Fiction

Upcoming classes: Fiction


Lit Starts: Writing Character

Constance Hale

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAYS, SEPTEMBER 23-30 —OCTOBER 7-21  | The Writers Grotto is launching a fun, light-hearted, smart series on the writing craft, called LitStarts. The first four books in the series—Writing Action, Writing Character, Writing Dialogue, and Writing Humor– will be released on September 10. This class will use the series as the basis of five weekly workshops. Constance Hale, who wrote the essay that kicks off Writing Character, will be joined each week by other contributors from the Writers Grotto. Four heads are better than one! The sessions will be lively, helpful, and provocative, and will include in-class writing, using prompts from the book. Longer assignments, which Connie will give feedback on, will use the prompts to generate works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or a hybrid. A copy of one of the books is included in the price of the class. Come and become an early adapter!

Constance Hale is a San Francisco–based journalist and the author of four cheeky writing manuals, a book for adults on hula, and a picture book for children set in Hawai‘i. Her articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and many national magazines, and she specializes in profiles and personality sketches. In 2019, her essay on writing profiles kicks off Writing Character, a book chockful of thoughts, tips, and prompts that is part of the Lit Starts series. She can be found at www.sinandsyntax.com

Contact: chale@well.com.

Number of sessions: 5

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Dates: Mondays, September 23, 30; October 7, 14, 21

Course fee: $280


Allison Landa

 

 

SUNDAYS, OCTOBER 6-27; NOVEMBER. 3 | You don’t need a jester’s cap or a red clown nose to make people laugh. It takes a pinch of craft and a judicious seasoning of self-awareness as a writer. Working together through class discussions as well as in-class reading and writing exercises, we’ll explore just how humor can make your writing sing–or caterwaul, depending on your particular voice. Fiction, non-fiction, journalism–this class is appropriate for any genre where you want to add a dash of humor.  Join us!

Allison Landa is a Berkeley-based writer of memoir and fiction whose work has been featured in The Guardian US, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post, among other venues. A graduate of St. Mary’s College of California’s M.F.A. program in creative writing, Allison runs the On the Cusp reading series in San Francisco. You won’t, however, find her running marathons.


Number of sessions
: 5

Contact: allison@allisonlanda.com

Time: 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm

Dates: Sundays, October 6, 13, 20, 27; November 3

Course fee: $300


Jenny Bitner

 

 

WEDNESDAYS, OCTOBER 9-30; NOVEMBER 6, 13 | 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, Anaïs 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 or experienced writers wanting to push their writing in new directions. In the first session we will do a group hypnosis for creativity and for opening our imagination in new directions.

Jenny Bitner’s short stories and flash fiction have been published in Best American Nonrequired Reading, PANK, The Sun, Mississippi Review and Fence magazine. She has an M.F.A. in creative writing from the University of Virginia. She is also a certified hypnotherapist with an interest in how we can use the unconscious mind for increased creativity.


Number of sessions
: 6

Contact: jenny.bitner@gmail.com

Time: 6 pm – 8:30 pm

Dates: Wednesdays, October 9-30; November 6, 13

Course fee: $395


Lindsey Crittenden

 

 

 

MONDAYS, OCTOBER 14-28; NOVEMBER 4-18 | In this class, we’ll spend six weeks building stories from the foundation up. We’ll celebrate the trouble at the heart of good short fiction. We’ll look at ways to get characters in and out of hot water. We’ll look closely at short stories that achieve unity of purpose, precision of craft, and an emotional wallop. From James Joyce’s “Araby” to Aimee Bender’s “The Rememberer,” we’ll examine not only how each story builds from the first word to the last but how tightly the structure depends upon – and enhances – our understanding of character.

During these six weeks, each student will craft a short story from beginning to end, starting with in-class exercises and prompts. Homework will consist of weekly reading assignments as well as writing. Please be prepared to share your work in a supportive and constructive manner (with guidelines provided by the instructor). If you’ve written short fiction before, or are looking to start, this class will give you concrete help in developing (or tightening) your craft.

Our small class size will facilitate sharing and support.

Note: this class is generative rather than revision-oriented. While you may already have a draft, please be prepared to write (and share) new material.

