Upcoming classes: Fiction
SATURDAY, JULY 20 | Writing is wonderful when it flows, but how can we regularly tap into the flow state? In this class we will explore ways of accessing the unconscious for our writing. We will brainstorm, explore, play writing games, look at our dreams, and explore guided meditation for creativity. I will give you ten activities that you can use outside class to get inspired when the inspiration is not happening, and you will create 23 Ideas for Me — a book that we will brainstorm together with individualized prompts for your writing. This will be three hours (with a 10-minute break) of intense brainstorming, creating, idea-making, and writing that will leave you inspired to write NOW.
SATURDAYS, JULY 20-27; AUGUST 3-17 | Do you have some pages you’ve taken as far as you can on your own and would like some feedback on? While this class started as a follow-up to Work in Progress Workshop, it is open to any writer with a prose work-in-progress (short story, personal essay, novel or memoir section, etc.) and hankering for solid, constructive feedback.
Please have 10-15 pages ready for workshop by the first class session. We will spend our time focused on the exchange and reading of student work. Each week, three to four students will have their pages read and commented on by the entire group.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 24 | If you’ve longed to attend a writing residency, where quiet, food and uninterrupted time are provided, you can experience a taste of indulgent focus at the Grotto’s first weekend writing retreat. Bring that unfinished story, that new chapter, those poems to our writing nooks and crannies, and enjoy the time and space to write in community with others. You’ll be well fed, supported and inspired to make solid headway with whatever writing project you’re working on.
You’ll get tips from a seasoned writer and writing retreat facilitator on how to make the most of our time together.
SUNDAYS, SEPTEMBER 15 & 22 | Whether you have a short story fresh out of the printer, or a memoir piece tucked away in the drawer, this highly interactive, two-session workshop gives you concrete tools to strengthen your work and publish it. Students in this class have gone on to publish in online and print journals, as well as place in national writing contests. In the workshop, we’ll about revision as a process of “re-envisioning” your work, and you’ll learn how to accomplish this in do-able steps. You’ll have the chance to step back and look at your story, assess where it would benefit from more work, and select among different in-class revision exercises to get the process going.
TUESDAYS, SEPTEMBER 17 & 24 —OCTOBER 1-22 | Do you want to write the Great American Novel but find it hard to finish a short story? Maybe you need to ease into writing with something you can write a first draft of in a few hours. I believe that before we can tackle a longer piece of writing, it’s important to learn the elements of what make good writing, and the perfect practice ground for this is short fiction.
This class will focus on learning these elements by writing flash fiction (stories under 1500 words). We will discuss different aspects of craft and read some of the best examples of flash.
THURSDAYS, SEPTEMBER 19-26 —OCTOBER 3 | Whatever kind of book you want to write – fiction, memoir, business, how-to, children’s– this class will help you take an idea you’re passionate about and show you how to develop it, and get it edited, published, and into the hands of readers. We will demystify how to pitch your book, write a proposal, land an agent, and find the right publisher. We’ll discuss ghostwriting, freelance editors, how to handle revisions, cover designs, excerpts, book publicists, and self-publishing vs. legacy publishers. We will also walk you through what you need on your author website, and how to attract readers via social media and other avenues.
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.
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.
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.
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.