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

A great introductory course to the essay for anyone interested in writing one or understanding their qualities. From the sheer variety, to the nuts and bolts of writing one, to the revision process, the course covers a lot. The weekly assignments will push you forward and get you thinking...and writing.

Nick Friedman



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

Masks are not required, but we’ll provide masks for those who want them. We are no longer requesting proof of vaccination.

More Covid details
  • You can still enroll in this class.
    Starts Tuesday, July 16 2 spots left
    Zoom, 7pm – 10pm ET
    10-Week Workshop
  • Starts Tuesday, August 13
    Online, anytime
    10-Week Workshop


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.


Jessica Ogilvie
Jessica Ogilvie

Jessica Ogilvie has published articles and essays in Los Angeles Magazine, Playboy, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Dame, Condé Nast Traveler, LAist, Vice, Good, and the Hairpin, among others, and her work has been anthologized in Little America: Incredible True Stories of Immigrants in America. She has worked as a contributing editor at Playboy, a contributing writer at Los Angeles Magazine, and a section editor at LA Weekly. She has taught for 826LA. She holds a BA from New York University and an MFA from Bennington College.

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