An absolutely brilliant class, and an absolutely brilliant professor. If you are accepted into this class (there is normally an application process, as with most creative writing courses), you will experience one of the best courses Barnard has to offer. I enjoyed this class like no other (even in a virtual format!), and I highly recommend it. I do think that those with the most success will be people seriously interested in pursuing creative writing—and specifically playwriting—as a career, but I think it can also be beneficial for others. This course will challenge you in the best way possible. If you want to be a writer: take this class! Professor McLaughlin is thoughtful & intelligent, gives in-depth feedback, is critical without being harsh, and is overall a wonderful individual.
You learn a lot. You grow a lot as a writer and maybe as a person? But, if you're not a regular writer do yourself a favor and pass/fail the course. It's great but just a lot of mental and emotional energy for what was just supposed to be a fun class for me. It was fun, but not relaxing. Ellen has specific things she wants to see out of her students and if you don't get that then don't expect good comments. Also don't expect to know you're grade til it's posted on SSOL. This is a good class and worth your effort, but it's also kinda sucky at times?
if you have a serious interest in writitng... take this course! i was reluctant to post a review because i loved this class so much, i may take it again. (and i didn't want every one to take it). prof mclaughlin is a brilliant actor and playwright. i've seen and read her professional work and she is truly extraordinary. i agree with the other reviewer. this is not a course to pad your schedule. the workload is heavy. but if you want to learn, heavy is a good thing. she promptly reads all work given her and returns feedback immediately. she is thoughtful, warm, encouraging and to the point. she doesn't give false praise but neither does she tear people apart. (i hate mean arts profs. i don't think it helps). she shows her years of experience in her ability to give succint notes that get to the heart of your writing. my favorite thing about ellen was that she gave us the permission to write badly and you didn't feel like a horrible person for turning in a lame scene. over the course of the semester, the class got braver and braver. i definitley made great strides in my writing and confidence. a brilliant woman. a brilliant course.
Ellen teaches playwriting at Barnard every fall. I reccomend her class emphatically to people who are very serious about writing. Her approach is intensive-- you will write at least 7 pages a week, read 2 plays a week, and come out of the semester with a complete one-act play. This is not a nice, easy creative writing class to pad your schedule with. But you will quickly learn to get comfortable with a difficult medium, and by the end of the semester your writing will have gotten much better. She is also a lovely woman and a terrific playwright.