Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Improve your writing skills this summer!

Summer can be a great time to hone your writing skills, and the wealth of online courses available makes it easy. The instructors are writing professionals from a wide variety of backgrounds, and the fees are usually very affordable.

A real advantage to taking an online class is that you can work at your own pace. The lectures arrive via e-mail, and you may be invited to post your assignments for instructor and group feedback. It’s always your choice whether or not you want to share your work, but getting input from several different viewpoints can be quite enlightening. You can also gain a lot by studying the comments on other participants’ assignments and learn from their experiences.

If you get busy or take time off for vacation, you can always catch up on your own. Many instructors will remain available for a short time after the course closes to answer any questions.

A Web search turned up the following list of online writing classes being offered this summer, and there are probably a lot more out there that I missed. Check these out or do some digging on your own, and and I’m sure you’ll find a class that’s just right for you.

And if you know of other classes that didn’t make the list, please share!

From Writer U:

Dynamic Dialogue
Instructor: Alicia Rasley
July 1-15

Tips From Madison Avenue: The Selling Synopsis
Instructor: Laurie Schnebly Campbell
August 6 - 31

From WritersOnlineClasses.com:

Freelancing for Fiction Writers: Bridging the Money Gap
Instructor: Diana Rowe
June 15 - July 14

Discovering Story Magic's Turning Points
Instructors: Laura Baker & Robin Perini
July 5-20

Nurturing the Writer Within
Instructor: Mary O’Gara
July 14 - August 16

From RWA Kiss of Death Chapter:
How to Disappear: Making Yourself Disappear in Today's World
Instructor: Frank Ahearn

Creating Your Hero's Fatal Flaw
Instructor: Laurie Campbell Schnebly

What the Action Heroine Knows--and The Writer Should: Martial Arts, Fighting, and Weapons in Mystery and Suspense
Instructor: Rob Preece

Behind The Scenes: The Research Before The Book
Instructor: Jacqui Jacoby

From RWA Orange County Chapter:

From Austen to Aliens: How to Create Classic Tough Chicks
Instructor: Jacqui Jacoby
June 16 - July 13

Getting Ready for Conference
Instructor: Kitty Bucholtz
July 14-26

Writing Inspirational Romance
Instructor: Gail Gaymer Martin
August 11 - September 7

From RWA From the Heart Romance Writers Chapter:

Using Writer's Block as a Building Block for Ideas
Instructor: Ann Jones-Rodriguez (writing as Raquel Rodriguez)
July 1-14

Is That Hollywood Calling?
Instructor: Cindy Carroll
August 4-31

From RWA Lowcountry Romance Writers Chapter:

Kick-Start Your NEXT Novel
Instructor: Deb Dufel
June 5-27

Preparing Your Manuscript for The Agent of Your Dreams
Instructor: Lois Winston
August 4-29

Details for both classes at http://lowcountryrwa.com/online-workshops/

From RWA Outreach International Romance Writers Chapter:
Agent Quest: Insider Secrets to Make this Conference THE ONE
Instructor: Kit Frazier
June 16-27
http://www.oirw.net/campus/currentcourselist.htm (click on June)

Public Speaking for Writers
Instructor: April Kihlstrom
July 7-18
http://www.oirw.net/campus/currentcourselist.htm (click on July)

The Big Question: How to Create a Powerful Novel from a Few Ideas and One Big Question
Instructor: Marilynn Byerly
August 4-29
http://www.oirw.net/campus/currentcourselist.htm (click on August)

From RWA Hearts Through History Chapter:

The "W" Plot...Or the Other White Meat for Plotters
Instructor: Karen Docter
August 4-29

From RWA Indiana Chapter:
Characteristics of Criminals
Instructor: Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark, Psy.D.
August 4-29

From RWA Heart of Dixie Chapter:

Innovative Publicity Basics for Authors (New and Hopeful!)
Instructor: Lauren Cerand
July 1-14

From RWA Celtic Hearts Chapter:

Discover How to Grow a Story Spine
Instructor: Sylvie Kurtz
August 11 - September 7

From RWA Southern Tier Authors of Romance Chapter:

Living the Life of a Writer – Is it all Really Glamour & Bon Bons?
Instructor: Tina Gerow
August 2008
http://members.aol.com/starrwa/workshop.html (click on link at bottom of page for full details)

From RWA Mid-Willamette Valley Chapter:
Take the Mystery Out of Writing Mystery & Suspense Novels
Instructor: Karen S. Wiesner
July 7-31

Secrets to Successful PR
Instructor: Lisa Pulliam
August 4-31

Details for both classes at http://midwillamettevalleyrwa.com/online.classes.htm

From Elements of RWA Chapter:

Writing Disabled Characters
Instructor: Sara Reinke
August 18-22
http://www.elementsofrwa.com/workshops.htm (click on August)


  1. HOLY COW, Myra, you did some research, girl!! This is GREAT stuff and one of the reasons The Seekers blog won the E Award for Excellence!!

    Taking a fiction-writing class at my community college is one of the very first things I did on the road to publication, and I highly recommend writing courses to all -- not only to brush up one's skills, but for valuable feedback.

