Online Class

Upcoming classes: Online Class


WEDNESDAYS, JUL. 28 — AUG. 18  |  When we think about traditional “nature writing,” poems and essays about getting lost in “pristine wilderness” and survival stories of (mostly White) rugged adventurers may come to mind. In this course, we’ll use nature writing from Black, Indigenous, Immigrant, Queer and other writers of color to explore how we can write about nature and the outdoors  in ways that also considers issues like ancestry, colonization, racial justice, migration trauma, sexuality, and more.

In our time together, students will read work from authors like Audre Lorde, Kiese Laymon, Natalie Diaz, Sabrina Imbler, Marta Valdés, George Abraham, Robin Kimmerer, and many others to help expand their idea of what nature and outdoor writing can look like. We’ll use this work as inspiration and an entry way for creating and eventually sharing our own nature and outdoor writing with the group. By the end of the course, students will have at least one piece of nature writing (of any genre) to present to the class.


Lisa Lerner

TUESDAYS, AUG. 3 — SEP. 14  |  Get a jump on the college essay process before school starts and homework overwhelms! In this workshop, students will write at least one main college essay. In the process, they will learn essay-writing tools such as how to choose topics, write a compelling hook and introduction, develop ideas through personal anecdotes and observations, and reflect on their experiences to create powerful conclusions. Even though these essays are memoir-type nonfiction, they use many of the same tools that make fictional stories come alive.

Cheerleading, snake-charming, handholding, and tear-wiping – how do you get your teen to write those dreaded college essays? And WHY is it so dreaded? First, kids are expected to do a type of writing with which they have little to no academic experience. Then, suddenly, their whole life is on the line if they don’t tell the greatest story ever told – in which they are the star! On top of that, they need to reflect on What It All Means and How They Are Forever Changed. Yikes!


Jenny Bitner

WEDNESDAYS, AUG. 4 — SEP. 8  |  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, the surrealists played party games, and now novels are being written in Tweets and texts. Each week we will explore different experimental styles from surrealism to postmodernism to hybrid writing, and do exercises to loosen our minds and push us in new directions with our writing.


WEDNESDAYS, AUG. 11 – 25 |  This short, fun, interactive class will help you revise, tighten, improve, and sharpen your writing. We’ll do in-class exercises, and students will be expected to complete focused homework assignments for each class. Students will learn how to examine their own writing as well as to provide constructive (never mean!) feedback to others.

Students will use their own (and one another’s) work to practice writing skills such as clarity and concision. We’ll examine the sentence, the paragraph, the phrase, as well as rhythm and meter, diction and syntax. We’ll identify and eliminate common weaknesses and clichés.

Bring up to ten pages—ANY ten pages, as long as they’re written in English for a non-academic or non-technical audience—and you’ll leave with concrete skills and greater confidence for works of any length.


Lyzette WanzerSUNDAYS, AUG. 12 — SEP. 16  |  In a safe, supportive community catering to writers of color, learn how to plan a submissions strategy, create a plan of attack for your work, research markets, and locate the ones that are the best fits for your writing.

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 learn how to plan a submissions strategy create a plan of attack for your work, and learn how to research markets and locate the ones that are the best fits for your writing. Then we will focus on submitting short stories, articles, poems, essays, novel excerpts, and/or creative nonfiction pieces to over 15 markets. In a safe, supportive community, you’ll begin by learning proper submission etiquette and protocol, avoiding pitfalls that mark you as an amateur and get your submission tossed onto the “No” pile—before editors have even read it.


Make some time for your writing as you emerge from quarantine. Join Grotto member Lyzette Wanzer for an evening of writing designed to shift focus and open a vein of creative energy to keep you writing during this time. We’ll have prompts, accountability, and—if you choose—sharing. Finish a story you’ve started or free-write your way to something new. Find inspiration and energy writing in virtual community!

Choose one or more of the sessions below. Write-ins are held every Friday from 5:30 to 7:30pm.

All write-ins are held via Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom login information.


WEDNESDAYS, SEPT. 8th – OCT. 20th | In this class, we’ll spend six weeks building stories from the foundation. We’ll celebrate the trouble at the heart of good short fiction. We’ll look at ways to get characters in and out of (or deeper into) hot water. We’ll look closely at short stories that achieve unity of purpose, precision of craft, and an emotional wallop. We’ll explore diverse forms and voices and 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.


Jaya Padmanabhan

Jaya Padmanabhan

MONDAYS, SEPT. 13th – OCT. 4th  | Data sounds dull, but when used in an argument, an opinion, an analysis, a criticism, or as part of guerrilla journalism it becomes the engine that propels the story. Data informs the argument, lends credibility, and invites engagement. Persuade decision-makers using the “And-But-Then” narrative.

In this four-week workshop for beginning to mid-level journalists, we will discuss where to find data to support stories, how to analyze and interrogate the data we find, and how to use the And-But-Then argument to tell a persuasive story.


