A while back, I announced to the world (via our website) that we here at the Writers’ Program do something somewhat atypical in this day and age…we answer our phones. If you have questions about Writers’ Program classes, events, mentorships, consultations, certificates, instructors, or (insert topic here!), all you have to do is call our office at 310-825-9415 and we will not only pick up the phone, but we’ll enthusiastically supply the answers. We will also answer questions via email or in person, and we do this throughout the day, Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm (with the exception of holidays, which only seems fair).

Now, let me clarify that when I say “we” answer your questions, I’m referring to our trio of rock star advisors, Jeff Bonnett, Sarah Lim, and Phoebe Lim. I fondly refer to them as the Most Helpful and Pleasant and Did I Mention Helpful Writers’ Program Advisors Ever! Believe me, they’ve earned that (lengthy) title. All day long I hear them answering questions and advising students on our courses and programs, and let me tell you—they know their stuff!

Recently, I asked Most Helpful and Pleasant and Did I Mention Helpful Writers’ Program Advisors Ever! to share with readers the questions they are asked most often. Here’s what they told me:

QUESTION #1: Why do people enroll in certificates? What are the benefits?

Phoebe: Whether your goal is to publish your work, get accepted into an MFA program, or join a community of writers who share your love of writing, the certificate program is a great step towards completing those goals.

For the fiction and creative nonfiction certificate programs, benefits include receiving advanced notice of upcoming courses, preferential placement on waitlists, Bruincard eligibility, and the ability to join our exclusive Facebook group for creative writing certificate students only. Once you pay the enrollment fee for the certificate, you can schedule a 30-minute one-on-one goal setting consultation with a student advisor who will help you chart a personalized curriculum to meet your writing goals. Students who complete the certificate also receive a complimentary manuscript consultation of the first 100 pages of their manuscript (a $1,000 value!).

Jeff: We don’t have an exclusive Facebook group for feature film and television writing certificate students, but we do offer a complimentary script consultation service (value $575-775). Your script will be read cover-to-cover by an instructor of your choice (depending on availability). That instructor will then give you a set of written notes on the material, and you can arrange a follow-up meeting in person or via phone, Skype, etc. if you’re not local.

QUESTION #2: When I enroll in the certificate, do I need to pay the entire tuition up front or do I pay per class?

Sarah: When you enroll in a certificate program, you do not need to pay the entire tuition up front – you simply pay the initial enrollment fee, and then pay for each class as you go.

QUESTION #3: Can I take a mixture of screenwriting and creative writing courses to fulfill the certificate requirements?

Jeff: For screenwriting and television writing certificates, only a few select creative writing courses apply. These are generally courses about craft elements that easily translate to film and TV, like learning how to write better characters, for example. This is always at the discretion of the screenwriting course advisors so please contact us to confirm before enrolling.

Sarah: Only creative writing courses apply towards the certificate. However, you are welcome to sign up for courses in either screenwriting or creative writing “a la carte.”

QUESTION #4: There are so many classes to choose from! Where do I begin?

Phoebe: Students in the fiction writing certificate program usually begin with “Introduction to Short Fiction Writing” or “The Essential Beginnings in Fiction Writing: An Introductory Workshop.” If you already have an idea for a novel, starting with “Novel I” will help you solidify your outline and first chapter. If you are working towards a certificate in creative nonfiction then “The Essential Beginnings in Nonfiction” and “Writer as Witness to Life,” are good starting points.

Jeff: “Writing the First Screenplay I” is our baseline course for feature film writers. You outline a full script and prepare to write your draft section by section in the 3 subsequent courses. For TV writers, students first choose a format (either One-Hour Dramas or Half-Hour Comedies) and then enroll in “Beginning Writing for the One-Hour Drama (or Half-Hour Comedy): Building the Story and the Outline” depending on which format you pick. In these courses, students learn how to write for episodic TV, in particular as a staff writer, since the goal of the course is to outline a fictitious or “spec” episode of an existing TV series.

QUESTION #5: I’ve taken writing classes before and don’t consider myself a “beginner.” Do I still need to start with a beginning level class?

Sarah: If you have taken other creative writing courses in the past and/or already have a work-in-progress, you do not have to start with a beginning course. As long as you meet the prerequisites of a course, you are welcome to enroll. If you have any doubts, it’s always best to check with an advisor.

QUESTION #6: Will these classes help me to become a professional writer?

Jeff: We can’t guarantee that your work will be published or produced, but we will help you build a solid body of work, and provide opportunities such as events and competitions to help you get your work noticed. Many of our students have gone on to gain literary representation and have their work published or produced. See our very long list of student success stories here.

Do you have a question about something we didn’t cover? We want to hear from you!

Jeff Bonnett, Program Assistant for Screenwriting (both onsite and online) at jbonnett@uclaextension.edu or 310-206-1542.

Sarah Lim, Program Assistant for Creative Writing (onsite) at slim@uclaextension.edu or call her direct line at 310-825-9416.

Phoebe Lim, Program Assistant for Creative Writing (online) at plim@uclaextension.edu or call her direct line at 310-825-0107.

Carla Janas is the Assistant to the Director and is often the one to transfer main line calls to the appropriate advisor. Write to her at cjanas@uclaextension.edu.

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