It’s hard to remember now that there was a time when a writer only had the option of taking in-person courses in their own area, or traveling — perhaps great distances, to attend courses elsewhere.
While those options are still open to us, I am so grateful that we can also take advantage of all the amazing courses available online — no travel or accommodations to worry about, we can learn at our own pace, and many are priced quite affordably.
The courses listed below are just a fraction of what is available. The tip of the courseberg, if you will (I warned you about my puns, if you read my bio…)
JUST WRITE FOR KIDS — This is an 8-week self-paced online/home study course in writing picture books taught by author, editor, and educator Emma Walton Hamilton. Each week brings an email containing a link to a new lesson which introduces students to another aspect of the craft of picture book writing, each lesson building on the previous ones. By the end of the eight weeks, the student has a solid workable picture book manuscript, and the tools to move forward with revision. The course can be started at any time. Membership in a dedicated JUST WRITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS Facebook Group is included, and enhances the interaction between students as well as with Emma. I took this course in 2010, and it has informed and enhanced my writing — for all ages — ever since.
JUST WRITE FOR MIDDLE GRADE — Following the success of JUST WRITE FOR KIDS, Emma launched JUST WRITE FOR MIDDLE GRADE in January 2014. In 14 home-study lessons delivered by email over the course of 14 weeks (although as with JWFK, you can move at your own pace if you need more time) the student is introduced to the building blocks of writing chapter books and middle grade novels, with thought-provoking, challenging, and fun assignments. At the end of the 14-week session, the student has a solid draft ready to take to the next level. The course can be started at any time. Membership in a dedicated JUST WRITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS Facebook Group is included, and enhances the interaction between students as well as with Emma. I took this course from May to July, 2014. Even though I’d been writing middle grade for a few years, and considered myself well-versed in the craft, Emma taught me so much! I use the techniques and worksheets to revise other writing projects, both middle grade and adult fiction.
JUST WRITE FOR YOUNG ADULTS – This course was launched at the same time as JUST WRITE FOR MIDDLE GRADE, and as the name suggests, it is a course dedicated to learning the ins and outs of creating young adult novels. It, too, is a 14-week course, delivered in the same way as the other JUST WRITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS courses. The course can be started at any time. Membership in a dedicated JUST WRITE CHILDREN’S BOOKS Facebook Group is included, and enhances the interaction between students as well as with Emma. Although I haven’t taken this course, I know from my experience with Emma’s other courses that this will be an excellent learning tool for anyone who wishes to write for teens.
MAKING PICTURE BOOK MAGIC — This is a month-long course, offered every month of the year, taught by picture book author and founder of the popular Perfect Picture Book Fridays, Susanna Leonard Hill. Lessons are given daily, but as I understand it, they are not onerous or time-consuming. There is a Facebook Group for class members, and membership continues (if you choose) after you have completed the course. I have not taken the course myself, but I have heard rave reviews from many picture book writers at all levels of experience, and it’s on my bucket list. Space is limited for each month’s class, so the experience is personal and hands-on. There’s also a self-directed version of the course, which doesn’t include the close personal contact with Susanna, nor the experience of being part of a class, but does let people who can’t afford the full course to learn the same information.
LYRICAL LANGUAGE LAB – The subtitle of this course, “Punching Up Prose … With Poetry,” gives you a good idea of the focus of the course. Although students do write some poetry, there is a great emphasis on learning to both identify and write lyrical language, and then to use lyricism to enhance one’s prose. The course is taught by poet and editor Renee LaTulippe, whose passion for words is evident in her writing and her speaking — and, I am sure, in her teaching. It is a month-long course and class size is limited to enable Renee to fully interact with her students. NOTE: Renee isn’t able to offer it on a regularly scheduled basis, but if you join her mailing list, you’ll find out when the next course offering will be. There is also a self-paced version of the course that is available at all times. There is a dedicated Facebook Group for each class, as well as an Alumni Group. I haven’t taken the course (yet), but I know others who have, and who speak highly of it and of Renee’s teaching abilities.
There is also a wide variety of courses available through the following:
Writing Blueprints (from the folks at Children’s Book Insider)
Mary Kole’s Good Story Company
and others, of course.