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Do I Need a Writing Course?

Is it necessary to attend writing courses in order to improve writing style. Having just got one rejection for my novel I feel I need some guidelines as to where I am going wrong.

ANSWER

If you have not taken a creative writing course, you are definitely at a disadvantage, as it usually takes published authors years of classes and study before they can produce a publishable novel.

Courses are not the only way to learn to write creatively, so taking courses is not strictly necessary. Some people study for years on their own. They read dozens of books on craft and dissect and analyze novels and short stories to understand their narrative options.

Other people opt for private instruction and hire a mentor for encouragement, feedback, and lessons.

However you go about it, whether through a writing course, self-study, or coaching, it is crucial to learn the craft of writing.

Creative writing, like all skills, requires an understanding of fictional techniques. Not understanding them, or worse, not knowing that they exist, will likely make publication impossible.

Many people choose vanity presses to self publish their work, and it's a shame that so few of these books have interesting and absorbing narratives. Few readers will slog through a badly structured and poorly written story, so the writer's readership will be minimal.

If you're serious about being published, and being read, accept that there is a lot to learn and begin learning, in whatever way you prefer and can afford.

Most people can put paint on a canvas, but unless a person has rare talent, slapping paint on a canvas will not create artistry. An artist learns technique and then must practice, practice, practice to enhance natural ability. The same is true of writing. Most people can string words together, some quite well, but doing so does not usually create an engaging narrative.

If you'd like to learn why you're work is being rejected, consider getting a professional evaluation. That should provide you with a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in your writing. From there, you can use self-study or courses to improve. With effort, either way would be effective.