  2. Myra, that's an impressive list of possibilities for improving craft. Thanks for doing the research! I've taken two classes in town and several online classes. I always find something valuable I can apply to my work.


  3. Oh, Myra, I'm impressed with your graphic with the writer's fingers moving over the keyboard. Awesome! How do you do that?


  4. Please don't tempt me!!! LOL! I keep joining more and more online classes and I can't keep up! Last month I paid $20 to take an online class on plotting and I wasn't able to participate. I just had no time. I ended up saving the lectures in Word and deleting all the assignments that the other students posted. I hope some day I'll be able to go through the lessons and read them and get something out of it, though it would have been better to have participated with everyone else, posting my assignments and getting feedback.

    This month I'm signed up for two classes, but they're both free, and I'm just hoping I'll be able to keep up.

    I see topics for online classes and think, Oh, I need to take that! But time is the problem.

  5. I agree, Melanie, it's not always easy keeping up, and you do gain a lot if you take time to review other class members' posts. Sometimes the class is so big that it's just overwhelming, though, so I've learned to focus on the ones that most relate to my needs and problem areas. And I always save all the instructor's lectures and notes so I can study them at leisure.

    Actually some of the best online classes I've ever taken were Margie Lawson's. Her next one is coming up in October, but I understand she's also doing an ACFW Conference Early Bird class.

  6. Janet, the animated graphics are GIF files. I get mine from the Microsoft Office graphic download site.

  7. I agree about Margie Lawson's classes. I took her Deep Edits class and it was phenomenal. I intend to take her class about emotions, but I haven't been able to yet.

  8. Wow, Myra!

    I'd like to take some summer classes, but with my three oldest chitlins on summer break, I figured I'd better wait until the fall.

    I'm so excited about the fall. Chitlin #4 starts kindergarten, leaving me alone at home with the Perfect Child. Seems sad that one has to have five children to get the perfect one...

    Did you know "candy" is urban-ese for "sex"?

    Why can't candy be candy and sex be sex or doinking?

    Of course, on Sunday a friend of mine from church mentioned how her son said someone from school told him his jean jacket was gay. He didn't know what "gay" meant. She answered "looks feminine."

    I told her it also means "stupid." My 14-yr-old exchanges gay for stupid all the time. How gay of him.

    Anyway, I say we reclaim the American language.

    Let words mean what the dictionary defines them as!

  9. Gee, Gina, how do you really feel about language? I do have to laugh, though, when I watch my favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas and that little scene where Judy asks Phil if he finds her "gay and amusing."

  10. Great list, Myra.

    I wish my brain wasn't so full and i could learn something.

    So far though, it's not happenin'.

  11. LOL. That would make me laugh too.

    Of course, I've been "gay and amusing" now and again. Umm, that's "gay" in the new definition of current traditional meaning of the old dictionary definition of the word.

  12. WOW, Myra, that was quite a list. My first toe-in-the-water intro to writing was through two online classes. One was taught by Michelle Buckman who is up for a Christy this year. Maybe some of her savvy will eventually rub off on me.

  13. That's a great list, Myra! Thanks for all the work you did to post them all.

    There are also some authors that offer lecture packets from their website to purchase at a nominal fee that they offer in on-line course form now and again too. So if the timing doesn't work out for the on-line course you might want to check their site to see if you can get the info this way and work at it when it's convenient to you.

  14. I noticed that Margie Lawson is one of those authors that you can purchase her lecture packets from. So, if you don't want to wait until October, you can get hold of her info sooner by going to her website and take a look at her lecture packets option. www.margielawson.com

  15. I've had a couple people suggest I help teach a class. But honest guys, I can't imagine what I'd teach. How do people have the courage to become teachers of writing? I just feel like I'm way over my head just doing it.

    I had one friend suggest we do a comedy writing late night chat at the ACFW conference.

    You KNOW everyone would be sitting there (I can just PICTURE IT) arms crossed, exhausted, cranky, all thinking one thing...fine, let's see whatcha got.
    Be funny.

    No pressure there!!!!!!!!

  16. Eileen, you make a good point about checking authors' Web sites for lecture packets from any courses they teach. Yes, Margie's are available. Alicia Rasley also has some good stuff on her site.

  17. Come on, Mary. You could read from the phone book and have everybody in stitches.

  18. Myra,
    Great info! And I love the graphic of the gal typing! So how do you do that? Didn't Janet ask the same question? Have you noticed, she and I aren't high tech? (Sorry, Janet, you're probably much higher tech than I am! :) )

    I took the KOD class on How to Disappear that Frank Ahearn is giving. He's great. A real pro at finding people who don't want to be found. I think of that class often. . . especially when I've got a heroine on the run.

    Mary, funny? Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

  19. Wow! I never realized there were so many options.

    Thanks for the info.

  20. Great stuff, Myra.

    Where's Debby? She just... uh...disappeared! lol

  21. THIS IS AWESOME, MJ. Thank you soooooooo much.

  22. Myra, thank you for compiling this list. Wonderful!

    I've taken some of these classes and interviewed at least one of these instructors for RWA's KOD chapter. Really interesting folks who teach these classes.

    Well worth the time and money too.