Writing classes can be wonderful. A well-run class can inspire you, bring about new ideas, return you to old ones and keep you motivated. I've always found them better than reading a “HOW TO WRITE A NOVEL” book because classes are more personal and allow you to connect with other writers.
If you're new to writing, a beginners class is perfect. It will teach you the basics and hopefully the tutor will give you lots of tips on getting into good writing habits. The one I attended got me into the habit of always carrying a notebook and pen, as well as giving me a solid understanding of the basic workings of any story. A beginners class can also open your eyes to ways of writing you may not have tried, such as using the first person perspective, and it may be the kick-start you need.
When you've gained confidence, or if you've already got the basics down, an intermediate or advanced class will give you more of a challenge.
The downside of classes is money. If that's an issue, you can always search online for forums or blogs that offer discussion on writing; Blogger and LiveJournal are great places to start. Discuss with me and I'll do what I can to respond to specific requests!
|Except I won't be sharing specifics from my novel because it's TOP SECRET!! Eyes Only, and all that espionage jazz.|
Until recently, I was attending an amazing class where we did a variety of exercises every week and there was time for one or two people to offer their own work for constructive criticism (which can be hard to take at first, but you'll find it incredibly helpful once you get used to it). My tutor was a lovely woman who was kind, patient and dedicated her time to creating excellent exercises. My fellow students were all lovely, creative and extremely helpful.
I took the opening chapter of my novel to my class. I wanted to get an outsider's opinion because I had read it so many times I was blind to where it didn't work. The others pointed out where the pace faltered or where I'd slipped out of the main character's perspective. But, the most helpful tip by far, because it changed the novel in its entirety, was when my tutor and a few of the students suggested I kill off a character at the end of the first chapter. At first I was like “No way!!!” but the idea stuck and suddenly I realised the reason I kept getting stuck was because of this character. She was boring and pointless and I was only clinging onto her because of an earlier version of the story. So, I killed her off and I've never looked back. I never would have made the change if I hadn't attended the class. I probably would've given up on the story and moved onto a new one, because back then the novel had hit a major roadblock. THANK YOU, CLASS!
Obviously, I can't guarantee you will all have the same experiences I did, but if you can find a class in your area, give it a go. You never know how helpful it could be! Google's a good place to start searching for classes in your local area.