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The 17 best writing classes in NYC

Harness your inner Zadie Smith at these stellar writing workshops for every type of writer on every type of budget

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Whether you want to write the next murder mystery and hope it gets picked up by Hollywood directors, or you want to ensure that your work emails and reports are concise, grammatically correct and rhetorically sound, these writing classes in NYC will help you put those ideas onto paper. And hopefully into some of the best independent bookstores and NYC libraries (fingers crossed!). The remarkable literary institutions employ authors-cum-teachers to teach courses in everything from personal essays to poetry, so you’re sure to find a discipline that suits you. And if you need inspiration, re-reading the best books about New York should do the trick. Enjoy.

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NYC writing classes

1. Advanced Business Writing

Once you have your grasp on the essentials of grammar and writing (like knowing what a semicolon actually does), you’ll want to enroll in a more advanced course to ensure every word you write is chosen with precision. In this course, you’ll learn how to analyze your audience, shape your tone and message for persuasion, education or communication and you’ll work on various strategies for planning your writing and ensuring that you are utilizing rhetorical tools and informative structures properly. At the end of the course, you’ll have sample writing projects that you can add to your job portfolio and you will be ready to use your writing as a tool to further your career.

2. Effective Business Writing

While creatives may want to learn how to write the next great American novel, there are a lot of professional reasons that one might want to improve their writing skills. Virtually every job will require some form of communication between individuals and departments and the ability to write coherent emails, proposals, memos or updates is an important skill if you want to survive in an office environment. Learning the fine art of grammar and the practical skills needed to communicate cleanly will pay dividends in the long-term.

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3. Creative Writing 101: 6 Weeks

One of the most inviting aspects of creative writing is how diverse of a field it is once you scratch the surface. Whether you are interested in writing poetry, short-fiction, long-form prose or even creative non-fiction or memoirs, you won’t need to look hard to find a vibrant community of fellow writers. In this introductory creative writing course, you can learn fundamental skills that can be applied to almost any genre of writing and you can get hands-on experience working in fictional and non-fictional styles to acclimate yourself to the variety of different styles of writing that you can learn and practice.

4. Fiction Writing Level 1: 10 Week Workshop

If you are interested in flexing your creative muscles, you can enroll in an introductory fiction and poetry workshop to start looking for your own personal muse. In this course, students will all about the process of writing fiction and poetry. No one writes a world-changing poem on their first go and this class is about learning the art of revising, editing and expanding on your work in order to take the germ of an idea and turn it into a completed piece that expresses your own creative desires. Whether you are looking to write short form poetry or you want to write a 13-book series in your favorite brand of genre fiction, learning these basic techniques will be a vital boon to your work.

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5. Grammar Essentials

English grammar is incredibly (and often needlessly complicated). Did you know that the reason you aren’t supposed to split infinitives is because someone in the 19th century wanted English to sound more like Latin? Well, if the basics of grammar continue to give you problems, you should consider enrolling in a course like this one. Here, you’ll get practical lessons in the art of writing clean sentences that clearly communicate your intended message and ensure that your writing isn’t giving readers the wrong impressions.

6. Just Write

One of the biggest stumbling blocks that new writers face is that they overthink the preparation work and skimp on the writing work. Like any skill, you learn to write by practicing and the best way to do that is to write. In this regularly-held three-hour seminar, writers are encouraged to do just that: sit around a table and bang out some words while enduring the silent judgment of their peers (who are also using this as a time they are forced to write). While there is time for discussion, critique (and socializing), the outline of this program is simple: Just write.

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7. Business Writing Bootcamp

If you want a complete business writing education, consider enrolling in a business writing bootcamp. This course pairs the grammar lessons and technical writing skills of an introductory course with the rhetorical and persuasive writing training of an advanced writing course. This makes it a one-stop experience for students with minimal writing experience to start to master the important aspects of business writing. Improve your career opportunities and help improve the quality of your persuasive and informative projects with one of these immersive bootcamps.

8. Personal Essay Writing Intensive

The personal essay has become a rather popular form of writing for mass consumption in recent years, particularly as the barriers to publishing short form content have been lowered (were one truly inclined, social media platforms make it almost effortless). In this class, you’ll learn how to brainstorm ideas and plan out the structure of the personal essay and how to build both pathos and ethos in your experiences and arguments. Similar to memoir writing, personal essay writing is about leveraging your own personal experience as a rhetorical tool and it is practical whether you are trying to persuade an audience, sell yourself to a company or institution or make a profession out of Op-Ed writing.

