James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater County series

MTC Fall Writing Classes Return

This stuffy summer finds me not only blazing through the third revision of the DIXIANA saga (1608 pages and counting) but continuing to wait for news on any number of promising submissions, the most prominent of which is my literary drama MANSION OF HIGH GHOSTS currently residing on desks and hard drives at Pat Conroy’s Story River Books. Needless to say, it’s a season of energy and excitement.

Since the release of Fellow Traveler in late 2012, however, it’s pretty much been all excitement and progress all the time. When it comes to my writing career, the mood of the moment seems to be that the achievements of the past may be but prologue to even more wonders to come.

On top of that fine set of circumstances, it also pleases me to report that I’m back teaching for the fall term in the Midlands Technical College Continuing Ed program, now undergoing a rebranding as the Creative Careers and Personal Enrichment program. Sounds good to me.

Whatever it’s called, though, as always I am humbled and honored to have been a part of the MTC family for the last four years, allowing me the opportunity to serve my community by passing along a modicum of my accumulated experience in a few different forms of writing. Growing up, I watched as my father taught a course in HVAC maintenance for several years at MTC C-E; carrying on the traditional in my own creative discipline has been a wonderful and gratifying experience. Truly.

First up, we’re going to take an academic poke at the screenplay form with Basics of Screenwriting. For those who don’t know, I’m formally trained in screenwriting—that was my major in college. While since then I’ve chosen to pursue a more literary and nonfiction writing path, screenplays (I’ve written six features and assorted advertising and industrial scripts, sometimes even for money!) have continued to hold an important place in my heart and in the firmament of my writing and storytelling.

In any case, I’m pleased to offer a low-stakes, introductory screenwriting course that covers the basics and allows neophyte writers the chance to try their hand at composing the various elements that make up a screenplay.

Basics of Screenwriting Clock Hours: 12.00 CEUS: 1.20
Screenwriting basics include formatting, structure, dialogue, and character, referencing familiar citations, and examples from classic and current cinema.

Course ID
and Fee
Meeting Information Instructor
09/10/2014 – 10/15/2014
W 07:00PM – 09:00PMBeltline CampusMaterials list
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James McCallister

Here’s an embarrassingly fine testimonial from a former student, one who came to my class not as a neophyte, but rather a retired industry professional wanting to brush up his skills:

“Through research and constant professional writing, this novelist has developed methods for taking a hint of an idea and developing it into a compelling story with well-rounded, unique characters. And you can do the same.

He makes the basics understandable and fun. You will be provided writing exercises and handouts based on current books and films. He brings in professionals to answer student questions. This teacher cares about his students and is willing to spend his personal time to help them solve their writing problems.

You will learn about the Writer’s Journey in Mr. McCallister’s class.”

Crossing over slightly on the schedule with Basics of Screenwriting will be my new class, Storytelling Workshop. This course, at 18 hours, serves both as a series of salons covering various elements of narrative structure, while also giving writing students a chance to workshop their material in a nurturing, (presumably) noncompetitive environment of instantaneous reaction and feedback designed to further the writer’s editorial process.

Not appreciably different in structure and intent as its former incarnation as ‘Fiction Writing I’, Storytelling Workshop seeks to rebrand this idea in a manner that appeals to writers at other skill levels who may wish to attend a writer’s conference-style workshop that’s not only available in their hometown, but under the aegis of an accredited institution of higher learning.

Also, we’re not limited to fiction: thanks to my experience with interviews, magazine pieces and academic writing, writers of creative nonfiction and memoir will also find themselves comfortably berthed in this class. The wild card on this one isn’t so much the name change as the schedule: two power-packed sessions a week for four weeks. I have found that three-hour class times, the original design, were simply too much in the evening after we’ve all had long busy days.

Storytelling Workshop Clock Hours: 18.00 CEUS: 1.80
Offering an overview of narrative elements common to various forms of storytelling, aspiring writers of all skill levels are invited to brush up on planning and plotting, discipline and methodology, creating compelling characters and settings, strategies and techniques of revision, and tips on seeing your work published. Whether you’re crafting short stories, novels, screenplays, or creative nonfiction, bring in your writing to be workshopped in a nurturing, relaxed academic atmosphere.
Course ID
and Fee
Meeting Information Instructor
10/21/2014 – 11/18/2014
T TH 07:00PM – 09:00PMBeltline CampusMaterials list
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James McCallister

Here’s an endorsement from a former student in this course (when called Fiction Writing):

The instructor gave insights into character development and meaningful dialogue to advance a story or novel. Writing in class, reading our work aloud, and lively conversations infused with constructive criticism lead to significant improvement in writing skills.  I highly recommend this class/instructor.

Okay, then, scribes, here’s the link to the online catalog—signups are open! Hope to see your shining faces this fall at the Beltline campus of MTC. Happy scribbling!

About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest book, a story collection called The Year They Canceled Christmas, releases in November 2017.

3 Replies

  1. roy flynn

    stoked to talk with you tody

  2. roy flynn

    yeah.. i need an editor for something this simple!!

    1. Ha, thank you, Roy! There are times when we all need an editor…

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