Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Is it worth it?

There's a bit of a buzz among romance writers at the moment concerning an at-home study course offered at Write A When I was first told about this site, the instructor claimed it would help you write a book in three days. That's since been taken out, along with certain other items. I heard third hand why, but because I don't have first-hand knowledge, let's just say, the site's undergone some changes recently.

The instructor still offers, via the course called "The Magic Formula," to teach you all about writing romance, saving you years of time and effort. I quote: "You can use The Magic Formula home study course to cut 20+ years off the time it takes you to go from aspiring romance writer to published romance author because I have already done the research for you, already put in the thousands of hours of study – so you don’t have to, so that you can come into the industry a few steps ahead of the game."

She has published one romance, by a publisher I've never heard of before.

The price? $197 plues $12.95 shipping and handling.

My take on this: What she actually purports to teach isn't terribly innovative; it's the sort of thing offered in countless other how-to-write books and writing workshops.

She's only got one published novel under her belt, by an obscure publisher, but I've seen a lot of how-to-write books written by authors I've never heard of, so she's not particularly unique in that. I still think it takes a lot of nerve to call yourself an expert under those circumstances, though.

It was the price that really made my eyes bug out. You can get books from the library that can tell you a lot of what she offers. And several authors, myself included, offer similar information for free on our websites. If she was charging $9.95 or even $19.95, that'd be different. Perhaps she's comparing her material to a weekend worshop. She says it's over 100 pages. Just for the record, Techniques of the Selling Writer, by Dwight Swain, comes in at 330 pages, so over 100? Not so impressive.

And of course, using the word "formula" when referring to romance writing is like telling every romance writer in the world that she's not creative and not talented. Heck, just plug in the words according to the formula, and there ya go. If it were truly that simple, the world would be full of published authors.

Because the bottom line is, a book, or a home study course, can tell you what can work, and what might work, but it takes talent, hard work and dedication to make it work. It's the difference between doing a paint-by-number and an original work of art. Both use paints, but one is art and the other is not.

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