July 6, 2012

3 College Courses For Writers: A Guest Post by Barbara Jolie

Hey Writers! 3 College Classes that are More Useful than You Realize

As writers, when we consider college courses we took that really developed our love for writing and our ability to manipulate words, we likely spout off things like English 101, writing classes, Rhetoric, Literature classes, Shakespeare. Sure, these are wonderful classes and they absolutely helped to develop our love for the written word and our ability to convey ideas. But, they are not the only classes and subjects that aid our writing.

Writing, be it blog writing, novel writing, or journalism, involves all aspects of life and academia. As writers we wish to convey a world, scene, or character in a believable and honest way. You have to have some sort of understanding of the world in its entirety if you are going to be able to create a world of your own in your writing. Obviously, this is not to say that writers know all the answers—no. But, we are far better-rounded than that list of English, Literature, and Writing classes leads you to believe. Consider these three college subjects to improve your writing and find more depth.

History 101

Regardless of your major in college, you likely had to complete at least one history class as part of a core curriculum requirement. History is in many ways very similar to English and Literature classes. There is a lot of reading involved and students are made to analyze situations and "characters". History classes can actually play a very positive role in our writing. Fiction writers create new worlds and place their characters in unfamiliar settings. Setting plays a vital role in the success of our stories. A general knowledge of history can be extremely useful when developing settings and situations. History classes can be a great way to add context to a piece of fiction. A historical backdrop for a piece can be a wonderful way to get the writing process moving and can add more depth to a scene.

Chemistry or Physics

Now, I know what you're thinking—how could Chem 101 (which I was terrible at) possibly help with my writing? But, science classes can actually be a wonderful lesson in writing style. Scientific writing, as we all know, is extremely different from what we are used to as fiction addicts and literature bums. But, that concise and systematic style of writing can be a great lesson in minimalism. While we don't want to write fiction that sounds like a chemistry textbook, learning to write directly and concisely can be very important. Take pointers from the type of writing and reading that takes place in the science realm. They speak like experts, getting immediately to the point and creating material that is all about the facts.

Psychology 101

Characterization is one of the most important aspects of our writing. If you're like me, you obsess over your characters. Who are they? Are they believable? Are they likeable? Do we want them to be likeable? Our characters can really take a life of their own. However, it can be extremely difficult to create characters that are truly human and lifelike. Even for characters that are outside of the realm of reality, we strive to create a human element within them. We want our characters to take a life of their own. Our college Psych 101 class can play a really important role in creating characters that are believable and dynamic. Understanding how the human mind and psyche work might be extremely helpful. Learning about how people think can help put things into perspective when we are trying to create dialogue for our fictional characters.

Barbara Jolie is a full time freelance writer and blogger in the Houston area. She enjoys writing about education and the advantages of online classes for all students. If you have any questions email Barbara at barbara.jolie876@gmail.com.


  1. Great post!! very informative.
    Thank you very much for such a lovely and informative post.
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  2. Good suggestions, and something to think about. :-)

  3. I agree that it's important to venture outside of the reading/writing comfort zone. Not only does it teach new skills but it also opens up new areas of interest, possibilities for new inspiration, it feeds and informs the writing. Thank you for talking about it!