Upcoming classes: Memoir
SUNDAY, APRIL 7 | In a comfortable setting, you’ll learn techniques to draw readers into the world of your memoir, whether it’s a childhood home by the Merced River, a fifth-floor apartment in New York City, or the way the wind felt on your face one day on Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Using examples from successful memoirs, you’ll learn about sensory detail, scene and summary, dialogue, and navigating time shifts. You’ll practice the basic elements of memoir through in-class exercises and leave this one-day class with a body of writing and some new writing friends!→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, APRIL 14 | Is dialogue meant to reveal or conceal? In this one-day hands-on workshop, you will learn how dialogue actually accomplishes both, revealing your characters by what is said and what is not said in fiction and memoir. We’ll read work by masters of dialogue, examining how artfully crafted speech, gesture, and silence helps you not only develop character, but generate tension, subtext, and move the plot forward. You’ll learn how to take full advantage of your characters’ expressive tics, favorite phrases, and utter withdrawal to build an immersive world for the reader.→ READ MORE
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
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
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
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
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, 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.