FAQs about my writing course and a writing sample from one of my students.
As many of you who follow me on my various social media handles know, I have started a writing course called Fundamentals of Creative Writing: A project based course to strengthen your writing skills.
Since a lot of people are asking me the same questions over and over, I thought I would do a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), so that the next time someone asks me about it, I can point them here.
1. What is this course about?
The course is a writing course, consisting of on-demand video lectures. It is divided into several sections. At the end of each section, there is an assignment for you to do and submit.
See in detail, what you will be learning HERE.
2. What is the duration of the course?
The duration depends entirely on you, as you can do the course at your own pace.
Here's what you will get:
You also get access to an EXCLUSIVE facebook writing club, which is a CLOSED group.
3. Is it just a one-hour long video?
No! Researchers have found that information is best retained when given out in short chunks and then you put to use what you just learn. So as per the best-practice guidelines, each video lesson or 'lecture' is between 1 and 6 minutes. There are many such lessons. The total duration of it is an hour.
You can do these lessons over many weeks.
There is no point just listening to it all at one go, and not doing anything. You will learn best if you put into practice what you learn!
4. You have the same course on Udemy and Skillshare. How should I choose? Is there any difference between the courses?
The content offered on both Udemy and Skillshare is exactly the same. Skillshare works on a subscription model.You pay a certain sum each year and you have access to thousands of courses. (not just my course)
In Udemy, you buy the course. You have a lifetime access and you do not have to pay anything after you make the payment once. It is for you to decide.
5. Will you be reading our assignments?
Yes! I love to read what my students have done, and for me that is an important part of the course.
6. What will I be able to do after I take your course?
You will know how to keep a writer's note book, where to find ideas, where I find my ideas, how to create characters, how to develop a plot, how to write dialogues and finally how all of it comes together in a story.
7. If I take your course, will you offer feedback on a book I have written?
I will be able to offer feedback only on the assignments that I have given in my course. I will not be able to read your book or other work that you have produced.
Here is why I cannot read the other stuff you send me: http://blog.preetishenoy.com/2013/03/why-i-cannot-read-stuff-that-you-send.html
8. Do you have any samples of assignments that we can expect?
Yes! Please see this LOVELY work by one of my students Subrata Naskar. I really liked what he wrote.
Create three characters of your choice. Flesh them out with details in the lecture you just watched. Submit them here.
Death of a loved one leaves behind a desert of loneliness and an ocean of grieving memories. But for Sujan, Diya left behind a mountain, too steep for him to get over.
It has been three years since Diya left him. Still, for him it feels like it happened just the day before. Memory of her is still fresh in his heart like a festering wound which times does little to heal.
Sitting in his couch he looks at the setting sun. His slight, portly figure looks protuberant as it silhouettes against the wall in the setting sun. Away on the horizon the sun looks like a giant bruise from which dark arteries spread themselves over a poisoned sky. The wound seems eternal, everlasting like his. He takes off his glasses and places them over the glass-topped wicker table beside him. A heavy sigh escapes him. He runs his long, slim fingers across his long, scruffy hairs before resuming his journey down memory lane.
Three years ago he was a happily married man. He was 32 back then in perfectly good health who loved to remain active. Now when he looks back to those days, his previous self seems to him a well known stranger, like his co-passenger in the train on his way to work, so close yet so distant. He got his father’s job in the Indian Railways where his father used to work before a massive heart attack cut his life short. He was 55 at that time, five years before his retirement. His father being an engineer was regular in the officer circles. So it was easy for him to slip into his father’s shoes and thanks to his degree in Mechanical Engineering from BESU he climbed up the ladder of success pretty fast.
His mother died when he was in college. After his father’s death he began to feel forsaken. Although he kept himself busy in his work, but at night when he came home he suddenly began to feel the weight of loneliness, ready to crush him under its massive burden.
His uncle prodded him to get hitched thinking Sujan needed love in his life. The bride was the daughter of his wife’s aunt.
Sujan stretches his legs forward before resting one knee on another. He can perfectly remember the day of his marriage. The reception took place on a Sunday. It being a holiday all of his relatives and friends joined the party. Joy and happiness was palpable in the air.
Diya won him over on the first day with her winsome smile. She was the love of his life. They were the perfect couple. Hailed from a middle class family she knew that it is small things that make a house a home. Every evening, on his way back from work, he would find her standing on the porch waiting for him. Her big black eyes had a sense of longing in them. As he threw open the gate and stepped on the courtyard she would run and pick up his bag. She asked endless questions about how his days passed over a cup of piping hot tea. Her big eyes widened in childlike innocence when he described how the massive railway engines huffed and puffed before chugging out of the carshed. At night she would run her fingers in his hairs and hummed a song. Sujan would be soon transported to a dreamland before the warble trailed off. He would fall asleep.
