1. wolfdragon8211
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    wolfdragon8211 New Member

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    Writing Classes

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by wolfdragon8211, May 21, 2010.

    So I hear from many people that writing classes and books are for hacks. Would you agree or disagree and why?
     
  2. Sam Taylor
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    Sam Taylor New Member

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    I think it depends primarily on the tutor, and secondarily on what you're expecting to get out of the course.

    If you just sit there and wait for someone to teach you how to write, or if you're seeking some kind of formula or shortcut, then you'll be disappointed. Because ultimately there are no rules, and writing is something only YOU can do, on your own.

    But if you're looking for more general guidance, insights, advice, encouragement, and - perhaps most importantly - the motivation to write regularly, then I think they can be helpful.
     
  3. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    I'm with Sam, it definitely depends on what you expect to get out of it and who wrote the book or is teaching the class. There is no way to improve your writing except to write, but some classes, workshops, and books can help give you ideas for techniques to practice and motivation to actually put the butt in the chair and do the work.

    The wrong classes, however, or wrong book, can be trouble. I was in an MFA program and found 90% of it actually stalled out my writing instead of helping me practice and progress (I did have one workshop with a wonderful pro writer that really showed me some things to work on and gave me ideas about how to go about it, especially dialogue). For me, the program didn't help as a writer. But my goals were very different from what my peers in the program wanted, which led to a frustrating environment.

    Again, depends on the teacher/author and on what you expect and how you apply what you've learned. (It's like dieting, learn everything you can, apply what works for you, ditch what doesn't).
     
  4. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    You say 'hack' like its a bad thing...;)
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No one can teach you to write. However, if you have a good instructor, he or she may be able to guide you past some difficulties. Some you may already be aware of, others you may be blind to, and the latter are the ones for which other sets of eyes are most valuable.

    On the other hand, a writing class can be completely worthless. Mostly it depends on the skill of the instructor, both as a writer and as a leader.
     
  6. Sapphire_Trickett
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    Sapphire_Trickett New Member

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    I agree with what others here are saying, how good a class is depends on the instructor and what you want to get out of it because you can't learn writing like you can learn math; there are no set equations. Writing classes are a great way of immersing yourself in the writing world though and getting to meet like minded people is always a plus.

    Books on writing aren't hard 'n fast fact. It's just one writer's particular opinion of what works. Like studying anything you want to remain open minded, don't take just one person's viewpoint as law, and expose your self to a variety of opinions.

    Someone who says writing classes and books are for hacks is likely the kind of pretentious dbag who thinks they know everything and who refuses to listen to anyone. Probably someone to avoid imo.
     
  7. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I have a creative writing teacher here at the university - like Cog says, it depends on the skill of the instructor.

    Though my teacher might be good at writing, he's useless at teaching. You can't really get any good feedback from him unless it's on a one-to-one basis.
     
  8. Brandon_Trotter
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    Brandon_Trotter Senior Member

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    I am in a creative writting class for grade 12 student. I belive it can help you improve your skill vastly. When i first entered this class i liked to write but, knew next to nothing. The year is almost over and I now know so so much more than I ever thought I would learn. I think it depends on the teacher but, it also depends on your willingness to learm.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not for 'hacks' since that term usually refers to a pro who writes more or less anonymously on assignment, such as studio screenwriters... or even more derogatorily, sometimes refers to poor writers, period...

    a class or how-to can be helpful for many beginners, but only if good ones and not indulged in to excess...

    the only writing how-tos i would consider useful are for writing lyrics, or screenwriting, since they're both highly specialized forms of the writing art and do take some 'teaching'...

    otherwise, i'd only recommend a good creative writing course for newish writers who aren't up to speed on the basics...

    i have a 'tools of the trade' list that includes the best screenwriting how-tos if anyone's interested... just drop me an email and i'll be glad to send it... i've also got a slew of tips from the pros on all aspects of writing just about anything, which can save some the cost and time/effort of a class, or a book...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  10. squire848
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    squire848 Member

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    Absolutely not; a good tutor will inspire you to write and focus your mind.

    You will learn writing exercises, how to overcome writers block and how to broaden your scope in both writing and reading. You will meet many other writers as well as learning about getting your work published, etc.

    They will not teach you how to write, only you can do that. But to inspire and instill good writing habits is not something to be mocked. Many believe they are too good for writing classes and this is up to them.

    But as a writer you are always learning, no one knows everything. And to have someone there to guide you through the rough patches is not something to be laughed at.
     
  11. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    It's not that they're bad. It's just that, for my own personal experience, I'd rather learn all that stuff on my own. Develop a technique that is completely mine, based solely on things that work well for me. I'm not going to pay for a class that will teach me things I can learn just as easily on my own, and for free. It's healthier, too. Through trial and error, you learn what works for you and what doesn't, without having to worry about a teacher telling/suggesting to you that you're doing it wrong. Even if you are, I think it's best to come to that conclusion on your own. You get a better understanding of what makes it wrong and why you should stop doing that.

