See also:
Personal Essay Writing

Essay & Opinion Writing I

Nonfiction Pathways
If you’re not sure what kind of nonfiction to write...
If you know what kind of nonfiction to write...
If you want a rather short course...
Next Steps
After completing a Level I ten-week course...
After completing Memoir II, if you want to write a book...
Selling Your Work
If you hope to get published somewhere...
Essay & Opinion Writing I

Essay & Opinion Writing I is a 10-week workshop, which includes lectures, exercises, and the critiquing of student projects. It’s for beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

Do you enjoy sharing your viewpoints? What do you think of, say, global warming or the latest water-cooler TV show or the forgotten value of handkerchiefs? No topic is too major or minor to warrant exploration. There are many places to air your views—magazines, newspapers, websites, blogs, books, newsletters—and many forms to encapsulate them.

People will be eager to hear you out…if you know how to elucidate your thoughts better than the average loudmouth on the bus. Here you’ll learn about the leading forms of viewpoint writing—personal essay, lyric essay, op-eds, reviews, and others—as well as writing craft and how to market your work.

Whatever you have to say, we’ll show you how to say it effectively and compellingly.

About Essay & Opinion Writing
Essay & Opinion Writing I

This course will boost your writing confidence and give you the tools to be a better writer when writing essays or opinion pieces.

Cheryl Roshak

transition and career coach


A personal essay is similar to a memoir; both incorporate elements from the writer’s life. But a personal essay focuses more on the viewpoint, and a memoir focuses more on the story. Gotham also offers courses on Memoir Writing and an Intensive on Personal Essay Writing.

Upcoming Classes

To ensure everyone's good health, students in NYC classes must provide proof of full Covid vaccinations (the initial series of Covid vaccines plus at least one booster). We will accept your Covid vaccine card (or a digital scan), a NY State Excelsior digital card, or another form of government-approved proof. We will contact you before class begins about showing us proof. Masks are encouraged, but not required. We'll provide masks for those who need them.

More Covid details


Registration fee $25, paid once per term

See Payment Options

To register for a 10-Week course, you need to pay in full to guarantee your place in class. Or you can pay a $95 deposit plus a $25 registration fee (total $120) to temporarily hold your place, but tuition must be paid in full 10 business days before your class starts or you risk losing your spot.



This course gives you a firm grounding in the basics of essay/opinion writing craft and gets you writing an essay or opinion piece (or two). Course components:
     Writing exercises
     Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work two times)

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes 
Week 1
Introduction to Essay & Opinion Writing: The different forms of essay and opinion writing—personal essays, reviews, op-eds, persuasive essays, exploratory essays, lyric essays. Creative nonfiction structure—lede, nut graf, body, kicker. The basics of framing.

Week 2
Purpose and Meaning: Your point (and you do have one). Finding an essay’s guiding principle. The role of theme in creative nonfiction.

Week 3
Description: Putting the “creative” in creative nonfiction. Finding the right word. The art of selection.

Week 4
Voice: Elements of voice. Role of voice in essay writing. Finding your writer’s voice.

Week 5
Personal Essay: Blending the personal and universal. Using your experience to shed light on a larger subject.

Week 6
Review Writing: Structure of reviews. Balancing honesty with mutual regard.

Week 7
Op-Ed/Persuasive Essay: Logic in creative writing. The art of persuasion.

Week 8
Reported/Exploratory/Lyric Essays: Reported—narrative nonfiction using style, dialogue, and description. Exploratory—essays that begin with a question. Lyric—nonfiction that experiments with rhythm, sound, and syntax.

Week 9
Revision: The art of revision.

Week 10
The Business: Finding the right market. Making your pitch.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.


Anita Gill
Anita Gill

Anita Gill is the nonfiction editor for Hypertext Magazine, and her nonfiction has appeared in Coachella Review, Kweli Journal, Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Brevity, Hippocampus, The Citron Review, The Offing, and the Baltimore Sun. She has received two Fulbright fellowships in creative writing, has worked for the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, and has taught at the UCLA Extension and Santa Monica College. She holds a BA from New York University, an MA in Literature from American University, and an MFA in Writing from Pacific University.

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Fran McNulty
Fran McNulty

Fran McNulty is the author of the nonfiction books Power Play (Simon and Schuster), a New York Times best-seller, and Most Likely to Succeed (Random House), and of the poetry chapbook Weight (Choeofpleirn Press). Her poetry, fiction, essays, and articles have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, Vogue, The Nation, and North American Review. She has taught at City University of New York and William Paterson College. She holds a BA from Harvard.

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