Nonfiction

Upcoming classes: Nonfiction


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


Sarah Pollock

 

 

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 28 | One of the toughest parts of being a freelancer can be figuring out what your editor wants from you and when they will want it. If you’ve never worked the other side of the desk, editors can seem capricious, demanding, and uncommunicative. Understanding the editorial process will minimize your frustration and can help you build solid relationships that lead to more work.

By the end of this three-hour, interactive workshop you will better understand the jobs of different levels of editors at various publications. You’ll have a good sense of how stories are developed, approved, and edited. And you’ll walk away with tips about how to smooth the process, and how to deal with revision requests, photo memos, and fact checking. We’ll talk about when and how to stick to your guns – and when to compromise.

Come with stories from the trenches! This is a facilitated conversation, not a top-down training. We’ll discuss your best- and worst-case experiences and brainstorm solutions and strategies. By the end, you should leave with some templates for difficult emails you’ll need to write as well as a class-list of peer freelancers who can become part of your trusted network for facing the challenges of freelancing.

Sarah Pollock has decades of experience as a writer and editor. She has managed magazines and been a senior editor at Mother Jones, developing stories for a national audience.  At the moment, she’s working the freelance writing side again – even though she’s appalled at what’s happened to pay rates. She’s also a veteran teacher and facilitator, having spent a couple of decades running the journalism program at Mills College.


Number of sessions
: 1

Contact: sarah.pollock@me.com

Dates: Saturday, September 28

Time: 10 am – 1:00 pm

Course fee: $100


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


Lindsey Crittenden

 

 

 

SATURDAY, EVERY TWO WEEKS, OCT. 12-JAN. 18 |

PRIVATE CLASS. For students who have completed the fall 2019 Memoir class, this by-invitation course keeps the momentum with 7 meetings of 2 hours each.  At each meeting, we will workshop the work of three students, distributed ahead of time; we will review and discuss the pieces in terms of the elements of craft covered in the fall class.  The focus will be on generating and deepening material toward each student finding his/her way into a satisfying narrative arc and developed thematic treatment.
Students will be expected to submit their memoirs-in-progress in three installments of up to 20 pages each; in addition, students will read and comment on each other’s work.

Lindsey Crittenden‘s memoir writing has appeared in Best American Spiritual Writing, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Image, and many other publications.  She is the author of the 2007 memoir, The Water Will Hold You (which Publishers Weekly called “gorgeously written”), and has taught memoir-writing for more than 10 years.


Number of sessions
: 7

Contact: lindsey@lindseycrittenden.com

Dates: Saturdays, Oct. 12, 26; Nov 9, 23; Dec 7; Jan 4, 18

Time: 3:00 pm –5:00 pm

Course fee: $400


 

 

TUESDAYS, OCTOBER 15-29; NOVEMBER 5-19 | Feature stories are nonfiction pieces that focus more on human stories than factual exposition – but they still are deeply reported. They are meant to engage readers emotionally and create empathy for their subjects, and they’re an excellent way to draw readers into complicated topics. They are also some of the best stories to pitch as a freelancer, having a place in everything from travel magazines to general interest publications.

In this six-week workshop, we’ll study different types of feature stories and analyze what makes them work. Our central concerns will be story focus and story structure – we’ll use published models to explore various ways to create a compelling narrative. We’ll also talk about how reporting and interviewing for features is different from news reporting, and we’ll examine feature story elements such as setting, character, detail, dialogue, and action.

The course will include outside reading, weekly brainstorms, and exercises that take you through the process of finding a story, focusing it, reporting it, and producing a draft. By the end of the class you should have completed one story which I will critique. (The length and ambition of your story will depend upon the experience you had prior to taking this course.)

This workshop should be useful for new and mid-career writers.

Sarah Pollock has written and edited thousands of features in her decades as journalist. She has been a newspaper staff writer, written regular magazine features, managed several publications, and was a senior editor at Mother Jones, developing and editing stories for a national audience. She’s also a veteran teacher, having spent a couple of decades running the journalism program at Mills College..

Number of sessions: 6

Contact: sarah.pollock@me.com

Dates: Tuesdays, October 15, 22, 29; November 5, 12, 19

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Course fee: $420


Kristen Cosby

 

 

WEDNESDAYS, OCTOBER 16-30;  NOVEMBER 6-13  | This course offers writers with an ongoing personal narrative project an opportunity to workshop and receive feedback on their work. In the first part of the course, we’ll be discussing the structure of long-form personal narratives. The second half of the course will be your laboratory– a workshop environment in which each writer is invited to bring a synopsis and a segment of their project to workshop.

Kristen Cosby is a freelance writer, editor, and educator.  Her writing has received support from the Jan Michalski Foundation (Switzerland), Can Serrat (Spain), the Corporation of Yaddo (USA), the MacDowell Artist Colony (USA), and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (USA), and garnered the Normal Prize in Nonfiction and a Pushcart Prize Special Mention. Her work has appeared in Atlas ObscuraThe Normal School, Kenyon Review Online, Alaska Quarterly Review, and several other journals and anthologies.

Contact: kristen.cosby@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 6

Time: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Dates: Wednesdays, October 16-30; November 6-13

Course fee: $395


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

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