Master Class – FAQ

Where is the master class held?
We’ll be working on OTTER, a browser-based teaching platform. This allows files to be shared easily, without cluttering your inbox, and gives you classroom access from any net-wired terminal, anywhere in the world. But you’ll still have options to push alerts to email, if that appeals.

Guyanese river otterWhen does the bell ring?
Never! Go online whenever you please – the classroom is open 24/7. Lectures post Fridays at noon PST. Assignments are due on Monday by midnight, wherever you are. Instructor Amanda Castleman’s critiques post on Wednesdays, also by midnight.

What’s expected of me?
You’ll receive weekly assignments and should offer feedback to at least two fellow students each week. Participation on the discussion forums is optional.

What are the critiques like?
Amanda is renowned for her detailed line-edits (she interleaves comments, sometimes with links, directly into your manuscript). She also offers more general holistic advice, where it’s required.

Your work –  and feedback –  will be visible to the whole class, so students can learn from each others strengths and spots to improve upon. Short-term exceptions can be made to this policy for extremely sensitive work.

Samoan porters (image by Amanda Castleman)How much time does the master class take?
Akin to a three-credit college class, the workshop requires 60-90 minutes of reading and at least two hours for the assignments each week. Ambitious readers can delve deep via links and articles: some study is
self-guided and entirely optional.

Can I travel during the session?
Students – and the instructor – frequently roam during the course. The decision should hinge upon your work habits: can you focus and write well away from home? Will you have the discipline to hand in assignments early, if necessary?

Good habits are important, so the workshop allows just one late submission per student (except by special arrangement). Further tardy work will not be critiqued.

Is the master class suitable for unpublished or inexperienced writers?
In most cases, no. This workshop focuses on advanced techniques and career-building steps, not the basics of freelancing and travel writing. For an overview, we suggest studying with Writers.com’s Naomi Tomky or Julie Schwietert Collazo. Both offer courses catering to beginners, as well as professionals jumping genres or reviving skill-sets.

Not sure if the master class is for you? Take our quiz to find out.

What sort of success can I expect?
Amanda’s students have published in outlets from Sunset to National Geographic Traveler and The New York Times. One had to pause, then restart later, because she landed so much work off the first pitches she ever sent. Another won travel-writing’s most prestigious prize, the Lowell Thomas.

See some examples of student work.

But placement depends on timing, connections and marketing savvy, as much as talent. This course works to boost each student up a few ladder rungs from where he or she began. For some, that’s breaking into a new publication, for others that’s working towards a coveted clip, book proposal or Lowell-Thomas submission.

Pingxi Lantern Festival, Taiwan (image by Amanda Castleman)I live outside the U.S. Is this a problem?
The class is entirely online with no fixed hours. All you need is a word-processing program, Internet access, a browser and a credit card.

Amanda works for international outlets, and has held staff jobs in the UK. She’s sensitive to different Anglophone dialects and how they might effect publication-ready prose.

I’m not sure I want to freelance…
There’s no publish or perish here. The master class covers career-building skills, but primarily focuses on storytelling and style elements that can translate to many mediums.

Will this course help a travel blogger?
Absolutely. In fact, our alumna who won the Lowell Thomas – travel writing’s Pulitzer – coauthors The Vacation Gals blog (Kara Williams).

The workshop explores techniques common to strong writing everywhere: interviews, authoritative sources, news angles, narrative arc, etc… Most importantly, it offers detailed feedback from seasoned writers, editors and instructors, something independent authors often lack.

What stops other writers from stealing my ideas?
The world teems with story concepts and writers often stumble across the same ones: overlap tends to be coincidence, not theft. But this workshop will inoculate you, by focusing on the stories you’re most suited to tell, and digging deep for original angles, access and sources to make them shine. Between your unique take – and the 10,000-odd English-language publications worldwide – there’s room for students to explore the same topics, working together, rather than at odds.

Will other students steal my contacts and outlets?
No. We encourage people to pool intel, as a rising tide lifts all boats. But you’re under no obligation to divulge publication details or editors’ emails, if that doesn’t feel comfortable.

How can I pay?
The Travel Writing Master Class accepts credit and debit cards. U.S. checks, SquareCash and Transferwise are possible by special arrangement.

What if I try the class and things don’t click?
It happens –  no problem! If you withdraw before kickoff or within the first week, you’ll receive a full refund minus a $35 administrative fee. Students who cancel in the second week can request a $415 reimbursement. The Travel Writing Master Class can’t accommodate refunds after day 14, but will issue transfer credits for other terms.

But what if I can’t finish in ten weeks?
Under exceptional circumstances, students can transfer terms for up to two calendar years or bank private tutorial credits.

Wait, I have another question!
Please email Amanda!