Yard Gnome Fiction Army Bootcamp

A Keith Dugger Review

THE COMPULSIVE WRITER SIDE of me is always looking for ways to improve my craft and style. To do that, I have to absorb skills and knowledge and tips and tricks from any source available. Reading, and reading a lot, is one way. Participating in writing/critique groups is another and one I like. A formal classes at a favorite college or university can also help, but the cost and inconvenience of a classroom setting is usually a deal breaker.

I recently attended Jeremy C. Shipp’s Yard Gnome Fiction Army Bootcamp online writing class. If you are a bizarro or dark fiction fan, you owe it to yourself to read as much of Shipp’s work as you can (and beg him for more when you are done). His website is a great start and even his Twitter habits are glorious (and you can find his novels at Amazon).

Students hit the ground running in this 8-week crash course with short assignments due the first week. Don’t get me wrong, even the busiest participant can manage the workload. Throughout the class, Shipp guides students to complete weekly exercises to strengthen lecture matter and each student has the opportunity to complete a short story, critique classmates’ writing, and draft the first chapter of a fictitious, but potential novel.

Shipp is a terrific author with an outstanding teaching style that reinforces the positive while gently critiquing the negative. I consider it a rare opportunity to pick the brain of a published writer in a learning environment at such an affordable price. Did Shipp’s class help? The resulting short story is on its way to being published and the first chapter has quickly evolved into a novel-length work. The fiction I’ve written using the tools and skills Shipp helped me develop have gotten more positive responses than ever before. I’m more than satisfied.

I’ve actually considered taking his class again just for the experience and would take a follow-on course without hesitation.

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