Register now for upcoming classes at the Grotto! Early enrollment is strongly recommended, as course offerings frequently sell out. If a class is filled to capacity, please contact the instructor to request waiting-list placement.
All upcoming classes are listed below. You may also browse these categories:
TUESDAYS, JANUARY 8 —FEBRUARY 12 | In this class you will birth, nurture, and release a brand-new flash fiction story. After extensive revisions of your work, you will submit your finished piece to three literary journals for publication, or to three literary contests. A laptop, tablet, or iPad is required for this workshop. If you write longhand, please also bring your journal or notebook along with your computer (not in place of it). Students registering for this class should be prepared to create new work from scratch in a concentrated, serious environment. Homework will consist of revisions and a few exercises to help ensure that your piece is as polished and economically written as possible.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAYS, JANUARY 9 —FEBRUARY 20 | The goal of this course is to help you draft, structure, and polish a multi-scene, 1,200-1,500 word memoir. Expect weekly reading and writing assignments. We will begin with narrative prompts and then move quickly towards workshops and revision. While the class is geared towards creating stand-alone pieces, it is also a great place to create the foundation for a larger memoir project.
Kristen Cosby is a freelance writer, editor, and educator. Her writing has received support from the Jan Michalski Foundation, Can Serrat, the Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Artist Colony, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and garnered the Normal Prize in Nonfiction and a Pushcart Prize Special Mention.→ READ MORE
SUNDAYS, JANUARY 13 & FEBRUARY 3 | As a teacher I constantly meet people who say they want to write but aren’t doing it. Creating a new habit takes time and I’ve created a class to give you the encouragement and accountability you need to get started. Drawing on my years as a teacher as well as my training as a hypnotherapist, I will incorporate the psychological research on establishing habits and the power of the unconscious mind to help you make a new habit of writing. I will send you prompts throughout the class to keep you motivated, and set up a private Facebook group.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, JANUARY 13 | Getting published is a thrill, but the competition is stiff. To succeed, you have to carefully plan your career.
In this interactive course, you’ll create a road map to your fondest literary ambitions. Do you want to make money? Get published in top magazines? Hit the bestseller list? You’ll learn to evaluate the market for your work by analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, finding your competitive edge and identifying your niche. You’ll lay out each step you must take to get from where you are to where you want to be. This class is open to both new and midcareer writers pursuing their passion for the word.
MONDAYS, JANUARY 14 —FEBRUARY 18 | What happens when we approach writing like an experiment? Our minds are open, our writing is deep, and there is no room for writers’ block or cliché ideas. Burroughs used cut-up writing, Anais Nin made her diary her art, and now novels are being written in tweets and texts. Each week we will explore different experimental styles from surrealism to postmodernism and do exercises to loosen our minds and push us in new directions with our writing. With daily writing prompts and in-class exercises, this class is great for beginning writers or experienced writers wanting to push their writing in new directions.→ READ MORE
MONDAYS, JANUARY 14 —FEBRUARY 11 | Writing about our families—those people who influence our lives most profoundly—is deeply personal and marked by passion, conflict and emotion. It can be both inspirational and challenging. How much detail is too much? How can we best utilize small or large swaths of family life to inform our writing?
Whether you want to tell your family’s history or write a memoir based on your grandmother’s life, your child’s birth story, or a fictional account of your distant cousin’s escapades, this class will help you to shape those family tales into compelling, polished stories.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, JANUARY 15 —MARCH 12 | Whether you’re new to screenwriting or already have a script underway, this course will help you achieve the key objectives of a great screenplay in an open and supportive workshop atmosphere. Through weekly writing exercises, you’ll learn how to introduce your main character, set a tone, establish the status quo of your fictional world and signal a theme, all while writing in pictures. We’ll discuss screenplays—Thelma and Louise, Moonlight and The King’s Speech—along with screenwriter interviews, articles and excerpts from The Screenwriter’s Bible by David Trottier. Students will complete the course with the first ten to fifteen pages of a screenplay, a one-line summary, and a toolbox of exercises and materials to help them complete the screenwriting process.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16 | Big challenges can spark writing that is personal, meaningful and cathartic. As a seriously ill patient as well as a caregiver for my mom, I channeled my grief into a book project and writing assignments (to help pay the bills and avoid going crazy) – often using humor. The writing you create in this class will help kick start your writing process and give you tools for processing your grief. All writing levels and genres are welcome.
We’ll read from the masters, Oliver Sacks and Joan Didion, and do our own generative short exercises to explore how to find points of entry into personal experiences of loss.
THURSDAYS, JANUARY 17 —FEBRUARY 7 | An estimated 48 million Americans spend time listening to podcasts every week and the number grows every year. It’s never been easier to produce high quality audio to get your message out, whether for radio stories, podcasting, personal promotion or business branding.
But how do you get started? Two veteran journalists of public radio and podcasting show you the basics of how to record great audio, conduct killer interviews, craft a captivating story, and get your audio creations out into the world.
In this hands-on workshop, every student will produce a complete audio story — and will acquire the skills and confidence to produce future stories and podcasts on your own.→ READ MORE
MONDAYS, JANUARY 21 —FEBRUARY 11 | This class is for writers who are ready to write engaging true crime stories. It is an active learning class, designed to help you to complete a short form (600 -1500 words) crime story. You should come to the first class with a specific story outline or a work in progress. Students will be expected to read each others’ work before each class. We’ll consider the ethics, point of view and legal issues in writing true crime. We’ll work on selecting a story, creating a compelling first paragraph, researching skills, interviewing techniques, trial reporting, and story structure, development, and conclusion.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, JANUARY 22 — FEBRUARY 5 | For a freelance journalist, essayist, or nonfiction writer, a good pitch letter can not only generate work but open doors, build new relationships, or kickstart a career. But crafting the best pitch, targeting it to the right publication, and getting it in front of the right person isn’t always simple.
