LSS SCHOOL OF WRITING: GETTING STARTED - Here are some Frequently Asked Questions. Click on the question to see the answer.
I want to register! What do I do first?
Go to our Curriculum Page and decide which courses you want to take. Click on the Course and go to the bottom of the page. There you will find a "add to cart" button which will allow you to pay through Paypal with a credit card or ATM card. If you would prefer to pay by check, click on Register by Check and follow the directions. Simple!
What do I do after I Register?
You’ll receive a confirmation letter and the link to your eboard where your class will be conducted. Click on the link for your eboard and register. Your instructor will be given a password and pass it on to you. The first time you post, you will use your email address and password to log in. The board is interactive and you will read your assignment each week. When you first check into the site, introduce yourself! These will be the people you’ll work with during the course, so it’s good to give a short bio about yourself and let them know you're excited about working with them.
Nearly all classes will be conducted on the boards. Only a couple will be done by email and you will be notified of such. Assignments will be posted on Wednesdays (unless otherwise indicated by your instructor). You will complete your assignment each week, log in to the eboard with the email address and password you used to register (it will be saved for subsequent log-ins) and post your assignment on the board by clicking on the "Post" button. A page will open up and you will be able to copy and paste your assignment into the box indicated. (To copy and paste, click edit on your document page, then select all, then right click your mouse and click on copy. When you go to your posting page, click on the box, then right click and click paste. The assignment will appear.) You will read the other students' assignments and, if required by your instructor, you will comment upon or critique the other students' assignments. (See Critiquing Guidelines.)
What if my password doesn’t work?
Your email address and password are case-sensitive. Be sure to have your registration email available to be sure of how you entered your name and password. Make sure you’ve entered it correctly. If it still won’t work, contact your instructor and s/he will give you the correct name and password or have you re-register.
What are Mentors?
With each class, you will interact with the instructor. However, individual attention by your teacher is offered in the form of private mentoring. Mentoring can help beginners who are feeling lost, or give extra time and feedback to any level of writer. Mentoring isn’t the general questions asked and answered in class about assignments, this is one-on-one work with the instructor on the assignments away from the classroom setting.
Each teacher has the option of mentoring students in his/her class for a nominal fee, for the length of the course. Once you register, contact the instructor for information and to set up the mentoring program.
What are Tutors?
Many of the instructors will be willing to tutor you, for a fee, on your writing outside class assignments. Contact your instructor.
Are there Feedback Guidelines for critiquing my classmates work?
LSS Critiquing Guidelines
An important part of our classes is reader feedback. This is the testing ground for your stories/poems…the first time the public will be seeing your baby.
Sending a story/poem to an editor is the ultimate goal, perhaps, but most editors are too overwhelmed with piles of daily submissions to take the time to critique your work. They give it the “accept” or “reject” stamp and move onto the next piece. Here you can find out why an editor might not accept your story/poem, involve yourself in discussions, improve the piece and also improve your ability to discern what works and what doesn’t in other people’s writing.
There will be all levels of writers in classes with you, from beginning to advanced. Some may have less confidence in themselves and their opinions than others. All this will show in the variety of critiques given for any piece, and as a recipient you have to remember this and value each one for the effort and sincere wish to help the critiquer has. The only way a beginner can learn is by making mistakes, imitating others, through trial and error. Even those who are used to giving crits make mistakes or don’t thoroughly read a story/poem at times and miss the intended meaning. Nobody’s ever going to hit it right a hundred percent of the time, so patience, tact and good humor are called for to keep the critiquing system working smoothly.
*THE #1 RULE OF CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM: NEVER criticize the author. No personal comments or attacks, it’s all about the writing and ONLY the writing.
*GIVE THE KIND OF THOROUGH CRITIQUE YOU’D LIKE TO RECEIVE
One of the best ways to crit a story/poem is to read through it fairly quickly, making notes about what you think works or clangs. Then go back and use the checklist below to examine the story in detail. The great thing about critiquing is that you learn while dissecting other people’s stories/poems!
Opening: Does the story/poem grab your attention from the first paragraph, or even better, the first line? Does it get to the point or does it drag? Could it be cut altogether?
Characterization: Do the characters step off the page? Are they realistic, or if not meant to be (aliens, for example), then are they interesting? Do they do their job?
Conflict: Does the story have a strong conflict that drives the characters? Does tension about how it will be resolved exist?
Theme: What’s the theme of the story? Is it strong?
Dialogue: Does it sound natural? Wooden? Does the dialogue move the story forward or slow it down? Remember, some stories may not have actual character dialogue, but rather a sort of running monologue in their heads or similar. Does lack of actual speech matter, or does the story work without?
