Learn To Write Fiction (Jordan Draves)

What recommendations do you have for other facilitators who are using "Learn To Write Fiction"? Consider sharing additional resources you found helpful, activities that worked particularly well, and some reflections on who this course is best suited for. For more information, see this course on P2PU’s course page.

There is a Facilitator Guide for this course here, where all of my recommendations for facilitators of this course can be found: https://learntowritefiction.net/home/facilitator-guide/

If anyone has recommendations you want me to add to the page, just need email me, or post something here, and I will add it to that page.

Here’s a summary of feedback from facilitators who ran a writing fiction learning circles, using either @Jordan_Draves’s https://learntowritefiction.net/ course or Future Learn’s Starting Writing Fiction course, both of which are featured on the P2PU Courses page.

Things that made a writing fiction learning circle better:

  • Use a projector to look through the short videos together (FutureLearn course)
  • Sit around circular tables instead of using a computer lab
  • Spend time during the first meeting to log in to course as a group (FutureLearn course)
  • Bring in someone from outside. At Chicago Public Library, they had someone involved in the publishing business come into the learning circle to answer questions. Many learners simply wanted a professional source to share their ideas and writing with.
  • When having learners read their work, be active in pushing others to talk about it, offer suggestions and talk about what they liked.
  • Ask learners to share their opinion on different themes, like discussing favorite genres, plot elements, conclusion, etc.
  • Be aware that people may not be comfortable to share or post work online as they fear someone will steal their ideas.
  • Activities: Something that’s super fun, after we get the initial introductions out of the way is to do small group writing. It works like this: Have each person in the group come up with one of the following: location, plot, characters. Then have everyone, as a group, write the first paragraph or two of a story. It gets people talking, gets them learning how others think and write, and can be a lot of fun. No one should take it seriously. There usually isn’t time to finish the story, but of course groups can finish it together outside of class if they want. @jordan_draves

Things I learned that could work for any learning circle:

  • Bring in snacks and candy to share if possible. “People can’t learn if they are hungry!”
  • Facilitators don’t need to be expert, but it does help if you are interested and enthusiastic about the topic
  • Use ice breakers and small activities to help everyone get to know each other. No need to do these activities after few weeks after the group is formed.
  • Focus on creating a positive, welcoming atmosphere and make sure to build in opportunities for people to connect with each other.

Testimonials:

  • My learning circle wanted to keep learning together! They were even mad that their learning circle had to end! So, I set up a meeting room for them to meet regularly, and they continued to meet over the summer without my involvement or a course to follow. - Patrice Johnson from Chicago Public Library

This course received a 5 star rating from a facilitator!

Did anything about the learning circle surprise you?
I had the best group… I probably say that about each one though. 19 folks stuck with me for 8 weeks, but I was told tonight that, that is the wrong phrase, that they were genuinely happy to attend class every week, and that they felt like they had instant friends even if they have severe social anxiety most of the time. They were all very quick to share their personal contact info with everyone, to set up meetings without me starting next week because they want to continue to meet.

Do you have any stories from the learning circle you want to share with the P2PU community?
One of my learners has social anxiety over sharing her work and being in large groups in general, but upon joining this class, she felt like she was among friends right away. Another of my learners said she once attended a similar class at another library, very structured with a librarian teaching it, and she left the class after two sessions because she found it really boring. This class was a different story, and she enjoyed it so much she stayed for all 8 weeks.

About how many people showed up for the first meeting?
17

About how many people showed up for the second meeting?
20

About how many people showed up for the last meeting?
19

How well did the online course work as a learning circle?
5

Why did you give the course 5 star(s)?
Not gonna lie, I created it. lol. I created it specifically to be a learning circle, but also, my learners affirmed for me at each class and again at the end, that the class works as a learning circle. They got a lot out of it and they enjoyed learning from each other.

How likely are you to recommend facilitating a learning circle to a friend or colleague?
5

Why?
It’s a very rewarding experience for both the learners and the facilitator… at least it is with writing courses. As I told the class tonight, writing has the power to bring people together. You think of the writer as sitting alone in the attic staring at a blank page stuck in a typewriter, but that’s not always the case, and this course does a great job of bringing people together.

course
Learn To Write Fiction

goal
I would like to help more folks find a love of writing, and get prepared for National Novel Writing Month so they feel like they have a fighting chance to reach 50K this year!

This course received a 5 star rating from a participant!

Is there anything else that you learned or achieved during the learning circle?
It was a great refresher for my rusty fiction-writing skills.

Do you feel more confident about what you just learned in Learn To Write Fiction ?
5

How do you intend to apply what you learned?
I plan to write some fiction.

How well did the online course work as a learning circle?
5

Why did you give the course 5 star/stars?
Lots of great reading and interaction with classmates.

Why?
It was helpful (and it was free!)

This course received a 4 star rating from a participant!