In this class, you’ll gain new insights into what editors are looking for and why—as well as all the reasons they don’t want to assign you that story—and learn new ways to make your pitch letters as compelling as possible.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, JANUARY 27 | Whether you’ve always dreamed of writing professionally, you already do, or you’d like to figure out how to create better content for your job or business, this class will improve your writing in one day – guaranteed! After some coffee, we’ll start off with Story and Structure in the morning. This will help you start the writing process: from getting over writers’ block, understanding your audience and purpose, doing research, brainstorming ,and creating an outline so that your writing is engaging, logical, smooth, and satisfying to the reader. We’ll also remind you of stuff you should’ve learned in high school but may have forgotten: how to avoid the dreaded passive voice, weak verbs, excess verbiage, and a corporate or academic tone.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, JANUARY 26 —MARCH 2 | This workshop is open to writers who are considering applications for–or wish to learn about–writing grants, fellowships, scholarships, or residencies. Many writers aren’t aware of the many different types of funding opportunities available to them. Or they think they’ve got to have a book out, or a long list of publication credits, before they can apply for grant money. That’s just not true.
This workshop will cover:
- The best places to locate opportunities
- The dreaded Project Statement, Work Plan, or Goals and Objectives question
- How to demonstrate a rising trajectory (remembering that most people who are awarded grants are on their way up, not already there)
- Using headings and “buckets” to make your statement navigable
- How to craft clear, concise personal or “artist” statements (leave this class with a completed first draft in hand!)
- Why the marketing angle is so important
- Creating an effective literary resume (you’ll have a nice new one at the end of class!)
This is an intensive hands-on workshop; laptops, tablets, or iPads are required.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3 | In this interactive one-day workshop, we’ll find writing inspiration from new, unexpected sources. Instructors Susan Ito and Maw Shein Win will introduce a surprising host of artistic exercises to ignite your imagination and push your creative practice to new places. We will share inventive strategies to generate fresh ideas and inspire your writing through art. Moving between words and images, we will generate fresh new poetry and prose as well as easy-to-make art.
At the end of the workshop, you will leave with a beautiful, unique handmade book of art and words as well as an invaluable list of resources and exercises to keep you moving forward in your writing and creative life.→ READ MORE
MONDAYS, FEBRUARY 4 —MARCH 11 | Need some structure and community to keep writing? If you’re looking to generate pages and gain insight into your project – whether fiction, memoir, personal essay, narrative nonfiction, or some combination thereof – set aside five Monday evenings this winter. You’ll find a supportive community designed to foster productivity and good writing habits. We’ll address specific craft issues as they come up, and I will be available for meeting one-on-one. You’ll have the opportunity to meet in small groups for feedback (with specific guidance), if you choose. Homework assignments are designed to help you meet your goals, wherever you may be in the process.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAYS, FEBRUARY 6 —MARCH 13 | The most effective and vivid way for writers to transport readers into their world is to draw on the five senses. Yet, we often struggle to capture the intensity of sensorial experience on the page.
In this six-week class, we will spend one week each on the senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing and vision and practice igniting our writing with bolder, more specific language choices. Through sense exercises, in-class writing, and selected readings we will create a more vibrant palette of expression to enliven our work. By week six, students will be asked to produce a short piece of sensory fiction or nonfiction for workshop critique.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, FEBRUARY 7 —MARCH 14 | Often considered one of the most difficult forms to master, the short story is a balancing act of brevity and depth. In this craft workshop, we will read great short stories from authors like James Baldwin, Alice Munro and Carmen Maria Machado that have particular strength in character, plot, setting, and emotional resonance and use these stories to discuss the craft of short story writing. We will workshop your stories with these masters in mind. The best way to develop your craft is to imitate the masters.
Jenny Bitner‘s short stories have appeared in Best American Nonrequired Reading, PANK, The Mississippi Review, The Sun and The Fabulist.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9 | Whether you’re writing about your own life in memoir or personal essay, or developing characters and situations for a fictional plot, imagery brings your material to life. Effective imagery goes far beyond flowery description to reveal character, mood, context, tone, setting, and theme. In this one-day intensive, we’ll explore how to make imagery work for you on the page. We’ll use exercises of intuition and right-brain association to harvest images, and we’ll look at how to choose and shape those images. Analyzing the uses of imagery in published pieces will help you cultivate your own voice and technique.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, FEBRUARY 12 — MARCH 12 | In this class, we’ll dive in to workshopping personal essays after a brief review of the form and reading some examples. We’ll work on structure, tone, voice, scenes, effective beginnings and endings, and how to create a narrative arc in a few pages. If you’re an experienced writer but haven’t written personal essays, or have some experience with essays but are not yet published, this is a great class for you, but it is limited to people who already have a writing practice and want to take their work to the next level with constructive (and never mean) feedback.
TUESDAYS, FEBRUARY 26 — MARCH 12 | No matter how compelling the characters, dialogue, or action, great scenes need a sense of place that all too often gets short shrift. And when your subject is a place itself, the task is only more demanding. It’s easy to fall back on list-making when writing about place, and that’s a tool that can be used to great effect, but there are so many more approaches to be explored.
We’ll dive into some great writing about place, and will look at specific techniques great writers use to capture the world around them, focusing on writing about the real world, but looking at fiction as well.→ READ MORE