Frequently Asked Questions

What experience do I need to take your classes?

Course Information—General

You can take most of our courses with no previous study or experience. Aside from our Level II and III courses, all courses are entry-level, designed to start you at square-one.

Do your courses have levels?

Course Information—General

The majority of our courses are entry-level (labeled as Level I), but we also offer advanced courses in many genres. Level II courses are for students who have taken an entry-level course with Gotham or an equivalent class elsewhere. Level III courses are for students who have completed one or more Level II courses.

How long do your courses last?

Course Information—General

Our courses come in the following formats:

10-week Workshops – These classes use a combination of lectures, exercises, and workshopping (critiquing of student projects). In New York City, they meet for three hours per week; Online, each session begins at the same time each week, and unfolds gradually all week long. Available in Level I, II, and III.

6-week Classes – These classes let students explore a variety of forms and concepts in a low-pressure manner, through a combination of lectures and exercises. In New York City, they meet for three hours per week (two hours for Business Writing); Online, each session begins at the same time each week, and unfolds gradually all week long. All Level I.

Selling Seminars – These courses emphasize the business side of writing. The New York City versions take place over two three-hour sessions. The Online versions take place over four weeks. All Level I.

Intensives – In NYC, these are seven-hour crash courses, taking place all in one-day. The Online versions take place over three weeks. All Level I.

What's the difference between courses titled as I or 101 (as in Fiction I or Creative Writing 101)?

Course Information—General

They are both entry-level courses, which you can take with no prior study or experience.

101 courses run for six weeks. They are great if you're just starting out or coming back to writing after a hiatus. They are low-pressure environments, where you don't have to commit to single type of writing and you are not expected to present projects for critique.

The I courses run for 10 weeks. They focus on a specific type of writing, and you will be given at least two opportunities to submit your work to the class for critique.

If you're not sure what kind of writing you want to focus on and/or if you're not quite ready for the pressure of submitting work for group critique, then take a 101 course. If you are sure what kind of writing you want to focus on and are eager to present your work for group critique, then take a I course.

Can I start with an advanced class?

Course Information—General

If you've never studied a particular type of writing, then we recommend you start with an entry-level course, rather than a Level II or III course. We prefer that advanced students have a foundation in the major craft elements and experience in a workshop environment.

If you have taken an entry-level course with Gotham in a particular genre, then you qualify to take an advanced class in that genre, or a similar genre, provided you completed the entry-level course successfully.

If you have taken a course in a particular genre somewhere other than Gotham, then you might qualify to take a Gotham advanced class in that genre, or a similar genre, but we would like to have a discussion with you first, to determine if the advanced course is a good fit.

If you are not certain where to start, just give us a call and we'll help you figure it out.

What if I'm not sure what kind of writing I want to learn about?

Course Information—General

That's fine. Many students want to write, but they aren't sure where to begin.

One option is to take a Level 101 course; these courses do not focus on a single type of writing, but rather let you explore a variety of types of writing.

Another option is to take a cross-genre course, which you will find in our Essentials category. These courses, such as Character or Dialogue or The Editor's Eye, focus on craft elements that relate to all types of writing.

If you're near (or can make it to) New York City, you might try a One-day Intensive, which lets you explore a type of writing or craft element in a single day.

What course should I take if I just want to improve my writing?

Course Information—General

Your writing should improve in any of our classes. Practice and craft will always make your writing better. But here are some good options:

Creative Writing 101 or Creative Nonfiction 101 – to explore creativity in a variety of types of writing.

Business Writing – to explore the fundamental principles of communication in the workplace.

Grammar: Write it Right! – to explore the fundamentals of grammar.

Do you offer courses that teach writing skills for the workplace?

Course Information—General

Yes, we offer these two options:

Business Writing – to explore the fundamental principles of communication in the workplace.

Grammar: Write it Right! – to explore the fundamentals of grammar.

These courses can also be customized for a particular company and presented onsite at that company's headquarters.

How much work can I submit for critique?

Course Information—General

It varies, depending on the course.

The 10-week courses are the ones most focused on the critique, or "workshop," process. The amount you can submit in these courses depends on the type of writing and the level.

Level I

In Level I courses, you get two chances to submit projects for critique. In prose writing classes (Fiction, Memoir, Article, etc.), you are typically allowed to submit up to 15 pages each time, the length of a short piece or a chapter. In Screenwriting and TV Writing, you typically submit an outline for your first submission, then submit a revised outline and/or up to 10 pages of script on the second submission. In Poetry and Songwriting courses, you are typically allowed to submit one poem or one song per submission. Other courses (Stand-Up Comedy, Playwriting, etc.) have similar allowances.

