(Sign-up for fall 2015 Skrivarakademin courses starts May 15th, when the pages go up) It happens all the time: people ask me to read their manuscripts, sometimes in Swedish but usually in English.  So I read and give comments, discuss where they think the manuscript is headed, where they think they as a writer are headed… and then almost without fail they ask whether I know of any local writing groups or classes in English. I used to shrug my shoulders.  For years the English Department at Stockholm University has offered a class at the master’s level, but that’s not realistic for most people.  Other than that, an American I know named William Males (one of the founders of Frostwriting.com) used to teach a popular writing workshop in Gävle.  But he’s retired. Finally there’s a local option.  For the past couple years I’ve be teaching evening courses in Creative Writing and Narrative Theory and its sequel Novel Workshop at Folkuniversitetet’s Skrivarakademin in Stockholm (for fall term 2015, the pages go up May 15th). The courses are split between practice and theory: we practicing linguistic techniques and stylistic elements, as well as studying narrative structure and theory (the novel workshop involves meeting less frequently and working more in-depth with longer texts).  Being a native speaker isn’t a requirement, though the classes require proficiency in English (this is an opportunity for people who work in Swedish, as well, to try their hand at writing fiction in English, and to learn about another theoretical tradition). …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Wondering if these classes would suit you?  Here are a few comments from a former student named Ylva: I was initially sceptical about the writing excersises, because the ones I’ve done in other classes haven’t been very challenging. But these ones were great fun and very rewarding, and I go back to them all the time. I know we only scratched the surface, but the theory, discussions and excersises made a huge difference in how I look at and experience text. And from former student Simon Linter: MY HISTORY My name is Simon Linter and I have been writing stories since I can remember.. When I was four years old, I told my parents that I wanted to be an “arthur”.  Of course, they translated my childish language into “author”. I started to write. I wrote “Signs In The Jungle” when I was seven years old and “The Monster From Mars” when I was nine. During my teens, I continued to write, changing my job description from “arthur” to “journalist”. In 1990, aged fourteen, a video games company published a review I had written about one of their games on one their compilations. It was just the first step. Since 1994, I have worked within the media industry as a journalist, writer, copywriter and communicator. At the same time, I continued to write and found myself writing screenplays as a way to express my ideas. I believed some of them were good and convinced myself that they would be made into films one day. Some time later, I unearthed these screenplays and read through them. They were awful. Unrealistic. They would have made good candidates for the first victims of a bonfire. Yes. They were that bad. All of the screenplays were examples of my overconfidence in thinking I could write masterpieces when I couldn’t. MY STRUGGLES As the new century rolled around, I concentrated on my non-fiction article writing and graphic design work until I came up with an idea for a book. I sat down and started to tap away on a typewriter. I managed type approximately 30000 words until I stopped, scratched my head and said to myself: “What am I writing here? Where am I going with this?”. I ditched the project. A short while later, I started writing another book and the same thing happened. I didn’t know where the story was going, what the characters were doing or how they would get to the end. Once again, I ditched the project. CREATIVE WRITING AND KEVIN FRATO In 2012, I signed up for Creative Writing, hosted by Kevin Frato at Folkuniversitet. Over ten weeks, Kevin introduced the class to different authors, different theories and opened up valid discussions about how to write. It was an eye-opener. During the classes, the group was given written tasks to complete in 10-15 minutes. Thanks to Kevin’s enthusiasm for his chosen subject and speciality, I could immediately tell that he absorbed words in the same way an addict might inhale a cigarette. I certainly feel that anybody who takes the creative writing courses at Folkuniversitet are privileged to have a teacher as enthusiastic and engaged in creative writing. As I had worked as a writer for many years and felt my writing ability was good, I still had problems when it came to writing fiction. The course introduced me to good solid ways in which to best tackle my writing. It was also a good place to meet fellow budding authors and get their perspective when it came to writing. I dredged up my screenplay “Making Headlines” as part of the first course’s homework and wrote my first finished full-length draft of a novel. During the gap between the first and second course, I wrote a second draft and took into account my classmates’ opinions. The advanced course helped me immensely. Thanks to Kevin’s enthusiasm and teachings, my classmates and the advice given, it enabled me to sit down with “Making Headlines” and go through it with a fine toothcomb. But the biggest plus about being on the advanced writing courses is a simple one: I started writing. I started writing short stories as homework that I wouldn’t have written if left to my own devices. The short stories could be foundations of longer stories, maybe even novels. The classes made me think in ways that I hadn’t thought before and have really sparked me into writing creatively. I would recommend the creative writing courses for anybody that has tried to write a novel, tried to write short stories or those who haven’t tried to write creatively but really want to start. You will be in the very capable and enthusiastic hands of Kevin Frato, who is all about the creative written word.

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