Online writing workshops open up a world of opportunity for writers at every stage of their career. Whether you are just getting started or have been writing for years, the flexibility of online classes allow you access to professionals from multiple fields, time to work on your assignments, and best of all, the inspiration to keep writing and challenge yourself to achieve the next stage in your writing career.
Communities of writers often work together to help educate other writers not only to pay it forward, but also to mentor another generation as they were mentored. Writing organizations will often offer classes via their local chapters and online. Two great examples of these types of communities are Savvy Authors and Romance Writers of America.
The self-described community of writers helping writers began as a joint effort of two authors who wanted to help other writers achieve their goals and has grown into a thriving community resource for published and pre-published authors. Through message boards, blogs and courses, this site offers valuable networking and informational resources to writers at every level in their career. Savvy Authors is available for writers to register for a basic membership (free) or a premium ($30 per year). Premium membership offers extended benefits, but writers do not need to be premium members to take classes.
Classes include all levels of writing from novel construction to self-publishing lessons and cover a variety of subjects including:
- Website creation
- Marketing for authors
- Writing the perfect query letter
- The dreaded synopsis
- How to pitch to an editor or agent
- How to polish a manuscript
- Craft classes on genre specific items such as forensics, love scenes and more
Class prices range from $5 to $250 depending on the class length and type of material. Savvy Authors' online workshops often foster relationships between writers to promote each other while also offering encouragement and inspiration to achieve publication dreams.
Members enjoy access to message boards where they can network with other authors, learn about upcoming classes, share tips and experiences.
RWA University and Local Chapters
Romance Writers of America is a national organization supporting members who write romance or have romantic elements in their novels. The organization offers a wealth of materials and support to members (and non-members) via classes offered online through the national or local chapters. Membership in RWA includes annual dues of $120. The organization also has over 145 local chapters, including several based exclusively online, offering workshops and classes for authors. Members pay a reduced fee for classes and prices range from $5 to $30 per class.
RWA also sponsors RWA University, which includes free classes for authors at every stage of their career via their MyRWA email loops. A sample of classes offered in 2012 include:
- Subtext and how to use it in your writing
- How to write a great query letter
- Fast draft or write a book in a month
- Life in Regency London
- Expanding the narrative
- Adding historical accuracy
- Love scenes
- How to develop an elevator pitch
While RWA's mission focuses exclusively on romance authors, authors such as James Patterson and James Rollins have taken classes via RWA to develop the romantic aspects of their novels.
Writing Universities Online
The growth of the Internet has allowed multiple niche education sites to grow and flourish. These sites cater specifically to writers of all levels and are generally pay-based. The benefit of pay-based sites is access to expert instructors and multiple classes at no extra fee. The downside to the membership-based pay structure is the upfront investment prior to a tangible experience.
Writer's Digest University
Writer's Digest University offers a wide selection of courses, workshops, and webinars. The material is delivered via Blackboard interface, which users log into and interact online through lectures, message boards and private work submissions to their instructors. Educational texts are provided as well as links to other required course material.
The environment is comparable to an online collegiate level course. In addition to courses, the site offers line editing and critiquing services for a fee. Course tuition varies between $199 up to $799, depending on the class and program. Seats are limited to keep class sizes small.
The university offers a variety of program levels to help you achieve your writing goals. The classes are designed to let you work at your own pace, but do have set start and stop dates. Review their FAQ for information on course refunds and expectations. Courses offered include, but are not limited to:
- 7 Key Skills for Great Storytelling
- 12 Weeks to a First Draft
- Advanced Novel Writing Workshop
- Advanced Poetry Writing
- Blogging 101
- Breaking into Copywriting: Use your Creativity to Kick-Start a New Career
- Creating Characters Kids Will Love
- EEW I: Grammar and Mechanics
- Freelance Writing for Stay-At-Home Moms
- Fundamentals of Fiction Writing
- Fundamentals of Nonfiction Writing
- Fundamentals of Writing For Children
- Marketing Your Magazine Articles
- Successful Self-Publishing
Writers Village University
Annual Memberships begin at $99 for the first year and drop to $69 to renew each year thereafter. A writer may elect to purchase a three year membership for $175. Writers Village University offers installment plans for their memberships. Membership offers writers access to over 300 online writing courses in:
- Comedy Writing
- Creative Writing
- Fiction Writing
- General Writing
- MFA Writing
- Nonfiction Writing
- Novel Writing
- Poetry Writing
- Writing for Children
Other benefits include writing groups for networking with like-minded authors working in similar genres for support, critique, and professional feedback. New courses begin each week and are scheduled several months in advance.
Gotham Writer's Workshop
Founded in 1993, the Gotham Writer's Workshop earned a sterling reputation for providing online and local workshops taught by professional writers in over a dozen different forms and genres. The school earned a Best of the Web from Forbes magazine. In addition to courses, the GWW also offers private instruction, script and book doctor services and workshops geared toward teenage writers.
- Creative Writing
- Getting Published
Fees are charged on a class by class basis. 10 week online workshops begin at $399 per session, but returning students receive a discount for subsequent classes. Teen online workshops begin at $269. Any class offered as an online workshop may also be taken as a one-on-one session, but fees apply and vary by the class.
Choose the Right Online Class for You
Book writing seminars and online workshops will provide you with the tools necessary to keep you writing long after the class concludes. Whether you have ever taken an online workshop or not, remember that you have to be proactive in classes, comment and ask questions and take advantage of the professional author or teacher's time to get the answers you need. When looking for a class consider the following:
- Helpful assignments: This is a subjective measure, however, if the assignments don't strike you as particularly useful, look for a different course.
- Access to instructors: To get the most out of a class you will need a way to get hold of instructors. Whether this is through email, discussions or on the phone is up to you. A class that does not give you a way to communicate with the instructor will probably not be of as much use as one that does.
- Constructive feedback: Whether from students or teachers, though preferably from both, a seminar will give you good feedback on your writing. This means that people will tell you both what works about your writing and what doesn't.
- Tailored to your needs: Not all book writing seminars are on the same topic. If you are interested in writing mysteries, it might not be the best idea to take a literary writing course. Look for a seminar that addresses the specific topic that you are looking for regarding genre or theme.
- Supportive environment: A seminar's discussion should never degenerate into insults or dismissive comments. Students in a seminar should be supportive of one another even when they are providing criticism.
You can take an online class anywhere in the world as long as you have Internet access. In most writing workshops online or off, you only get out of them what effort you invest into the class. The best reward of a writing workshop is the inspiration and the desire to keep writing.
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