Friday, August 17, 2012

Back To School: Taking Writing Courses

As a teacher, I'm pretty much a life-long student. I love taking classes and learning about pretty much everything! Over the last few years I've taken writing courses through universities near and far to practice the craft of writing. I enjoy writing and when someone tells me I have to write a story for homework, I'm actually excited about it!

I took classes at DePaul University in Chicago about 2 years ago. I took three classes in total, one on editing (which was priceless), one on fiction writing, and one on children's lit. I took something great from every one of those classes. I learned to be a better critiquer and much better at editing my own work before passing it on to betas.

For a multitude of reasons, I decided not to continue with the master's program. But I always kept looking at ways to continue working on craft.

Recently, a friend recommended the UCLA Extension Writer's Program. They offer extensive courses in fiction and non-fiction writing, as well as screenwriting for TV and film. I decided to try out a class this summer.

For me, having already competed a few novels, the fiction writing classes weren't necessarily for me. They focus on writing and completing your first novel. There are some other classes within fiction I'd like to try, like mystery writing. So I'll be keeping an eye out for those.

In order to try something new and learn a new skill, as well as learn things I could apply to my novel writing, I took Beginner's Screenwriting I. I love movies and would love to learn how to write one. The class is great, all online, which is cool because I live near Chicago, not LA. But they also offer live classes in LA if you're nearby. I did visit the campus a few weeks ago when I was out there on vacation. It's gorgeous!

My thoughts on the class so far are that it's a lot of fun. I wouldn't say it's challenging being that I have writing experience, but in the class we have everyone from high school students to lawyers and business people trying their hand at being creative. The class takes me about 1-2 hours a week, so it's not a huge time commitment. I've learned quite a bit about structure, which is really helping me with plotting out novels. Also, we've worked on character development. It's also somewhat affordable.

I hope to take more courses at the UCLA Extension Writer's Program, although I'll be taking the fall off  from classes because I do work full time at a school and have another book to finish before the end of 2012. I would highly encourage anyone interested to check it out!

Karly Kirkpatrick is the author of five novels, including those in the Into the Shadows Trilogy, and Bloody Little Secrets. You can find out more about her and her books at!


  1. I don't think as writers we'll ever get to a place where we don't need to learn anymore! Glad you found some you like!

  2. This is a really great idea - I'm going to have to check it out. And guess what? I attended UCLA for my Aerospace Degree, so it will be like coming home. And my mom's taken the Extension Classes in writing as well! So I have no idea why this hasn't occurred to me before, but YAY! Thanks for letting us know!

  3. I've written two screenplays and the experience really helped me as a novel writer. One was based on a book I'd written which was a real eye opener (on how I could improve the book) and the other was original. I definitely recommend it as a way to improve craft.

  4. I agree with Laura. As writers, we never stop learning and improving.
    I'm what I call a workshop whore. I try to stay away from them, but can't. I just signed up for other 2! has cheap/fast workshops with lots of interactions. There's also Writers Digest University. Margie Lawson's workshops are awesome too!

  5. oh, I hadn't thought about taking a screenwriting class to help build plotting muscle but that sounds like a great idea!!

  6. I'll have to check into those other workshops too! All great ideas! If only I had more time, pesky day job and mortgage. :D