Rapids Writes - Classes @ McMillan

McMillan Memorial Library is pleased to provide over 350 engaging, instructor-led online courses, many of which are designed for writers. Local residents have already signed up for over sixty classes. These are especially valuable leading up to National Novel Writing Month and in supporting our Rapids Writes initiative. They cover creative, non-fiction, business and grant writing. These courses are free to our community because McMillan has purchased a community-wide subscription. Check out the complete course catalog or sign up for a class at http://education.gale.com/l-mcmillan/

Fiction & Creative Writing

  • Beginning Writer's Workshop. If you've always wanted to write but have no idea where to start, this course will demystify the process for you. You'll get a taste of the writing life, improve your writing skills, and develop new ways to stretch your creative muscles. This exciting, hands-on course for the creative writing novice is filled with challenging exercises, expert advice, and plenty of direct support and encouragement. As you work your way through the lessons, you'll develop your own short, creative fiction or nonfiction piece.
  • Advanced Fiction Writing. In this course, you'll explore all the topics a writer needs to create a successful manuscript, including story structure, plot, character, dialogue, setting, suspense, conflict, action, viewpoint, tense, and even how to get published. Each lesson includes an assignment that will help you develop or polish your manuscript. And in the Discussion Area, you'll have an opportunity to share your work with classmates to obtain their feedback.
  • Write Fiction Like a Pro. What's the single biggest difference between professional authors and novices? Professionals know how to structure novels and stories for maximum dramatic effect. This course helps you develop the same story structuring skills the pros use. You'll understand how your passion, theme, premise, and characters help you create the structure of your story, and you'll discover how viewpoint, dialogue, pacing, and many other techniques are used to build scenes and move your story from beginning to end.

