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  1. #1
    Devin Stadeker

    Suggested schooling?

    While I don't believe classes can make someone a good author unless they have the drive and talent to be one beforehand, I think that for anyone wanting to refine their abilities, school can be a great way to go. I personally quit school after graduating high school and immediately joined the military. Over the years, one of my greatest regrets is not going back to school, as Uncle Sam foots the entire bill these days. Even if I never go to school while enlisted, I'll have money to burn from the GI Bill once I get out.

    Basically, all of the opportunity is there for me to get under a desk and try to improve my writing, but I'm a little confused as to what I should be looking for as far as classes go.

    Would anyone be interested in sharing what kind of schooling they've done specifically for the purpose of improving their writing and overall mastery of the English language?

  2. #2
    Cindy Kay

    Re: Suggested schooling?

    Journalism school for me, which tends to be a pretty broad degree, requiring a lot of history, philosophy, economics, political theory.

    If doing with authordom in mind, I'd probably go for history.

    I think reading great books, and brushing up on technical skills is pretty easy to do on your own. Broadening your mind and understanding in lots of subjects is more fun as far as classes go.

  3. #3
    Rogue Mutt

    Re: Suggested schooling?

    Some schools have programs in creative writing, though that doesn't sound very useful if you need to work for a living. Otherwise you can try journalism or literature or something like that.

  4. #4
    Dana Rongione

    Re: Suggested schooling?

    I took two different classes from the Institute of Children\'s Literature. They were a little expensive, but well-worth the price. I learned so much from them that I took the information I learned and turn it into my own e-class. It\'s condensed down to an 8-week course for those who are busy trying to make a living. You can find out more about it by going to LearnWriteNow.com. I know there are also several free writing classes available online. I\'ve never taken any of them, so I can\'t vouch for the quality of information you\'ll receive, but it might be worth looking into.

  5. #5
    Jeanne Gassman

    Re: Suggested schooling?


    If you don't have a bachelor's degree, your best bet might be to look for some creative writing classes at your local community college. It's cheaper option than a university and often a great introduction into the writing workshop experience.

    Gotham offers some good classes online, but they aren't cheap. However, they have an excellent selection of courses that are tailored to individual needs.

    If you take a university or comm. college class, look for something that combines analytical/critical reading with writing, such as a class on "Writing the Short Story" that includes a reading list of Hemmingway, Cheever, Munro, Carver, and O'Connor. That type of class will teach you more about craft than just a straight workshop in which students and the teacher discuss your work.

    Hope that helps.


  6. #6
    Anthony Ravenscroft

    Re: Suggested schooling?

    Journalism, because it often gives entree into the school paper, where you can pick up experience as a copy editor for pay. You can take this experience to all sorts of publications, from local weeklies to regional magazines. (Then again, some book publishers I've queried demand their new editors have degrees in communications or creative writing.)

    Technical writing, because it's a flexible & heavily networked career path. I know people who take months-long assignments all over the country, charging at least $40/hour -- then again, a few have burned out because they were pushed to work stunningly long schedules in order to meet some deadline or other (particularly when an FDA submission was approaching deadline).

    Both of these give you a chance to sharpen your writing by shaping others' thoughts & words. As a bonus, your typing will improve, both in speed & accuracy.

    The downer is that, after pounding keys & staring all day at a screen, you might not look forward to doing those after a long day -- I've found that working factory jobs has greatly aided my desire to write!

  7. #7
    Devin Stadeker

    Re: Suggested schooling?

    Many thanks to everyone who chipped in. I have reservations regarding online colleges (even the accredited University of Phoenix is called a 'degree mill' by some) so I'd definitely want to be in a classroom if I was getting some learning done, not sitting in front of a computer.

  8. #8
    Cathy C

    Re: Suggested schooling?

    Make sure some form of Grammar and Composition is in there too. It's never bad to keep refreshed on sentence structure and word choice.

    I'd also recommend a basic science course--whether you plan to write literary, horror or fantasy. The laws of physics and physical sciences apply to many things when you're describing them in narrative. It's been really valuable to me to pick up a few old science textbooks on Amazon. Cheaper than a class, but if you have the chance to take a class, it can be valuable.

  9. #9
    John Oberon

    Re: Suggested schooling?

    Here's what I took: Composition, Critical Writing, Creative Writing, Rhetoric, Linguistics, and tons of Literature courses. Linguistics did not really apply to writing, but I found it interesting.

  10. #10
    Devin Stadeker

    Re: Suggested schooling?

    Great to see so many people sharing their educational pursuits as they pertain to writing.

    So the next question I have is, do any of you feel that taking classes helped to refine your abilities? I believe that a great writer has raw talent, but raw talent without refinement and mentoring often goes to waste.

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