ONLINE WRITING CLASSES
WRITING 101– Have you always wanted to
write but haven’t known where to start? Have you written in the past
but need a refresher on the nuts and bolts? If so, this is the
course for you. It will help you communicate clearly and
effectively, whether in email, reports, letters or essays. The
short, targeted assignments include quick grammar exercises, keys to
writing effective sentences and paragraphs, and longer assignments
that illuminate the writing process, organization and composition.
This class will help you to reach your potential as a writer—whether
on the job or for personal growth—bringing style and confidence to
your writing. Six assignments in all, including a persuasive essay
and a personal essay. Text: The Elements of Style by Strunk
and White. $500. Instructor: Jessica Murphy.
INTRODUCTION TO NONFICTION WRITING - Nonfiction writing is
by far the most popular genre of contemporary literature, offering
endless opportunities for craft, creativity and publication. This
course introduces you to the fundamentals of nonfiction: developing
and shaping story ideas, interviewing and research, strategies for
opening and structuring nonfiction stories. Students research and
write a 750-word profile, a 750-word personal essay and four other
targeted assignments as they learn the fundamental skills of this
invaluable craft. Text: On Writing Well by William Zinsser. $500. Instructor: Jessica Murphy.
INTRODUCTION TO MAGAZINE WRITING - This course builds on the
techniques of the previous class, and includes analyzing magazines, learning
different story structures, unlocking the secret of making your words flow,
polishing your prose and working with editors, and understanding the legal and
ethical issues of magazine journalism. Five short- to medium-sized assignments
and one longer (1,500 to 2,000 word story). $500. Instructor: Scott Driscoll.
INTRODUCTION TO CREATIVE NONFICTION – "Just the facts"
doesn’t have to be boring. Creative Nonfiction brings together the
best of fiction and nonfiction writing. Through readings, written
assignments and individual critiques, students will gain a practical
grasp of dramatic scene, dialogue, character sketches and scene by
scene construction. Class will discuss where to market work. Six
assignments including a 1,500- to 2,500-word story and its
revision.$500. Instructor: Scott Driscoll.
ADVANCED CREATIVE NONFICTION – This course builds on the
techniques of the previous class, adding in medias res openings,
first and third person points of view, creation of suspense, and
further suggestions for publication. Six assignments in all,
including a 1,500- to 2,500-word story and its revision. $500.
Instructor: Scott Driscoll.
INTRODUCTION TO WRITING A NONFICTION BOOK – Have you
always wanted to write a book? Do you have an important story to
tell? If so, this is the course for you. Nonfiction books are the
largest category of manuscripts published, making up 85 percent of
all the books published in a given year. Of those, 75 percent are by
first-time authors. Writing a nonfiction book is a good way to break
into the publishing world. This course is designed to help you
produce the finished first chapter of your nonfiction book, a
concept statement, an annotated table of contents and marketing
report. Six assignments in all. $500. Instructor: Jessica Murphy.
ADVANCED NONFICTION BOOK: WRITING, EDITING AND PUBLISHING
- This course continues the writing and refining of your manuscript
with the goal of producing a finished book proposal. In addition,
the course addresses writing query letters, market research,
contacting publishers, seeking out literary agents, organizing
publicity--all of the skills needed to obtain a contract and
complete a manuscript for a first book. Six assignments in all.
$500. Instructor: Jessica Murphy.
INDIVIDUAL TUTORIAL – In this class we’ll work together to
set up an individualized curriculum. After consulting with you, I’ll
put together a package of assignments and readings to fulfill your
particular goals as a writer. The assignments might range from short
100-word story ideas, to 250- to 500-word scenes to a 2,500 story or
a 3,500-word book chapter. Six assignments in all. $600. All
NOVEL WRITING TUTORIAL - Whether you're just embarking on
the great adventure of writing a novel or are midway through the
journey, this tutorial will help you find your way to completing the
book. Assignments include a book idea, a 250- to 500-word scene, a
character sketch, a first chapter, an outline, and a revision.
Course may be repeated, adding further assignments as students
progress through the writing and completing an entire manuscript.