Types and Genres of Writing

  • Fundamentals of Technical Writing. Do you have a knack for explaining complex subjects in a way that makes them easy to understand? If so, you should consider entering the well-paying field of technical writing. This course will teach you the skills you need to succeed as a technical writer. You will learn how to translate complex information into easily understood language, and how to become a wizard at marrying the art of publishing with the science of technology. You'll learn the secrets of successful technical writers, including technical writing conventions, interviewing skills, desktop publishing and formatting techniques, key tips for developing graphics and templates, documentation management, and how to publish documents both on paper and electronically. You'll also learn how to get your first job as a technical writer, plus tricks of the trade that enable you to create high-quality documentation with less work.
  • Introduction to Screenwriting. There's never been a better time to start a career as a screenwriter. With technological breakthroughs bringing the cost of making and distributing movies down to almost nothing, there's going to be a huge demand for great scripts—and for people who can write them.   Whether you want to write micro-budget indie films or Hollywood blockbusters, this course will teach you everything you need to know to create a script that can sell. You'll start with the fundamentals of stories—why audiences need them, what they expect from them, and what kinds of stories work time after time. Then you'll learn how to write your own. You'll see how to come up with an idea, how to develop that tiny spark into a story, and finally how to structure it into a screenplay. 
  • Mystery Writing. Mystery Writing begins by introducing the four story types and then explains how they relate to mysteries. It then reveals the three-act story structure, which is any story's key to success. Next, it shows you how to propel the action forward to a climax, followed by a catharsis in which your readers feel the release of tension that accompanies a great finish. The difference between story and plot is one of the most important distinctions in fiction writing--and one that many professional authors don't fully understand. But you will have mastered it by the end of this course. You'll also get a chance to experiment with viewpoints and see which one works best for your mystery. And you'll write a complete scene from your story and learn the internal structure that makes every scene feel right. Finally, you'll delve into the special techniques that apply to mysteries, including crime scene description, MacGuffins, and the use of red herrings to misdirect your readers and create suspense.
  • Romance Writing. Romance is the #1 selling genre in mass-market fiction with readers clamoring for more! To pen a novel romance readers love, you'll need to understand how to meet and exceed their expectations—exactly what this class will focus on.  Whether you're a new or experienced writer, this course will help you broaden your skills and understand exactly what makes a romance reader finish a book with that "Ahh" of satisfaction.
  • The Craft of Magazine Writing. Have you ever thought about writing for magazines? Turn your dreams into bylines and help yourself to a bright future as a magazine writer. It's fun, it's easy, and a great source of extra income. If you're a determined new writer, or if you haven't written for magazines in years, this class will jump start your career. You'll learn plenty of powerful brainstorming techniques designed to practically write every article for you.
  • Travel Writing. In this course you'll learn how to develop the skills of a travel writer. You'll learn how to translate what is seen, heard, tasted, touched, smelled and felt (intuitively and physically) into publishable articles and books. You'll understand the writing styles and methods needed to sell material in today's competitive market (including the how-to's of technical aspects of lead paragraphs, descriptive passages and the uses of interviews, quotes and facts). By the end of the course, you'll have the ability to write for the travel market. Topics include popular styles and types of travel writing that are the friendliest to new writers. Other topics of the workshop include how to write query letters, how to produce articles, essays and books, trends in types of articles and books, grammar and writing skills refreshers, and marketing information.
  • Write and Publish Your Nonfiction Book. One of the great things about nonfiction book writing is that you're 10 times more likely to get published than you'd be if you wrote fiction. Whether you dream of becoming a full-time author, writing books to advance your career, or penning your memoir or family history, this fun and information-packed course will teach you how to plan, research, write, edit, and publish your masterpiece.
  • Write Your Life Story. Have you thought about writing your story, sharing life-altering events? Does your family really know about their heritage? If you've ever thought about writing your life story, now is the time. You will have the satisfaction of telling history your way. You may even find a lucrative market for your story, just like the authors of the bestselling Rocket Boys and Angela's Ashes. This course walks you step-by-step through the process of writing your life story. It's fun. It's exciting. It's a story only you can tell.
  • Writing for Children. Join author and writing mentor Steve Alcorn and discover what you need to know to write for children.  If you're a beginning writer, this course will help you transform your book idea into a finished product that could potentially land in the hands of an editor or agent. And if you're already a successful writer, this course will help you explore new opportunities and markets for your work. You'll explore the changing world of children's literature and understand the various formats, including picture books, chapter books, middle grade or young adult novels. You'll get insights from publishing professionals to gain a better understanding of the needs of today's market.  You'll receive valuable tips about creating your manuscript, and even practice writing a query letter to submit to a publisher.
  • Writing the Fantasy Novel. First off, you'll learn what separates fantasy fiction from other types of fiction.  You'll also try out an in-depth world-building exercise, which will help you create a system of magic as well as the different species that will live the world you're developing.  We'll also talk about creating characters, and you'll learn how to populate your world with unique, compelling, and interesting people.We'll spend some time talking about the nuts and bolts of writing a fantasy novel, too.  You'll learn how to outline your book (if you even decide to outline!), come up with a theme, and then sit down and actually write.  We'll look at examples from other authors to show that writing is as individual as each person, and that there is no right way to write your book. We'll talk about how to revise and edit so that when you complete it, your book will be essentially a finished product.  You'll also learn a little bit about publishing your book, including the differences between self-publishing and traditional publishing, and you'll decide which type will work better for you.  Finally, I'll share some tips about how to stay motivated and actually complete your novel—because, after all, writing is hard work! But with the tools you'll gain in this course, you'll be ready to tackle your first fantasy novel.
  • Writing Young Adult Fiction. From Harry Potter to Twilight, young adult fiction is one of the hottest genres for today's novels. Teens and adults alike have discovered the excitement and passion of these stories, and publishers are hungry for more. If you're eager to break into this market, this course provides you with the recipe for creating your own successful young adult story and shows you how to get it published.  

