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:
MONDAYS, APRIL 29 —JUNE 3 | All levels welcome! 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.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, APRIL 30 —MAY 28 | In this class, you’ll learn how to unlock the secrets of great personal essays and apply them to your own writing. The class combines close reading of outstanding essays past and present with focused workshopping in each session. We will get at the heart of what makes a great personal essay tick, and see how those principles can be applied to the work students bring to class. Each class will open with a discussion of an assigned essay and/or essays students have discovered in their reading, then move into workshopping.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, APRIL 30 —JUNE 4 | If you think you might have a great idea for a movie and want to know the next steps or are underway with a script and need feedback, this course is designed for you. We’ll spend six evenings learning about how screenplay structure works and how to turn a good idea into a solid premise. Each week we’ll focus on one aspect of the conventions of screenwriting structure. Starting with three act structure we’ll cover turning points, internal and external stakes, character arcs, genre conventions and multiple storylines. Weekly readings and writing assignments combined with in-depth feedback in small workshops will help each writer finish the course with three key well-tested and revised elements: an outline, a logline and a draft of a pivotal scene.→ READ MORE
ALTERNATE WEDNESDAYS, May 1 —29 | Are you feeling stuck or unmotivated to finish your novel, memoir or short story collection? Are you a procrastinator? Are you easily distracted? Do you find yourself checking email and Facebook when you should be writing? You’re not alone!
Incorporating lessons from Charles Duhigg’s New York Times bestseller The Power of Habit and Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning, I will help you design a writing life that works for you and give you the tools to stick with it. You will set goals, create a plan for achieving those goals, and then get to work.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, MAY 4 | Why do some memoirs take off from the first page, while others stall out before the end of chapter one? More importantly: How can you make sure the memoir you’re writing gets all the necessary gears lined up on those all-important first ten pages?
In this combination craft lecture and trouble-shooting workshop, you’ll learn the three Cs of narrative engine: Character, Conflict, and Clock. What’s clock, you say? Glad you asked. It’s a simple but elusive element that’s crucial to your story’s drive—but many memoir writers don’t realize their pages are missing it.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, MAY 4 | All writers use writers who influence them as a path to their own originality. This is essential learning but often traps writers into imitation. Working with examples that students bring to class, we will have in-depth discussions of voice, character, plot, language, style, imagination and the mysterious element that is greater than the sum of its parts. We will illuminate the uses, misuses and limits of imitation through in-class exercises. By the end of the class you will understand the difference between clumsy borrowing, where all road signs lead directly to the source and brilliant theft where every sentence and plot twist reveals your original vision.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, MAY 5 | Have you written five or more short stories or personal essays and are interested in creating a collection? This workshop is designed for you! In our one-day, hands-on class, we’ll explore ways to unify your collection by setting, theme, and style, as well as character. We’ll look at renowned collections and examine a variety of approaches taken by different authors. We’ll also talk about the pros and cons of publishing individual pieces before your book is out, identify variables to help you best order your stories or essays, and do some fun in-class writing exercises, which you’ll have the opportunity to share in a supportive atmosphere.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAYS, MAY 8—JUNE 5 | One of the most difficult narrative issues in fiction writing is how to emotionally move your readers. Often, what we writers render on the page are concepts of drama meant to profoundly affect the reader, but it does not. In this five-week process class we will dissect the intricate concepts of how emotions are developed in fiction, and master how to recognize and apply narrative craft that develop dramatic emotions in ways that can move our readers. These skills will be developed through in-class writing exercises and assignments, focusing on interior monologue, characters’ perceptions, creating motivations, and more.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, MAY 9 —JUNE 13 | Everyone has a story! But how do we mine the material of our lives to craft compelling narratives? In this class, we will practice in-class exercises aimed at accessing memory, creating moving, authentic characters through dialogue and physical detail, and shaping our tumble of memories into compelling, forward moving stories. We’ll discuss finding the balance between revealing and protecting family members and ownership of our material. We’ll workshop our stories and look at published authors writing in this genre. Suitable for beginners or any student wishing to focus on life material.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, MAY 11 | “Flat” writing hands off lifeless information in a two-dimensional exchange between reader and writer. Three-dimensional writing places the reader in a charged space of heightened experience, renewed perspective, and active meaning-making. How is that three-dimensionality created, and what do you do when you find your language stuck in 2-D? This combination lecture and workshop for writers of fiction and literary nonfiction examines specific strategies for three-dimensionality drawn from contemporary writers like Sheila Heti, Jo Ann Beard, and Maggie Nelson, and classics by Marguerite Duras and Bruno Schulz. We will try out new techniques and tricks—but ultimately what you will achieve is a shift in consciousness that will help make your writing spacious and transporting.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, MAY 12 | Are you a writer who suffers from one of these misconceptions?
