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:
WEDNESDAYS, SEPTEMBER 27—NOVEMBER 11 | Have you ever come back from a workshop with so many ideas you don’t know how to think about your story? Work and re-worked a character that didn’t belong in the first place? This is often because we often draw heavily from the contents of the first draft without having the concepts that give us distance.
This course gives you the concepts that will help you think about the structure and stages of your drafts. Among them: (1) The difference between plot and narrative arc; (2) When to break or keep unities of time, place and action; (3) Pacing: how to connect the dots and use the dark horse of time; (4) When to use a scene or exposition; (5) Subtext and the use of imagery; (6) Getting a feel of where something is missing; (7) Returning to original voice in revision.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 30 | 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
SUNDAYS, OCTOBER 1—29 | One of the most difficult narrative issues in fiction writing is how to emotionally move your readers. Often, what we writers render on the page are concepts of drama meant to profoundly affect the reader, but it does not. In this five-week process class we will dissect the intricate concepts of how emotions are developed in fiction, and master how to recognize and apply narrative craft that develop dramatic emotions in ways that can move our readers. These skills will be developed through in-class writing exercises and assignments, focusing on interior monologue, characters’ perceptions, creating motivations, and more.→ READ MORE
MONDAYS, OCTOBER 2 —NOVEMBER 13 | 1984, Fahrenheit 451, Children of Men, and The Handmaid’s Tale—some of the most powerful literature of resistance to evil has been dystopian writing. What skills do writers use to create an alternative world that is compelling in itself but also speaks to the problems of our own world? In this writing workshop, we will read and analyze selections from dystopian short stories and novels and write our own dark tales. There will be weekly writing assignments and approximately 20 pages of reading a week.
Jenny Bitner’s short stories and articles have been published in Best American Nonrequired Reading, PANK, The Sun, Mississippi Review, The Fabulist, Writing That Risks, and Fence magazine.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, OCTOBER 5 —NOVEMBER 9 | This workshop is geared toward intermediate to advanced writers who would like to receive regular feedback on their work. Each week’s session will begin with a discussion of a short reading on craft or a few pages from a narrative. Students will then read aloud a few pages of their own work (500 – 1,000 words) and receive constructive feedback from their instructor and peers.
The aim of this workshop is to give participants regular writing deadlines and encouragement as they polish their prose. Your only homework—aside from brief, inspirational readings—will be to write, write, write.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7 | Every writer has had the terrifying experience of reading their own work and wondering why a total stranger would be interested. Often, the missing element to successfully lure a reader into your work is plot. Maybe you’ve created a riveting character, yet if nothing is happening on the page, if the protagonist isn’t under any duress, a reader’s attention will wander.
In this seminar, we will examine ways to pace and structure your plot points to extract every drop of excitement from them. We will also do some in-class writing to share with the group.
THURSDAYS, OCTOBER 12 —DECEMBER 7 | This course provides guidance on the fundamentals of successful screenwriting within an open and encouraging workshop format, and is designed to accommodate all levels. We will work with a combination of fundamentals and script analysis to support students in launching an original feature-length screenplay.
Screenwriting doesn’t work when approached as a paint-by-numbers craft, yet because it is more technical than other forms of fiction writing there is a tendency to obsess over screenwriting rules, to the detriment of original ideas. In moving between screenwriting books, interviews, drama theory, scripts and films and the weekly exercises we seek to avoid those pitfalls by approaching screenwriting rules as tools and creating a space for ideas to grow.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 14 | Think LinkedIn isn’t for you? Think again. Authors, performers, and artists often overlook this powerful social media and networking tool that plays an essential part in developing professional artistic opportunities in the Bay Area and beyond. In this one-day seminar, learn to harness LinkedIn to promote your work, support your funding applications, make connections with the connected, and kindle interest in your career. A laptop, notebook computer, or iPad is required for this course.
Lyzette Wanzer, MFA is a San Francisco author, editor, and writing workshop instructor. Her work appears in over twenty literary journals, and she is a contributor to The Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays (Wyatt-MacKenzie), The Naked Truth, Essay Daily, and San Francisco University High School Journal.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, OCTOBER 14—NOVEMBER 11 | Short stories start with instability—sometimes explicit, sometimes subtle—and they end with resolution, which doesn’t always (or even usually) mean happily ever after. Simple enough, but far from easy.
In this class, we’ll spend five weeks building stories from this 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. 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
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15 | This seminar could also be called Everything You Wanted to Know About Memoir But Were Afraid to Ask. We will discuss the elements that go into a successful memoir, including dramatic storytelling, tension, vivid characters, and clear sense of direction.