Building Writing skills

  • Research Methods for Writers. Attention all writers! Learn how to efficiently and effectively conduct research for any writing project: fiction, nonfiction, business . . . even term papers and dissertations. Modern research techniques are boundless. The trick is to know where to look and what to look for. You'll take a virtual guided tour of the library and how to maximize its precious resources, and you'll discover how to access public records, conduct successful Internet searches, and explore other similar treasure troves of information. Personal interviews, public reports, surveys and polls, and historical research are introduced and dissected. A special lesson on Guerilla Research reveals secrets for the undercover researcher. As a plus, detailed instructions are offered for getting organized before embarking on research and getting the most out of information once it's gathered.
  • Introduction to Journaling. We'll cover everything you need to know about journaling, including a seven-step process that will ease you into writing a journal, even if you've never journaled before. You'll get detailed instructions on developing, decorating, and customizing your journal, and you'll learn exciting new ways to express yourself and develop your creativity. You'll find out how you can use your journal to explore your thoughts, feelings, and values, and you'll learn how to use your journal to support you as you develop true emotional well-being. You'll also understand how journaling can ease the stress of unwanted change throughout the course of your life. You'll even discover how journaling can help you choose the best career for you or advance in your current career.
  • The Keys to Effective Editing. Ask any published writer and you will hear that a good editor is not just helpful, but essential. If you aspire to be an editor, this copyediting course will teach you the fundamentals of top-notch editing for both fiction and nonfiction. If you're already working as an editor, you'll not only brush up on your skills, but will also learn about recent advances in your chosen profession. If you're a writer, you will learn essential self-editing tools to give your manuscripts the professional look that publishers like to see. From the language of editing to grammar, punctuation, and syntax to the all-important relationships between editor, author, and publisher, every facet of editing will be explored in this copyeditor course. Online editing is gaining popularity; its complexities will be unraveled and its advantages and pitfalls explored. Can you make a living as an editor? Tips and resources for finding work will be addressed at length. When you finish with this course, you will feel confident enough to tackle even the most complex of manuscripts.
  • Writeriffic: Creativity Training for Writers. Who doesn't know the fear of the blank page? How can we transform our visions into the written word? Is it really possible to become a terrific writer? You'll find the answer to these and more of your questions in Writeriffic. In this high-energy class you'll learn lots of tricks from the published writer's toolbox. Whether you're at work now or hoping to write a novel, a nonfiction book, a memoir, short stories or articles, Writeriffic liberates the imaginative, inventive bolts of genius that are inside everyone. If you've ever dreamed of hearing your writer's voice and writing what's in your heart and head, this class will make it happen.

Getting Publishing

  • Beginner's Guide to Getting Published. If your goal is to become a published freelance writer of fiction or nonfiction for books or magazines, this comprehensive course will help you guide your work directly into the hands of an editor and onto the shelves of your favorite stores. Your success in the writing game will be determined by the amount of credibility publishers attach to you and your work. If you have credibility, getting your manuscript published will no longer be a dream. It will become reality. This course will teach you how to give yourself the kind of credibility you need to succeed.
  • How to Make Money from Your Writing.  You'll explore a dozen genres that can help you establish a sometime, part-time, or full-time career as a writer. Along the way, you'll learn methods to work faster, suffer less rejection, and bring home more bacon. You'll get facts on ghostwriting, collaboration, writing for the Web, writing for new technologies, article and essay writing, and novel and nonfiction book writing, plus tips for finding publishers and agents. And you're going to practice different writing techniques in a safe environment.
  • Introduction to Internet Writing Markets. The Internet provides unlimited opportunities if you're a writer, whether you just have a few hours a week to blog or want a full-time publishing career or just plan to promote your books or business on the Web. There is no single way to become successful writing for the Web, so this course shows you the hundreds of different choices you have, and helps you set your own goals. In fact, by the end of the course, you'll have your very own publishing plan, from the steps to take in developing your writer's platform or brand, to the markets that will help you accomplish your goals.
  • Publish and Sell Your E-Books. This six-week long course introduces you to everything you need to know to do a professional job of turning your manuscript into your dream-come-true, a book that will help you make money on the Internet, whether you want to self-publish a novel, a nonfiction book, or a picture book. You'll learn how to format your e-book and get it ready to sell through bookstores like Amazon and Apple. By the end of the course, you could have your e-book  published in over 100 countries worldwide and available to libraries and book clubs!