Text: The Weekend Novelist by Robert Ray. $500. Instructor:
INTRODUCTION TO TRAVEL WRITING - The romance of travel
writing is easy to understand. Who wouldn’t like to go on an
all-expense paid trip to a Hawaiian resort? How about traveling the
Whiskey Trail through the American South, visiting the best micro
distilleries? Or what about a food and wine tour of Argentina? These
are all trips I have turned down recently, mostly from lack of time.
Would you like to go in my place? Sign up for the class you’ll learn
the techniques of travel writing which can lead to getting invited
on these trips. Travel writing is one of the most exciting genres of
nonfiction, calling on all of an author's skills—dramatic scenes,
character sketches, concrete detail, point of view, scene by scene
construction. Through readings, written assignments and individual
critiques, students will gain a practical grasp of these techniques.
Class will discuss where to market work. Text: The Travel
Writer's Handbook. Six assignments including a
1,500- to 2,500-word travel story and its revision. $500.
Instructor: Nicholas O'Connell.
INTRODUCTION TO NATURE WRITING -
Nature writing is one of the most appealing genres of nonfiction,
providing an opportunity to reconnect with the natural world. Learn
techniques such as concrete detail, dramatic scene,
characterization, point of view, and a dash of humor to vividly
describe your experiences of wild nature. This online nature and
adventure writing class provides an extensive introduction to the
art and craft of the genre. This course will offer an opportunity to
learn the secrets of writing nature narratives, including shaping
story ideas, keeping a nature journal, structuring stories and essays, and where to send them for publication.
Text: Writing about Nature by John Murray. Six assignments
include a story idea, character sketch, dramatic scene, 1,500- to
2,500-word story and its revision, and a cover letter. $500.
Instructor: Jonathan Waterman.
INTRODUCTION TO FICTION WRITING -
This introductory online fiction writing class teaches the process
of writing from the ground up. Specifically targeted early writing
assignments and readings help you get started with your writing.
Later assignments provide you with the fundamental tools of
narrative writing, including plotting, character development, and
point-of-view. In the course of this fiction writing class, you’ll
complete a story sketch, a story beginning, a plot chart, and a
polished draft of a short story.
Fiction by Janet Burroway. $500. Instructor: Scott Driscoll.
INTERMEDIATE FICTION WRITING -
This online course builds on the skills learned in the introductory
class, combining readings and writing exercises to help you master
the key elements introduced during the first course. Readings and
critiques will allow you to gain greater control of your short
stories. In this fiction writing class, you will continue to produce
new work, develop editing skills and explore the subtler shades of
the fiction writing craft such as scene and sequel, fictional time,
narrative distance and plotting.
of Views. $500. Instructor: Scott Driscoll.
ADVANCED FICTION WRITING -
This online course helps you draft and revise your fiction, sharpens
your expertise as a reader, writer, and editor, and encourages you
to find your own approach to the art of fiction writing. You will
strengthen your skills in working with narrative voice, dialogue,
fictional use of time, and other advanced tricks of the fiction
writing trade. Finally, you’ll research publishing markets and learn
how to prepare your manuscript for publication.
Fiction by Janet Burroway. $500. Instructor: Scott Driscoll.
INTRODUCTION TO POETRY WRITING – Poetry,
it has been said, is a telephone line to the unconscious. In poetry
we learn to make wild, unorthodox associations leading to the
discovery of new connections. This poetry writing class will allow
you to explore the delights of poetic form and language while
learning the basics of the craft. Six assignments, including a free
verse poem, dramatic monologue, nursery rhyme, and sonnet. Text:
The Discovery of Poetry, by Frances Mayes. $500. Instructor:
WRITING FOR YOUNG ADULTS – Do you have a
son or daughter who loves to write but lacks quality instruction and
individual attention? Does your child need help writing essays for
school or college applications or simply for self-expression? If
yes, consider signing up for this course, which provides expert,
encouraging instruction in the art of persuasive writing.
Short, targeted assignments include quick grammar exercises and keys
to writing effective sentences and paragraphs. Longer assignments
are focused on the argumentative basics that students will need to
succeed in college: creating a strong thesis, learning to how to
incorporate evidence, and establishing authority on the page through
sharp organization and a proper appeal to emotions. All in all, this
class will help your child reach his or her potential—whether in
school or for personal growth. Six assignments in all, including a
persuasive essay and a personal essay. $500. Instructor: Scott
Driscoll or Jessica Murphy.
