1. Rebel Yellow
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    Rebel Yellow Active Member

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    Creative writing classes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rebel Yellow, Mar 2, 2012.

    I have been thinking about taking a few classes at a local university. Since they are very costly, I am left wondering if enrolling in such a thing is worth it. Did any of you attend a clas of the sort? I've read that Stephen King thinks they are overrated, but then again he also believes that most books on writing are worthless. What are your thoughts on the subject?

    I feel confused as there are so many things I want to improve and I can't tackle them all at once (I wanna buy a good grammar too but can't decide which one would be the most useful.).
     
  2. Fifth Business
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    Fifth Business Member

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    Well I don't know of how much help this will be to you, but my high school offers a Grade 12 creative writing course and I went in thinking it would be an easy mark and a joke.

    Turns out I ended up learning a lot, not only just about writing itself but as myself as a writer. It was definitely worth taking and I always thought "who needs a writing class?".

    I know this isn't a paid university class though, so sorry I can't be of any further help.
     
  3. Rebel Yellow
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    Rebel Yellow Active Member

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    Thanks for the input. It definitely helps knowing a fellow writer has taken a course and noticed some improvement.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    A creative writing class depends on the teacher. I've heard of both good and bad experiences, and almost always the people who liked the class and got something out of it were those with a great teacher. It also depends on the interest level of the other students. Some are just there for an easy grade, so the feedback you get from those students probably isn't going to be very useful.

    If it's possible, I would see how effective the teacher is at teaching. After that, it's up to you since you'll be paying for it.
     
  5. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've taken some Gotham online classes. I thought they were very good. The focus is not on an instructor delivering lectures, but rather on workshopping - every student presents a story and the rest of the students (and the instructor) critique it. There's a lot of discussion of each student's work. This workshop method of learning is something I found very positive. All of the students, being people who had paid for the course, were very serious about writing and were very willing to give serious, honest critiques. In return, they expected to receive serious, honest critiques from their fellow students. And the instructors guided the discussions and offered suggestions of things to read and so on, and they were all published writers, so we students took any input they gave seriously.

    The courses gave me confidence. Of course, they told me in no uncertain terms what was wrong with my writing, but they also told me what was right with it. They let me know that I wasn't deluding myself when I thought I was writing well. The confidence I gained from being critiqued honestly was well worth the price of the courses.
     
  6. Berber
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    Berber Active Member

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    I have taken many courses in Creative Writing at my university, and I will tell you what I tell everyone who brings up this question. The only true benefit of these courses is that they expose to material you might never have picked up otherwise, and they allow your work to receive proper, honest criticism. Creative Writing courses do not give somebody the ability to write in the least bit, but rather they allow you to discover what your talents and weaknesses are as a writer. Most universities, however, require that you take some sort of introductory course before getting into the serious classes. These introductory courses are often full of undergrads just looking to pick up an easy gen ed credit and not well read individuals whose opinions you can trust. I would recommend looking into Gotham so as to avoid the this kind of no-benefit class.
     
  7. Rebel Yellow
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    Rebel Yellow Active Member

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    I can see how that could easily become frustrating. However I've been considering Concordia University, since they require applicants to submit a portfolio and a letter of intent. I guess that might weed out some of the less desirable students.

    I will definitely have a look at the Gotham site as it might be a good alternative. I thank you all for sharing your insights.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Such courses can be amazing, or they can be sewage.

    Many years ago, I took a class taught by Peter Elbow (known for his technique of freewriting). Now maybe it's because it was a pass/fail freshman Humanities elective at an engineering school, but it was not only a complete waste of time, it killed my interest in writing for several years. There was no class leadership, and classmate "reviews" consisted largely or "I kinda liked it" or utter silence. No analysis, not5hing substantive, and no one was even required to really participate, either to present writing to the class or to critique. As long as you turned in something to the instructor every week, you received a P grade.
     
  9. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    They can be good or they can be bad. I wouldn't advice just taking a basic creative writing class just because. If you're already studying at a University/College and have some humanities/general electives, you might as well see what these people know. (IMO, that's all college ever will be anyway, for the most part.) My community college has a decent certificate program, so I am gonna try to ride it out. It's been pretty cool so far. But I can't say it's anything I'd recommend to writers not in college. (But if you're going to my college, take the class cause we need enrollment. :p )
     
  10. Newfable
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    Newfable Senior Member

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    He also wrote a book on writing himself, if I recall correctly. Take his words with grains of salt.

    I agree with this. I was a Creative Writing major through college, which seemed silly at first, but you learn a great deal through workshop sessions.

    Having said that, there are plenty of workshop groups and communities that do what these classes do, and they may be cheaper.

    As far as writing goes, a lot of creative writing classes don't teach you much else than what you can find through the combined research of books dedicated to teaching the craft (since, most of the time, that's where your teachers learned it). But workshops can greatly improve your writing if the workshop is worth its salt.
     
  11. 1000screams
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    1000screams Member

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    I took 4 creative writing classes with the same professor in college, on top of about 10 English/Lit classes. The Eng/Lit classes didn't help a whole lot, except for bettering format and understanding of grammatical rules. The creative writing classes, were very helpful, as I liked my Professor and enjoyed the books he had published and used for his classes. He was very insightful, helpful, and his criticisms, well, I had papers sent back to me full of red, but his suggestions and comments were always extremely helpful.

    I learned a lot in my creative writing classes, though it was more of a foundation from which I could build upon in the years after college. Do you need it? No. Might it be helpful to you? Maybe. It will depend greatly on the teacher as to what type of experience you have.

    In a few instances in classes I took, I made an appointment before signing up for a class to meet the teacher and ask them about the syllabus and got a feel for their attitude and way of explaining things just by that interaction. I decided to not take a couple of classes by doing this, when I realized the teacher was a prick. Saved me the money.

    Is there anything in a creative writing class you couldn't learn on your own? Not really. You could spend $200 on books on how to write through amazon and probably end up learning more than you would in classes. The only thing the classroom brings is the interaction with your peers and the criticism of the "authority"...the teacher. It is your money though, so how you choose to spend it is up to you. Personally, if I could go back in time, I might forgo college classes, save myself the headache of money spent and loans taken, and just order the books I ended up ordering later on.
     
  12. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    For me, the Gotham courses I took were not about what the instructor was saying. They're not about the instructor imparting information to the students. They're not about getting facts out of textbooks. They're about serious critique. My fellow students were almost invariably more important than the instructor. The instructor could help guide the conversation and encourage the students, but he or she did not take on the role of a professor, really. The instructor was more of a coach, urging the students on to perform better. The main benefit of the courses was the interaction with the other students. When the other students are intelligent, talented, and motivated (as most of mine were), the critiques are extremely helpful.

    Though I've read probably fifty books on writing, none have been as valuable as the critiques I've received from my fellow students. I can't sit here in my ivory tower reading books on writing and calling myself a good writer. I needed the feedback of people who take writing seriously. There's no substitute for honest, serious critique.
     
  13. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends where you go. Personally, I enrolled in a creative writing course in 2009 and dropped out after a month - they promoted purple prose and told me that my opinions on the connotations of certain names were "wrong". I didn't think opinions could be wrong but there you go. :rolleyes:

    I found a single session of an English literature course (2010~2011) much more informative than a months worth of creative writing classes.
     

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