I’ve taken courses and workshops in English, journalism, fiction writing, poetry writing, technical writing, grant writing, and probably more that I’m not thinking of this moment. Quality has varied, but many were excellent. Based on that experience, here are some elements I consider essential for a good writing class:
- The instructor is a good teacher, someone who builds on your strengths rather than focusing on your errors.
- Once you have basic skills, the instructor helps you refine your writing style rather than forcing your writing into a template or their personal style.
- The instructor is a writer, preferably someone who’s published or is in the process of trying to be published, so they know what it’s like to risk rejection repeatedly.
- The instructor regularly writes the form they are teaching, be it short or long fiction or non-fiction, plays or screenplays, or academic work.
- Students are there because they want to improve their writing. If it is a required class, the majority of students become enthused as they see their writing improve.
- Everyone is expected to write for every class meeting, whether that’s bringing in new or revised work and/or doing spontaneous writing in class.
- The class as a whole or in small groups critiques each other’s work with the instructor modeling and supervising constructive critique methods. The emphasis is on the work, what works, and what can be improved. This way you will learn from everyone’s writing.
If you have other criteria, please post them.