INTRODUCTION TO CREATIVE WRITING
FOR YOUNG ADULTS - From Harry Potter to Shakespeare to The
Da Vinci Code, creative writing is one of the most satisfying
and timeless of art forms, teaching us universal truths about
ourselves and our relationship to the world. In this course, you’ll
learn the building blocks of fiction and poetry. We’ll cover the
component parts of poetry by studying and writing sonnets and then
delve into fiction with readings and exercises to help you establish
character, setting, and structure, culminating in a 1,000-word
story. All in all, there are six assignments. By the end of the
course you will possess the basics needed to create work that
excites, moves, and transports readers. Text: Imaginative
Writing by Janet Burroway. Cost: $500. Instructor: Scott
Driscoll or Jessica Murphy.
Certificate in Creative Nonfiction
Students who complete four classes from The Writer's Workshop,
whether online or Seattle-based, will receive a Certificate in
Creative Nonfiction. This certificate demonstrates your professional
competence to employers, boosts your chances of acceptance at a
M.F.A. or other graduate program, and provides a concrete measure of
your personal achievement.
You can pay by sending a check to
Nick O'Connell, 201 Newell St., Seattle, WA 98109 or click on
pay with a credit card.
What Former Students Say
It was 20 years ago you urged me to submit a story
I'd written in your class to the Seattle Weekly. They
published it in February 1993. Best money I ever made. I've been a
journalist/ reporter ever since then all over the country, including
the Hartford Courant. Thank you.
--Janice Posada is a writer for
the Hartford Courant.
Nick, I am so grateful for
the opportunity to take your summer nonfiction seminar through The
Writer's Workshop. It was the summer of 2008, and I was in the
midst of making big changes in my professional life. The
writing class proved to be the kick-off to my new path as a food and
wine writer on the east coast. Now as wine columnist and a
restaurant reviewer for the Boston Globe, I regularly use
the techniques of narrative writing to bring readers into the action
of a story and to create engaging scenes out of everyday moments.
Thank you for fostering a supportive learning environment in your
writing classes that played a key role in my development as a
--Ellen Bhang is a Boston Globe
Correspondent from Boston, MA
Thank you so much for the wonderful Follow
The Story class. In eight weeks you've taken my writing
skills farther than the four years I spent on my Bachelor's degree
- Wendy Kendall writes from Seattle,
I took your non-fiction course in the winter of
'95/'96. You must have done a good job because of the 11 folks in
the class, six of us have published books. The University of
Oklahoma Press published my manuscript in 2005: A Room for the
Summer; Adventure, Misadventure and Seduction in the Mines of the
Coeur d'Alenes. The class had a great effect and I read and
re-read my notes continually as I proceeded through my book.
- Fritz Wolff is a writer from
Thanks to your guidance, my head is spinning
with oodles of ways to express myself using the personal essay
style. I attended a
conference for text and academic authoring in Minnesota a few weeks
ago, where three of us actually composed a personal essay on napkins
at a reception with a well-stocked bar.
I credited you as my inspiration.
- Karen Hoelscher, Ph.D.
writes from Bellingham, Washington.
you have a compelling story? Want to learn the craft of narrative
writing? Dr. Nick O’Connell teaches time-honored principles with a
relaxed style in four enjoyable courses. From nut graph to
structure, from lead to climax, Nick has transformed my writing
career from scientific researcher to riveting narrative non-fiction
Dr. David G. Embrey is a freelance writer from Puyallup,
GUESS WHAT!!!! Equus has
accepted my article! OK, so they are only paying me $50, but I
really don't care about that. Thank you so much for helping me,
Nick. I have really enjoyed and benefited tremendously from working
through the writing process with you in this course. Your comments
and assignments kept me inspired and enabled me to write an article
I had been thinking about for a long time. I don't think that I could have done this without you. This is
amazing! Just wanted to share the news!
Maccornack, Ph.D., is a writer from Summit, New Jersey.
Sometimes the most influential people have no
idea of the impact they have on others. I just wanted you to know
what a tremendous difference you have made to my writing life and to
share the great news that an essay of mine will be published in a
Seal Press anthology, Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up
About Moving On, that is scheduled for release in May 2009. Your
kindness, your style, your generous sharing of your craft, your
respect for everyone... it all had a deep impact on me and gave me
the courage to write from my heart.