Susan Ito

Grace Loh Prasad

Grace Loh Prasad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MONDAYS, SEPT. 13th & 20th  | Whether you are brand new to Twitter, or you’re an aspiring or established author wondering how to gain followers and generate buzz for your latest project, this class is for you. You’ll learn from members of the Grotto’s social media team, Susan Ito & Grace Loh Prasad, why Twitter is beneficial for writers, what to tweet about, who to follow, and how to balance self-promotion with being a literary citizen and member of an online writing community.

After taking this class you will know:

Why Twitter is great for writers
Basic mechanics of how to use Twitter
What to tweet about
Who to follow and why
How to engage with and attract followers
How to be a great literary citizen
How to build and sustain interest in your projects
How to balance self-promotion with other topics
How to leverage dashboards & analytics


TUESDAYS, SEPT. 14th — OCT. 12th  |  Revisit perception and perspective in a guided reading of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. First published in 1927, Woolf’s fifth novel is not only one of the most important works of early-20th-century Modernist literature, but also a deeply affecting portrait of a woman and a family beset by the forces of the modern world. Over the course of five weeks, we’ll read this masterpiece together, and explore its sitting rooms and hidden byways in search of not just lessons we might use in our own lives as readers and writers of literature, but new ways of perceiving (for it is nothing if not a novel of perception) the world around us and ourselves.


Lisa Lerner

SATURDAYS, SEPT. 18th – OCT. 30th  | When you were a kid, you were probably obsessed with the hero of a book. You loved that book because it was hilarious, or thrilling, or made you feel as though you weren’t a weirdo living on the wrong planet. Maybe it taught you things you didn’t realize were possible. Maybe it even helped you survive. In this class, we will focus on learning the essentials of writing for children: memorable characters, unique voice, strong plot, deep emotion, and a big idea.

This workshop is best for beginners/intermediate writers OR artists who want to add text to their illustrations.


Lisa Lerner

TUESDAYS, SEPT. 21st – OCT. 26th  | When you were a kid, you were probably obsessed with the hero of a book. You loved that book because it was hilarious, or thrilling, or made you feel as though you weren’t a weirdo living on the wrong planet. Maybe it taught you things you didn’t realize were possible. Maybe it even helped you survive. In this class, we will focus on learning the essentials of writing for children: memorable characters, unique voice, strong plot, deep emotion, and a big idea.

This workshop is best for beginners/intermediate writers OR artists who want to add text to their illustrations.


 

Constance Hale

TUESDAYS, SEPT. 21st – OCT 12th | Talk to almost anyone about their dreams, and most will tell you they’d like to write a book. But it takes a savvy writer to make that dream happen. We can’t tell you in four days how to write a book, but we can tell you everything you need to know about publishing it and succeeding on your own terms.

This four-week class provides a complete overview of the book business from inside and out: what it takes to imagine and pull-off a long-form literary project—but also what it takes to land an agent, work with an editor, and let the world know about the finished book.


Laird Harrison

Alissa Greenberg

THURSDAYS, SEPT. 23rd – NOV. 4th  | From gorgeous glossies to edgy news sites, magazines captivate readers and shape our culture. All of them are looking for great writers. In this course, you’ll learn to weave the stories that editors crave.

We will guide you through each step to creating your own major magazine article: finding a story idea; selecting the right magazine to publish the story; honing your pitch; identifying and approaching sources; interviewing; handling anecdotes, quotes and statistics; choosing a structure; and crafting leads, middles and endings.


Thaisa Frank

Thaisa Frank

SATURDAYS, SEPT. 25th & OCT. 2nd | Does your story never feel finished? Do you feel frustrated when readers say they want ‘more’ but can’t tell you what​ they mean by​ ‘more’? This workshop presents a breakthrough approach to creating a whole and satisfying story through the use of seven tools that apply to fiction of all lengths and genres. By the end of the class you will have mastered the seven tools that captivate readers and create a complete story, including indirect dialogue, the artful use of omission, and potent imagery. There will be handouts of examples, exercises, and class discussion. For writers of all forms of fiction as well as creative nonfiction.


Roberto Lovato

Roberto Lovato

THURSDAYS, OCT 7th – 21st  | Living in times marked by relentless and intersecting crises, the serious writer must ask, “Where is the literature that responds to this astonishing moment?” Our goal for this class is to answer the question by crafting our own, by writing crisis. This introduction to the art of writing the prose of crisis—memoir, journalism, different genres of fiction and science fiction—(and poetry if there’s interest) will begin by looking at the crisis in literature that has created the vacuum that we will fill with our own work, including one piece we will polish in the course of our sessions.


Lyzette Wanzer

Lyzette Wanzer

TUESDAYS, OCT. 19th — NOV. 9th  | This workshop offers information, guidance, and strategies for writers who wish to apply to have their work accepted at a writers’ conference, whether virtual or in-person. In a safe and supportive environment, we will explore how to:

  • choose the right writers’ conference for you
  • prepare a polished submission
  • make a professional impression from submission to attendance
  • create a conference plan
  • get financial support to attend
  • practice conference etiquette: the do’s and dont’s of both applying and attending
  • avoid common, costly mistakes in your CV and bio that mark you as an amateur

This workshop is open to writers of all levels who feel prepared to present their work at a professional writers’ conference. This class will meet on Zoom.


