Upcoming classes: Nonfiction
THURSDAYS, JULY 18-25; AUGUST 1-29; Sept 5 |
Writing memoir draws upon all of us. We are the writer, the narrator, and the character living the events recounted. But which events, and how recounted? Many of us start with a specific period of time or relationship in mind; others memoirists travel over decades in pursuit of a thematic connection. The hardest part is deciding how to organize it all. Our stories rarely leap fully-formed to the page, however well we think we remember all the pieces.
This class will provide concrete help through exploration and practice of such craft elements as narrative distance, scene and summary, and the handling of time.
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 10 | 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
- Negotiating rates
- Time management
- Professional organizations
- Working with literary agents
- Developing relationships with editors and publishers
This class is open to both new and mid-career writers pursuing their passion for the word.
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.
WEDNESDAYS, SEPTEMBER 18-25 —OCTOBER 2-30 | Close reading of great work is one of the best ways to improve your own writing. In this class, you’ll learn how to unlock the secrets of great personal essays and apply them to your work.
The class combines focused, constructive workshopping of student work with an examination of outstanding published essays past and present. We’ll split our time each week between providing feedback on students’ essays and performing a close read of one or more published essays. We’ll talk about some techniques that can be used to “get inside” a piece, and students will put those techniques to work not just in understanding their own work but in learning to provide useful feedback for their fellow writers as well.
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.
TUESDAYS, SEPTEMBER 24 —OCTOBER 1-8 | For a freelance journalist, essayist, nonfiction writer, or marketing professional, pitch letters not only generate work but also can help open doors, build new relationships, or kickstart a career. A great pitch has power, but crafting one, targeting it to the right publication, and getting it in front of the right person isn’t simple. By the end of this workshop, you’ll have a well-honed pitch letter ready to go.
In this class, you’ll gain new insights into what editors are looking for and learn new ways to make your pitch letters as compelling as possible.
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.
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.