The Benefits of Writing Classes by Marian Lanouette


First, Happy Birthday to my nephew Louis, I hope you’re having a wonderful day! Love ya!

What I’m reading this week—Frozen Heat by Richard Castle.

This week I want to ask you if you’ve taken writing classes or seminar and which ones you felt you benefited from the most.

No matter what you chose to be in life, you needed to study or train for it to succeed. Writing is the same as any other profession, but more fun. Your skill set will set you apart from the crowd.

Me, I could have been a professional student. Learning and experiencing new things brings me such joy. So it seemed natural when I decided to take my writing seriously I’d research the field thoroughly, to see what it would take to be published.

I put grammar classes at the top of my list. Thinking that would do the trick, I signed up for all the free grammar courses or websites I could find. Yes, it was a great beginning but not nearly enough. With all those classes and advice under my belt I started to submit my work. Well, rejection after rejection (form letters) told me nothing. It couldn’t possibly be this Brooklyn Girl’s grammar or speech pattern. Could it?

No feedback meant the problem couldn’t be fixed. How do you target a problem when you don’t know what it is?

I continued my research and found organizations that brought like minds together. Organizations like Sisters in Crime (NE) and Romance Writers of America (CT); and online writing communities like is another source to check out. These are phenomenal organizations that work to improve the skill set of mystery and romance writers alike. I suggest you look into them.

Finally, I got a rejection letter with some information. A kind editor pointed out where I needed help. You can bet the house on it, I ran out and took all the classes I could find on POV (point of view).  And voila! I’d like to think a great readable novel was created. Make no mistake. I still rely on editors. As a writer the story unravels so fast, what you thought andwhat  hits the paper might leave a few gaps. A good editor is worth their weight in gold, in my opinion.

Did I stop there? Oh no. I started attending seminars, conferences and became an online course junkie.

Here are some of my favorites: If you ever have the opportunity to take Deep Story with Carol Hughes, don’t hesitate, sign up first. How to write multi-novels in a year  by Kerri Nelson is also great. Here are some more; Revising by Sylvie Kurtz, Pitching on, Edit-Palozza to name a few.  I’ve taken so many which are too numerous to mention here but I really want to hear what your favorite craft class was.

Remember, creativity comes from the heart, the mind and the soul!


Author bio: Marian’s debut novel hit the shelves on September 7th. She’s currently working on the third novel in series.!/marian.lanouette

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About Susan Hanniford Crowley

Paranormal Romance, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Author
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17 Responses to The Benefits of Writing Classes by Marian Lanouette

  1. PJ Sharon says:

    I’ve taken so many on-line and conference workshops it would be hard to say which was the best, but ones that I use all the time are the Michael Hague story structure workshop, which completely revolutionized how I saw stories, and Margie Lawson’s story EDITS, a great way to pick apart your work and see where it’s lacking. I also use a character grid that outlines GMC, inciting incident, fatal flaw and dark moment elements that I got from a workshop a few years ago at a National RWA conference. There is so much to learn about the craft and business of writing. I’m just so happy that there is so much available for writers. Thanks for the great post, Marian. Back to my party!

    • Good morning, Paula, and CONGRATULATIONS on your release WANNING MOON this morning. I forgot about Maggie and Michael’s class they were excellent. Like you I became an online course junkie. And I don’t regret it for one moment. There was a side benefit to all these classes beside the writing knowledge they imparted. It was the networking and friends I made along the way. That only is priceless.

  2. I have taken so many workshops and classes too, but now I go for my favorite teachers. Devon Ellington, Susan Meier, Margie Lawson, Kat Duncan, Candace Havens are just a few.

  3. Rhonda Lane says:

    I’ve taken about a jillion online courses, too. I second what PJ said. Here are some others I can add:


    Patricia Kay’s “Making a Scene,” which is all about Scene & Sequel, which is OMG-crucial. (She’s teaching it again in November.)
    If you write mystery or suspense, Kris Neri’s online courses are fantastic, but you’ll need to join the Sisters in Crime “Guppies” chapter to take them
    Mary Buckham’s courses, although she’s dialing back on them to write more, or even just her lecture packet for her Pacing course.
    Margie Lawson’s EDITS – Like PJ just said. Learn it, use it. Even practice on books you like.


    Michael Hauge – So good I had to repeat PJ’s recommendation. 🙂
    Donald Maass – Sometimes, he teaches an all-day workshop somewhere near you. Keep in touch with your local writers groups, that is, any within driving distance. His all-day is even worth an overnight in a hotel.
    If you write mystery or suspense, the Seascape retreat is colossally worth the money. A lot of work beforehand, critiquing about eight 20-page packets, but it pays off over the weekend. Along with group critiques, Roberta Isleib/Lucy Burdette and Hallie Ephron give you suggestions and even clarity.

    Didn’t mean to go on so. 🙂 But I’m passionate about the courses that have helped me.

    • Rhonda, I’m so glad you went on and on. 🙂 I missed a few of those and will look for them when I’m ready for more classes. My mother said life is a learning experience, never stopping learning. Great advice.

  4. I also have attended many workshops and taken many on line classes as well. I think I learn something from every one of them. I still consider myself a novice and I’m always eager to hear what works for other writers. I agree with your mother, you are never too old to learn. One of the workshops that really helped me personally was Peter Andrews workshop on writing FAST Fiction. I have written two novels using that method and it works wonderfully for me.

    • I agree, Gerri. I took Peter’s workshop and it was fantastic. I’ve always used the method of getting the story down first before you edit. This way I never have to go back and say, “What was I thinking?”

  5. The most recent, perhaps the best ever, workshop I had attended was: The Happy Ending: Using Fairy Tale Structure and Theme to Craft a Winning Story. It was offered by writer/editor Theresa Stevens, delivered with passion and so much knowledge we ran out of time. Hope we at CTRWA get to hear her one of these days.

    • ZsuZsa, I love the title, my nasty little mind takes off in all directions. 🙂 I’m going to research the class it sounds wonderful.

    • Theresa’s class is in person, but she is co-editor on that is very informative. BTW, I attended Donald Maass’ class, something about the fire within, at the Washington RWA conference three years ago–how time flies–and I could have sat there listening to him forever. While feverishly taking notes, of course. Michael Hague I haven’t had a chance to hear yet, but I am very much looking forward to it.

      Great topic, Marian!

    • I loved listening to Donald Maass–I sat next him at the BEA in 2009. Nice guy.

  6. Renee Rose says:

    I take classes through WriterU – they’re super affordable and keep me focused on improving…

  7. Marian 🙂

    I’ve taken many writing classes, some that helped and some not so much. But my favorite of all time was Deep Story with Carol Hughes and I loved it. After her class at SavvyAuthors I finally realized what my stories were missing. Needless to say, I’m signed up for Deep Story II which starts next month.

    Great article 🙂

    Kate Allenton

    • malanouette says:

      Kate, I took both those classes and loved them so much. It was a great learning experience and I enjoyed Carol as a teacher. She’s so knowledgeable on her subject matter. Enjoy DSII.

  8. Terri Main says:

    I would say most of my journalism classes in college have helped. Journalism is “no frills” writing. It forces you to observe and report concisely. Those type of skills are important for any writer. But I would say the most helpful of all was my Magazine Writing course in college. What I learned there, has made me a lot of money over the past 30 years.

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