Lindsey Crittenden

THURSDAYS, OCT. 21st – NOV 18th  | Craving a creative community?  Looking for more time and structure to write? Whether you’re working on fiction or nonfiction, a short story or a memoir or something in between, this class provides a structured environment for momentum, insight, and support.  No matter how much (or how little) you’ve written, you’ve got a work-in-progress.  And this class will help move it along.


Lyzette Wanzer

Lyzette Wanzer

WEDNESDAYS, OCT. 27 — NOV. 10  | Artist statements are not just for visual artists and performers; in the 21st century, writers need them, too. You will use some incarnation of this statement on your own web page and media account, in personal and project statements for residency applications, and in letters of intent for grant and fellowship applications. Your statement needs to demonstrate that you are a thoughtful, deliberate writer who takes her literary career seriously. Bear in mind that this statement speaks for you on grant, fellowship, grad school, conference, and residency applications. Learn how to cast your work in its strongest, most evocative light. In this three-day Boot Camp, you will read several statement examples, learn how they are used, and then craft, workshop, and revise several drafts of your own statement.


Jenny Bitner

Jenny Bitner

WEDNESDAYS, OCT. 27th — DEC. 1st   | There is a magic and mystery in the process of writing, but sometimes we lose that feeling when we write for a living or have an idea of writing as only a finished project. In this generative writing class we will use tarot, dreamwork, astrology, automatic writing and hypnosis to generate new ideas and spark our creative minds.


Lyzette WanzerTHURSDAYS, OCT. 28th — DEC. 9th  | One of the biggest challenges writers face is getting their work the recognition it deserves. You’ve been sending your work out—stories, articles, poems, plays—and you know it’s good work, but no one’s biting. You’ve applied for grants, travel scholarships, and writers’ conference funding, to no avail. You’d love to be invited to present work at Litquake or another high-profile reading series, or to read at a conference. You’d like to publish in literary journals that pay writers, and you’d like to start winning some writing contests. What’s the missing link? It could well be your online literary presence.

  • Do you have separate social media accounts reserved and used exclusively for your life as a writer?
  • Does your online presence offer evidence that you take your writing seriously, and view yourself as a literary professional, whether established or up-and-coming?
  • When publishers, funders, fellowship committees, and grant panels view your profiles, will they think your presentation is polished? Will they feel your page shows signs of an upward trajectory in your literary accomplishments?


Grace Loh Prasad

Grace Loh Prasad

THURSDAYS, OCT. 28th & NOV. 4th  | Do you have an essay draft that’s almost there, or one that keeps getting rejected that could use some expert feedback? Need a supportive group to nudge you over the finish line and actually send your work out? This personal essay “clinic” will help you finetune your draft for submission and identify potential outlets for publication.


MONDAYS, NOV. 1st — NOV. 29th  |  To be human is to want. And the more the characters we create want things and struggle to achieve those goals, the more emotionally satisfying our stories will be for our readers and audiences. In this class, we will start by considering the following questions:

  • What is it that makes a book so compelling you can’t put it down? 
  • Why are characters like Michael Corleone, Lady Macbeth, and Katniss Everdeen (to name just a few) seared into our memories? 
  • How can we apply that same narrative urgency to our own novels, memoirs, and scripts?

We will answer these questions by looking at the craft of story structure. Using examples from literature, film, and television—as well as a case study in story construction—we will explore how a richly drawn character collides with competing wants, obstacles, and his or her own flaws to make for an irresistible, emotionally resonant narrative.


Lisa Lerner

TUESDAYS, NOV. 2nd — DEC. 14th  |  Cheerleading, snake-charming, handholding, and tear-wiping – how do you get your teen to write those dreaded college essays? And WHY is it so dreaded? First, kids are expected to do a type of writing with which they have little to no academic experience. Then, suddenly, their whole life is on the line if they don’t tell the greatest story ever told – in which they are the star! On top of that, they need to reflect on What It All Means and How They Are Forever Changed. Yikes!


Elizabeth Forsyth

Elizabeth Forsyth

SATURDAY, NOV. 6th | Are you looking for a way to share your work with the world but have no idea where to start? Does the thought of reading your work in front of strangers terrify you? Are you a self published author looking for ways to promote your book? This class gives an overview of how to plan your perfect author event.


Preeti Vangani

Pretty Vangani

SUNDAY, DEC. 16th | Poets have been focusing their work on the body for ages — on pleasure, on identity, on beauty, on illness, and on the body as a living target. We write from our lived experiences and the way our body moves through the world shapes our stories and songs. As we revisit on the page what our bodies endure, it is necessary to build a practice centered in tenderness and care. This 3-hour online class is a generative space to explore pleasure, trauma, survival and healing through writing poetry about the body. We will dive into themes of sexuality, desire and pain, while reading poems by authors such as Leila Chatti, Derrick Austin and Destiny Birdsong.

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