Layla's picture
Layla from Broomfield, CO is reading The Art of Character April 2, 2012 - 6:41pm

What's your experience with online classes here? Do you have a favorite instructor? How do LitReactor classes compare with some of the others out there (Gotham Writer, Writer's Digest, etc.)?

I'm all signed up for Holiday Reinhorn's class, and curious about what to expect.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones April 2, 2012 - 7:28pm

clevenger is the man. he'll wreck you and he wont even do it with anything super complicated. his 200 proof intensive has changed the way i write, forever.

the classes hold water compared to some really world renound ones, like dangerous writing, which i sat in on a few times. so, based on the one i did with clevenger, i would say they're worth the money.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts April 2, 2012 - 7:31pm

I've taken Craig Clevenger, Stephen Graham Jones, and currently Christa Faust. It's amazing writers teaching you some of their best skills in their own writing. If you take it seriously and look at others and your own work critically your writing will improve greatly. I can't pick a favorite instructor because they all have a completely different focus and style of teaching. Clevenger's class is really good for developing technical writing skills that focus on general writing and story/scene structure. Stephen Graham Jones pretty much blew my mind relating to creativity and ideation, if I had to choose one that improved my writing the most it was probably this one. Christa Faust focuses on characterization and so far is the toughest for me, but probably the most useful.

I haven't taken a writing intensive on the internet anywhere else, so I don't know how they match up. The classes are pretty much structered with a Lecture, then a related Exercise, then workshop-style Critiquing, along with a few discussions and Q&As thrown in if people are talkative enough.

I'd kill to take that Kris Saknussem class. Everyone should really jump on that one.

Enjoy the Holiday Reinhorn class. I haven't taken it but I know her writing is good stuff.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks April 2, 2012 - 7:38pm

Do previous classes get cycled through again? I have to save up my meager paycheck for at least two months to afford the cheapest ones, but I don't want to just sign up for one I'm not interested in if one I'd really like to take will come back sometime.

Layla's picture
Layla from Broomfield, CO is reading The Art of Character April 2, 2012 - 7:41pm

Thanks for the info! How often does Clevenger teach the 200 proof intensive? 

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts April 2, 2012 - 7:45pm

@Court Pretty sure it's just based on availability. I know Clevenger has done his workshops at The Cult at least a couple times already. Holiday Reinhorn did one earlier in October. I don't know if Stephen Graham Jones will do one again, or if they'll ever get Jack Ketchum back, but fingers crossed. So, it's pretty much unpredictable, but a few have cycled back around already.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks April 2, 2012 - 7:52pm

Damn. I'll just have to keep my eyes open and my hand out of my savings account. The latter will take some serious effort. I figure it'll be worth it, though.

Layla's picture
Layla from Broomfield, CO is reading The Art of Character April 2, 2012 - 7:54pm

@Court, which ones are you interested in?

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. April 3, 2012 - 5:49am

A writer with a savings account?  Wanna get married?

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks April 3, 2012 - 5:56am

I've taken a few classes, and you pretty much get what you put in.

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun April 3, 2012 - 6:25am

Do previous classes get cycled through again?

As you can imagine, the biggest difficulty in the scheduling of classes is availability of the instructors. We certainly intend to offer our classes more than one time but it isn't as simple as saying "this class will be offered every 2 months". When someone is writing a book, we hope that is their top priority.

or if they'll ever get Jack Ketchum back

A little birdy told me http://www.jackketchum.net/2012/04/01/talking-scars/

 

 

Nikki Guerlain's picture
Nikki Guerlain from Portlandia is reading Necronomicon Book Three April 3, 2012 - 8:40am

@kirk- can you save me a spot. i think this would be a great intro to your classes.

 

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks April 3, 2012 - 8:55am

Just like marriage, my savings account is sometimes a myth. I'm working on it.

@Layla -- I'd love to take the Ecstatic States class; that was the one that really caught my eye. I was really interested in the 200 Proof Clevenger class and the Five Pages Long one by SGJ, too.

Chester Pane's picture
Chester Pane from Portland, Oregon is reading The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz April 3, 2012 - 8:58am

I like what that little birdy is talking about!

I have only taken two introductory classes (I am still a dumb Frosh) from Mark Vanderpool and they really changed the way I thought about writing as well as my writing itself. And I would highly recommend those as introduction to the system as well. Mark is a great instructor and he, more than anyone understands the education system around here.

