One of the first things writers should know (if you don’t already) is that family members and friends are not the best places to get feedback on your writing. If they’re successfully published authors, you may be lucky enough to receive beneficial, helpful critique that improves your craft. But generally, families either offer fawning critiques along the lines of “You’re the best writer EVER” or, on the opposite end, “This is horrible – your writing sucks.” I have found that critiques which come from professionals who are emotionally uninvolved and can look at your writing objectively are the beneficial.
If you don’t have access to writing conferences for critiques, there are dozens of sites where you can take courses for critiquing. Here are two I’ve used with the pros and cons of each.
This post covers Gotham Writers Workshops, listing pros and cons.
Gotham Writing Workshops – Founded in New York City in 1993 by writers Jeff Fligelman and David Gae, Gotham Writers Workshops was one of the first schools to offer online education, launching its online creative writing classes in 1997.
- Gotham offers courses with a critique component in nearly every genre. Examples of classes: fiction, nonfiction (all genres), scriptwriting, comedy, poetry, and song, writer professional development classes, writing essentials, classes for teens.
- Experienced staff of published authors/experts
- Syllabus of what class will cover
- Extensive course catalog
- Most classes available either online or in at live at four locations in New York City
I took several online writing classes through Gotham and found the instructors were always helpful in the critiques they offered for improvement. There were, however, aspects I didn’t care for.
- Costs – the cost of a 10-week online course currently runs just over $400.
- Prerequisites – You can’t take Fiction Writing 2 without first taking Fiction Writing 1. Students must complete Fiction Writing 1 to move on in the fiction or novel writing series.
- Time commitment – I often found it difficult to complete homework, read that week’s material on the author being critiqued, and find time to write my own work.
- Class size – enrollment can be as high as 16 students, which means you’re critiquing a lot of work.
- The critiquing abilities of fellow students. Gotham says that participants will feel safe during the critiquing of their works, but I found the process stressful and mostly paid attention to the instructor’s comments. Why? Too many participants were obnoxious or had minimal experience writing/critiquing or both.
Gotham does offer working one-on-one with a private writing coach, but again, that can be an expensive endeavor. There are plenty of positive testimonials from Gotham students, be sure and read those as well. My next post will review classes offered through WOW! Women On Writing.