Monday, 12 September 2011

Online Writing Class Reviews

I'm what you could call an online class junkie and I find it really frustrating that there is no place to get reviews of online classes. So I've set up this blog in the hope that people will post reviews (you can post anonymously) of online classes they have taken. I'm primarily looking for information about online writing classes but I'll take info about any online class. Of course as this is anonymous there is no guarantee that this information is accurate but I'm hoping this will turn into a useful tool.

Please post your reviews in the comments using the following format:

Class Title:
What did you like?
What didn't you like?
Anything else?
Please include some information about logistical side of things: the number of lessons, if handouts were provided, the size of the handouts, if there was any restriction on when homework needed to be done by, if there were restrictions on when questions were answered etc.
Would you recommend this class?:

All comments are moderated so that I can weed out spam, derogatory and foul language.
If you have any suggestions on ways to improve the set up please let me know. Thanks.


  1. Example review
    Empowering Character Emotions
    Instructor: Margie Lawson
    Cost: $30
    When: March ? 2007
    What I liked: I really liked how much information Margie gave you, how approachable she was. I really liked how easy to understand the information was. I could immediately see the lack of character reviews in my writing.
    What I didn't like: n/a
    Anything else: The handouts were really huge - over 200 pages in total. There were no restrictions on homework and when questions were answered. I don't know how Margie kept up because there were over 100 people in the class. It was a really high traffic email list, so I'd recommend folks switch to digest.
    I would recommend this class.

  2. Great site. I've shared with my groups.

  3. I've got a terrible memory for the classes. I took the above class and also another one by Margie.
    Class Title: Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist

    Instructor:Margie Lawson

    Cost: $30
    When: I can't remember now.

    What did you like? The way she explained things and how much sense they made. The way the class was presented how she woudl take the time to help us.

    What didn't you like? NOTHING

    Anything else?
    ANy of Margie's classes are available on her website as lecture packets.
    I recommend her classes to everyone. I know a best selling author that was in one of her classes. Margie even used some of her book as examples. That is a good thing Margie does she gives examples of before and after so you can see what she's teaching.

  4. Talk a walk on the Dark Side & A Serial Killers╩╝ Psyche
    Instructor: Dr. Cynthia Lea Clark
    Cost: $55 for both classes
    When: 2008
    What did you like? There was a lot of information provided. I really liked the premise of the two classes.
    What didn't you like? Although there was a lot of information given it was effectively worthless because the instructor didn't reference any of her sources other than fictional ones. She would constantly quote statistics but she would never say where these statistics came from. I found that really surprising because I would have thought that kind of thing would be second nature to someone with an academic qualification.

    The other thing was she also told you to read fiction and watch TV to see how to portray criminals etc. Now I thought that was strange because I'm not an expert. Another student had some experience with Law Enforcement and said to the tutor they were disturbed at the lack of real life example and references illustrating the tutor's point and that everyone in law enforcement they knew complained about Law & Order being unrealistic. The tutor had just told us to watch it. Well, I'd never seen anything like it. The instructor went crazy and accused the student of making a personal attack and went on a rant about how she wasn't responding to negativity.

    After that I think only one student dared to reply to her emails and then it was only to say this class is amazing. I spoke to another student later and she said she raised the lack of references with the moderator. The moderator had dismissed the concerns and effectively told her she should be grateful for the tutor's time or something.

    Anything else? The lessons were formatted in such a way that made them difficult to read, I had to copy and paste into word and the formatting was still bad. I was spending at least half an hour to make each lesson readable.
    She did give a list of books at the end of the class but she didn't reference what lesson those books related to, so I might as well just have bought the books and not bothered with the class.

    Suffice to say I would not recommend this class to anyone. You can't independently verify the information given. I know some people don't care about realism in fiction but this class was billed as how to create criminals with reality and flair.

  5. Class Title: Conceive, believe, Achieve
    Instructor: Amy Atwell
    Cost: $16
    When: Sept 2011

    What did you like? Goal setting with a twist; great exercises; a fresh approach to setting goals which eventually goes to SMART. Amy was helpful, available and supportive.

    What didn't you like? not much. participation dropped off which was unfortunate.

    Anything else? Great class. I really liked it and found it motivating to start and continue writing.

    Please include some information about logistical side of things: 2 lessons a week; lots of feedback on assignments; lessons were easily readable concise.
    Would you recommend this class: Yes, most definitely

  6. Title: Deep Edits
    By: Margie Lawson
    Taken: 2010
    Cost: $30

    Likes: After seeing the other posts, hate to sound like a broken record, but this was the best writing class I've ever taken. I've since taken most of her classes, and have gone from struggling to having an agent, and being in submittal with publishers.
    Do yourself a favor. If you only have money for one class this year - make it this one.

    Dislikes: None - but come prepared to work. I haven't worked this hard since college!
    You get out of it what you put in.

  7. Oooooh I think this is a great idea! I've taken a ton of workshops, I'll be sure to come back and add more. But here's the latest one I finished a few weeks ago:

    Class Title: Quilting 101 - Patchworking the Perfect Plot

    Instructor: Suzanne Johnson

    Cost: I think it was $15 for ( members, $25 for non-members

    When: Aug 1-28

    What did you like? Lessons were consise and easy to understand. Suzanne gave examples and answered all questions

    What didn't you like? Nothing really, but be prepared to do A LOT of work lol

    Anything else? Great workshop to help get a handle on your plot, I would definitely recommend it

  8. Discovering Story Magic
    Instructor: Laura Baker & Robin Perini
    Cost: $30
    When: 2009
    What did you like? Laura & Robin have devised a great system that makes you think really hard about your story. The first part of the process concentrates on the character arc. The next part the turning points. Finally you complete a story board. During the class you analyzed a movie to see how the system worked, and then you used the system on your wip.

    Both instructors were super approachable and helpful. They had a credo that was something like “take what you can use and dump the rest” which I thought was really cool. No system is going to work for anyone. I loved this class but I don’t use everything that I learned because it doesn’t fit in with how I plot.

    What didn't you like? Only 7 students got the chance to work directly with the instructors, the chapter that ran the class didn’t make that clear in the promo material. Of course that wasn't the instructors fault but it did sort of sour me on that chapter's classes.

    Anything else? We were given handouts including charts. You can buy handouts/lecture packets here: but I recently noticed that Laura Baker will be running a class in Feb 12. It doesn’t say if Robin is also teaching the class: I would recommend that everyone try this class.