- Susan Carol Stein is a freelance writer
I really appreciate all of your great feedback
in the online writing class, particularly the fact that you went
through my writing very carefully. Although I learned a lot in the
Writers Digest Fiction course it was mostly through my efforts -
instructor feedback was usually limited to two or three sentences of
general comments that were not particularly helpful. I will stick
with you, Jessica Murphy and Scott Driscoll in the future.
- Bob Sproule is a freelance writer from Klamath Falls, Oregon.
I wanted to
write and share with you how much your non-fiction creative writing
class meant to me. With zero professional writing background, I
absorbed as much as I could from your class. Here’s just a
smattering of what I learned:the huge importance of an engaging
opening; the use of verbs to create action and move the reader
along; create tension in the reader and set them up for the
solution; use action-oriented scenes. And much more.
- Steve Roberts is the author of Wine Trails of the Northwest.
Thanks to what I learned from you and
Scott Driscoll, I was lucky enough to become an intern at Seattle
Magazine, then a freelance writer, and now I'm the Research
Magazine, Seattle Business Monthly,
and Northwest Home & Garden. I really appreciated your
feedback and suggestions. This is a long overdue thank you.
- Sheila Mickool is the Research Editor
for Tiger Oak Publications.
About six years ago I took your Creative
Nonfiction course on-line. I enjoyed it immensely and think I even
learned something. Fast forward to October, 2006. The editorial
board of the University of South Carolina Press met this afternoon.
My proposal for a book called Longitude by Wire: Finding North
America was on the agenda. At a little after two this afternoon
I received this e-mail from the editor: “Project approved for
publication. Congratulations.” Who would ever have thought I would
get this far? Just amazing!
- Richard Stachurski is a freelance
writer from Bellevue, Washington.
it weren’t for Nick O’Connell, I would not be a soon-to-be-published
author. Nick’s classes helped me find my unique writing voice, and
his enthusiastic and insightful critiques inspired me to expand a
short story idea into a book. I highly recommend Nick’s classes to
anyone who has any interest in writing. You’ll not only be given
structure and advice, you’ll also learn how to get your work
Elisabeth Squires is the author of the bOObs: A Guide to Your Girls,
published by Seal Press.
Just last week I received call from an editor at Tate Publishing
who told me that a book I've written about caring for my mother has
been accepted for publication. What a surprise! One of the reasons I
took your course was to gain more skills to complete this book, so
my dream has finally come true.
- Jennifer Sokol is the author of Six Years of Grace: Caregiving Episodes With My Mother.
I took Nick O’Connell’s class “Stalking the Nonfiction Narrative”
when I was stuck on the first draft of my book. He helped me break
through barriers, giving me the techniques to create a solid
structure for my book. Then he worked with me as a writing coach and
gave insightful feedback that enabled me to craft my story into a
publishable manuscript. Throughout the whole process, he encouraged
and advised me on all aspects of the writing and publishing. Nick
was a huge part of my recent book sale, and I would recommend him to
any writer–-whether you just want to improve your technique or to
- Rebecca Agiewich's novel, The Break-up Babe, was recently
published by Random House.
Nick, thanks so much for all your guidance and help: the classes,
the feedback, and the positive attitude towards criticism all
contributed to my successful book proposal. The structure of the
class plus your positive spin on incorporating suggestions really
altered my attitude. Given my lifetime history of a critical mother,
that was some change!
- Patty Cogen's book, Parenting Internationally Adopted
Children, was published by Harvard Common Press.
Prior to taking Nick’s class, I had faced a deluge of
rejections—79 alone, just for my book. He had to convince me that
the essay I was writing for his class was appropriate for the
“Lives” column of the Sunday Magazine section of The New York Times
and encouraged me to submit it. “Too Close for Comfort” was accepted
the day the editor received it and was published two weeks later. Is
there a better endorsement for Nick’s teaching talents? I almost
forgot--his obvious joy in craft and wonderful sense of humor.
