Write On- Taking a Guardian Master Class in London

photograph of canal boats outside the guardian in London by Susan Sheldon Nolen (C)2013Can you learn how to write? Learn how to be a novelist? Some say no, it’s an inborn talent. But even with an inborn talent there are tasks that all writers must endure. The muse must take a rest. For me, it was the dreaded synopsis. I hate them with a passion. How on earth does one compress a novel into one delightful page that will grab an agent’s interest? I wanted the answer to that question. My novel is ready to move out into the world and I must dress it appropriately, and part of its attire is the synopsis. Mine was reading like a boring history list. I was also putting rewriting  it off. I found the Master Guardian Classes and checked the list, the timing was right, the writing gods were not going to let me off the hook. So I signed up for the class.

One of the things I check is who is teaching the class? I don’t want to take a class from someone who has never actually done the subject and only learned about it in college. I want someone who has practical knowledge and in this case, a published novelist who has endured the same torture I was about to embark on.

In this class my teacher was Rowan Coleman, published, and very open about the process. The class was a mixed group, some had not even written their novel, some had, and others…I am not sure about.

But Rowan was able to show that writing a synopsis for some is a good way to outline their book, either during the writing process, or afterwards to double-check all the events were in the correct order. What I had written as my synopsis was perfect to either write a novel from, or double-check all my chapters were in the correct order. It was not something to send to an agent. I needed to get mine down to a page at the most.

Now there’s the rub…a page, eh? But I want to tell you what Annie did, how my Rafferty fell in love with Ella, how the seals almost killed Maggie Flinn, and what about poor old Mick Sullivan…egads…a page, eh? How on earth was that ever going to happen?

For me, there was one term that made sense and the synopsis fell into place, write a treatment. Rowan was able to get that point across to me and the synopsis fell into place instantly.  All the points of the story are there in the treatment, and in the present tense. This format allows the agent to see that there is a story from beginning to end, a book designer can read the synopsis and design a book cover from it, the sales department can work on the blurb. It all has to be there, and without all the little details. It is the master-key to your novel.

Photograph of canal boats as seen through the windows of the offices of the guardian in london by susan sheldon nolen (C)2013The Master Guardian Class was held in London. The Guardian offices are next to King’s Cross and it’s an easy walk to the building from there. On the day we were in the building, a mandatory fire drill took place. Hats off to Rowan who continued on with the class, not losing any of our precious time.  Was there anything I would change about the class, not much, perhaps more discussion time with the visiting agent who did not spend any appreciable time in the class,  but there was something in the class for everyone and at every different level of writing skill. Would I recommend taking a class, if you can get to London, I say yes, yes, yes! I plan to take another one, it’s a perfect way to spend a Sunday in London. Not to mention the fabulous view of  canal boats in London!

Here’s a link to Rowan’s Website and Blog


Here’s a link to the Guardian Master Classes in London


About susan sheldon nolen

It’s rare to catch me without coffee, a form of camera, or my beloved wire fox terriers. I love the history, the art, and it’s a massive part of my life, as I either paint, write, or get interrupted by my dogs, reminding me of the real world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
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