Cost: $409 ($379 for returning students, other discounts may apply)
Platform: Gotham Writers Workshop
Format: Online platform
Length: 10 weeks
The Gotham Writers Workshop was established in 1993 as a New York City school offering local writing classes. They have now expanded to offer many of their courses online, and they’re one of the most reputable providers of online writing courses today. They’re also among the most expensive, but the quality instructors and detailed information are well worth the cost of admission for most writers.
The Fiction Writing I course is designed to cover the basic elements of fiction writing while giving writers a safe place to practice those elements under the guidance of a skilled instructor. Students access the course through an online portal, and the following elements are included:
- Blackboard – A new lesson is introduced each week. Each lesson is in text format and tends to run over 4,000 words each. You can print the lessons out for review at a later time.
- Notebook – This is where you submit your weekly homework assignment, which is a writing assignment based on the weekly lesson. The instructor reviews each assignment and leaves feedback to guide each student. Other students cannot see your assignment.
- Booth – This is where students submit their short stories for critique. All students are assigned to submit on two different weeks, and all students have the opportunity to read and critique each story. The instructor presents a detailed review at the end of each week. Writers cannot respond to critiques.
- Lounge – This is a web-based chat room for students to communicate if they choose, but it’s not a required part of the class.
The Fiction Writing I course is taught by different instructors, but my class was instructed by Sarah Bruni. She’s the author of The Night Gwen Stacy Died, and her mastery of the basic elements of fiction was clear. She provided thorough feedback on every story submitted to the class and made herself available for guidance as needed.
What You’ll Learn:
- Detailed introductions to the elements of fiction craft.
- Effective writing exercises that allow you to practice writing each element of the craft, and which you may later flesh out into full stories.
- Direct experience critiquing short fiction for other writers.
- How to strengthen your short fiction skills after receiving detailed critiques from multiple readers.
- How to find markets willing to publish your short fiction.
- How to format and submit your short fiction for publication.
- How to learn from your favorite authors.
- How to find your personal style and voice.
- Why reading is so important for short fiction writers.
What You Must Know:
- There are ways to save money on Gotham Writers Workshop writing classes. You will receive a $10 discount on each 10-week writing class taken after your first. Sign up for your first 10-week class plus a shorter class at the same time to receive that returning student discount on the first 10-week class. If you sign up for two 10-week classes at the same time, you will receive an instant $100 discount. Additional discounts are often sent through email and are posted on their social media accounts. You may occasionally see discounts offered through Groupon, but that is rare.
- This is one of the few online fiction writing classes that allow students to submit full stories for critique. You should sign up with the intention of reading each story submitted and offering your feedback each week. This takes time, but it’s critical to the develop of fiction-writing skills for everyone in the class. If you don’t respond to others, don’t expect them to respond to your submissions.
- You don’t need completed stories to participate in the critiques, so don’t delay signing up until you have a polished story to submit. You can even flesh out one of the stories that you start for the short weekly writing assignments, so you don’t need a completed draft when the course begins. The goal is to submit a story that you’re actively working on and can use feedback on, so a polished story isn’t ideal for critique anyway.
- Each student writes a brief bio at the beginning of the course. This is a great way to get to know your fellow students.
- The weekly class chats are optional, so don’t stress out if you cannot participate. No one participated beyond the first week in my class.
I took many creative writing workshops in college and am already familiar with the basic elements of fiction, but it had been years since I wrote a short story and I didn’t feel confident enough to jump right into an advanced class. This course was just perfect because the detailed explanations and exercises allowed me to isolate each element of the craft as a fresh reminder. This is the first Gotham Writers Workshop review that I have written, and I’m excited to report that this class was a game changer for my writing career.
The exercises in this class gave me the confidence to start writing again, and my creativity was flowing by the third week. I ended up using several of the exercises to create full stories, which I am currently submitting for publication.
You can join this class with no completed stories on hand, and that is exactly what I did! The class gave me a quick boost to start producing fiction again, and I think these are some of the best stories that I have ever written.
While not everyone in my class participated in the critiques, I received at least eight responses to each of my submitted stories. Think of it as instant access to beta readers who are going to tell you exactly what they think of your story and why.
This is why I chose the Gotham Writing Workshop in the first place. Not all online writing courses offer critiques from all class members and the instructor. This element of the class was the most rewarding for me. I was introduced to some strong writers, and I genuinely look forward to seeing their work in print someday.
Watching how some writers improved in style and found their voice from one critique session to the next was amazing. All of our second submissions were stronger than the first, and that is a shining testimony to the fact that the Gotham Writers Workshop Fiction I course really works.
I will write more Gotham Writers Workshop reviews as I complete some of their advanced courses. Look out for new reviews in the near future!
Recommended If You…
- Want to write fiction but struggle with anxiety, writer’s block or other setbacks.
- Want to strengthen your fiction-writing skills by studying each element of the craft.
- Want to participate in open critiques to receive feedback on your work.
- Are interested in publishing novels and intend to advance to the Fiction Writing II Novels courses offered through the Gotham Writers Workshop.
- Want to receive more formal writing education but cannot afford an MFA program.
- Want to awaken your creativity through exercises, detailed lessons and feedback from a published author.
- Are looking for fun and interesting online courses to fill your free time.
- Get excited when you read my Gotham Writers Workshop reviews!
Alternative & Complimentary Courses or Resources:
If you enjoy this course, you should consider advancing to the Fiction II courses offered through the Gotham Writers Workshop. These courses will allow you to continue exploring short fiction, but there are also courses for writing the first draft of a novel and critiquing your novel. Watch this site for more of my honest Gotham Writers Workshop reviews.
Disclosure: I may have affiliate links on some of my review pages, but I always deliver honest, from-the-heart reviews of products that I have personally used. I paid full price for this course, and it was worth every penny.