- Debra Borchert is a freelance writer based in Seattle
Nick is one of the most approachable and helpful writing teachers
I’ve ever met. He’s not just a good teacher, but a veteran writer
himself, who knows all of the ins and outs of the business. I’d
recommend his classes not only to the beginner, but also to
established writers who are looking to improve and broaden their
- Cory Graff’s book Strike and Return: American Airpower and
the Fight for Iwo Jima was published by Specialty Press.
Before taking Nick O'Connell's Creative Nonfiction course, I sent
stories off to editors with a sinking feeling in my stomach. I was
nervous that I would be found out. The truth was I was winging it. I
didn't know how to write a nut graph or a compelling lead. From
scenic leads to nut graphs and character development, I learned
techniques that made my stories stand out. That's how I landed my
job as Associate Editor at San Francisco Downtown Magazine, only six
months after taking Nick's course. I was up against Brown and Oxford
graduates--one of whom was on staff at Time Out magazine--but I was
offered the job because my stories had strong themes, clear
structures and, most importantly, kept the reader reading. Nick's
course gave me the confidence and, most importantly, the techniques
I needed to bring my stories to life.
- Vanessa Sharp is Associate Editor of San Francisco Downtown
I have learned how to write under your guidance. A plain sentence
I speak with tears in my eyes. I'm so grateful to learn! In fact
when I compare the progress I'm making as a writer with that of
friends in elite MFA programs on the east coast, I think I have
learned much more. I really do, and they are paying $20,000 plus
travel for their degrees. The students work with many brilliant,
famous writers who are neither brilliant or memorable teachers. I
see my friends struggle with the basic scaffolding of story
construction even though their language is often poetic and
beautiful. No one is talking to them about how to tell a story. The
long and the short of it is that I am immeasurably grateful that I
found your program.
- Jo Ellen Warner is a freelance writer from Seattle,
The essay I wrote with your help is in this week's issue of
Newsweek. It is quite exciting - thanks for your help and
encouragement. There is very little change from the original, so we
must have done good!
- John Hare's personal essay "Tough Enough to Give up Snuff"
appeared in Newsweek. He lives in Yuba City, California.
I have taken Professor O'Connell's Creative Nonfiction class via
email from France. The study of writing techniques, related readings
and feedback from the assignments is very effective. In fact, I have
already been hired to write articles regularly for The Riviera
- Mary C. Mascarella is a freelance writer based in Nice,
Nick O'Connell's teaching was of great help in improving my
writing and editing skills. The personal essay I did for the class
on my whitewater rapids trip was published in Newsweek's "My Turn"
column. He helped me clarify my language and eliminate excess
verbiage. He also showed me how to craft a compelling lead
paragraph, one that transports the reader into the landscape of the
story from the first word.
- Judy Gelber is a freelance writer from Boca Raton, Florida.
Nick’s great sense of humor, his keen eye for clean, compelling
prose, and his years of practical writing experience make learning
productive and entertaining. Nick successfully guided me through my
first job as a newspaper reporter and has provided advice and
mentoring since. He’s a great teacher for the beginning writer and a
superb coach for the experienced professional.
- Deirdre Allen Timmons is a Seattle-based contributor to
Underwire, Seattle Homes and Lifestyles and many other places. She’s
currently working on her second screenplay.
Nick's classes have been critical for me to get started as a
professional writer. He teaches an excellent mix of craft and
marketing--both of which are essential for successful writing. He
taught me how to write a gripping lead, set the scene, and finish in
a way that brings the piece full circle. On the marketing side, Nick
willingly shares his own strategies for breaking into publications.
I found his tips about querying editors, as well as his market
insights, invaluable and have used them successfully in publishing
my first essay--a story about my first car. I'm grateful for his
encouragement of my career in writing. In the fall, I will study
Creative Nonfiction at the University of Idaho's MFA program. I'll
also be TA'ing and hope to model my teaching style on his!
- Jeff Jones is a freelance writer based in Moscow, Idaho.
Nick O'Connell's class really opened up my eyes to using
fictional techniques (dialogue, telling detail, characterization) in
my nonfiction writing. Writing assignments I produced for Creative
Nonfiction were later incorporated into Inside the Pike Place Market
(1999). I highly recommend Nick's classes to other writers looking
for direction and inspiration.
- Braiden Rex-Johnson is a food, wine and travel writer and
author of the best-selling Pike Place Market Cookbook (2003).
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