    Besides, it's always more satisfying when you solve a problem using your own head rather than someone else's.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what is that referring to, squire?
     
  13. hyperspace!
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    hyperspace! Member

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    I'm taking a creative writing class, and I feel it's helped me a lot. I'd probably still be writing like Paolini if I didn't have the proper guidance. (However the hell you spell that.)

    And our assignments are pretty fun. Right now, we have to take some myth and turn it into a modern-day story (with no dragons or magic or anything), and our last one involved a field trip to the thrift store down the street from my school. Good times.
     
  14. squire848
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    squire848 Member

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    Sorry, should have made myself clearer.

    I simply meant that I don't think creative writing classes are for 'hacks'. I was referring to the original post made by wolfdragon8211.
     
  15. Gingerbiscuit
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    Gingerbiscuit Senior Member

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    Personally I'd love to be in a writing class but there is nothing of the sort going on round my way. It's right what people are saying, particularly Cogito. Writing is something that cannot be taught. You can teach a person grammar, spelling, punctuation etc but the rest is entirely passion and instinct. However the benefit I see from joining a writing class is to light a fire under myself and get myself writing regularly.
     
  16. TedR
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    TedR New Member

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    The best I've gotten out of Creative Writing classes is feedback. Each writing class I took in my undergraduate career had large and small group workshops. It's always nice to have a fresh different perspective on your writing. They might point out something you hadn't thought of or didn't notice.

    I wouldn't say the classes are worthless. It depends on the instructor. Some classes are better than others.
     
  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Agreed.
     
  18. Honorius
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    Honorius Active Member

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    Cogito is write, one cannot be TAUGHT to write. However, one can LEARN to write. Classes and books can't teach you to write because each person has their own writing style that is unique to them. Of course, classes and books can help one to realize what that style is, how to develop it, and how to execute it. They also allow for great exercises and examples that one can learn from.

    Rather than being taught by classes and books, you should be learning from them. Use them, don't let them use you.
     
  19. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ooh, I like that!
     
  20. Midnight_Adventurer
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    Midnight_Adventurer Active Member

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    I'm currently doing a Professional Writing and Editing course and it's great! Like many people have mentioned already you can’t be taught to write but rather guided. I write, I practise and I'm learning the ropes of editing and the structure of writing. The workshops we conduct are great because you're getting feedback from other writers, just like on this website, about how you've written and what could be changed or explained. You can become rather desensitised by your own writing when you work on it day after day so people's perceptions can be invaluable. Therefore I see writing classes as a useful tool if you’re intent on improving your knowledge of the writing process.
     
  21. Janus
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    Janus Member

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    I feel if you are going to spend the money for a Creative Writing class, then also invest in an English class. I feel they go hand in hand. One washes the other, so to speak.

    As far as seminars, I think that it depends on who is doing it. I have been to a bunch of them, and most I get some good information out of. There is one I walked out of as it was an advertisement for his book.
     
  22. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    Frankly, the best advice (I've heard anyway) for how to learn how to write good stories has always been to read. Read everything. If you don't like something, figure out why you don't like it. If you love something, same thing, figure out why. Then read more. :)
     
  23. Janus
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    Janus Member

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    Reading is a very good way to become better, also something else.

    WRITE
    Then take your little short stories to friends and family and anyone else who is willing to read it and ask for blunt and honest feedback. Then dont get mad if it is negative, as why.

    My personal rule about critiques, and reviews of my books. If anyone sais they do not like it. I ask WHY, and then I take a hard look at what I wrote.

    So really the best way to become better is to take criticism of your writing as a valuable tool.
     
  24. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    A good class with the right instructor, as has been said, can guide you through skills you need to develop, which is a great blessing, and help you show you ways to use those skills that you may not have known existed.

    The assignments they give you may encourage you to try something you never would have tried otherwise. I wrote a short play that I am very proud of because of a suggestion a teacher gave me. Wayson Choy wrote what I think is his most successful novel as a result of an assignment given to him in a class. The teacher passed around a box with slips of paper with a colour written on it. They had to write a story using that colour in some way, even if it was just as simple as a quick reference to the sky if they got blue. Choy got pink. He was totally stuck until he found out that there was a type of jade that is pink, so that turned into The Jade Peony.

    These classes also give you a chance to meet others who have the same interest in writing. You can make great friends, share experiences and ideas, not to mention have fun if you have a good group with the right teacher. It's also possible to make connections that could help your career, if that's what you're interested it. You may find out about publishing opportunities you hadn't heard of. What if the instructor is actively working in the industry, or knows people who are? If s/he is impressed enough with you, as unlikely as it is, s/he could be willing to introduce you to an agent or editor. I can't think of any examples of that at the moment, but see no reason why it can't happen.
     
  25. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i always advise new writers to never ask friends or anyone they're related to [or sleeping with] for an opinion... it's best to only ask knowledgeable strangers to look over your work...

    those who love you too often won't be totally honest, for fear of hurting your feelings... or, if they are totally honest, it may hurt the relationship!
     

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