Level II

In Level II courses, you get at least two chances to submit projects for critique; some of these courses allow three submissions. (See the course descriptions for info on this.) The page allowances are slightly longer in Level II than in Level I.

Level III

Most Level III courses allow for longer submissions than other courses. For prose genres, that's usually up to 150 pages total. (Submissions are shorter for Fiction III, which focuses on short stories.) For dramatic genres, a full script and then a resubmission of up to half the script.

It is necessary to have page limits in these courses so the teacher and students are not overloaded with material to read. Also, the writers and critiquers are better able to focus on the material if the number of pages is not too large. But…

Gotham has One-on-One arrangements that allow students to get feedback on as many pages as they desire.

How heavy is the workload?

Course Information—General

It depends on the course.

The heaviest workload is in the 10-week Workshop courses. You have at least two opportunities to present a project or part of a project for critique. This might be a project that you have begun prior to the class start date, or it may be something that you begin once the class is underway. Also, you are required to read and critique the work of your fellow students, typically 2-4 projects per week. Also, most of these courses involve a brief homework assignment each week, and perhaps a little outside reading.

In addition to the work on your projects, you can expect to spend 3-4 hours per week on those other matters.

Courses that last fewer than 10 weeks have a significantly lighter workload. And for the One-day Intensives, there is no work done outside the actual class.

Do I have to read other people's work?

Course Information—General

The 10-week Workshops require you to read and critique the work of your fellow students, typically 2-4 projects per week. A key benefit of these courses is that you get feedback from your teacher and a variety of students. But it's not fair to expect feedback on your work if you aren't giving it in kind to other students.

Any course that is less than 10 weeks in duration is not a workshop (critique) course, and therefore does not require you to read and critique the work of your fellow students.

How is work critiqued in your classes?

Course Information—General

The critique process varies depending on the course.

All of Gotham's 10-week courses are "workshop" courses, which means you turn in projects to be critiqued by the teacher and fellow students. The critiquing is done according to the Gotham Booth method, which means every student must critique the work of other students, and every student must give both positive and critical comments, ensuring students get balanced feedback. The teacher will also give balanced feedback. The writer must listen silently to the feedback, but is allowed to ask a few questions at the end.

Gotham courses that run shorter than 10 weeks are not "workshop" classes. Students will always get feedback from the teacher on exercises, and there may or may not be some informal feedback from the students.

Will my work be treated respectfully?

Course Information—General

Absolutely. Gotham teachers treat all student work with respect, and insist that every student do the same. Furthermore, Gotham teachers make sure that all students get a balance of positive and critical feedback. We want students to get honest criticism, but we don't want anyone to feel attacked or discouraged.

Who are your teachers?

Course Information—General

Gotham teachers are all experienced writers who are also effective teachers. The best writers are not always the best teachers, but Gotham employs people who excel at both writing and teaching. You may enjoy learning about our Faculty.

Can I find what teacher is teaching a specific class?

Course Information—General

Yes, teachers are listed alongside individual classes.

How do I choose the right teacher?

Course Information—General

We recommend you choose the course and timing/location that is most right for your needs, rather than worrying about which teacher is the best fit. You are welcome to look at the bios of our teachers, but the bios alone won't tell you which teacher is most right for you. Our teachers are carefully screened and supervised, and we pride ourselves on the consistent teaching excellence of our teachers.

Is it possible to work privately with your teachers?

Course Information—General

Yes, we offer various types of One-on-One services.

Do you offer any free classes?

Course Information—General

Yes, in New York City. We frequently offer free one-hour classes around the city, and we periodically present an Open House, where people can sample one or two free classes. To see what free classes are coming up, check Free Events.

Why isn't there a Novel Writing I course?

Course Information—Specific

Our Fiction I course is an entry-level course where you gain a foundation in the basics of fiction craft, as they apply to both short stories and novels. Students in Fiction I are encouraged to work on short stories, as they are a great starting point, but you may also work on novel chapters if you wish.

After Fiction I, you may take Fiction II, which focuses on short fiction, or Novel II, which focuses on novels.

Are the Children's Book courses just for picture books or do they include books for older kids, even young adult books?

Course Information—Specific

Gotham's Children's Book courses cover the full spectrum of children's books, ranging from picture books for the very young to "young adult" novels for teens. Many children's book authors write for various age levels, so it makes sense to group all these age levels together.

If you are working on a "young adult" novel and you don't wish to be in a class where books for younger children are discussed, then you may take one of our other fiction courses (Fiction/Novel, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery).

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