Lindsey Crittenden‘s stories have won awards and been published in Cimarron Review, Mississippi Review, Glimmer Train, Quarterly West, Santa Monica Review, and other publications. She is the author of an award-winning collection of short fiction, The View from Below, and her story “The Ruins” will be performed on stage by Word for Word in November 2019. An Honored Instructor at U.C. Berkeley Extension, she has taught and developed curricula for creative writing classes since 1995 and loves working with students in finding the story within their stories.


Number of sessions
: 6

Contact: lindsey@lindseycrittenden.com

Dates: Mondays, October 14, 21, 28; November 4, 11, 18

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Course fee: $395 (early bird, registery by Oct. 6); $410 after October 7


Lyzette Wanzer

 

 

 

SATURDAYS, OCTOBER 26; NOVEMBER 2-23 | Writers, it’s time to set aside the bevy of excuses about why you’re not sending your work out to journals, newspapers, magazines, and contests. In this boot camp-style workshop, you’ll focus on submitting a maximum of two short stories, articles, essays, and/or creative nonfiction pieces to 15 markets in just five weeks (poets should be prepared to submit a group of three to five related poems.) In a safe, supportive community, you’ll begin by learning proper submission etiquette and protocol, avoiding pitfalls that mark you as an amateur.

  • Learn where to locate legitimate, respectable markets, including literary journals, contests, and grants
  • Become proficient in navigating the publication landscape
  • Get practical tips on formatting professional submissions
  • Find out what the most popular submission platforms are and how they make your life easier
  • Write your author bio
  • Create a Research Collection Sheet to identify individualized markets
  • Select and use a professional submission tracker
  • This workshop is designed for committed writers who have one or two finished, polished pieces (three to five pieces for poets) of 5,000 words or less that are completed, proofread, and ready to send out for publication. A laptop, notebook computer, or iPad is required for this class.

Lyzette Wanzer is a San Francisco writer, editor, and creative writing workshop instructor. She received her M.F.A. in Fiction from Mills College. A flash fiction connoisseur and essay aficionado, her work has appeared in Callaloo, Tampa Review, The MacGuffin, Ampersand Review, Journal of Advanced Development, Journal of Experimental Fiction, Pleiades, Flashquake, Glossalia Flash Fiction, Potomac Review, International Journal on Literature and Theory, Fringe Magazine, The Naked Truth, and many others. She is the recipient of an Investing in Artists grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, three Individual Artist Commission grants from San Francisco Arts Commission, and three Professional Development Grants from the Creative Capacity Fund.

Number of sessions: 5

Contact: RoadKing1200@gmail.com

Time: 11:00 am – 1:30 pm

Dates: Saturdays, October 26; November 2, 9, 16, 23.

Course fee: $330


Laird Harrison

 

 

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27 |

Getting published is a thrill, but competition is stiff. To succeed, you have to carefully plan your career.

In this survey course, you’ll create a roadmap 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 course will include a concise overview of the following topics:

  • Setting goals
  • Psychological obstacles
  • Market research
  • Accounting
  • Negotiating rates
  • Pitching
  • Time management
  • Professional organizations
  • Contracts
  • Working with literary agents
  • Developing relationships with editors and publishers

Number of sessions: 1

Contact: lairdharrison@gmail.com

Time: 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Dates: Sunday, October 27

Course fee: $95


Mark Wallace

 

 

TUESDAYS, OCTOBER 29; NOVEMBER 5-19 | 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 great writing about place, and will look at—and utilize—specific techniques great writers use to capture the world around them. We’ll focus on writing about the real world, but will look at genres from essay to fiction, poetry, science fiction, and more. The class will emphasize writing that takes a specific place as its primary subject, but will also look at place as a way to set a scene in which some other element is of primary importance.

We’ll explore the use of place by writers like Joan Didion, Richard Powers, Annie Proulx, Iain Sinclair, and William Least Heat-Moon (among others), and engage in brief writing exercises in each session. We’ll also visit (virtually) with one of editors and/or writers from The Common (thecommononline.org), Amherst College’s literary magazine devoted to “our individual and collective sense of place.”

A freelance writer in San Francisco, Mark Wallace has reported from all over the world, writing for publications from The New York Times Magazine to The New Yorker, Wired, Salon, the Los Angeles Review of Books, The Sigh Press Literary Journal, the Philadelphia Independent, and many others.