Business Writing

  • Business and Marketing Writing. Using clear explanations, real-life examples, and an animated style, the course solidifies the relationship between business and marketing principles and written communications. You'll learn how business and marketing objectives affect writing choices. You'll get practical writing instruction in grammar, clarity, structure and more. You'll understand issues unique to this discipline, such as buzzwords, working with a team, and marketing ethics.
  • Creating WordPress Websites. Learn how to create attractive, sophisticated blogs and websites—without any coding! WordPress is the world's most popular website publisher, powering more than 25% of all sites on the Internet. WordPress is an easy-to-use solution that will help you put your site on the Web in far less time than by coding, and at a much lower cost than hiring a professional. In these lessons, you'll get hands-on experience with this powerful tool as you create your own WordPress.org site and blog. You'll find out how to use WordPress to create pages and posts, add images and videos, change a site's look and feel, and include user-friendly features. You'll discover the ease of using WordPress design themes to express your creativity, and you'll see how much fun it is to be part of the vibrant WordPress online community. In addition to mastering the technical elements of WordPress, you'll learn how to organize a blog or website, create appealing content, keep your site secure, and achieve better positions on search engine results pages. By the end of this course, you'll be able to confidently use WordPress to create a blog or a personal, business, or organizational website.
  • Intermediate WordPress Websites. After reviewing the system's basic features, you'll learn to use an online administrative area that makes creating and updating content as simple as composing an email. Your online visitors will be able to comment on your articles, fill out forms and applications, buy your products, and even make appointments. While WordPress requires no coding, you'll find out how to use simple HTML and CSS to customize a website's appearance. You'll take advantage of the dynamic features known as plugins, which add every imaginable function to your website. And you'll explore how use plugins to turn a site into an ecommerce powerhouse and improve search engine page results.After reviewing the system's basic features, you'll learn to use an online administrative area that makes creating and updating content as simple as composing an email. Your online visitors will be able to comment on your articles, fill out forms and applications, buy your products, and even make appointments. While WordPress requires no coding, you'll find out how to use simple HTML and CSS to customize a website's appearance. You'll take advantage of the dynamic features known as plugins, which add every imaginable function to your website. And you'll explore how use plugins to turn a site into an ecommerce powerhouse and improve search engine page results.
  • Effective Business Writing. Do you have a nagging suspicion that a small improvement in your writing skills might also improve your career prospects? Don't let small gaps in your business writing skills prevent you from reaching your full potential! It doesn't matter whether you're a clerical worker, an engineer, or an executive. If you communicate with others in writing, you need this course to help you identify and eliminate problem areas. By the end of this course, you'll know the secret to developing powerful written documents that immediately draw readers in and keep them motivated to continue until your very last, well-chosen word.
  • Grammar Refresher. Whatever your goals, a grasp of English grammar is important if you want to improve your speaking and writing skills. This course will help you gain confidence in your ability to produce clean, grammatically correct work. You'll explore the basics of English grammar—like sentence structure and punctuation—as well as more sophisticated concepts—like logic and clarity. A patient instructor, memorable lessons, vivid examples, and interactive exercises will give you ample opportunity to put what you learn into practice. Reacquaint yourself with old, forgotten rules, meet some new ones, and discover your own grammatical strengths.
  • Grammar Refresher II. Take your grammar and writing skills to the next level! In this course, you'll review the foundational elements of grammar, including the parts of speech, and master the basics of punctuation and mechanics. Next, you'll explore sentence structure, nouns and pronouns, and you'll work with the different kinds of verb tenses. You'll also explore adjective and adverb use and be introduced to some best practices for using these parts of speech effectively in your writing. Then, you'll take a look at phrases and clauses, as well as parallelism, coordination, and subordination. You'll see how different phrases and clauses fit together in sentences so that your writing is clear, concise, and meaningful. Finally, you'll put your skills to work as you explore some different kinds of business writing, paragraph writing, and even formal essay writing. By the time you're done with the course, you'll not only have the advanced grammar skills you need, you'll also understand how to use those skills in practical ways.
  • Resume Writing Workshop. Create an effective resume or improve the one you already have. Transform your resume into a powerful tool that will get you interviews. This workshop will lead you through a self-assessment series so you will have extensive knowledge about the product you are marketing YOU! Learn different resume formats and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Write an employment objective that shows potential employers that you have direction. Make the most of your work experience. Know what to reveal in a resume, and what to keep to yourself. Learn to overcome gaps in work history and age discrimination. Discover how to use references to your advantage. This course includes the use of online resumes and Internet Resume Secrets. This course is invaluable for anyone who wants to create their own resume, or learn how to write resumes and cover letters for profit.
  • Write Effective Web Content. You'll learn how to develop a website writing style that speaks to your readers' needs and ensures that your content is clear and easy-to-understand. We'll explore ways your Web copywriting can convey the right "feel" through your content, how to get conversations going with your visitors, and how to organize your content to produce better search engine rankings and happier readers. But today's Web is about a lot more than words. You'll also explore all kinds of multimedia from images to infographics to slideshows to screencasts, as well as ways to encourage interaction with your readers, such as polls, surveys, and quizzes.  Finally, we'll examine ways to make your online copywriting appear as professional and authoritative as possible. By the end of this course, your content will be well on its way to rising to the top of the billions of pages on the Web!
  • Writing Essentials. Master the essentials of writing, and become the stellar wordsmith you always wanted to be! In this course, you'll develop the skills you need to excel at business communications, express yourself clearly online, and take your creative literary talents to a new level.  Whether you're hoping to get a better job, write for a blog, or publish your short story, this course will give you the writing tools you need for success. It's also a perfect choice for students who speak English as a second language.
  • Writing for ESL. This 6-week online course includes in-depth analysis of English grammar for intermediate to advanced English as Second Language college students. Structure of Standard English is explored in order to prepare the learner for regular mainstream English classes. Topics include a review of all tenses, the use of modals, the adjective clause, the noun clause, the adverb clause, phrases, count and non-count nouns and some English terms. The course is designed to provide students ample opportunities to apply their knowledge to their particular areas of study throughout college and beyond. As one of the required courses in most college ESL programs to transfer to mainstream English or to transfer to a university, this course establishes a foundation for continuous learning and serves as a complement to other courses the student may be taking or will take.

