The Mechanics of Voice: Writing Sentences with a Head, a Heart, and an Ass with Marianna Cherry (10/4 – 11/15)


 Instructor: Marianna Cherry


Number of sessions: 6

Meeting time: Thursdays, 7–9 pm

Dates: October 11–November 15

Course fee: $340, $100 deposit required to register. Also please submit 7-10 sample pages of your writing that you are currently working on. Work will not be shared.

Contact the instructor to register. All deposits are nonrefundable.

Description: Great writing—fiction and non-fiction—condenses truth into a tiny vial called a sentence. Done right, it’s breathtaking. As we revise our own work, we may think it’s “awkward,” “weak,” “off.” In our heads, the words sing; on paper, it’s just not there yet.

Happily, you can learn to spot areas where the magic isn’t happening and learn specific ways to make lines and passages stronger, tighter, meaner. No matter how long you’ve been at it, it comes down to well-chosen subjects and verbs; a solid grammatical core; ending a line with punch, i.e. concluding, instead of dribbling off into word clutter, the main idea buried. Now, you don’t need to know all the technical terms, but you do need to command, with grammatical elements, the rhetoric of your sentences so that they say what you mean, in your voice.

In this mostly jargon-free class, which draws on the composition pedagogy classes at San Francisco State University, you will scrutinize sentence core and revisit a few strategies for stronger and more complex writing. Dry? No way. Because we will be workshopping your writing—fiction or non-fiction—with an eye on improving mechanics and developing your voice.

This class is designed to benefit writers at every stage. Students will edit a piece or two each week, and complete take-home exercises.

Instructor Bio: Marianna Cherry has been published in The 2001 Pushcart Prize XXV, Best of Best Women’s Erotica, Fourteen Hills (which nominated her story “Scat” for a second Pushcart), and more, and has fiction forthcoming in ZYZZYVA. Her novel, Hard Left, is about the aftermath of a kidnapping in Colombia. Her original TV pilot “Kill That Guy” earned 2nd round at the Austin Film Festival screenwriting competition and her romantic comedy screenplay earned a “next 100” in the Nicholl’s Screenplay Fellowship. She received an M.F.A. and teaching composition certificate from San Francisco State University, and a B.A. in English from Columbia University.

[close window]