Today I’m handing over the reins at CTG HQ to a fabulous new crime blogger and crime writer – Sam Dennis. I met Sam earlier this year when she was in her second term on the City University London Creative Writing MA, and about to start her own crime fiction blog.
Today Sam’s talking about why she picked City University for her MA …
I’ve always known I wanted to write books one day but I wasn’t very good at it. I have plenty of half-finished stories, characters begging to tell their stories and book ideas in various notepads, diaries, scrap pieces of paper, etc. but I kept on getting stuck. One day I decided to search for a course that could help me. I came across City University London’s course and immediately felt intimidated by the prestige and the amount of work I’d have to do – to write a full-length novel sounded terrifying but I knew it was something I had wanted from a young and so I applied.
Fast-forward to today and I’m a few weeks away from finishing my first year. It’s been very intense but extremely rewarding Creative Writing MA. (They haven’t paid me to say that.) It’s not your average course and although I had done my research about how much writing we’d have to do in the first year, it was a bit of a culture shock to have to write between 1,000 – 2,000 words a week. Before this course I had starting writing many stories but had never really planned a story from beginning to end – I didn’t think you needed to, I thought it ‘just came to you in a dream’. That’s where the course came in and turned my scribbles into fully fledged idea that could one day (I hope) be published.
What I love about City’s course is that we focus solely on crime fiction, our teachers are published crime novelists so they’re more than qualified to give advice and teach us how to write, but more than that, we have regular visits by some of the best crime writers also. In our bi-weekly workshops we don’t spend time searching for ‘meaning’ – although we do have some hilarious conversations about what was going through the authors head when they wrote a particular scene – instead we think about the immediate questions the author poses, how they create tension, whether we need to like the main character or not (we do), the twists and turns, and then we think about how we can do the same for our novels and actually do it. In the beginning I was so scared and nervous to share my work and had immediately dismissed it but then everyone’s feedback encouraged me and let me know we’re all a bunch of dark people who enjoy writing about and discussing gruesome things.
As we’re almost at the final hurdle of the first academic year I’m now at the stage where I’m writing my first novel – I never thought I’d get to this point. We had to spend a lot of time planning and plotting, working on the characters and throwing plenty of curveballs at them, and it’s been a great help. I’m very much a plotter so I absolutely loved that part of the course. But this is the bit that really counts and where everything I’ve learnt from September 2015 to today will see me through writing my novel from start to finish so that it’s completed by September 2017. It’s amazing to me that I will have written over 100,000 words.
I’m completely sold to crime thriller books and spend a lot of my time reading, reviewing, discussing, recommending them alongside studying and writing one of my own. It’s very surreal. What I’d say to anyone who’s toying with the idea of writing a crime thriller novel and would like a little guidance on how to do so, invest in yourself and do this course – you won’t be disappointed at all. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made so far and I’m excited to see where my book takes me one day.
A massive thank you to Sam Dennis for taking the helm of the CTG HQ today.
You can catch Sam blogging about all things crime fiction over on her fabulous site www.thiscrimebook.com and be sure to follow her on Twitter @SmDee13
For more information about the brilliant Creative Writing MA offered by City University London (Twitter – @citywriting), hop over to their website here