My brother Tod ponders today whether writing can be taught.
Oh, sure, you can teach someone how to write correctly — how
to format dialog, where to place a comma, how to avoid using adverbs in
dialog tags, he noted furiously, how to present plot in a cogent
fashion, what the 7 basic conflict plots are, all that academic stuff
— but you can’t teach someone how to be creative or compelling in
He shares some particularly scary examples of students who will never be published (at least not without writing a check to iUniverse).
I tend to agree with him that you can’t teach creativity…or even basic story sense. I’ve had a few students over the years in our online course who simply couldn’t comprehend what a story is. They couldn’t grasp the concept of "franchise" and "conflict or why you couldn’t tell a story on MONK in the same way you would on, say, CSI. " Those students could take a thousand classes and it won’t change a thing. They will never be TV writers.
On the other hand, I’ve just finished teaching a course for the UCLA Extension was wowed by how creative, bright, and genuinely talented my students were. Not because of what I taught them, but because they were born writers. I just introduced them to a structure and way of thinking about story that they didn’t know before. There were one or two who struggled…but I think they’ll get the hang of it.