Writing Classes

Last Thursday, I signed up for a writing class. It’s my first formal writing class, not counting high school and college (I went to college for accounting, and writing is low priority). There are a lot of classes I would like to take to improve my fiction writing skills, and I’ll get to those some day. What I signed up for was Breaking into Copywriting.

The experience has made me think about writing classes in general. Not everyone wants to get an MFA and not all of us can afford grad school. Some of us just don’t have time between work and family and trying to write that novel. Fortunately, there are lot of other choices. Classes are offered in various locations, online or in person, and at many different price levels.

Know what you are looking for – Do you want to brush up specific skills? Or get an overview of a new style of writing? I have signed up for the copywriting class because I am interested in alternative markets for freelance writing work. Taking the class should give me a better idea of the work rather than just going online to find a copywriting job and figuring out I have no clue what I am doing.

Writer’s associations – Sandra, a friend of mine, is a member of the local chapter of Romance Writers of America, and she tells me that they offer a number of workshops and presentations locally as well as national conferences. The local workshops are open to everyone although nonmembers will pay a larger fee to attend.

Local college or continuing education programs – I recently signed up for two one-night writing classes at my local high school – “The Five Elements of Dramatic Writing” and “Creating Characters that Breathe.” Both were 2-hour presentations, given by a published romance author, freelance writer and former professor of screenwriting. One of my local colleges also offers writing workshops, but the cost is much higher. Tuition for the summer session is over $2000.  In contrast, the classes I took at the high school were $11 each.

The local chamber of commerce here maintains a website of things to do in the area, and I have also seen writing workshops listed. These may be the workshops offered by the local chapters of writing organizations, I can’t say for sure.

Online Classes – There are many available, and a Google search for “online fiction writing classes” will give you many results. I like Writer’s Digest University. As a matter of fact, that’s where I’m taking my Copywriting class.

Books – There are tons of craft books that offer detailed information on some aspect of writing. Many of the books cover a specific aspect of the craft.  I am particularly fond of Dynamic Characters by Nancy Kress, Showing and Telling by Laurie Alberts, and Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell.

Reading – The best thing for writers to do. I have always been a voracious reader. I read everything from category romance to biography, nonfiction to fantasy. I find that the more I learn about writing, the more I see what other writers have done well. And there are those few books I have thrown across the room in frustration because they were that bad. Recognizing what works and what doesn’t in books we read will help us find what works in the books we write.

I really think that reading is just as important as writing when you’re trying to be a writer. Because it’s the only apprenticeship we have. It’s the only way of learning now to write a story.

-John Green


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