Voice: Does the narrative voice of the story work? Is it noticeable, should it be?
Language: Does the author’s choice of words add to or detract from the story? Are there too many adjectives/adverbs? Good descriptions or not enough?
Rhythm: are the sentences varying in length to set the pace, keep the story from sounding monotonous?
Plot: Does the story stick to its plot, does it digress?
Setting: Are scenes clearly drawn through the five senses? Are transitions between settings/scenes smooth?
Ending: Does the story end in a manner that satisfies? Does it end where it should or is it cut off, does it drag on too long?
What is the main feeling/point you think the author is trying to make? Was s/he successful?
Don’t forget to comment on things that left an impression and things you didn’t understand/didn’t think worked.
When making comments, be careful how you phrase them! You may be joking, but the author could take your comments as insults. Be clear when you comment and always be aware that it could be misinterpreted.
Say things like:
“I thought the second paragraph was hilarious (all those feathers & the chicken flattened on the truck’s grill especially), but the opening could probably be shortened. For me, it dragged, took too long setting up the scene with the chickens.
I didn’t understand why your character shoplifted the pens…maybe some background would make his actions less out-of-the-blue?
The images you used in the poem were all so “pastel” except for the one in line 12. It was jarring to me, and didn’t seem to work as well as the others.
The opening sucked, I think you’re a terrible writer.
This was great! Brilliant! (Sure, it’s an ego-stroke to get gushing crits like this, but in the end, what have you learned as an author? What have you taught as a critiquer?)
The whole story bored me; the characters were flat and the dialogue awful. You should make the hero rescue the heroine instead of letting her float down the river. Also, you should…
Remember: You are not the ultimate authority on what’s right and wrong in a story, unless it’s your own. Please don’t tell others how to write!
*FOR THOSE RECEIVING CRITIQUES:
Thank the people who took the time to read and comment on your story, whether they liked it or not. You don’t have to defend/explain your work to anyone. A “Good point, I’ll have to think about that” will suffice. But if honest and intelligent questions are asked, answering them may make your story/poem clearer in your mind. Discussion is a good thing! Writers lead solitary working lives through the nature of the beast. Whenever you can, get together with other writers and talk craft. These classes are the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Don’t take a critiquer’s comments personally. They’re directed at your story/poem, not at your worth as a human being. Learn from them, dismiss them, take the advice to make changes. However you decide to use the crits, in the end it is your choice. If you don’t want to change a single word, that’s your right!
There will always be those who don’t like or perhaps get the meaning of your work. That’s because people come from different backgrounds, bring to a reading a whole life that you may know nothing about. Having someone not like your work doesn’t lessen your ability as an author. Use the opportunity to try and see through their eyes, you might surprise yourself in what you learn!
The writing world is tough, tough, tough. It’s all about competition. Authors have to learn to take rejections from editors/publishers with a shrug. If you really want to succeed, you will. You’ll learn and you’ll keep trying and you’ll eat rejections like popcorn. This is the place to start.
How do I subscribe to your Newsletter?
Go to our Home page and subscribe to the newsletter so you can be alerted to new classes and starting dates. The LSS School always has something new happening! You may also sign up for our Long Story Short ezine newsletter.
How do I enter the Student Lounge/Chat Room?
Want to hang with other writers not in your classes? Check out Kerouac's Digs, our student chat room! One or more of our instructors can always be found there, too, monitoring the chat and answering questions students might have. Always open for business; it’s a happenin’ place Daddy-o.
Just enter your name and submit. Then type your message. It will appear on the board and you're in like Flynn.
If I need to cancel, can I get a Refund?
If you decide to cancel before class begins, you will be given a complete refund. If you decide for any reason within the first week of the class, that you do not want to participate, we will refund 75% of your fee. If you drop out after that, you will not be refunded except at instructor's discretion. To cancel your registration, click here.
Do I retain the Rights to my Work?
Yes, You retain all rights. For information on copyrights, click here.
Will I receive a Certificate of Completion?
Yes, if you complete the course, you will be sent a Certificate of Achievement signed by your instructor and the school director, Denise Cassino.
Is Long Story Short School of Writing accredited?
Not yet. However, if you complete ten classes, you will graduate from the school with a diploma.
How do I Contact the school?
If you have any questions, please contact one of us and we'll help you out. You can also contact any of the instructors by clicking on their Contact button on their course description page.
What if I lose my password?
If you lose your password, contact your instructor who has it on file.