Professional writing class

Written by Neal F. Litherland. Posted in Featured

Published on April 03, 2012 with No Comments

Have you ever dreamed of writing that novel you’ve been toying around with for years? Or perhaps you’d like some help telling your own story for a short biography? These are fairly common ambitions for a lot of people, but it isn’t creativity or time that is the biggest roadblock, but rather that the craft of writing requires the proper tools to build a solid literary construction. For adults the Portage Public Library is hosting a writing class that will help.

“There are so many things I wish I knew starting out,” said Jane Schroeder, the woman who teaches both the adult writing and the children’s writing classes that are hosted through the Porter County Public Library.

Schroeder, who has written for a variety of different publications over the years, first developed the kids’ course seven years ago. Wanting to get out and make a difference in the community, Schroeder felt that children who are struggling with writing or–in some cases— who excel in writing but require more challenge needed a mentor.

Schroeder developed the basis of the program that she still teaches today.  Over the years, she expanded and created an adult course.  She put together a manual for each class as well as pamphlets to help her students, regardless of age, to become better writers.

“I had a student once that wanted to start out writing a book,” Schroeder said, recalling one of the adult students who attended her classes as a way to sharpen skills for a novel.  

Schroeder, however, teaches the basics of good writing first. Before you get your mind set on writing that book, you should start out smaller, she said.  Newspaper articles, short stories or smaller projects designed to hone your skills.

“Once they get these rules down, they’ll keep their focus,” she said.

So, what are some things that students can expect to learn in these writing classes? Well first, students can expect to write at least one story during the class. A general topic will be assigned and students will read and critique each other’s work.  This is a way of building critical reading skills and to identify editorial highlights.  

And re-writing, which Schroeder says is one of the most necessary skills for a writer to have, is also something that students will learn how to do.

Schroeder talks about when she was in school and she would write a composition.  Schroeder remembers the teacher would read, grade, and then hand back the papers to the students, showing them where they’d made mistakes. But those mistakes wouldn’t be revised and corrected. That’s a critical skill that Schroeder says writers both young and old need to master if they’re going to get anywhere.

The next adult writing class will begin Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 p.m. at the Portage library, 2665 Irving St.  The five-session class costs $30 ($25 for previous students) and is limited to seven students.  Pre-registration is required by April 12.

“You can’t get all this out of some of these books,” Schroeder said.  According to Schroeder, writing is a craft that you have to participate in if you’re going to learn how to get better at it.  And while a textbook is helpful, nothing is as good for your literary skill as sitting down with your story, writing and re-writing it until it’s complete.

For more information, call the Portage Public Library at 219-763-1508.

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About Neal F. Litherland

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Neal Litherland is a Valparaiso resident who has been a freelance writer for several years. A graduate of Indiana University, he holds a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice. He offers advice on money-saving tips using common-sense tactics. He welcomes suggestions and comments. Contact Neal:

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