Writing Better Opinion: A Workshop

I’m teaching an in-person workshop in downtown Ottawa, Ontario on Sunday, May 7, 2017, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. It’s a little different from any course I’ve offered anywhere.

Registration is now open!

Who’s it for?

  • While absolute beginners are welcome, the workshop will focus on honing the skills of people who already have some experience with opinion writing in some form. The course requires you to have a draft of an opinion piece ready to critique. If you’ve ever written op-eds, columns, essays, blog posts and letters to the editor — or would like to — this course is for you. One of my goals as a teacher is to help broaden and diversify the field of opinion writers in Canada.

What will I learn?

  • Sentence-by-sentence in-class critique of, and feedback on, your own work-in-progress and those of your classmates
  • Overview/revision of how to write a compelling thesis and organize your piece
  • In-class workshopping of theses and arguments
  • In-class exercises on reasoning and clear writing to help us avoid common pitfalls
  • Advice on research skills and revision
  • Individualized advice for pitching, submitting and getting paid
  • Every student gets a take-home booklet of notes and tips

Who’s the teacher?

Kate Heartfield (that’s me!). From 2004 to 2015, I was a member of the Ottawa Citizen‘s editorial board and a columnist there. I was shortlisted for a National Newspaper Award in editorial writing in 2015. I teach journalism at Carleton University and an online opinion-writing class at the Loft Literary Center. For more about me, see my bio page.

How should I prepare?

  • At least one week before class begins, email me a draft for critique of a work in progress, of between 500 and 1,000 words. Ideally, this should be an op-ed, column or essay. I will email all the works in progress to the students a week before we meet.
  • Read your classmates’ work (class maximum 12) and come prepared to critique respectfully and constructively. (I will provide guidance in class on how to frame comments, particularly when it comes to commenting on other people’s lived experience.)
  • Bring something to write with: a pen and paper, laptop or tablet.
  • Feel free to pack a snack/drink. We’ll take a 15-minute break partway through the afternoon and there are cafes nearby.

Where is it?

  • The Main branch of the Ottawa Public Library, room B125. The library is wheelchair accessible, but please let me know if you have any specific mobility, hearing or other accessibility concerns so I can check for possible barriers. If there’s anything I can do in class to accommodate (such as make sure you’re seated in a particular part of the room) please let me know.

What does it cost?

  • Early bird (on or before April 15): $50 plus HST ($56.50 total)
  • April 16 and later: $65 plus HST ($73.45 total)
  • Registration deadline is April 27, 2017.
  • Because this is a workshop, the number of participants is limited to 12 and the class might sell out. If it does, I’ll post that info at the top of this page.
  • I may cancel the class with a week’s notice to students if I don’t get enough registrations by April 27. If that happens, I’ll refund all registration fees immediately.
  • I reserve one spot as a free scholarship. If you’d like to take the class but can’t afford it, please email me at kateheartfield@gmail.com by April 10 and let me know a little about yourself (just a few sentences). I’ll respond to all scholarship applicants by April 14. I’ll keep all information pertaining to scholarships (including successful applications) confidential.
  • I may refuse registration for any reason.

How do I register?

  • Email me at kateheartfield@gmail.com. Please let me know how much experience you have with opinion writing and if you have any specific concerns or questions. Your registration will be officially complete once I receive payment, by credit card, PayPal, cheque or bank transfer. I’ll send you the details.


Email kateheartfield@gmail.com. Also, please let me know if you’re interested in the class but can’t make it on this date. That will help me gauge whether to repeat the workshop in a few months.

What if I want to learn about opinion-writing but this course isn’t for me?

Good news! I’ll be teaching another session of my six-week, online, on your own schedule, opinion writing course through the Loft in June and registration is now open.

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