We will review the basic building blocks of storytelling – scene, summary and musing, and how to navigate the places where memory fails you. We discuss issues that arise from writing about living people. We will also address the publishing business, including how to increase your chances of finding an agent and getting published.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 21 | This workshop is open to writers who are considering applications for–or wish to learn about–writing grants, fellowships, scholarships, or residencies. We’ll cover:
• The best places to locate opportunities
• The dreaded Project Statement, Work Plan, or Goals and Objectives question
• How to demonstrate a rising trajectory (remembering that most people who are awarded grants are on their way up, not already there)
• Using headings and “buckets” to make your statement navigable
• Crafting clear, concise personal or “artist” statements (leave this class with a completed first draft in hand!)
• Why the marketing angle is so important
• Creating an effective literary resume
Lyzette Wanzer, MFA, is a San Francisco author, editor, and writing workshop instructor.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, NOVEMBER 4 & 11 | Point of view is one of the most essential aspects of imaginative writing. Perspective is everything in narration, but writers sometimes choose a narrator without understanding the implications of the choice they’ve made. In the first class, we’ll talk about POV options—the use of first, second, or third person as well as the manipulation of narrative distance and its impact on characterization across the genres of fiction, creative nonfiction, and even poetry. We’ll identify common POV “violations” and look at published examples, and we’ll respond to some writing prompts in class to experiment with POV.→ READ MORE
SUNDAYS, NOVEMBER 5 & 12 | This two-day workshop covers pacing, suspense, narrative arc and voice—the four crucial elements that make the reader want to turn the page. This curiosity must be aroused in the agent who will sell your book and the editor who will buy it.
In addition to using examples from short fiction, short stories, the novel, and creative non-fiction, we will help participants brainstorm their collections of short fiction and their novels. Useful for both novelists, short story writers and writers of creative nonfiction.
.Thaisa Frank has published five books of fiction, including the novel Heidegger’s Glasses (translated into ten languages), three short story collections, and the nonfiction book, Finding Your Writers Voice.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, NOVEMBER 11—DECEMBER 16 | Once relegated to the realm of belles lettres, the lyrical essay has become a highly popular genre in multiple disciplines, from journalism to the personal essay. Authors from Purpura and Forché to Didion and Dillard have written them. But what, exactly, is this form? Poetic essay or essayistic poem? Both – or neither? The form employs a series of images or ideas, rather than chronicle or argument, to sculpt a narrative. Often inconclusive, lyrical essays reach beyond archetypal classical frames to a meditative sense of place and displacement.
We’ll begin by identifying key components of the form, learn how to negotiate its terrain, and then get down to the business of crafting a lyric essay.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12 | The beauty of nonfiction books is that they can frequently be sold on the basis of a 40- to 60-page proposal. What is a proposal? Essentially, it is a business plan for your book – a document that outlines your book’s basic premise, provides data indicating that there’s a sizable audience for it, and otherwise convinces a publisher to give you money to write it. Memoirs, narrative journalism, business books, histories, and biographies can all be sold on proposal.
In this seminar, students will learn the seven components of a book proposal, read examples of proposals that sold, and get the lowdown on the publishing industry – including the best way to find an agent.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 12 | Do you have six or more short stories and want to create a collection? This workshop is designed for you! In our one-day, hands-on class, we’ll talk about ways to unify your collection by setting, theme, and style, as well as character. We’ll look at acclaimed books of stories and examine approaches taken by different authors. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of publishing individual stories before your book is out, identify variables to help you determine the best order for the stories in your book, and do some in-class writing to share with others.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18 | At a time when the words “spiritual” and “faith” (never mind “religion”) can make us all nervous, how can we write—and read—about our beliefs and doubts without coming across as preachy, vague, or insipid? How do we describe the ineffable without sinking into abstraction? And do we embrace questions – doubts, even – without sounding wishy-washy? Just what is spiritual writing anyway?
In this one-day seminar, we’ll explore examples both contemporary and classic — from fiction writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Joy Williams, and Andre Dubus; poets Gerald Manley Hopkins and Pattiann Rogers; essayists Anne Lamott and Brian Doyle.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 19 | Breaking into the world of freelance writing can seem mysterious and downright impossible at the outset. How will you make enough money? If you currently have a job, how do you transition into full-time freelancing? When can you take the plunge? Where will you find clients? How will you successfully pitch to publications, especially if you don’t have a portfolio?
It took me several years of pitfalls, wrong turns, financial struggling, over-caffeinated meltdowns, and learning on the job to successfully make it as a freelance writer. In this one-day bootcamp, I will teach you the fundamentals of how to successfully begin freelancing for a variety of publications including magazines, newspapers, websites, and other forms of paid writing and editing work.→ READ MORE