I would reiterate what Bill said though, you get out what you put in. Be prepared to participate! The more, the better. You will quickly realize that aside from what the instructor has to offer, many of your classmates will also enhance your knowledge base. The lively discussion is one of the strongest elements, and the fact that everyone is enrolled for the sole purpose of, well, writing, makes the atmosphere electric.

And, of course, these classes fit into busy lives, without all the logistical hang-ups characteristic of the traditional academic world-eventhough I do wish there were some LitReactor Cheerleaders to gawk at.

Getting called out for the curious powder on your school desk? Nope, not in these classrooms.

@Nikki: That would be a crazy classroom with you and me in it.

Nikki Guerlain's picture
Nikki Guerlain from Portlandia is reading Necronomicon Book Three April 3, 2012 - 10:23am

i know @chester i'm totally taking it as long as there is room. in other news i've been invited to join a super special writer's group in PDX. Mostly scifi/bizarro/speculative fiction writers. and william nolan (Logan's Run) attends from time to time... how cool is that?  anyhow a really cool core group of published writers. i'm going to check it out on 4/20/12 and feel it out. Maybe i can sneak you in when i'm in the fold (if you are interested, that is). 

Jeremy Bustin's picture
Jeremy Bustin from Virginia is reading Natchez Burning by Greg Iles May 10, 2012 - 4:53am

Do you receive feedback on your writing from the instructor in these courses?

I'm thinking about taking Bram's upcoming class "Beginning the Novel".

Kirk's picture
Admin
Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun May 10, 2012 - 9:28am

Jeremy,

You sure do. But feel free to send a a PM to Mark, as he works with each of the instructors to develop our courses and should have an answer to any question you might have. 

Jeremy Bustin's picture
Jeremy Bustin from Virginia is reading Natchez Burning by Greg Iles May 10, 2012 - 2:10pm

Thank you, Kirk!

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig May 10, 2012 - 2:48pm

I just took Ecstatic States. Save, beg, borrow and steal to afford it. Lidia is an amazing instructor and the lectures/assignments are things I have gone back to over and over since the class has finished. The only BUT in the equation is you, as the course went on, participation dropped. The assignments can be very challenging, but if you make the time for them, you will learn a ton about yourself as a writer and yourself as a human. I definitely had post-ecstatic depression for a good week after it was over.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig May 10, 2012 - 2:49pm

@Jeremy, I've only taken the one with Lidia, but yes. There are weekly discussions and she provided feedback on each piece of writing. We also had a phone conference at the end. Obviously, each instructor will approach things differently, but I would bet that all provide feedback on your writing, otherwise it wouldn't be much of a "class".

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. May 25, 2012 - 2:32pm

Shit, Bree is doing another comics class.  That's awesome.  

Anyone have a report on taking it before?

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch May 26, 2012 - 8:09am

I'll be in the novel class. Anyone else signed up?

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig July 13, 2012 - 9:57pm

Ahhhh, a bot. Hello, bot!

 

Anyone taking Lidia's new class? I can hardly wait.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel July 14, 2012 - 11:39pm

The only thing I would like more of from the classes I took was being expected to write a lot more. I think once a week is a bit weak. At X amount of money I expected a lot more out of the classes. I know people have busy schedules and the such, but at X amount of money I will make the time to make it worth the buck. That is just my take on the situation.

The upside is I learned a lot from Jack and Suzy. They really made me think outside the box and expand my horizon. Suzy had this quick drill that was amazing for taking the reader in close to snapping them away that really makes the prose more dynamic.

As soon as I have more time and more money I will take another class and be more upfront with the instructor as to my expectations. I think it kind of shitty to say I didn't get what I was expecting if I never told them what I expected. 20/20 hindsight. Ask questions and often. They are there for you. Make use of them.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. July 14, 2012 - 11:42pm

I want to take Lidia's class.  The Chronology of Water blew my mind.  I'm in next time she teaches.  (I wouldn't want to take 2 classes at once... and I can't afford it).

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig July 15, 2012 - 9:26am

I dunno, Joe. These classes are designed for people who have day jobs or school obligations. If you consider that you should be reading and digesting the lecture, participating in the discussion, and submitting a piece of writing you have drafted, then fixed up and polished, one story a week is about right. And I'll admit to at least two stories in my last class that I didn't end up having time to polish because I needed all week to come up with what I was going to write.

 

ETA: And I noticed a huge participation drop in my class by the end, many people I talk to had the same issue in other classes, so LR and the instructors do need to make sure they are challenging the students that are dedicated to it, they also need to make sure they are not making the workload so intense that the writer with a day job can't do it.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig July 15, 2012 - 9:24am

Howie--Ecstatic States was mindblowing. I'll let you know how Age of Immersion goes (although I am sure it will be mindblowing as well).

