In a recent blog, I wrote about some of the things it takes to achieve your dream of publication. One of those is learning how to write.
You might think this is an obvious requirement, but most writers seeking publication are adults who may think they’ve already learned the craft of writing “way back when.”
Believe me, there is always something to learn.
Maybe you need a refresher in nitty gritty grammar rules or help with grammar nuances. Perhaps you’re struggling with plot or character development. Or you could use instruction on how to write in a specific genre—memoir, romance, children’s books. No matter how you need to build your writing strengths, there’s a class out there for you.
Your Home as Classroom
I’m a big proponent (and user) of online courses. They’re just so convenient. You can do the assignments when you want and at your own pace, whether that’s faster or slower than the rest of the class. Instructors usually have more opportunities to provide individualized attention. You get written feedback from both the instructor and fellow students. And, you don’t have to drive anywhere (most onsite adult classes are at night--ugh). Instead, you work at home, comfortably attired in your sweats or jammies!
Following are some online writing schools and classes that I’ve found helpful.
Writer’s Digest University has lots and lots of classes from which to choose, from beginner “fundamentals” courses to intermediate level to Master Classes for the experienced writer. You’ll find classes for writing in most any genre, including memoir, non-fiction, poetry and blogging. They also offer classes that teach specific skills such as plotting, character development and creativity & expression, a class I took several years ago. I loved it—one of the most fun and helpful classes I’ve taken.
The classes run anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks. Before you register, you can read details about each course on the website. You’ll find information on the cost, length and description of the course, and specifics about what you’ll be learning and your assignments for each week of the class.
The classes aren’t cheap—typically costing $200 to $400—but I’ve enjoyed and learned a lot from the classes I’ve taken there over the years.
I haven’t taken any classes from Gotham Writers’ Workshop, but I know they have a good reputation. Their classes are in the same price range as Writer’s Digest University, and they also offer an extensive variety of classes from genre writing to marketing your work. The classes run either 6 or 10 weeks, and you can view a class syllabus before registering, though it’s not as detailed as the course description at Writer’s Digest University.
Writer University offers fewer classes than Writer’s Digest or Gotham, but what they do have represents a fantastic deal. Classes cost between $30 and $90. I’ve taken a few classes there, and I’ve never been disappointed. In fact, I think my favorite writing class I’ve ever take was from Writer University—Empowering Characters’ Emotions. This class had a huge impact on my writing, really taking it to a new level. The teacher, Margie Lawson, has since developed her own Lawson’s Writer Academy. And she has published a book, Empowering Characters’ Emotions, which you can purchase here. I highly recommend it!
Martha Alderson, the “Plot Whisperer,” is a master plotter and can make you one, too! She’s developed a very detailed plotting technique with such tools as the Plot Tracker and Scene Tracker. She teaches only live courses, but you can buy her books or a DVD of her course here, all reasonably priced. If she does happen to come to your area, I highly recommend her workshop.
Anastasia Suen is a children’s book author with a multitude of published books, and her classes are for those interested in writing for children. Her courses include instruction on writing picture books, easy readers, chapter books and novels. She also offers a Naturally Creative Workshop and a Children’s Literacy Workshop, which focuses on reading as a way to help you write for children. Classes range in price from $19.95 to $149 and typically run for 6 – 8 weeks.
What writing classes have you taken, and which do you recommend?