Writers gather in cyber classroom

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Developing writers from all over the Wellington region are poised to join the burgeoning online classrooms run by the highly successful Creative Writing unit at Whitireia Community Polytechnic. The new online version of the creative writing course means people who can't get to a conventional classroom can still learn the craft from established authors. They can indulge their passion for writing at a time and place that suits them.

"During the cold winter months this is a particular advantage when you can virtually attend the course while being rugged up next to the fire," says programme manager Pip Byrne.

Attracting a lot of interest is the new online screenwriting course. The course is designed by Susy Pointon, who trained in Australia and Los Angeles and has broad experience in the New Zealand film industry in writing and production.

Whitireia has been running a successful Creative Writing Programme for ten years, with the support of tutors from Wellington's legendary writing scene. Several graduates from these courses have become award-winning writers. Many potential students, however, couldn't attend classes because of family or work commitments.

Established author and teacher, Adrienne Jansen and screenwriter, Susy Pointon, were asked to adapt their classroom courses for online delivery. "It means people anywhere can now study at their own pace and still get feedback on their work from experienced writers," Pip Byrne says.

The first course in writing short fiction started in April. In August the programme will expand, with the start of two levels of short fiction and the screenwriting course. Next year Whitireia will add online poetry, non-fiction and a second level screenwriting course to the mix. Students can study stand-alone courses or accumulate credits towards a Diploma.