The weekly routine is built around a short assignment based on a short piece of published work. These assignments are designed to introduce students to many approaches and to broaden their sense of what is possible in their own work. Part of the video chat is devoted to an analysis of the week’s assignment, designed to show students what it means to create narrative voices different from the voice they might use in a journal. During the term, students have a chance to revise or continue one of their previous assignments, setting them on a path to completing their first poem or story. As the student’s understanding of technique deepens so does the clarity and emotional power of the writing.
The workshops are designed to help students learn from their own work, as well as from the work of others. Toward that end, students write at least three critiques of their classmates’ work each week, a process the teacher prepares them for in advance. The teacher provides a written weekly critique of each student’s assignment, a degree of attention nearly unheard of elsewhere.
Some Online teachers are fiction writers and others are poets, but they all have experience writing and teaching both genres and they all have completed our rigorous training program. We teach techniques relevant to both fiction and poetry, and the excerpts that form the foundation of the weekly assignments are drawn from both fiction and poetry. In Level I, students who already know that they want to pursue fiction should write fiction even when the assignment is poetry, and likewise students who already know they want to pursue poetry should write poetry each week even when the assignment is fiction. But because in Level I we sometimes have students who aren’t yet sure, students have the option of trying out both fiction and poetry. (Once they move on to Level II, we ask them to commit to one genre.) Level I is designed as a 16-week sequence, which means that students take two terms before moving on to Level II. The two terms do not have to be taken consecutively. Barring a scheduling conflict, generally students stay with the same teacher.
All you need to take a class is a computer or tablet with an internet connection. A link to our online classroom is emailed to you after you register, and tech support is available throughout the class.