Do you feel more confident about what you just learned in Learn To Write Fiction ?
5

How well did the online course work as a learning circle?
4

Why did you give the course 4 star/stars?
I loved this class and the online format was actually great—I don’t think I would have been able to participate otherwise (with or without COVID restrictions). I would have liked to spend more time in our small groups and less time talking about the readings though.

How likely are you to recommend participating in a learning circle to a friend or colleague?
5

Why?
Great community and I learned a lot. And it was fun!

This course received a 4 star rating from a participant!

Do you feel more confident about what you just learned in Learn To Write Fiction ?
4

How do you intend to apply what you learned?
Continue writing my novel.

How well did the online course work as a learning circle?
4

Why did you give the course 4 star/stars?
I was matched up very well with writers with the same genre. I did have some problems with being able to access etherpad and my group at the same time.

How likely are you to recommend participating in a learning circle to a friend or colleague?
5

Why?
It was well planned and inclusive. The articles were immensely helpful and the homework made sure I practiced what I had read.

This course received a 5 star rating from a participant!

What did you hope to achieve when you joined this learning circle?
Get feedback from other writers and gain more confidence in sharing my writing.

To what extent did you achieve this?
5

Is there anything else that you learned or achieved during the learning circle?
The articles helped with a lot of the technical deficiencies that I had in approaching some of my writing.

Do you feel more confident about what you just learned in Learn To Write Fiction ?
5

How do you intend to apply what you learned?
Continue to write my novel and look for readers to give me feedback.

How well did the online course work as a learning circle?
5

Why did you give the course 5 star/stars?
I achieved everything I had hoped for a beginner writing course.

How likely are you to recommend participating in a learning circle to a friend or colleague?
5

Why?
Because it was informative, helped with technical aspects that I ignored in the past. It also helped to be paired with other writers who shared my interest in genre. The feedback I received from those in my group helped me to receive critique and added to my self confidence as a writer.

This course received a 5 star rating from a participant!

Is there anything else that you learned or achieved during the learning circle?
Increased confidence in my writing

Do you feel more confident about what you just learned in Learn To Write Fiction ?
5

How do you intend to apply what you learned?
I have saved many articles to look back on as I continue to write, particularly action and description articles

How well did the online course work as a learning circle?
5

Why did you give the course 5 star/stars?
I enjoyed the flexibility the online platform provided, as well as the ability to “gather” safely

How likely are you to recommend participating in a learning circle to a friend or colleague?
5

Why?
It was such a rewarding experience, I’m already looking for more options!

This course received a 4 star rating from a participant!

What did you hope to achieve when you joined this learning circle?
Learn some techniques for doing exercises

To what extent did you achieve this?
4

Do you feel more confident about what you just learned in Learn To Write Fiction ?
5

How do you intend to apply what you learned?
NaNo

How well did the online course work as a learning circle?
4

Why did you give the course 4 star/stars?
Great instructor; great engagement from everyone; virtual was a little tough sometimes

How likely are you to recommend participating in a learning circle to a friend or colleague?
4

This course received a 5 star rating from a participant!

What did you hope to achieve when you joined this learning circle?
I had wanted to work on a piece I’d already written. I ended up writing something new and loving it.

To what extent did you achieve this?
4

Is there anything else that you learned or achieved during the learning circle?
I learned how valuable it is to have a writing community. Before this class, I thought I could just do it all by myself, but I realized how much more could be gained by collaborating with others. I was scared to show my writing to other people, but putting it out there into the world and having people be excited about the world I was creating and the characters there made me even more excited about my own work.

Do you feel more confident about what you just learned in Learn To Write Fiction ?
5

How do you intend to apply what you learned?
I’m writing my novel and creating my world, and the two people I was in a small group with and I are continuing to meet up weekly throughout Nano (and beyond) to encourage each other and to write together.

How well did the online course work as a learning circle?
5

Why did you give the course 5 star/stars?
I loved the class. The community was awesome! Thank you so much for an incredible class, Jordan! I hope to take your world building class too.

How likely are you to recommend participating in a learning circle to a friend or colleague?
5

Why?
It was awesome! I learned a lot and I loved that everyone taking the class was just there because they enjoyed writing and wanted to do something they love. That genuine thirst for knowledge is incredible!

This course received a 5 star rating from a participant!

What did you hope to achieve when you joined this learning circle?
I wanted to learn more about writing and connect with fellow writers

To what extent did you achieve this?
5

Is there anything else that you learned or achieved during the learning circle?
I learned that it’s okay to be scared and keep going.

Do you feel more confident about what you just learned in Learn To Write Fiction ?
5

How do you intend to apply what you learned?
Right now, I intend to use it for writing my NaNoWriMo novel.

How well did the online course work as a learning circle?
5

Why did you give the course 5 star/stars?
Because it met every expectation I had and then some.

How likely are you to recommend participating in a learning circle to a friend or colleague?
5

Why?
Because it was incredibly helpful, especially in the time we’re living in where it’s quite difficult to be in groups physically.