The Adventure Writing Academy is a writing course that utilizes the Story Workshop Method to help students find their voice and improve their writing craft. Maggie Ritchie and Keith Ryan Kappel jointly developed the 10-course curriculum by taking the very successful Story Workshop Method of writing instruction developed by John Schultz, and applying it to developing Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Tabletop Role Playing Game material. An 11th course is a seminar on game theory and design, led by an industry insider.
What is the Story Workshop Method?
John Schultz developed the Story Workshop Method in 1965 as a response to the more traditional “trade and grade” system of writing instruction known as the “Iowa Method”. Instead of giving three classmates a red pen to mark up areas of your work they deem “bad”, the Story Workshop Method does the opposite, focusing areas of strong writing and voice through a mechanism known as recall. It also helps writers find their voice through a number of exercises that teach students to associate their oral communication skills with their writing, building a bridge that allows for rapid growth in the strength of student work. Finally, the Story Workshop Method breaks downs writing into several “forms”, which are sort of like tools or bricks, which writers can use to build a story. Forms create a vocabulary to talk about the structure of a piece, which helps students revise their work.
What are the Classes Like?
A single class is four-hours long, and takes place over the internet via a group cam-chat program such as Skype. Classes meet once a month, on the second Saturday of the month from 3 PM to 7 PM Eastern Standard Time. During class, students will engage in a variety of activities. Students can expect to write, read aloud, discuss pieces read aloud, and play word games and other pre-writing visualization exercises. Sometimes it might seem a little silly, but students who trust in the process and program will see major leaps in the strength of their writing. Class sizes are very small, and each student is expected to participate in discussions and classroom activities. Each class meeting will feature an industry insider guest student to participate in the day’s activities. After the course ends, the guest will be available for up to 15 minutes to answer questions related to the business of writing.
Is There Homework?
Yes. Obviously, there are no grades, but completing assigned work is vital to getting the most out of the program. Students will be assigned a number of readings between class meetings, which are necessary to participate in class discussion. Students also will have a piece of writing they began in class, which they are expected to revise, expand, and email to the instructor at least one week before the next class meeting.
Who Teaches the Class?
Maggie Ritchie is our class instructor. In addition to designing our curriculum, Maggie has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago, where she earned a certification for teaching the Story Workshop Method.
Keith Ryan Kappel is a regular freelancer for Fantasy Flight Games on their Star Wars Tabletop Roleplaying Game, and has a BA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago. In addition to assisting in curriculum development, Keith is the guest student in residence for the 2017-2018 session, which means he will be the guest student for approximately half the class meetings.
Jay Little is an award-winning game designer with 20 years in the industry who also teaches game design at University of Wisconsin. He is perhaps best known for designing the X-Wing Miniatures Game and the Star Wars Narrative Dice System. Jay has been a Guest of Honor at DragonCon and GenCon, and will teach our 11th session, the Tabletop Role Playing Game Design and Theory Seminar. You can learn more about Jay Little on his website at www.paintedthumb.com
What Other Benefits Are There?
In addition to developing stronger writing at a fraction of the cost of a college creative writing degree, students are able to network with each other and numerous industry insider guests. This sort of networking is invaluable to learning of paid writing opportunities in the future. Further, Keith runs a group chat on Facebook that students gain access to upon completion of the course, where Keith makes graduates aware of writing opportunities within the Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and RPG publishing world.
How Much Does It Cost?
Full enrollment in the Adventure Writing Academy costs 1,188 USD, made in twelve, monthly payments of 99 USD. While not accredited, the Adventure Writing Academy costs a fraction of an equivalent creative writing course at a university, and while not guaranteed, provides a clear path toward becoming a published writer. Students who enroll are making a commitment to attending and paying for an entire year. Eleven payments cover the actual class sessions, while the twelfth pays for student books and technology.
What Do I Need to Attend?
Students need a computer capable of running a webcam group chat. Students without their own webcam will be provided with one by the school. Students will need a spiral notebook or legal pad, along with pens or pencils, and their textbooks. Perhaps the most important thing to bring to class is an open attitude, imagination, and your participation.
When Do Classes Start?
The preregistration enrollment period is open now! Classes begin in September, and run for an entire year.