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A Class At Gotham

Happy Friday!  Over the past ten weeks, I've been completing an introductory level Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing class online from Gotham Writers.  My husband gave it to me for my birthday back at the beginning of the year.

If you are unfamiliar with the layout and format of an online Gotham class, they have an online tour here.  Gotham has both online and brick-and-mortar classes in their physical location in NYC.

This class is set up to help aspiring writers in the field of speculative fiction hone their craft.  In that respect, it focuses more on craft than it does the speculative fiction.  I've heard that "general" creative writing classes tend to be geared towards literary fiction and can be unfriendly towards genre writers, so it is good that there is a place where we are welcome.  Selections from spec-fic writing were used as examples, and the students are expected to be working on spec-fic projects, but the main focus of the class is making the students better writers first and foremost.  I don't think that this is a problem, I certainly benefited from it, but I was expecting to have more of an emphasis on the spec-fic aspect of writing.

Our instructor was a professional in the field, Paul Witcover.  He provided a wealth of insight in his instruction and discussion, and feedback on the pieces we submitted (more on that later).
He also brought a professional's eye to our works, which was invaluable in that he has been producing publishable work for years and knows what warning signs agents and editors will be looking for.  

Fellow students were other aspiring authors with ideas and some to no experience writing.  One of our fellow students admitted that he had never attempted creative writing before this class, which was surprising considering the caliber of his work!  We discussed lectures and assigned reading each week, and four students posted a selection of their writing in the "Booth" every week to get feedback.  Even though this class is geared towards short story writing, about 3/4 of the students posted some piece of a novel they were working on.  

The Booth is set up so we can get in-line notes from our professor and then get feedback from him and our fellow students.  Some guidance was given as to how to give feedback (say two things you like and two things you didn't like, try not to repeat what someone else has already said, and don't talk back to other students), but it was pretty vague.  More instruction on how feedback should be given wouldn't go amiss, especially since this is an introductory class.  

Lectures each week were arranged in roughly the order of chapters in Gotham's Writing Fiction:  The Practical Guide, which I purchased but haven't had a chance to do more than flip through.  The one I benefited from the most focused on POV.  It's like it finally clicked for me.  POV is really easy to think about and really difficult to execute.  That lesson helped me turn on that part of my critical mind when I'm reading.

There is an advanced class that can be taken after this one.  I'd love to take it, and I might, but since it's no small chunk of change, I think I'll be waiting until next year. :)

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