The Best Online Writing Workshops I’ve Taken
I’m afraid this post will be brief because I’m painting furniture, making school presentations, revising book 3, AND packing to go out of town (again! It’s event season, I’m afraid), but I wanted to quickly lay out some of the most valuable workshops/communities I took/joined during my publication journey.
1. First and foremost, hands down the most educational, and definitely the most expensive, we have ALL of Holly Lisle’s courses. She has a ton of different lecture packets and actual courses that cover EVERY aspect of writing. Now keep in mind: she does not interact with you or read your work. Rather you can work/interact in a forum with other students (but you don’t have to interact there–I didn’t). And even after your course is looong over, you still have access to those forums.
Holly Lisle has a rabid and huge following, and she has it for a reason: the courses are GOOD. Like, really, really, really good. Not everyone will jive with her tough-love, no-sugar-coating, lay-it-bare style, but I found it worked very well for me. If you want to read some of her articles, you can get a feel for her teaching style. Here’s a favorite of mine.
If I had to recommend one of her courses, then I would absolutely suggest her How To Revise Your Novel Course. It teaches you SO much about writing craft, reader expectations, and then actual revising that I learned more in that course than ALL other courses combined. It basically teaches you everything she teaches in other courses/lectures while also letting you break your finished manuscript apart piece by piece (which really appeals to the scientist side of my brain). Seriously, if you’re gonna spend money on writing, I suggest the How To Revise Your Novel Course.
2. RWA (Romance Writers of America). Now this isn’t a workshop, per se, but once you’re a member, you have access to HUNDREDS of workshops. Literally hundreds. And in those workshops, you’ll get actual one-on-one help from various teachers. I haven’t taken an RWA workshop in years, so I can’t specify which ones I loved, BUT I know that all the ones on publishing industry–from query writing to agent research to synopsis writing–were incredibly helpful and educational.
Of course, the RWA ain’t cheap, so you’ll want to think a bit before you sign up. But guys, it’s a great community. I met my very first critique partner there, and I LOVED “meeting” all these other writers on the same journey as me. There are a ton of benefits to being in the RWA, and so even if you don’t write pure romance (I obviously don’t), it’s still worth joining. They have a YA sub-group, an international sub-group, a books-with-romantic-elements sub-group, and many, many more. You can read more about the educational opportunities here.
3. Savvy Authors has a lot of the same workshops and community as RWA but for a much cheaper membership. It was started by the same people who started Entangled Publishing, and it’s got a very, very strong go-get-’em vibe. I really enjoyed the workshops and community I found through Savvy Authors. Again, the emphasis tends to be on romance, but that is by no means all that’s there.
4. WriterUniv has some pretty cool courses. I LOVE the stuff taught by Mary Buckham and Alicia Rasley–very strong teachers, in my opinion. Plus they offer great one-on-one feedback. I haven’t taken anything by Laurie Schnelby Campbell, but I’ve heard really great things about her courses. I highly recommend trying these classes out for a more advanced, in-depth approach to craft. These classes really taught me how to think outside my usual style-bubble.
So that pretty much sums up all the various outlets through which I took courses–or rather, where I took courses that I benefited from and felt were worth the price tag. I also took courses from two well-known outlets, and honestly, they were NOT worth the money.
In one course, I had an agent tell me my first 5 pages were terrible and to essentially start over (fortunately, her feedback came two months later than it was supposed to because she was behind schedule, and at that point I already had an agent and a book deal…so clearly she was just grumpy and mad). In the other outlet, I worked with an author who I thought did an excellent job, but the COST of the course was hundreds of dollars…and months later, I wound up getting the same quality feedback from a $15 dollar workshop through the RWA. I realized I’d been gipped (and it wasn’t the author that gipped me but the company through which she taught).
If anyone is curious to know which outlets I suggest avoiding, email me privately (susan at susandennard.com). I don’t want to blast hate on the internet. 😉
You tell me: have you taken any online writing workshops that you loved or really benefited from?
May 10, 2013 @ 6:43 pm
Hi, Susan! Thanks for another brilliant post filled with great information! xo
May 11, 2013 @ 7:24 am
Aaaaahhhh, thank you for these! <3 Nope, not really. Just a creative writing class in uni, but that hardly counts as a workshop, haha (although the projects our professor made us write were so fun! One of them was to write fanfiction at least a page long). Will have to try out some of these once I figure out how to pay for things online…
May 11, 2013 @ 11:01 am
I would definitely add my recommendation of How To Revise Your Novel to yours. I signed up back in February and am just over a quarter of the way through lessons, but if I was working on the same schedule as Holly’s e-mail system I’d be two thirds of the way through by now!
But this is a good thing – there’s no pressure, no deadlines. Holly’s lessons, worksheets and demos give me the tools, but the impetus and will to actually finish the revisions process comes entirely from ME. And that’s a valuable lesson in itself.
Thanks for the recommendation which originally led me there, Susan, and for the extra courses you’ve mentioned in this post. I would say I’ll bookmark it for future reference, but I think I’ve already covered that by bookmarking your For Writers archive. 😉 Have a good weekend of painting, preparing, revising and packing!
June 12, 2013 @ 4:05 am
Have you found any decent free online workshops?