Sujan slowly rises from his chair when the twilight has coagulated into the dark. He looks at the luminous disk that has risen up in the blue-black bruised sky. On such an evening he got a call that changed his life forever.
Diya was pregnant with their first child. Their happiness was boundless. Endless discussion on how to usher in the baby ensued. Diya looked more beautiful than ever. When she trudged along the verandah with her hands carefully placed over baby bump, it seemed an inseparable part of her.
Into 35 weeks of her pregnancy, she water broke. It happened on a Sunday morning. Sujan rushed her to the Railway Hospital. There doctor immediately admitted her. They gave her medicine to induce labour. Sujan waited in the lounge with bated breath. Excited, he went out in the open air and started to pace up and down the road that wound around the hospital premises.
He went home only in the late afternoon when doctor assured him that Diya was doing well. At home he had a quick shower and a hurried lunch. He was in the bedroom getting dressed when the phone rang. It was a phone call from the hospital. A cold female voice told him to present at the hospital immediately. Sujan froze in fear. He dashed to the hospital. By then it was over.
The medical report stated that Diya died from obstructed labour. It was as if a part of him died that evening. It had turned his world upside down. He seemed like a creature made by an early whim of nature, which on second thought took everything away from him before chucking him to struggle and extermination. They could not even save the baby.
Sujan slowly let himself slide over the chair. He looks vacantly at the moon as it starts to spread over everything a thin layer of silver. Slowly his vision blurs. He feels two fat teardrops well up in his eyes before spilling onto his shirt. Nothing can dispel the eternal darkness that pervades his soul. Nothing.
They say time heals the greatest wound. Maybe it does. But when memory picks at it, it can never heal.
The night deepens. Sujan lifts himself from the chair and ambles into the room. He needs something to drown his memories with. He heads to the bedside rack lined with bottles of different shapes and sizes. He trails his finger along each of them before stopping at a small one at the end. He takes out five pills and after a moment’s hesitation chucks them into his mouth. He then goes to the kitchen, flicks the tap to pour water in a glass placed at the side and empties the glass at one go.
Outside, the moon separates itself from the shadows of the eucalyptus tree in his courtyard. Inside Sujan struggles to separate his mind from the memories of his wife. Slowly the moon frees itself from the clutches of the leaves and rises up higher. As a delicious slumber takes over his senses, Sujan feels his mind rise high up into the night sky till it can reach no more. There he finds Diya waiting for her, her thin lips parting into a bright smile with her eyes sparkling with the glow of love and tenderness.
The next morning Sujan is found dead in his bed. The doctors at the hospital say he has overdosed on sleeping pills.
But nobody knows that Sujan was long dead, only his limbs were alive. And that night he felt alive in the arms of his beloved when he slipped into eternal sleep.
Second and third character:
I first met Rehman when I was looking for a mason to do some repair work of my house. Constructed in 1948, by my father, the house was devoid of repair since then. Gradually it was falling into decay; becoming a source of bitter spat in the family and a snigger among relatives. It was when I bumped into Rehman.
He came to me the next morning. I was watering the plants in my garden when the doorbell shrieked. When I opened the door my eyes met with a man standing at the porch. He introduced himself as Rehman. I waved him in and showed him a chair.
He was big man, with very bright brown eyes, set deep in a wrinkled and weather-beaten face. Like a construction site, he was a mess-up. He wore a full-sleeve shirt that had dull patina of grime along its shoulder blades that spoke of the kind of work he was involved in. His skullcap was mud-stained, perched atop a mop of tousled hair, with streaks of white still visible at the round corners. He wore a dirty lungi that had different hues all over it save its own, was raised high up revealing his hairy legs and tied into a knot under the bellybutton. His beard was unruly flowing over his chin and almost touching his chest.
“Are you looking for a mason?” he spoke in a heavy Bengali accent coming directly to the subject, brushing aside pleasantries.
“Yes.” I replied still gazing at him. His sun-ravaged face spoke of the long hours he spent under its glare. Though in his 30s, he seemed much older.
“Let’s go and see what you to do.” He said raising himself from the chair.
I showed him around where the roof was leaking, which part of the wall developed a crack and the corners where the plasters peeled off. He surveyed each and every corner of the house and spoke to me at length on what needed to be done and what materials to be bought. There was certain vibe around him, a constant flow of energy, the way he arched his shoulders, in the clarity of his eyes and the way he fidgeted constantly. It was plain that he was a vigorous and restive kind of person.
He started work the very next day. All that week my house was a source of frenzied activity. Rehman rushed about laying cement, hammering down damp parts of the wall. His workers trudged up and down the stairs with stacks of bricks balanced precariously on their heads. Sometimes they plodded upstairs with sacks of cement on their backs, the fine mixture plastering their faces white.
