Friday, December 21, 2007

Online Workshops

I'm taking a non-scientific poll. Do you take online workshops? Find them helpful? A waste of time or money? Would you be more inclined to take one based on the speaker, the fee or the subject matter?

I've taken a few. One was from Lisa Gardner on her plotting method. This was during a phase when I thought I needed to plot my stories out in detail like other writers to be sure I was "doing it right". It was an interesting class, and I did learn a lot about my process by taking it - what works for me and what doesn't - but I'm more of a plantster than a plotter, so by the end I had notecards all over my living room and couldn't figure out what to do next. (That method got tossed.)

I took another one on writing synopses. Each week we added new info to our one page synopsis based on exercises designed by the speaker. Then we'd send them to the loop for critique. I hated this class. The speaker hated my synopsis (actually, she hated all of them), and I eventually stopped sending stuff in.

I took another one on PI's. At the time, I was planning to write a book about a PI. I skimmed all the lectures, didn't do the work, and saved all the emails in a file in my email account. I'd signed up for the class two months before it started, paid my fees, and by the time the class rolled around, my hero had gone from a PI to a thief and legal procedure was the last thing on my mind. But, that class was very interesting and who knows, someday I may just write about a PI and need all that info I've got saved.

My CP is big on online classes. She takes one nearly every month. It can get spendy, with 2 wk classes running $15/$20 (member vs. nonmember price) and month-long classes in the $20/$25 range. I'm not at a stage in my career where I want to take craft classes anymore, but there are a bunch of research classes I've seen lately (esp. on the KOD site) that sound interesting. I've also heard great things about Margie Lawson's classes, so I'm interested in possibly signing up for one of hers in '08.

Do online classes interest you? Have you taken them before or are there any that you'd like to take?


Alice Sharpe said...

I've never taken an online class. Not one. Sometimes I ask fellow authors questions about writing on the computer, but I don't think that's taking a class by any stretch of he imagination although it's free. ;-)

I don't think I ever would, either. I'm not a writing book reader and my research tends to be person to person. There's a PI office in Albany that I'm about this close to walking into someday. We had a female PI talk to the Eugene chapter one time -- that was great fun.

I wonder if Karen has taken some classes or Paty or Gene. I seem to remember that someone did. Maybe Danita. Not sure...


Alice Sharpe said...

I just noticed how I shortened Genene's name. Oops. Sorry.

Paty Jager said...

Busy day! Just had time to hop over here.

I took an online class about Feng Shui- not sure why on a whim! But I did everything they say to do and Bam! I had a contract! So I'm a believer in that stuff! LOL

And I've followed some of the AskAnAuthor thing, but those are really classes and they don't cost anything.

I've taught an online class. It was interesting. It was with another person and I didn't get paid for it.

Every once in a while I'll see something about an online class that looks interesting(like the feng shui)- but like you I don't really need craft at this point, but every once in a while another topic will catch my eye and I'll debate if it is worth the time and money.

Alice, having a PI at a meeting would be fun. I actually wrote a mystery way back after watching Oprah Winfrey. She had a female PI on the show who wrote a book "Be Your Own Detective". I bought that book and had my heroine buy the book and use it as she tried to find out who really killed the person her ex-husband was charged with killing. One of these days I need to go through that and see if it can be resurrected!

Alice Sharpe said...

Paty -- That sounds like a good plot! I like it.

All sorts of twists and turns and what ifs emerge as you think about it...

Paty Jager said...

I sent if off to a couple of agents and they said you can't sell this in first person--- I couldn't believe it since that was when Sue Grafton had just started putting out her alpha books! Blew my mind and I didn't send it anywhere else.

That was before I knew there were writer's groups or anywhere to learn more about the biz.

Karen Duvall said...

I took a couple of online classes when they first started to get popular. I think only a couple of RWA chapters were sponsoring them at the time, and now everyone's doing them.

I think they were good, but I honestly don't remember. It was about ten years ago and they weren't really craft classes. They were more genre specific, like how to write suspense, or how to get more emotion in your scenes, something like that. One of them must have been good or I wouldn't have signed up for the other one.

I took Margie's Defeating Self-defeating Behaviors the first time she offered it, so she was still ironing out the bugs. She's a close friend and I took the class to support her, though I did get something out of it, too. However, it's really super intensive and you need to be committed to keep up with it. Margie is a super teacher, very personable, and she made it a point to make sure every single student in her class, and I mean every single one!, got her personal attention. She's awesome. Everyone loves her because she honestly cares. I recommend the class, but be prepared to spend some time reading heaps of email. I know a lot of my fellow classmates went on to form little support groups of their own. Very cool.

The only class I can think of that I'd like to take is one on writing series books with continuing characters. There was one I'd signed up for several years ago, but it got cancelled because the instructor got sick or something. I forget. But I haven't seen another one offered since then, though I'm sure there have been. I just haven't tried very hard to find out. 8^)

Genene said...

My name is Genene and I'm an online class junkie...

At least I was several years ago. I took one or two online classes each month. The Eastside chapter in Bellevue, WA offered six online classes free to members, so I joined the chapter. I enjoyed the classes and I also like being part of that chapter.

The other classes I took were a mix of craft and "experts" like PIs or police officers or psychics. I took a month-long class on developing a career plan/marketing by Gwen Shuster-Haynes that was awesome. I'm still using the materials from that class. I've also taken Mary Buckham's synopsis class. She's really good.

And I skim the PRO loop and some other loops that run classes to glean the nuggets of info that are useful to me. I don't usually keep up with the lessons, but read through them later.

I haven't taken any online classes for awhile because I have too many other things in the works to keep up with them. But I enjoy them and I do like them for research if I'm writing a character in a profession that I need to know more about.

P.S. Had to laugh at the name spelling, Aice. Sometimes when I'm typing really fast, I'll put an extra "n" at the end of my name or skip an "n" in the middle. I think I catch it most of the time before I hit the send button. :)

Danita Cahill said...

I've signed up for three online classes. I took one, dumped one and saved the info from the other, which I eventually dumped. I don't enjoy spending hours a day online, also don't have the time right now for that, so online classes really aren't for me at this point.

The one I did participate in was taught by Elizabeth Boyle. I just love her, and although I can't remember now what the heck the craft class was about -- ha!-- I remember enjoying it.

MaryF said...

They overwhelm me - all that email....