Some of you may remember me mentioning around the start of the year something called the Clarendon House Master Author Programme.
I didn’t give too much away at that time as the whole thing was still really in its early stages. Even now, almost half a year later, much work needs to be done, though a couple of writers are working with me on it. But I wanted to give you the broad framework of the idea, because in some ways you might already be involved.
The concept of the Master Author Programme is to move writers from wherever they are on a spectrum of writing towards a goal of being a published and successful author in their own right. So at one end of the spectrum is exactly that goal: ‘A published and successful author’ with success being defined by that individual - for some, it would be wealth; for others, a specific financial target met; for others, merely a secure confidence that they can write and sell good books.
Just below that achievement end would be the final stages of approaching it - the tweaking, adjusting, and embellishment of final works, as well as the marketing strategies and techniques needed to achieve commercial goals over a period of time.
Prior to that would be a section involving close coaching of the writer in techniques which would make him or her successful. This would involve working closely with me, bouncing manuscripts back and forth rapidly, playing with concepts not only for stories but for cover design, blurbs, synopses, author platforms and the like.
But before that stage could be reached would be an educational stage, in which the writer effectively ‘went back to school’ to study many of the greats and what made them great - the secrets of structure, character design, rhythm, pacing, authorial voice and all the rest of the ways in which master authors have established themselves through the centuries.
Even before that stage was embarked upon, though, the writer would need to come to a realisation that his or her work at that point in time was lacking something. This would vary from person to person: some writers’ work would be quite close to matching the requirements for success, while others might be far removed. Each individual would have a different set of factors to overhaul, and in differing magnitudes: one writer might need to work on style, while another might struggle with plot, and so forth. In this section of our spectrum, writers would need not only detailed feedback but sympathetic feedback: heavily critical approaches hardly ever produce constructive results, and in these early stages they might be even more destructive.
And at the other end of the spectrum would be the flow of writing occurring freely and without feedback, with some writers successfully getting published and some not, some going on to achieve commercial success and some not, some progressing, learning and growing as writers and some not, apparently randomly.
Laid out on a grid, the whole thing would look something like this:
Most members of the Inner Circle Writers’ Group are in the first columns of this grid - they are writing without any particular knowledge of craft, drawing from the wellsprings of their imaginations alone. Some have learned some techniques through experience or wider reading, or from my book How Stories Really Work or other such books, and a few have benefited from one-to-one feedback from me and others, so that their fiction is stronger and achieving slightly more success both in their own minds and in the marketplace.
A smaller number, through getting published in various Clarendon House anthologies and elsewhere, are starting to see a career curve developing.
Very few, as yet, have entered into the educational phase as this requires serious commitment, not only of time but of money. The Clarendon House Master Author Programme is either completely free or very inexpensive in its early stages, but the educational step is a different thing altogether: it needs a comprehensive curriculum, and regular lessons, and detailed feedback from me. The price for this phase is available upon application only, as only writers who are seriously committed to long-term goals usually apply.
But you can see the shape of the thing. You may already feel that you have started to move in this spectrum already. I’d be interested in your thoughts about it. The whole thing still needs work, is constantly evolving and will probably never be ‘finished’ in the usual sense, because, apart from anything else, I am always learning too. Fiction, that strange human activity which is so commonplace and yet so wonderfully mysterious, is like a bottomless well, from which arcane and mighty waters can be drawn.
Please let me know if you’d like to know more about the Clarendon House MasterAuthor Programme. We can have an interesting discussion about it and how it might apply to you.