I highly recommend Rachel Sherman’s novel writing workshop, which I have been enrolled in for the past year. When I started, I had a bunch of ideas, but my characters were undeveloped and I didn’t have a point of view. Rachel immediately understood the problem and helped me find the voice in which to tell my story. Moreover, Rachel’s keen understanding of the human condition has helped me to develop relatable characters. What I like most about Rachel is her enthusiasm and the way she encourages all her students to move forward with their work. Even when she’s delivering constructive criticism, Rachel manages to do it in a supportive way, which is hugely important for this budding writer’s sensitive ego!
I’m a visual artist who always wanted to be a writer and I took Rebecca’s fiction writing class to revise some older works and see if I could pull together a group of short stories. Then the unexpected happened. Through the structured weekly sessions of writing prompts, reading excerpts from different works, discussing character, plot, point of view, beginnings and endings, and workshopping of our stories, I started to feel like a writer. I ended up writing a new story (and I would say the best story I’ve ever written) towards the end of the eight weeks. The intimate and cozy setting of Rebecca’s apartment and the small class size created a safe and constructive environment to experiment with the prompts, read our works in a group, discuss our intentions, and review our successes and areas to refine. Rebecca is open about her own process, well versed with contemporary literature, and generous yet rigorous with feedback. I eagerly look forward to taking more of her classes!
I enrolled in Rachel’s workshop as I was preparing to apply to MFA programs. Her feedback was always considered and incisive, and both stories I workshopped improved considerably over the course of the class. Additionally, I learned things I knew I would be able to apply to my writing in the future. I received a fully-funded offer to study fiction at Rutgers Newark based on the two stories I workshopped with Rachel, and one of them was picked up by Amazon’s lit journal Day One.
Before I took Rachel’s workshop, I took a writing class at NYU. I didn’t learn anything at the NYU class. Each student could only bring 3 pages every other week to be work shopped; that meant 9 measly pages total for the whole semester. The teacher was unprofessional showing up at least 20 minutes late for each and every class, and she never gave line edits. The teacher’s overall attitude, which she told the students all the time, was that NYU was not paying her enough to care about the class. The feedback from students went unregulated and was disruptive.
In contrast, Rachel’s workshops have been the best experience. Rachel has been an absolute professional. She has always been on time to start the workshop. Her pleasant personality makes everyone in the class respond in kind. Each week, students get their writing work shopped, often up to 20 pages at a time. Rachel actually earned at MFA, which puts her ahead of most workshop instructors. Her line-by-line edits provide invaluable writing skills. In such a short time, my novel has improved to publishable quality. I owe Rachel a great deal.
I highly recommend Rachel’s workshops. I took my first one a couple of months ago, and I have signed on for two more semesters with her already.
Rachel’s workshops offer writers the opportunity to grow within a community. The deadlines keep you producing while discussing and critiquing others’ work sharpens your abilities as an editor. Her talents as a writer truly translate to her presence as a teacher— she was the first person to teach me to read like a writer. Her encouragement and guidance has made all the difference for me. I owe a lot to the experiences I’ve had in Rachel’s many classes.
Rachel’s is a magical little class. When I took it, we had a lovely, supportive, well-read group, and showing up made my week, every week, without fail. The class is organized around spending the maximum amount of time on each student’s work. It’s utterly fair and not a moment goes misspent. (Actually, I’ve never had another class where I got as much quality workshopping done.) There’s flexibility to talk about everything from minute craft issues to long-term writing projects. The best of it is that Rachel takes a legitimate, uncontrived interest — a rare thing, that! — in your writing and your future as a writer. She also approaches prose of all kinds without preconception, so whatever it is you want to write — bring it in! It will get all the critique and attention and care that it deserves.
I recommend Rachel’s class without reservation.
I have taken Rachel’s class four times. Before taking her class, I would start writing stories but never finish them. Now I have about six full-length, edited pieces that I am proud of. Her insight into structure, plot, and dialogue have been invaluable to me and have helped carry me to a new level in my writing. The classes are well-organized, yet relaxed, giving everyone a chance to produce and critique in a way that suits their own style. Rachel’s extensive experience as an MFA student, a creative writing professor, and a published novelist also make her an incredible resource in and beyond the workshop. If students are interested, she always makes herself available to discuss writing, publishing opportunities, and MFA programs. I highly recommend Rachel’s class to anyone who wants to improve their fiction.
In the workshop I took with Rachel Sherman at the JCC, she impressed me with her generosity as a reader: even though students were working in many different genres, from prose poetry to magical realism to traditional literary fiction, Rachel looked at each piece on its own terms, with a keen eye for its particular strengths and weaknesses. She also creates a welcoming, respectful environment in the classroom where everyone’s voice is heard. After studying with Rachel, I had a much clearer sense of what direction my novel needed to go. She’s a terrific teacher, and I highly recommend her course.
I’ve taken Rachel’s workshop a number of times, and I always come away with ideas for fixing current work, inspiration to begin new work, and some new friends. Rachel’s talent as a fiction writer informs the advice she gives to her students, advice both funny and insightful, and you don’t have to write like her to get something from her classes. She has something to offer every kind of writer and creates a great environment for people to share and learn from each other. Take her class!
This upcoming session will be the third class that I take with Rachel. I had always been interested in beginning to write fiction but was never able to find the discipline or the courage to start. Her advice, encouragement and deadlines have helped me get nearly halfway through the first draft of a novel.