Register now for upcoming classes! Early enrollment is strongly recommended, as course offerings frequently sell out. If a class is filled to capacity, please contact the instructor to request waiting list placement.
All upcoming classes are listed below. You may also browse these categories:
MONDAYS, APRIL 23—JUNE 4 | In this class, we’ll spend six weeks building stories from the foundation up. 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. From James Joyce’s “Araby” to Aimee Bender’s “The Rememberer,” we’ll 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.→ READ MORE
SUNDAYS, APRIL 29 & MAY 6 | How do you draw readers into the world of your memoir—whether traveling on a BART train in San Francisco, hiking along the banks of the Merced River in Yosemite, or remembering your first house as a child? In a comfortable environment, we’ll go over the basic elements of great memoir writing. Exercises will help you heighten language through sensory detail, learn the difference between scene and summary, and deal with time shifts by using flashback and slow-motion techniques. We will also review the more challenging aspects of point of view, so you can find the right voice and fully engage your readers.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, MAY 3 — 31 | This is a class to workshop personal essays–short pieces about a journey of transformation, such as you might find in the New York Times’ “Lives” or “Modern Love” column. We’ll spend the first class talking about structure and looking at some models, and then the rest of the classes will be mainly devoted to reading and giving feedback on students’ essays, with some tips on craft (dialogue, scene vs. summary, great beginnings and endings). This class is a perfect follow-up for anyone who has taken the one-day “Monster and the Miracle” class, or “Vivid Scenes” with Laura.
SATURDAYS, MAY 5 —12 | All writers know that suspense is crucial to good fiction and creative nonfiction. Without wanting to know “what comes next,” readers will stop reading. This course shines a lens on traditional and radical techniques for keeping readers involved. Among them are: (1) The uses of uncertainty (2) Withholding information (3) Breaking out of traditional narrative forms (4) External and internal conflict.
We’ll explore suspense in long and short forms of fiction and nonfiction, examining plot, character, image, and idea-driven writers such as Elmore Leonard, Alice Munro, Italo Calvino, and the essayist Natalia Ginzburg.→ READ MORE
SUNDAYS, MAY 6 —JUNE 10 | 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 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
- Become proficient in navigating the publication landscape
- Get practical tips on formatting submissions that look professional
- 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 ready to send out for publication.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, MAY 6 | Come meet a group of Grotto authors and learn about the publishing business at this informal panel. We’ll discuss everything from finding an agent, to what it’s like to work with an editor, to what happens once a book is released into the world — and how you can boost your book’s commercial and critical success.
We’ll address the various modes of publishing available to modern writers and debate the pros and cons of major New York publishers versus independent presses and self-publishing.
There will be plenty of time for questions. A mixer will immediately follow the session, with light refreshments.→ READ MORE
ALTERNATE WEDNESDAYS, MAY 9 — JUNE 6 | Are you feeling stuck or unmotivated to finish your novel, memoir or short story collection? Are you a procrastinator? Are you easily distracted? Do you find yourself checking email and Facebook when you should be writing? You’re not alone!
Using lessons from Charles Duhigg’s New York Times bestseller, The Power of Habit, I will help you design a writing life that works for you and give you the tools to stick with it. You will set goals, create a plan for achieving those goals, and then get to work.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, MAY 19 | Come to the Grotto for an exhilarating day of learning a variety of skills to bolster your writer’s toolkit! We will feature six of our instructors, each teaching a 50-minute class focusing on a specific tool that you can use immediately. You’ll experience six rapid-fire sessions taught in a round-robin style, with a delicious catered lunch at midday. At the end of the day, we’ll celebrate with wine and refreshments, and our signature Three-Minute Reading – an optional (but encouraged!) open-mike event to highlight some of the fabulous writing generated throughout the day. Join us for a fun, dynamic journey through the Grotto’s classrooms!→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, MAY 20 | Save thousands of dollars hiring professional editors by learning to edit your own work! As a freelance book editor of 15 years, I see the same mistakes over and over in the manuscripts I edit. From exercises to improve your story arc, character development, dialogue, and description, to tips for copyediting your completed manuscript, I’ll teach you how to turn your good manuscript into a great manuscript in this one-day intensive workshop. Bring a sample of your work (10 pages) and lunch. I’ll provide tea and snacks.
Meghan Ward is a writer, professional book editor and the founder of Writerland.com, a blog about writing, editing, publishing, and social media.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, JUNE 2 | Words don’t live only on the page. Writers frequently read their work at festivals, book signings, and literary reading series. Much like the craft of writing, there is an art to reading your work out loud to an audience. Selecting the right piece to read is only half the battle. Knowing how to read in a way that engages your listeners (who are also potential readers) is the other part.
In this five-hour intensive workshop, writers will learn how to read their work to an audience for maximum impact. Students will learn how to: select what to read, modulate and project their voice, pace their reading, and practice and prepare ahead of time.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, JUNE 9 | Writers of all levels interested in screenwriting often begin with the same questions (and some misconceptions) about how and why writing a screenplay is different from other forms of writing. What is the lifecycle of a screenplay? What is different about writing with collaborators (such as directors and actors) in mind? What is the relationship of the screenwriter to the audience? What does it mean to write in the immediate present? Why do some ideas lend themselves well to the screenplay form and others not so well? What, in practical terms, does it mean to “write in pictures”?→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, JUNE 10 | Master Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and SnapChat all in one day. In this one-day intensive workshop, you will learn how to A) Create a social media strategy that works for you and B) Master the five most popular social media networks of 2018. Tea and snacks provided. Bring your own lunch.
Meghan Ward is the founder of Writerland.com, a blog about writing, publishing, and social media, and the author of SheWrites.com’s “Networking for Introverts,” a column about social media. Her memoir, Runway, chronicles the six years she spent working as a high fashion model in Europe and Japan.→ READ MORE