Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Get classy
by Brenda Janowitz

As an author, I get asked quite frequently about how I got started.  Everyone's got a story in them, and they want to write a book, just like I did.

Only problem is, no one ever seems to want to do the actual work it takes to write a full length novel.  When asked about how I wrote my book, I always begin by telling people that I started with a writing class.  That's usually when the eyes glaze over.

But the truth is, no matter how good of a writer you are, a writing class will arm you with the tools that you'll need to write a full length novel.  Lots of people can write, but you need to learn the rules if you want to actually write a book.  And what's more, a writing class will introduce you to a new group of people-- people with a similar goal to yours.

Classes I'd recommend are mediabistro.com and Gotham Writer's Workshop.  Both have classes online and in person.

I'm also a huge advocate of Alex Sokoloff's Screenwriting Tricks for Authors, which has become my Bible, along with her blog, The Dark Salon.  I used to think I knew a lot about three act structure and how to structure a novel, but Alex breaks down three act structure even further-- into eight distinct sequences-- and just by reading her story breakdowns, I've learned so much.  And the bonus?  She teaches classes online, too!

Are you one of those people who's got a book idea in you but just hasn't sat down to write it yet?  What's stopping you?  Sign up for a class and then go from there!

I’m the author of Scot on the Rocks and Jack with a Twist.  My work’s also appeared in the New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly.  You can find me at brendajanowitz.com.


  1. I'm big fan of Alex's too, Brenda. I bought her e-book and saw you were thanked in the acknowledgments. This blog is also mentioned (so cool!) I'm sure you had something to do with that.)

  2. Thanks for the links, Brenda. None of us, no matter at what stage we are in our career, should ever stop learning :)

  3. Great post! And now I'm feeling plot-deficient. I can think of high-concept ideas until the cows come home but I'd love to someday pair up for a project with someone who excels at plotting.

  4. "...I started with a writing class. That's usually when the eyes glaze over."

    Funny! Been there. It's a big step from dreaming to actually writing. Great sources, too. Love Alex's blog as well!

  5. Years ago, I attended a summer workshop in Provincetown, MA. I didn't know much about novel writing (lol, maybe i still don't) and, of course, ultimately, it showed. There were two patricipants who were teachers from Gotham Writer's if that tells you how out of my league I was. They couldn't have been nicer, very encouraging. I kept in touch with one for a while. Sadly, I can't recall her name anymore. But encouragement like that did keep me going, and I suppose it all worked out in the end. So if you're one of those people who've thought about writing a book, definitely go for it! Great post, Brenda!

  6. Lauren...Let me know when you find the plot-master because I am truly plot-disabled. I can barely follow my GPS...

    Brenda, I appreciate the mention about Alex Sokoloff and the other resources. Enjoyed the post.

  7. *Only problem is, no one ever seems to want to do the actual work it takes to write a full length novel.*

    Oh, boy ... is that ever true! People love the IDEA of writing a book but so often give up when they realize how much work it really it.

    Writing clases are awesome ... not just for learning the tools of the trade, but for connecting with other writers.

    Great post, Brenda! xo

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