If you are aspiring to be a New York Times Best Seller author, one of the questions that may have crossed your mind is what you need to take in college to get you to that dream. Putting words together to keep readers interested is harder than it looks. But do you really need to take courses in college to become a good author?
What degrees should an aspiring author have? None.
There are no required courses to take to become an author. In fact, some of the best authors did not finish college. Jack London, Maya Angelou, and even Ray Bradbury did not graduate. But many more did take some form of writing class or course.
While you don't need a diploma to become a good writer, taking helpful courses can improve your writing skills and increase your chances of landing on the best sellers list. Those courses include English literature, communications, journalism, creative writing, and English.
One of the things that you will be doing a lot of when you go for an English literature degree is reading and analyzing literary works. You will go over works from various periods, movements, and approaches to see how the authors presented their themes. This includes poems, plays, novels, and all other types of literary pieces.
You will learn to look critically at every element in each written work and argue which ones worked best and which ones flopped. You can expect to develop your communication skills, including defending your opinions, framing certain narratives, and scrutinizing levels of meaning.
Courses in creative writing may also be included in the list of required classes for this degree. Additionally, even if the course focuses on English literature, the materials you will go over will not be limited to those from the UK or the US.
Some foreign works may be included in the syllabus so you can familiarize yourself with how the authors handle general themes and topics. This is going to help you immensely as an author because you want to be able to appeal to a larger pool of audience.
Taking up Communication is a practical step not just for budding authors. It is a good major that can prepare you for careers such as content writing and copywriting. You will learn how to effectively gather information and convey them to the readers. This will be helpful if you are trying to break down complex information into simpler forms.
Classes under this course will help improve your research and interviewing skills. You will be able to look at a piece of text and be able to analyze its content both on the surface and what it means underneath. If you are writing a nonfiction text, you will need this to find the most effective way to provide the information to your target audience.
Earning a degree in creative writing is a huge step towards becoming a successful author. The classes in this course will let you hone your writing skills. For starters, you will experience how to analyze the works of great authors and break them down into their elements. You’ll know what to include in your work and what writing styles work.
You will learn how to come up with original themes, write the most interesting opening paragraphs, organize your storyline, develop your characters, and more. The classes will teach you the various techniques to capture your readers’ attention.
Plus, If you plan on writing non-fiction materials, a degree in creative writing is also helpful because you will learn there how to conduct fact-checking as well as how to efficiently carry out research. You should pay attention in classes covering proper citations and how to avoid plagiarism.
Some classes under this course tackle market analysis. This will help you hone into themes that readers will want to buy. Plus, some classes also cover how to effectively present your written work. This entails learning how to lay out the interior of the books, how to make cover sheets, and how to submit query letters to publishing groups.
There are also classes that discuss legal considerations for people entering the publishing business. You will learn about plagiarism, copyrighting your work, and stopping people from copying and profiting off of your written materials. So, it is not all about writing. The classes will also teach you how to become a business-savvy author.
Studying journalism isn’t just for people who want to work for a newspaper or a broadcast network. It can also be your starting point if you want to be an author, because the skills you will acquire by taking this course will help you become an effective writer.
Most of the classes are geared toward teaching students how to write articles on current events. But you’ll learn so much more. You can focus on investigative, data-driven, or documentary journalism. These will give you the skills to hunt down information and convey them in a manner that your reader can easily understand.
Besides the relevant courses on writing, most students taking journalism also learn about statistics, media ethics, and media law. This is important knowledge to have in whichever field of writing you decide to explore.
Why should you take a writing course?
As mentioned above, there is no actual need to earn a degree to become an author. Additionally, there is no specific course to take to become a successful one. Some writers finished their degrees in economics, medicine, and even foreign language. But there are certain advantages that you will gain if you do choose to take a writing course.
The first one is that it shortens the learning curve. Taking a specific class in writing will equip you with all the skills and know-how to become a decent writer. You will learn what elements you’d need for your written work. Plus, you will learn the techniques to keep your readers interested in what you create.
Besides the rules on grammar and how to write effective paragraphs, you will be exposed to numerous samples of great writing. Enrolling in classes geared toward writers entails reading text after text, and analyzing their elements and styles. You will learn so much simply by observing how authors handle certain topics.
Furthermore, you’ll be exposed to like-minded individuals. Having a group of passionate writers around will make getting inspiration and feedback easier. And these individuals can help you grow your network within the field. By the time you’re ready to publish your work, you’d already be surrounded by the people who can help you make that happen.