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The Good Life France Writing Competition 1st Prize

The winner of the 2014 writing contest run by The Good Life France will be able to choose from an exciting number of ten week long online courses run by acclaimed writing school writingclasses.co.uk which has been teaching courses for more than ten years.  (See The Rules for more information about the prize).

Writingclasses.co.uk was founded in 2002 by author Marianne Wheelagan.  The courses are taught via a FirstClass teach system – an easy to use program which enables you to access your chosen online course and communicate securely over the internet with others on that course. You simply have to download the program and use your given “username” and “password” to join the course (nobody needs to know your private email address). Downloading FirstClass is very simple, you will receive clear instructions on how to download and install FirstClass. It’s a bit like installing a small internet browser program.

As long as you can access the internet you can do any of these courses (FirstClass will work on all Windows PC’s as well as Applemac computers).

Your course tutor will critique each of your weekly assignments but you will also get comments from the other course participants. The courses are referred to as conferences because everyone is encouraged to contribute their opinion and we encourage everyone on the course to read each other’s work and comment on it. You will be given guidelines on how to do this at the beginning of the course.

You will be given weekly notes and assignments, these come in a pdf format which you can read online or download to your computer in order to print them.

You are encouraged to work at a pace that suits you – this is the benefit of doing an online course! However, a typical weekly writing assignment can take anything between two hours and four hours of your time.

If you’re working on a novel and feel that you can’t move further forward Marianna Wheelagan, author and founder of writingclasses.co.uk will help you take a fresh look at your work and give you a much needed boost.

You can do this course from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a computer, access to the Internet, are competent in English, and want to write.

A word from Marianne Wheelagan about Writing Classes

I come from a big family, and I mean BIG – I have six sisters and two brothers. Growing up with so many siblings meant it was sometimes a bit difficult to get heard. My way of standing out was to tell stories. I suppose I must have been reasonably good at it because telling stories quickly became “my thing”, and still is. That said, it was not until much later in life that I felt compelled to put pen to actual paper when a friend died under tragic circumstances and I wanted to write about what had happened. However, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the right words to say what I wanted.  It seemed that just because I could tell a story didn’t mean I could write one.  I quickly became demoralised and frustrated. And even though all I wanted to do was write, rather than do that, I’d take the dog for a walk or go shopping – even do housework! For me, writing was not as the writer Muriel Spark once said, like ‘taking dictation from God’. In fact, it seemed more and more certain that I did not have the magical mystical creative writing gene. Then a friend suggested I take a writing course. I was shocked. Never! A real writer wouldn’t need to do a course! But then I became desperate. I found a local course, signed up, and the rest is, as they say, history.

You see, the thing about writing, is that almost all writers, beginners and experienced writers alike, are intimidated by the blank page. We worry we have nothing new to say, that we are not artistic enough and that others will laugh at our pathetic scribbles. Without the right help, it is very easy to give up. This is where a good writing course comes in. A good writing course with good, experienced, skilled tutors can help the emerging writer develop his or her skills and enable the good writer to become a very good writer.

The more confident I grew as a writer, and the more in love with writing I became, the more I wanted to share my passion for it with others. In the words of the writer Hanif Kureishi “I felt if I knew something, I should pass it on.”  In 2002, after a lot of research and much preparation, and a grant for £500, I delivered my first online writing course, just me and five students. Why online? Online is easy. It means joining in whenever you want without having to leave home – at three am or three pm, on Saturday or Monday, from anywhere. It means no struggling to get to face-to-face classes at inappropriate times. It means the classroom is always open and your tutor and colleagues are always there.

Since I started the online school there have been literally hundreds and hundreds of students from around the world and from all walks of life who have walked through our virtual classroom doors and started writing. I am often asked if completion of one of our courses, or any course, will help make someone a famous writer. To this I have to say, probably not. It would be wrong to set up a false expectation of success. However, what is true is this: when you enrol on a writingclasses course you will discover that there is no mystery to being a good writer and that writing is not the prerogative of a chosen gifted few, but something all of us can learn to do, and do well – if we want to. Some will thoroughly enjoy a chosen course as part of a liberal education, and that will be enough. For others, however, it will be just the beginning. They may go on to do further courses, or win a scholarship to pursue their writing further; they may even publish their stories in magazines and, yes, write a novel. And why do some of us keep writing while others do not? Because for some of us there is nothing more magical and wonderful than creating a good story well told from out of absolutely nothing.

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