Grant Writing

  • A to Z Grant Writing. A to Z Grant Writing is an invigorating and informative course that will equip you with the skills and tools you need to enter the exciting field of grant writing!  You'll learn how to raise needed funds by discovering how and where to look for potential funders who are a good match for your organization.  You'll also learn how to network and develop true partnerships with a variety of funders, how to organize a successful grant writing campaign, and how to put together a complete proposal package. This course speaks mainly to nonprofit organizations, schools, religious institutions, and municipalities seeking grants from foundation, corporate, government, and individual donors.  It's also an excellent primer for individuals wishing to become grant writing consultants or community grant writing volunteers. 
  • Advanced Grant Proposal Writing. Do you know the best way to present information in a grant proposal? In this course, an experienced grantwriter will show you how to research and write winning proposals that get funded. You'll become proficient in the proposal format used by the vast majority of public foundations. Learn what to do--and, more importantly what not to do--on your cover sheet, narrative, background page, and your stakeholder and third-party evaluation plan. You'll also discover the quickest and most efficient ways to gather the information you'll need to develop your proposal's attachments, including information on your organization's structure, administration, and finances. And you'll gain a full understanding of the criteria funders use to determine whether your grant proposal gets funded or rejected. You'll become expert at ferreting out corporate, foundation, and government grantmakers, and you'll know how to tailor your responses to information found in the peer review criteria.
  • Becoming a Grant Writing Consultant. Good grant writing consultants are always in demand. Learn how you can use a basic knowledge of grant or proposal writing to become an expert in the red-hot grant consulting field. Your instructor, a national grant consulting veteran, will provide you with easy-to-follow instructions that you can use to start your own home-based business. You'll learn what services to offer, how to find clients, and how to set your fees.
  • Get Grants! Over the 6-week course you'll be shown step-by-step the process of grant proposal writing, whether you are tackling a federal grant, one from a national private foundation or a smaller grant from your local foundation. You'll learn to recognize what makes a project attractive to a funding agency and see how to create a compelling case. In just a few weeks, you'll be prepared to convert an idea into a complete, well-developed package. In addition, you'll discover how to target the best funding agencies for your project and learn insider secrets for approaching them in the right way. You'll also see how to follow up on a proposal, and you'll find out when it's possible to turn a "no" into a "yes."
  • Writing Effective Grant ProposalsIn this course, you'll learn how to become fully familiar with the institution or project for which you are requesting support. You'll get valuable guidance in preparing a background statement and a brief financial statement to support your request. You'll also research some charitable foundation and corporate giving sources. Then, you'll learn how to put everything together so you can assemble, write, and submit complete grant proposals to foundations, corporations, and wealthy individuals for any number of your pet projects.