• “LinkedIn is just about finding a job.”
• “It’s for executives, lawyers, and doctors, not artists like me.”
• “Those endorsements don’t really mean anything.”
• “I’m already on Facebook, so I don’t need it.”
LinkedIn is a social media marketing tool that writers often overlook. It’s a very powerful networking tool and, in the Bay Area, is critical for success. Learn how to maximize LinkedIn to increase your audience, get noticed, support your funding applications, meet the Bay Area’s literary movers and shakers, and open significant opportunities.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAYS, MAY 15 —JUNE 26 | 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
SUNDAY, MAY 19 | The beauty of nonfiction books is that they can frequently be sold on the basis of a 40- to 60-page proposal. What is a proposal? Essentially, it is a business plan for a book – a document that outlines your basic premise, provides data on competing titles, includes audience research, summarizes chapter contents and includes other core information that convinces a publisher to give you a wad of money so you can take time off and write it. Memoirs, narrative journalism, business books, histories, and biographies can all be sold on proposal.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, MAY 19 | Master Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat all in one day. In this one-day intensive workshop, you will learn how to: a) Create a social media strategy that works for you, and b) Master the four most popular social media networks of 2019. Tea and snacks provided. Bring your own lunch or join us at American Grilled Cheese for soup, salads and sandwiches!
Meghan Ward is the founder of Writerland.com, a blog about writing, publishing, and social media, and the author of Runway: Confessions of a not-so-supermodel. Her work has appeared in the Rumpus, San Francisco magazine, 7×7 magazine, Mutha magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, and the anthologies It’s So You: 35 Women Write About Personal Expression Through Fashion and Style and Wake Up and Smell the Shit: Hilarious Travel Disasters, Monstrous Toilets and a Demon Dildo.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, JUNE 1 | Ready to elevate your writing career to the next level, but not sure how to present your background in an appropriately professional fashion? Whether you have a long list of publication credits or just a few, you need a literary resumé that both adheres to professional standards and encourages panelists, editors, and reviewers to learn more about your work. When done properly, this resumé helps you:
• Land funding for your writing projects
• Get invitations to present work at conferences
• Obtain reading opportunities
• Present a strong residency application
• Get editors’ and publishers’ attention
• Be taken seriously as a writer, and not a hobbyist.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, JUNE 2 | 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
SUNDAY, JUNE 2 | You’ve got your screenplay premise, maybe a script in hand, and you need to get the money people on board. Maybe you’re headed to a screenwriting conference and you want to be ready if you run into someone who can make the right introductions. Or, you’ve got a script in progress and you really need some feedback on the title and basic premise. Whatever the case, learning how to give a succinct and persuasive presentation is an essential skill. Come out to practice and get valuable feedback at this pitch session, which will be followed by a free mixer.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, JUNE 8 | Writers of all levels interested in screenwriting begin with the same questions (and some misconceptions) about how and why writing a screenplay is different from other forms of writing. What is the life cycle of a screenplay? What is different about writing with collaborators (such as directors and actors) in mind? What is the relationship of the screenwriter to the audience? What does it mean to write in the immediate present? Why do some ideas lend themselves well to the screenplay form and others not so well? What, in practical terms, does it mean to “write in pictures”?→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, JUNE 9 | Michel de Montaigne, perhaps the father of the personal essay, wrote, “I have never seen a greater monster or miracle than myself.” That sums up the personal essay — identifying the monster within and transforming it into something miraculous. Whether it’s a small realization or a dramatic triumph over tragedy, the personal essay takes the reader on a journey where the writer — and reader — come out different on the other side. This day-long class will teach you the basics of writing essays about your life, and you’ll finish the class (miracle!) with an outline for an essay of your own.