1. eccentric_m
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    eccentric_m Member

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    Creative Writitng Classes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by eccentric_m, Sep 15, 2007.

    Well, I am relatively new to creative writing and I was thinking about signing up for a class. Has anyone been to one? If so, what was it like? Basically, I want to know if its worth it before I sign up.
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I'd say it's down to the individual really. Some people (myself included) learn better with the trial and error of just writing, whereas others learn better in a class environment.


    EDIT: Oh, and I've never tried a creative writing class.
     
  3. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    I tried two in high school. The first one wasn't bad. Nothing special. We mostly read some books and wrote a handful of short stories. Easy mark, nothing learned.
    The second was a complete and total debacle. Horrible teacher who wanted to read one type of writing only, and for the Independent Study Project, asked for book reviews, newspaper articles, and the like, no actual stories.

    But I've heard some good things about them as well. It basically comes down to the teacher, and your learning style.
    If you like having someone give you a push or help guide you in your learning, a writing class could be good for you. But try to ask former students if they'd recommend it, what type of projects you get and similar questions.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I took one creative writing class in the first college I attended. This was a freshman course at a technology-oriented university, so the expectations were really not very high, and most of the leadership from the instructors consisted of encouragement to "just ge out there and try it", and strategies for overcoming writer's block.

    The students had to read their entries before the(rather small) class, and reviews were pretty much limited to "Cool, I like it." or "Interesting..." Negative remarks were not encouraged, and the most we could expect from the instructors was red-marking the SPAG errors, and maybe a paragraph commenting on the overall piece.

    Not the most valuable experience, but that was only one such class among many. A less techie school might have put more rigor into the class. Also, this was long before personal computers, so most of the offerings were typewritten, some were even handwritten.
     
  5. Scavenger
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    Scavenger Senior Member

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    I took one sophomore year in high school, and it wasn't bad. Our teacher told us to write pieces that focused on a certain writing technique (plot, character development, imagery, etc), and then we would peer-review them, read them out loud, and turn them into him. It was generally a fairly good process, but he did absolutely nothing to teach us about these writing processes that we were practicing, and then he misread about half of my pieces that everyone else managed to understand, so that portion of it was highly dissappointing.

    I also discovered the same problem as Cogito - none of my peers were willing (or capable) of giving a susbtantial review.

    I would suggest that if you do take a class, you investigate it first, to find out if it will be taught in a manner that best suits your style.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Also, if a class doesn't do for you what you were hoping for, by all means raise the issue with the instructor. I'm sure that more often than not the instructor is as disappointed with the curriculum handed to him or her as the students are. As long as the requirements of the curriculum are met, the instructor is generally free to add some extras to the class.
     
  7. Montag
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    Montag Senior Member

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    I was considering about taking a class, but after thinking about it, wasn't sure if it would even help. I figured most of it would be critical analasies(?) of other peoples stuff, and writing of eperimental short stories, which I already do. Plus, you have to pay for it, and I learned from highschool that I severely dislike being told what to do. :D

    anything I'm not sure of, or advice and encouragment can be found on the net. (thanks WF!)

    So I'm not going to. Anyway, Lots of great writers started without attending writing classes at all. I'd like to be one of them. :p
     
  8. Funny Bunny
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    Funny Bunny Contributing Member

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    I have a degree in creative non-fiction (for lack of a better term) and have taken several lower level creative writing classes, and a graduate level creative writing class, also a summer writing workshop (creative non-fiction). The grad class was really a more intense freshman class. More and better work was expected of you. I believe that the more constructive classes combining both reading and writing were better than the crit classes.

    As far as paying? Nothing is free. I always expect to pay for knowledge. The difference between someone who has been through the education and someone who has learned on their own using books is actually rather broad in my opinion. People who have had formal education do not make the same mistakes, nor as many mistakes as people who have not been to school. The whole idea is to be given tools to use and to be able to make reasonable choices based on the tools. Many book taught writers seem to have much more confusion regarding things that should not be that confusing.

    As irritable as it might seems, it is better to have your book judged by someone who has proven abilities as a writer. My seniors and masters teacher was a famous older writer who had work in a compilation with people like Tom Wolf. Most Masters students (the highest CW degree) have quite a lot of background. Many have written and published. In my masters class I was critiquing work that was soon to be published. The guy to my right had a 3 book contract. These were not novices playing around, they were tough, hardened writers (who could make you cry at crits because they were so cut-throat). I would rather have a critique from someone like that than "your friends" who wont tell you it is bad, or they don't understand it. Or random strangers on the internet, many who cannot even spell, or call themselves Authors and have never tried to write.

    Another way to learn is to join a writing group locally. Often library's have crit groups meeting in their meeting rooms. Often many of the members are real writers who actually have published or self-published. If you cant afford classes, the best thing to do would be to join one of these writing groups.

    I tend to disagree with the statement "many great writers have not taken classes" because you are talking about the past. The school system today does not put out great writers. I actually cannot think of any other writers who have not been through language classes, Literature classes, Journalism classes, Rhetoric classes, often things like "critical thinking, philosophy, art and other classes that leads a person to be able to think and see on a higher level.
     

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