Michael J. Riser's picture
Michael J. Riser from El Cerrito, CA (originally), now Fort Worth, TX is reading The San Veneficio Canon - Michael Cisco, The Croning - Laird Barron, By the Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends - J. David Osborne July 15, 2012 - 9:26am

Yeah, I think it sounds about right for me, honestly. I don't have a job and school hasn't started, but I have a manuscript to finish, a novella to polish, a synopsis to write, and a girlfriend who gets lonely.

Liana's picture
Liana from Romania and Texas is reading Naked Lunch July 15, 2012 - 9:32am

I finished the novel class with Chris Bram and hey, if any of you has been sitting on a novel idea and can't get started, that class really helps. Watch for it when it's given again.

So now, no money for Lidia.

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines July 17, 2012 - 7:13pm

@Renee - I'm in with Lidia again and bringing friends from the class I took at Esalen. WOO FUCKING HOO! 

 

 

 

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig July 17, 2012 - 7:58pm

WE GET TO BE IN THERE TOGETHER?!!!! WEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines July 18, 2012 - 6:27am

Uh huh. Oh, yeah. It's happening.

Hector Acosta's picture
Hector Acosta from Dallas is reading Fletch July 18, 2012 - 7:08am

It honestly blows my mind that people would spend the type of money these classes cost, and then drop out. It's also kinda sad, because personally speaking, I'm not sure how much I would get out of the lectures, but I was still considering taking a class, with the idea that the cost would ensure I only got people were actually serious about critiquing and writing.

drea's picture
drea from Rural Alberta, Canada is reading between the lines July 18, 2012 - 7:41am

@Hector, the flakiness of flaky people never ceases to amaze me either. Take heart, though - a small percentage of people still manage to not suck. I remain part of a cohort from my first LitReactor class, so while not everyone I have workshopped with has put everything in to feedback and particpating, that is typical of groups/people everywhere, n'est pas? Get this- I was recently at a 5 day workshop with Sugar Cheryl Motherfucking Strayed and believe it or not, at least two people flaked out entirely from the class. SRSLY. You have find your people in the forums or the group and you get what you put in. As to the amount of pages you generate within a class, that is NOT the instructor's responsibility. You are given the prompts/assignments and permission to run with them. 

With respect to the learning styles of adults and the value of the lectures, visual and auditory learners can be at a bit of a disadvantage in the online classroom setting, but particularly in the Lidia's class, we were directed to examples in film which further substantiated the concepts presented in the lectures. And some of the lectures were mindblowing and transformative.

I do believe with this being a writer's community that most people can manage with the kinestetic format rather well. I wouldn't want to learn how to adjust camshaft timing this way but it is perfect perfect for readers and writers and I still refer to my feedback notes and the lectures from my classes on here. 

Hope that helps! 

 

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig July 18, 2012 - 8:27am

And, I think for some people, these classes are their first writing intensive type things and they just didn't know if they could hang before they got in there. My first class here was my first class ever (for writing), so I had no idea how I would handle the workload. But i'm horribly stubborn, and it was incredibly worthwhile so I made it work.

Jose F. Diaz's picture
Jose F. Diaz from Boston is reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel July 18, 2012 - 6:50pm

Perhaps they can have classes that are intense workload and light workload. For the intense workload minimize the students to 5-8. So the instructor can properly focus on the work submitted. Another idea to make a good thing more complicated.

sakeena's picture
sakeena July 19, 2012 - 2:46am

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GaryP's picture
GaryP from Denver is reading a bit of this and that July 20, 2012 - 4:54am

Well said, Sakeena of the jungle. Well said. 

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics July 20, 2012 - 5:42am

Ok, looks like I really need to sell a kidney and get in on at least one of these classes. I'd want to take more, but you only get so much dough for a kidney.

Any financial aid programs?

OtisTheBulldog's picture
OtisTheBulldog from Somerville, MA is reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz July 20, 2012 - 6:17am

Not sure about finanical aid and I'm not advocating this but a ski mask, hooded sweatshirt and a pointy finger through the pocket can usually net you $200-$300, give or take.

Strange Photon's picture
Strange Photon from Fort Wayne, IN is reading Laurie Anderson lyrics July 20, 2012 - 6:24am

Now, I've heard there's a three-day wait period before you can purchase a pointy finger, so can I just go into a dark and seedy biker bar and purchase one on the DL?