eyeballs and stick-on antlers and wings. Young puppet-makers create a cast of characters … all with pasts. When the puppets meet each other at the end, the story they create together is outrageous and amazing. Guaranteed. The puppeteers take their puppets home. (Who could trust these puppets to stay together and behave in the studio overnight?)

 

Recommended for children ages 4-10.

Bev provides all materials.

 





Writer’s Block

Ten Best Ways to Open Up a Shutdown

As surely as turning off a spigot, the flow of words can slow to a dribble and then dry up entirely. Suddenly. Writer’s block has plagued writers since the beginning of time. In fact, it might be what prompted the cave dwellers merely to draw animals on rocks rather than describe them. And while writer’s block can lead to a whole plethora of neurotic behaviors that make one seem eccentric and more romantically “author-like” to the observing world, the truth is that block can deadly not only to the writing, but also to the writer. On contract with a deadline looming, a blocked writer is in a heap of trouble. I should know. It happened to me. I crashed and burned so spectacularly that the incident is still discussed in hushed tones at writers’ meetings, and people make no sudden moves around me. Through the tough support of fellow pro writers, my heroic agent, a compassionate editor, and a smart therapist to the rescue, I discovered the true causes of block, the sinister process of shutting down, and strategies for opening back up. And because I am the poster child for writers’ block, other writers share their stories and strategies with me, allowing me to amass sage advice that I am wild to impart to writers with “that look” in their eyes.

 





Writing Humor

Humor is actually serious business. Entering the dark side to create light moments, we’ll explore the complex psychological genesis of laughter and how to trigger it. Material in class draws from the wisdom of successful screenwriters, essayists, and scientists who have tapped the secret wellspring of humor that is universal … or is it? You’ll learn specific techniques for twisting phrases and words to shock, surprise, and delight the unwary reader. You’ll be introduced to nuance, timing, metaphor, simile, irony, dialect, and creative spelling and punctuation to give written expression to phrasing. There will be some limited hands-on work in the class.





Writing Humor (Especially When the Topic isn’t Funny) – A Two-Part Workshop

Part 1. Humor is actually serious business. Entering the dark side to create light moments, we’ll explore the complex psychological genesis of laughter and how to trigger it. Material in class draws from the wisdom of successful screenwriters, essayists, and scientists who have tapped the secret wellspring of humor that is universal … or is it? You’ll learn specific techniques for twisting phrases and words to shock, surprise, and delight the unwary reader. You’ll be introduced to nuance, timing, rhythm, metaphor, simile, irony, dialect, and creative spelling and punctuation to give written expression to phrasing.

 

Part 2. Hands on. Applying principles and techniques from Workshop 1, humorists are asked to participate in a homework assignment—a short essay on a specific topic (no more than 250 words)—to be presented in the second workshop for critique and refinement until everyone is so hysterical that no one can breathe. The hard part? The assigned topics aren’t funny at all. Making them funny is your job. You’ll do just fine.

 





One-on-One Coaching

I consult with other authors in retreat settings to help them plan books or refine work in progress. I’m a benevolent, yet relentless taskmistress with a passion for Diet Coke and the stamina of a Kenyan soccer team. I make only one guarantee. Your days of stalling are over when we shift into gear. From a gated convent in Los Angeles to a cabin in the Catskills, from an apartment in Milan to a lakeside cottage deep in the piney woods of Georgia, I have held fellow authors captive until …

            Oddly, all are still friends. Oh, yeah. And published.

 

Just so you know, I have a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Florida and am widely acknowledged as the Queen of Handouts.