Fiction

Upcoming classes: Fiction


TUESDAYS, APR. 20 – MAY 25  |  This workshop-based class is designed for writers currently working on novels and ready to revise portions of their manuscripts. In our first session, students will share a bit about their works-in-progress and where they are in the writing process. We will also outline the rules for our workshop and discuss how best to give—and receive—helpful, constructive feedback. After that, our class time will be devoted to workshopping chapter-length sections from students’ novels, focusing on ways to deepen character depictions and motivations, hone narrative voice, and craft a compelling arc on a scene-by-scene basis. To supplement our workshop, we will also read and discuss excerpts from published novels to deepen our understanding of how great writers across genres use elements of craft and story to create gripping narratives and unforgettable characters. By the end of the course, each student will have the opportunity to receive feedback on at least two novel excerpts from their classmates and instructor.

While this class does not have specific course requirements, it may be best suited for students who have taken Emily’s Intro to Novel-Writing class or another multi-week novel course.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Emily Holleman is the author of Cleopatra’s Shadows and The Drowning King (both Little Brown & Company), the first of which was long-listed for the HWA Debut Crown. She is currently working on a speculative novel set in California of the not-so-distant future. Her nonfiction has appeared in Elle, LitHub, Salon, and BookPage, among others.

Contact: emily@emilyholleman.com

Number of sessions: 6

Dates: Tuesdays, April 20, 27; May 4, 11, 18, 25

Time: 5:00 – 7:00pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $375


Rachel Howard

WEDNESDAYS, APR. 21 — MAY 26 | Point of view takes nitty-gritty work to master, but the work pays off for the rest of your writing life. Where once you were a student driver handling a Ford Fusion on automatic, stuck writing stories in a single close-third person POV, suddenly you’re a race car driver handling a Maserati, about to shift gears through the kinds of maneuvers you never thought you’d try. Yep, you’ve got to grapple with some conceptual apparatus to make this happen, and there’s some jargon (Free Indirect Discourse, anyone?) to decode. But with guidance, getting technical with point of view is magical. That’s what we’ll do in this practical workshop, first wrapping our heads around the idea that our stories have a triumvirate Author-Narrator-Character consciousness, then close reading a wealth of examples, from 19th century style omniscience to contemporary varieties of second person. How can a single point of view shift at just the right moment shape an entire story? And how can you write with the spaciousness of perspective to make that happen? You’ll leave this class technically transformed, with new writing possibilities before you.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Rachel Howard is the author of a novel, The Risk of Us, which won the 2019 Nautilus gold medal in fiction, and a memoir, The Lost Night. Her short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Zyzzyva, the New York Times Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Gulf Coast, Waxwing, and other venues. She has taught at the Grotto for 11 years, and earned her MFA at Warren Wilson College, where she served as the Joan Beebe Teaching Fellow and then as Interim Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing. More at www.rachelhoward.com

Contact: rachelhoward@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 6

Date: Wednesdays, April 21, 28; May 5, 12, 19, 26

Time: 5:30 – 7:30pm Pacific time

Course fee: $445


Susan Ito

SATURDAYS, MAY 8 — 22  |  Photographs can prove to be evocative prompts for compelling pieces of creative nonfiction. What is visible in the photograph, and what is unseen? How does the photograph reflect or contradict memory? Using personal photographs, we will explore many ways to use them as inspiration for flash and short nonfiction, ranging from 140 characters (Tweet length) to 1000-word essays.

Asynchronous learning materials for this class will be available online (via the Wet Ink platform). Scheduled class sessions will take place via Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for details.

Susan Ito is the author of The Mouse Room. She co-edited the literary anthology A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption. Her work has appeared in Growing Up Asian American, Choice, Hip Mama, Literary Mama, Catapult, Hyphen,The Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is a MacDowell fellow, and has also been awarded residencies at The Mesa Refuge, Hedgebrook and the Blue Mountain Center. She has performed her solo show, The Ice Cream Gene, around the US. Her theatrical adaption of Untold, stories of reproductive stigma, was produced at Brava Theater. In addition to the Writers Grotto, she teaches at Mills College and Bay Path University. She was one of the co-organizers of Rooted and Written, a writing conference for writers of color.

Contact: susanito@mac.com

Number of sessions: 3

Dates: Saturdays, May 8, 15, 22

Time: 1:00 – 3:30 pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $180


SUNDAY, MAY 9  |  Come to this class with a character you would like to develop, leave with a fleshed-out human being who will put your story into motion.

The characters who sear themselves into our memories are a mix of conflicting desires. Consider Walter White from the series Breaking Bad: A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer. He begins to cook meth to provide for his family, entering a secret life of crime. Characters with stark contradictions like this bring stories to life. They are fascinating and react to the events of our stories in fascinating ways.

In this workshop, we will examine several unforgettable characters from literature, television, and film. You will then focus on your own characters. Using character development exercises, you will identify the internal and external wants that collide within your character’s soul. We will then discuss ways to build your stories around these more fully-developed characters.

The goals of this class are:

  1. To deepen and develop your character in a way that will make them unforgettable to your readers and audiences.
  2. To give you the tools to develop your own fully-fleshed characters in the future.

This class is appropriate for all creative storytellers—fiction writers, playwrights, and screenwriters—especially those who are trying to know their characters better.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Maury Zeff’s plays have been produced around the country and received two Emerging Playwright Awards and four People’s Choice Awards from PlayGround, his home theatre company. His writing has been published in American Fiction, Southern California Review, Embark, bosque, Best of PlayGround (2014 & 2017), Crab Orchard Review (upcoming), and elsewhere. He is a former San Francisco Writers Grotto Fellow, has received playwriting commissions from PlayGround and the SF Olympians Festival, and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of San Francisco. Maury is a nominee for a 2020 Pushcart Prize in fiction.

Contact: mauryzeff@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 1

Date: Sunday, May 9

Time: 11:00am – 2:00pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $80


Susan Ito

SATURDAY & SUNDAY, JUNE 5 & 6  |  For some writers, first drafts are the fun part. Anything is possible! After that, revision can feel overwhelming. But it can also be fun and rewarding, especially when broken down into manageable components. Come to this two-day revision bootcamp with your manuscript (two hard copies of either a fiction or creative nonfiction piece) and you’ll go through a series of timed stations, examining and working on your pages from a wide angle and up close. Learn how to focus on one element at a time: dialogue, character emotions, sensory details, plotting, time elements, a title brainstorm and more. At the end of this revision workshop, your manuscript will be beautifully polished from every possible angle, and you’ll be able to apply these techniques to any piece of writing.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Susan Ito is the author of The Mouse Room. She co-edited the literary anthology A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption. Her work has appeared in Growing Up Asian American, Choice, Hip Mama, Literary Mama, Catapult, Hyphen,The Bellevue Literary Review, and elsewhere. She is a MacDowell fellow, and has also been awarded residencies at The Mesa Refuge, Hedgebrook and the Blue Mountain Center. She has performed her solo show, The Ice Cream Gene, around the US. Her theatrical adaption of Untold, stories of reproductive stigma, was produced at Brava Theater. In addition to the Writers Grotto, she teaches at Mills College and Bay Path University. She was one of the co-organizers of Rooted and Written, a writing conference for writers of color.

Contact: susanito@mac.com

Number of sessions: 2

Dates: Saturday & Sunday, June 5 & 6

Time: 10:00am – 1:00pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $115

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