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9. Stand-up Comedy One Day Intensive

Do you want to perform? Want to make people laugh? Want to tour the country? Well, consider learning stand-up comedy. While professional stand-up comedians make it look off-the-cuff, the process of writing a good stand-up routine involves a lot of fine-tuning and revision, particularly as you workshop jokes and tighten the set. In this intensive course, you’ll get a chance to try out some new material, get feedback and start the process of refining your jokes in front of professional comedy writers. Whether you are hoping to punch up a bit or start your first routine, this intrusive course will help you start refining your comedic voice.

10. The Editor’s Eye Intensive

Not all aspects of writing are about being creative. Making sure that your work is properly edited, free of errors and written as tightly as you would prefer is an essential step to getting your work published. This course will help students learn the basics of editing so that they can identify things like improper grammar, incorrect word usage, clunky and awkwards sentences and overly verbose writing. This program also aims to help students develop the professional skills needed to work as an editor (since companies hire professional editors and freelance writers who don’t like editing will pay a pretty penny to have someone else handle it).

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11. Screenwriting I: 10-Week Workshop

If you have an idea that you think would be perfect for the big screen, you should consider enrolling in this immersive screenwriting workshop. Writing a screenplay isn’t like writing other forms of long-form fiction, so you’ll want to get focused training on how to write scripts that are cinematic, compelling and, most importantly, marketable. You’ll learn the art of writing dialogue, stage directions and providing actors and directors with the information they need to bring your vision to life. Whether you are interested in arthouse cinema or want to pen the next famous blockbuster, you’ll benefit from taking this course.

12. Memoir Writing Intensive

If the personal essay aims to make an argument, then the memoir aims to tell a story. In this course, you’ll learn the art of transforming your personal experience into a compelling narrative that entices readers and helps make a broader point about how your experiences tell us something about the world. Slightly distinct from creative non-fiction, memoir writing is possibly the most personal style of writing that you can engage in. While memoirs have traditionally been associated with powerful heads of state and significant thinkers, the genre has become more welcoming to the perspective of the everyday, and in  this course, you’ll learn how your own lived experiences can become the thing of memoir greatness.

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13. Songwriting Intensive

Acclaimed songwriter Taylor Swift was recently named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, suggesting that writing music can have globe altering implications. If you want to learn the basics of professional songwriting and emulate your favorite music icon, consider enrolling in this songwriting course. This course will teach students how to write popular music, how to craft a perfect tune to go along with the lyrics and how to market the music to studios, producers and labels. This course covers a range of different genres, so whether you want to write R&B, pop, rockabilly, hip-hop or smooth jazz, this course will help you develop your skills and start writing the next great earworm.

14. Playwriting Intensive

Live theater is one of the oldest forms of creative writing, dating back, at least to the early Grecians (and likely existed in some form even before the development of systematized writing). If you want to flex your inner Shakespeare, Beckett or Tennesse Williams, consider enrolling in this intensive playwriting course. You’ll learn how to transform the empty stage into a real world and you’ll learn how to write your plays to give the actors the tools they need to deliver the best performances possible. Writing for the stage is its own unique challenge and this course will give you the experience you need to start staging your own masterwork. Plus, for any aspiring Hammersteins, the course can also help you begin to write musicals.

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15. Plot 1: Mechanics 3-week Intensive

Hollywood screenplays, like all narrative, rely on structure to scaffold the story and build audience investment. Whether you are working with the traditional three-act structure most common to feature films, the five-act structures of classic stage plays or the one or two act structures common to modernist works, you’ll want to understand why narratives are structured in certain ways and how to use these structures to your advantage when writing a screenplay. This course will teach students the math that goes into writing a structured screenplay and give them hands-on practice scaffolding their story beats.

16. Social Media Content Marketing: Blogs & Twitter at Noble Desktop

A lot of professional writing for mass audiences is now done online, with blogs and Twitter being important places to communicate and persuade your audience (like this article is doing now and in this class you’ll learn whether or not meta commentary like this helps your content marketing). In this class, you’ll get hands-on experience working with professional content writers to help you set goals, build marketing strategies and create a voice for your company or organization. You will also learn how to create a coherent brand identity for your online content and how to use platforms like Twitter to expand your reach, build a customer base and keep that base engaged with your content.

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17. Character Creation

Characters can really make or break a story. This Character creation class is a compact workshop for character creating and development, to help give you the skills to make your story work. The workshop will focus on areas like principles of characterization, consistency and effects of dialogue, plus more to help with your character-building and storytelling. It's a two-hour session with a teacher, working anywhere that suits you both and 1-2-1 to ensure you have thorough guidance and help. 

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