Number of sessions: 4

Contact: markwallace@boyreporter.com

Time: 5:45 pm – 7:45 pm

Dates: Tuesdays, October 29; November 5, 12, 19

Course fee: $249


Rachel Howard

Rachel Howard

 

 

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2 | “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.

Rachel Howard is the author of a novel, The Risk of Us, and a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night, described as “enthralling” by the New York Times. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Zyzzyva, Gulf Coast, Waxwing, the Hudson Review, the Arroyo Literary ReviewTheNewYorker.com, and the New York Times Magazine. This lecture/workshop is adapted from the craft talk she delivered as Distinguished Visiting Writer in the M.F.A. Program of St. Mary’s College of California. More on Rachel at www.rachelhoward.com

Number of sessions: 1

Contact: rachel.howard@gmail.com

Time: 9:30 am – 1:00 pm

Date: Saturday, November 2

Course fee: $95


Laura Fraser

 

 

THURSDAYS, NOVEMBER 7-21 |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 three weeks – guaranteed!

The first week, we’ll start off with Story and Structure. 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.

The second week, we’ll dive in to Revisions and Style. That will help you cast a critical eye on your creative efforts to become a clearer, more compelling writer. We’ll cover ways to cut clutter and make your writing sparkle. We’ll talk about the basics of good narrative and do a few writing exercises so that you will have hands-on experience revising your work as well as editing others’ pieces.

You’ll bring in a short piece you’ve written to the third class, Workshopping, so we can help you revise it. At the end of the three weeks we’ll toast our success as better writers. You’ll leave with that great feeling: Hey, I can write!

Laura Fraser is a New York Times-bestselling author of three books who has worked as a freelance journalist since she graduated from college. She has written hundreds of articles for national publications, including at The New York TimesGourmet, Sunset, San Francisco MagazineO: the Oprah Magazine, and many others. She has taught writing at universities and writing conferences, as well as at the Grotto, for over 20 years. She conducts workshops internationally in writing and digital storytelling for corporations and non-profits to help people everywhere be better writers. She’s also the niece and mentee of the late William Zinsser, author of On Writing Well.

Number of sessions: 3

Contact: laura@laurafraser.com

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Date: Thursdays, November 7, 14, 21

Course fee: $200


Maw Shein Win

Susan Ito

 

 

 

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 17 |

In this interactive, one-day workshop, we will collaborate on producing a zine together. Instructors Susan Ito and Maw Shein Win will introduce a host of collaborative writing 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 working and playing together. You will learn how to physically construct your own zine that includes work from the whole group.

At the end of the workshop, you will leave with a unique collaborative zine of words and images as well as an invaluable list of resources and exercises to keep you moving forward in your writing and creative life. This lively and engaging workshop is excellent for both poets and prose writers who have an interest in collaborative writing. Beginners are welcomed, as well as experienced poets, writers and artists who are looking to stretch their creative boundaries.

Light snacks and beverages provided. Bring a notebook.

Maw Shein Win is a poet, editor, and educator who lives and works in the Bay Area. Her writing has appeared in various journals and anthologies, including Poetry International, Poets and WritersCimarron Review, Fanzine, and others. She is a member of the The Writers’ Grotto, and her poetry chapbook Score and Bone is on Nomadic Press (2016). Her collection Invisible Gifts: Poems was published by Manic D Press in 2018. Maw is the first poet laureate of El Cerrito (2016 – 2018), and her forthcoming full-length collection will be published by Omnidawn in 2020. She is a 2019 Visiting Scholar in the English Department at UC Berkeley.

Susan Ito is author of The Mouse Room. She co-edited the anthology A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption. She has been a columnist and editor at Literary Mama, and her work has appeared in Growing Up Asian American, Choice, Hip Mama, Catapult, The Bellevue Literary Review, Making More Waves and elsewhere.  She has performed her solo show, The Ice Cream Gene, around the United States. She writes and teaches at the Writers’ Grotto, at Bay Path University and Mills College.

Number of sessions: 1

Contact: elcerritopoet@gmail.com

Time: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm

Date: Sunday, November 17

Course fee: $100

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