In the course of my writing career, I’ve had many wonderful teachers. Some of them meet the literal definition of that word, starting with my AP English teacher in high school, who was the first who got me excited about writing well. I don’t know what strange alchemy that man worked on his students, but we worshipped him. And we worked our asses off to impress him.
My first creative writing teacher really had his work cut out for him, because I came to his class with no idea of how to write fiction. Perhaps the most important thing he taught me was how to workshop with other writers. When we critiqued a story, everyone gave feedback. The submitting author remained quiet until the very end. This minimized the confrontational feeling to peer critique, and invited a very open discussion. It worked so well that some of us continue to use it in the writer’s group we formed after the class ended.
Some of the other students in my creative writing classes were my teachers, too. One guy had spent some time working in Hollywood, and he always wanted a good twist in a story. Another classmate was a historian, and gently corrected me on several of my misconceptions about royalty and precedence. The wonderful side effect of the workshop was that the other students became experts in *my* writing. They knew where I was strong, and where I was weak.
Family members have taught me things about writing, too. My wife proofread my whole book after I’d been through a couple of rounds of revisions. Honestly, I thought it was a pretty clean manuscript. Yet she found hundreds of small typos and repeated words and sentence fragments. That was a real eye-opener. My brother read it, too, and caught a couple of red herrings that I hadn’t even planned for. His feedback reminded me that every reader is different. Everyone sees your book in a new way.
The writing community offers so many great teachers about the craft level and attitude of successful authors. People like Brenda Drake, Michelle Hauck, and the other #PitchWars mentors taught me the joys of working to help other writers. A rising tide, as they say, lifts all boats.