Writing Classes

Are they worth it? Besides college credits, which ones are recommended?

Well, really it depends. Mostly on what you want the classes for. In my opinion, rather than classes, you’d be better off joining a writer’s group, or going to a retreat, in order to interact with others and to get feedback, commentary, critiques, etc. from others that are interested and write on items/topics similar to yours.

While taking a writing class for a crash course in writing: such as background on the novel, understanding fiction, history of fiction, or a marketing class with emphasis on book marketing, the problem really (and don’t take this personal if you’re a teacher) is the professor.

Why? Well, because whether the class is online or in a classroom, you are learning from one person. One person who has their own particular interests, style likes and dislikes, genre preferenes, etc. When you’re experienced with writing, and have finished your book, short story, etc., it’s fine to work with someone one on one (like with an editor or agent) because you already know what you want in your story. Yet if you’re getting prodded into a specific direction when you’re first starting out, then many times you don’t learn to create your own voice or style, and tend to be more restrictive on your writing style and even your plot.

On the other hand, with writing groups or communities, you can write what and how you want, and then post it or bring it to the meeting looking for critique from several writers. This way, you’ll get varying opinions and suggestions, and you can pick and choose what to take into consideration for your next draft and which ones to ignore.

Though don’t get me wrong, not all classes are bad, and some really can be helpful if you’re looking to delve into a new genre or style that you’ve never experienced before. They’re also a nice refresher if you’ve been out of the loop of literatue for a while.

Below are a few links to both online writing communities, as well as courses that you can take online in the traditional one-on-one setting.

Classes:

http://www.writersonlineworkshops.com/
Hosted by Writer’s Digest, this is a very legitimate writing school and has a large variety of classes and workshops available.

http://www.writers.com
Listed as one of Writer’s Digest top 101 sites for 2006. Site has been hosting online classes since 1995.

http://www.writingclasses.com/
Gotham Writers’ Workshop, teaches more than 6,000 students a year. Breaks classes up into different genres, styles, and lengths.

Writing Groups:

http://www.writing.com
An excellent writing community with free author portfolios, forums, and a nice critiquing system.

http://www.thenextbigwriter.com
Another nice community, not sure on whether they charge for memberships.

http://www.firstwriter.com
A forum-style community that allows posting of work and critiques.

http://www.deviantart.com
Not only a writing community, per se, it also includes artwork, but it has a nice posting and free portfolio, and a simple to use critique and comment system.

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7 Responses

  1. Thank you for taking the time to post these links and your thoughts about the writing classes. I can’t imagine trying to add a writing class to everything I already try to do. I joined writing.com and it looks great. I’m going to make time to dig around in there and get familiar with it all. You know, I don’t think I even realized that there was writing at deviantart.com. All in all you posted some great resources and I appreciate it.

  2. Thanks JT

    Deviant art mostly is for art only, and tends to draw a younger crowd for the most part (13-25 I’m guessing) but you do get a lot of exposure and comments.

  3. (Regarding DA…) You get a lot of exposure… if it’s short… Writing.com is a little better, but I still haven’t gotten any feedback on my longest item. Then again, I guess it goes both ways… I should read longer pieces, too.

  4. I have been to Deviant art a lot for graphics, playing with paintshop is a great time waster of mine. I’m going to poke around and see what comes up, you never know when you’ll find a real gem.

    and for the length of stuff…that sounds like it’s an ongoing battle everywhere. When I was writing fanfiction the length was one of the things that would keep people from reading. I assume they didn’t read, the longer it was the less comments I got. As a rule I wrote 10 page chapters if I got wordier than that, flop. I guess it’s a matter of how much time people are willing to invest, or maybe they just have short attention spans? I’ve really got to get in Writing.com and figure out how things work. I could do some comments even if I don’t have anything to post right now.

  5. Writing.com is definately at the top of my recommendation list. They’re the easiest to use, has a great crowd, and really helps to showcase your work.

    Thanks for the tips guys.

  6. I would also suggest The Online Writers Workshop (http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/) and Critters (http://www.critters.org/), especially for people writing speculative fiction. Several of the current batch of emerging SF/F/H writers cut their teeth and learned their chops in these workshops.

  7. I recommend Live Journal they have some good active writing communities over there. http://www.livejournal.com

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