Online Class

Upcoming classes: Online Class

Take some time for your writing this fall with a series of virtual and in person write-ins hosted by the Grotto. Led by one the Grotto’s many talented and accomplished writers, each of the sessions below provides 60 minutes of space and guidance in which to get your creative energy flowing, generate new material, bring old material up to snuff, and just make contact with the community of writers that is the Grotto, our teachers, and our students.

Choose one or more of the sessions below, and show up for generative exercises designed to help instill confidence in your writing, shift your focus and get you out of a rut, document the emotions and experience of challenging times, and more. Writing prompts, craft tips, timed exercises, accountability—you’ll encounter any or all of these as you write in community with your fellow narrative artists and learn from our writers about what has worked for them. Finish a story you’ve started or free-write your way to something new. Find inspiration and energy writing in virtual community!

Doug Henderson

Doug Henderson

WEDNESDAYS, SEPT. 28th – NOV. 2nd | There are limits to what realism can do. Often we try to create stories that are as believable as possible, especially when the seeds of that story come from our own experience. But realism is not always enough to convey what we want our readers to experience and feel. Sometimes what we want to say requires curses, and zombies, and the end of the world. That’s where the genre hybrid comes in, stories that blend different genre elements together in one work, to smash stale tropes, and upend readers’ expectations.

This workshop-based class is ideal for writers who are looking to generate new work or have work in progress and are ready for feedback. We will supplement our workshop by reading and discussing excerpts from published short stories to deepen our understanding of how these writers incorporate the various fantastical elements, and tropes of genre into their work. In addition, we will try our hand at exercises designed to ignite our imaginations, and take our stories to new places, and themes. If time allows, we will share these exercises in class. Each week we will workshop two stories by students. By the end of the course, each student will have had the opportunity to receive verbal and written feedback on their stories at least twice from both the workshop leader and their peers.

Lindsey Crittenden

Lindsey Crittenden, Credit: JD Beltran

MONDAYS, OCT. 17th – NOV. 28th | 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.

During these six weeks, each student will craft a short story from beginning to end, starting with in-class exercises and prompts. Homework will consist of weekly reading assignments as well as student writing. Please be prepared to share your work in class, as we will regularly do so in a supportive, respectful, and constructive manner (with guidelines provided by the instructor). If you’ve written short fiction before, or are looking to start, this class will give you concrete help in developing (or tightening) your craft.

Note: this class is generative rather than revision-oriented. While you may already have a draft, please be prepared to write (and share) new material

Susan Ito

WEDNESDAYS, OCT. 19th – NOV. 16th  | This is a writing workshop designed exclusively for adopted people, formerly fostered individuals and those born via surrogacy or donor conception. These life experiences have a unique impact and these voices and narratives have often been invisible or silenced. The intention is to create a safe and supportive space for all stories to be heard and acknowledged. We will read and generate work in a variety of genres, including poetry, flash memoir and imaginary narratives. This class will meet as a group via Zoom. I will also hold private conferences with each student at a time that is mutually convenient.

The instructor is a domestically adopted person who edited the anthology, A Ghost At Heart’s Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption, and whose adoption memoir is forthcoming in 2023.

Lisa Lerner

TUESDAYS, NOV. 1st – NOV. 15th  |Do you have an idea for a children’s book? Maybe you have even written your first page? In this lightning fast (or slightly less fast) hour, I will give live feedback on your pitch or page. I have workshopped hundreds of kid-lit manuscripts as well as stories written by dozens of kids themselves. I’ve also written thousands of stories for kids for major educational publishers, so I have a pretty good sense of what ideas have legs and which ones are barely able to crawl out of bed. But I always see the gold in any idea, because if you feel passionate about it, there’s a great chance kids will, too. I will help you tweak your idea so it can leap for the stars!

Students will be able to sign up for one or more dates in this pitch feedback class. Material isn’t taught sequentially in this class, so you will be able to select the date(s) that work best for your schedule.

Jenny Bitner

Jenny Bitner

THURSDAYS, NOV. 3rd – DEC. 15th | “A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is.” Flannery O’Connor

The advice is often given to writers, if you want to write, then read. But just reading is often not enough if we don’t know what we are looking for in the story. In this class we will read short stories by contemporary masters of short fiction and analyze them to write our own stories. We will read stories by Alice Munro, Ted Chiang, Octavia Butler, Toni Morrison and Carmen Maria Machado. We study master short stories to learn their secrets and borrow them.

Each week we will discuss a different story and look at how authors deal with use of time, point of view, narrative voice, the element of surprise and growth of a character. You will have a weekly mini-assignment towards completing your story and we will spend part of each class looking at drafts of our your stories in smaller groups. In the final two weeks you will turn in a complete short story and discuss it in workshop with the class.


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