Last Minute Gifts For Writers: Put An Online Class Under The Tree*

Drew Coffman Writer's Block I

It’s Christmas week. And you still don’t know what gift you’re going to give the special writer in your life for the holidays. They have everything—a great laptop, a tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard, a copy of Scrivener, fully paid Dropbox, and a Pro subscription to Evernote. What else is there to give?

Lean in close and I will tell you.

Give them the gift of an online writing class.

Classes help writers at any level build skills as well as community, equally important for writers who wish to pursue a publishing career. The big name workshops such as Clarion, Clarion West, Viable Paradise, Odyssey, etc., require both a monetary and time commitment not all writers can afford. But an online writing class makes it possible to do everything from home and fit the classwork into an existing schedule. Some online classes only ask for a weekend commitment.

And for those weekend classes, you know what else makes a great gift? The promise that you will arrange things for that weekend so the writer you’re gifting doesn’t have to worry about anything else, from kids to cooking meals to walking the dogs, except the class. That right there is almost as amazing a gift as the class.

I can see I have you convinced. But, you ask, where can I find online classes for the writer in my life? Once again, I have the answer:

Weekend Classes

Short Story Intensive taught by Mary Robinette Kowal

Think you never have time to write? Think again. Mary Robinette Kowal wrote her first Hugo-nominated short story “Evil Robot Monkey” in ninety minutes. If you have ninety minutes, you can have a story — all it takes is understanding how to make every word work double-time. In this workshop, learn the same techniques she uses to create new fiction. Through exercises focusing on viewpoint, dialogue, and plot, you’ll learn how to let nothing go to waste. By the end of this three day workshop, participants will be given a writing prompt and complete their own short story.

Price: $275

Dates

  • February 26 – 28, 2016
  • March 25 – 27, 2016
  • April 22 – 24, 2016

 

The Art of Writing the Other – Weekend Intensive taught by Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford

Writers know that it’s important to write about characters whose gender, sexual orientation, religion, racial heritage, or other aspect of identity differs from their own. But many are afraid to do so for fear that they will get it wrong–horribly, offensively wrong–and think it is better not even to try. In truth, it is possible to write the Other sensitively and convincingly, and this workshop can start you on the path to doing just that.

Price: $250 + service fee

Dates: January 1 – 3, 2016


 

Multi-Week Classes

Creative NonFiction Workshop SPRING 2016 taught by Brooke Benoit

This 8-week workshop is designed to do a whole bunch of things for you and your craft. Firstly, assignments simply motivate some of us who are otherwise floundering in our writing practice. Engaging and varied exercises are planned with flexibility to meet your needs and to get you writing. Then there is the opportunity to acquire some new skills through direct feedback on your work from a professional editor and writer, as well as all the helpful little tips I will be providing you with. You will also get fresh weekly reader feedback through peer reviews of your work.

Price: $220

Start Date: February 2, 2016


 

The Architecture of Fiction taught by Nick Mamatas

Where does your story start? How on Earth do you keep it going? What’s the difference between ending a story and just stopping it? Regardless of genre, length, or form, every story has a beginning, middle, and an ending—in no particular order. Beginning writers often start their stories in the wrong place, confuse action with plot, and then end a scene a bit too early… or too late. In four weeks, award-winning novelist, anthologist, and editor Nick Mamatas will guide you up and down the path of storytelling—through the architecture of fiction. This workshop will give you the tools you need to move through a story with confidence—whether it’s a novel, novella, or short story.

Price: $350

Start Date: January 21, 2016


 

The Brainery Online Workshops for Speculative Fiction Writers

Classes begin the week of Jnauary 25th and are scheduled based on student availability.

Novel Workshop and YA Novel Workshop taught by Jilly Dreadful, Ph.D.

Designed for writers with a complete (though not necessarily finished) manuscript in need of a full critique. The goal is to help shape first drafts into stronger second drafts and to help writers develop strategies for revision and expansion. Students will receive in-depth critiques from their peers and the instructor.

Price: $500


Short Fiction Writing and the Other taught by K. Tempest Bradford

A brand new class designed for writers who want to include characters in their fiction whose gender, sexual orientation, religion, racial heritage, or other aspect of identity differs from their own, but are hesitant to do so for fear that they will get it horribly, offensively wrong. Students will learn strategies for writing the “Other” sensitively and convincingly as well as strengthen their short story writing craft in general through a combination of readings, analysis of published fiction, writing exercises, peer critiques, and developing, writing, and revising stories in a safe, supportive atmosphere. In addition to instruction and in-depth critiques from Bradford, students will also benefit from guest lectures exclusive to this class from authors Nisi Shawl and Max Gladstone.

Price: $575


 

Short Fiction taught by Valerie Valdes

A workshop designed for speculative fiction writers looking to produce submission-ready short fiction in the form of flash fiction, short stories or standalone novel excerpts. Participants will deepen their theory and practice through the discussion of course readings, a continually evolving feedback loop from the instructor and classmates, as well as the kind of accountability that a community of peers can provide. Writers work on four submissions during the program: two new and/or original works, up to 7500 words in length, a revision of one of the two previously submitted pieces, and a work of flash fiction 1000 words or less.

Price: $475


 

Science Fiction Fairy Tales taught by Jilly Dreadful, Ph.D.

A hypoxic-style workshop designed to push students to challenge themselves as writers and to question the conventions and limits of what it means to remix fairy tales in modern ways. Every week students will consider a different fairy tale and science theme pairing, and remix it using experimental methods. Students will write (on average) 750-1500 words weekly, as well as discuss each other’s work.

Price: $500


 

This represents classes I’m aware of that are open to enrollment right now. If you know of any other online classes that fit this description, please add them in the comments.

Now, get to those links are give the writer in your life who has everything else a craft-building class of amazeballs and be a holiday hero.

*Yes, I know, not everyone celebrates Christmas and thus has a tree. But really, the image of putting the Internet under a tree is too good to pass up.

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