After precisely one week Rehman declared the job was done. All of us heaved a sigh of relief. But it was short-lived. The next challenge was to clean up the mesh they had left the house in.
From then on whenever I came across Rehman on the street or in the market he always greeted me with a courteous smile. No matter how busy he was he always made it a point to get down from his bike and ask after my family. His tender eyes glistened with delight whenever I asked him over for a cup of tea.
It was over a cup of tea that one day he declared he was getting married. I burst into wonderstruck laughter. I never expected him to be unmarried till then since people in their community get married quite early in life. He reasoned that after his father’s untimely death the yoke of the family fell on his shoulders and marriage was something he could ill afford back then.
However we were happy at his decision and happier still that he decided to invite us. We felt glad that he was at least immune to the virus of religious bigotry.
The marriage took place at his ancestral home in Singa village of Murshidabad district, a hamlet of about 800 people, indicated on the district survey map with a microscopic dot. It was an agonizing four-hour drive from Kolkata. But our torment soon went away when we were greeted with a motley crowd of overjoyed villagers, eager to usher in “Kolkatar babu” to their hamlet, a maze of low mud huts huddled together like confectionary on a tray, each topped with a billowing tousled head of straw.
It was an amazing experience to have witnessed Rehman’s marriage. Unlike ours, theirs take place in daytime. Bride and groom were seated separately, screened from each with a silk curtain drawn in the middle. The moulavi from the village mosque presided over the ceremony. He personally went to the bride and the groom to ask for their consent. It was only after their mutual consent witnessed by at least three persons that their marriage was solemnized.
A grand feast awaited us under a canopy that looked like a giant umbrella unfurled just outside the village. Rehman’s arrangement was like his work, left nothing to grouse. After we had our fill we went to meet the bride.
Seated in a separate hut, she looked pretty in her wedding dress. She had bright deep eyes set in a calm face and a stretched forehead. She had thin lips and a determined chin. She looked a bit frail but it was compensated by her radiant smile. Her voice had a tinkling sound like soft chiming of bells though her tongue began to trip a bit when she spoke under the pressure of so many prying eyes.
Rehman was back in the city next week with his wife. Once back, he remained mostly buried in work as was I. Once or twice we met on the way and exchanged pleasantries. He looked happy so was I knowing that Rehman had found the love of his life at last.
Two weeks after his return to the city, Rehman had an accident. He was working on a rooftop of a building while talking to his wife on the phone. He was about to get down when he stumbled upon a set of planks stacked near the staircase and tumbled down 12 feet on the concrete surface below. He was rushed to the hospital with three fractured ribs, broken right hand and leg and an injured spine.
I rushed to the hospital where I found Rehman lying at a corner covered in bandage from head to toe with IV drips on. His wife was sitting near his bed caressing his forehead. One his eyes fell on me, Rehman tried to get up but could not. His chapped lips parted into a dry smile that lingered on till I left him. I sat at his bed and clasped his right hand in a show of sympathy and support. He joked wryly that love for his wife must have weakened him a bit otherwise he would not have ended up in hospital. I looked away knowing that my eyes were stinging with tears.
Rehman’s wife was silent all along. She kept on caressing his forehead. Time had been cruel to her. But she looked unbelievably calm and poised. Her visage never betrayed an emotion. She seemed to age in the span of a few days, not in years but in experience. She sat there still, silent, unruffled like the centre of a deep lake that small waves of suffering could never reach.
Three days into his hospitalization Rehman died. His fall resulted in a hemorrhage in his brain that bled internally snuffing his life out. I got the news the next morning. As I was about to go to office one of his workers came and delivered the news. I could not go to the office that day. I plonked on the sofa in my drawing room with my head held in my arms. My eyes were moist with tears. His joke continued to play at the back of my mind like the tangled part of a tape recorder. Love must have weakened him a bit.
One week later I heard from my wife at dinner that Rehman’s wife killed herself by consuming poison. That was the first time I heard her name. Her name was Nayeema, which means blessing in Arabic. I chuckled and carried on with my meal.
I liked his work so much that I asked him if I can publish it on my blog. Subrata Naskar was kind enough to share his picture as well.
9. But I cannot write as well as Subrata! Is this course for me?
Yes! This course is for complete beginners. Everybody has to start from somewhere :) We begin right from scratch.
10. Can I get a free preview of the course?
Of course. Please click on the Udemy link below and it gives you about four lectures free for you to decide if the course is for you. Also check out the reviews that I have been getting.
11. Okay, I am in! Where do I enroll?
Here are the links:
The course is priced at 99.99 dollars on Udemy for a lifetime access. But if you use the coupon code PREETINEW then you get a 75% off ! (I am making it VERY affordable so that many people who want to write can make use of it. You can feel free to share the coupon code)
You will also get access to a CLOSED facebook group exclusive for the students who have joined
See you in class! :)