Register now for spring session classes! Early enrollment is strongly recommended, as course offerings frequently sell out. If an upcoming 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:
TUESDAYS, APRIL 4—25 | The election of Donald Trump means that the time to expand the literary and political imagination is upon us. The time to simply write is past. It’s time to fight and write. But how does the engaged writer do so? Using tried and true techniques—writing exercises, close readings, group discussion, and critique—this research and practice-oriented course will prepare you to rise to the call to fight and write. The course is designed for journalists, essayists, fiction, creative nonfiction writers, and poets. Among the techniques and questions we will explore are:
Cultivating the engaged writer’s mind.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, APRIL 4—25 | In this four-week class, we will cover all the basics of writing memoir, beginning with structure (beginnings, endings, timelines, and story arcs) and ending with more abstract issues of metaphor and theme (what is your story REALLY about?). In between, we will talk about what makes up a strong narrative voice (tone, language, style), how to write convincing dialogue, and why it is important to think of yourself as a character on the page. We will also tackle the question, What is truth in memoir?
Whether your memoir is largely theoretical or fully underway, this class will give you a chance to think both deeply and practically about your work and develop your writing tools.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, APRIL 6 —MAY 11 | 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, APRIL 6—MAY 4 | This five-week course explores and exploits the limits of flash fiction. Although flash fiction has expanded in length to 750 and even 1,000 words, this course limits you to no more than 400 words and begins with the 100-word story. The shorter the form, the easier it is to understand how individual lines of the story relate to the narrative arc—that mysterious coalescence in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Flash is ideal for seasoned writers who want to mine new ore, for beginning writers who want to tell a whole story, and for writers working in mixed genres.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, APRIL 8 & 15 | “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.”
This two-day course will explore the implications of this statement for anyone interested in fiction writing. (And no, we’re not talking about plagiarism.) You’ll find practical solutions and inspiration by looking at such models as newspaper headlines, fairy tales and myth, short-story classics, and non-narrative forms such as recipes and to-do lists. You’ll examine stories such as David Foster Wallace’s “Good People” and Nathan Englander’s “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” with an eye to what their writers have “stolen” and how they’ve made their tributes fresh.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, APRIL 15 | Every published writer should have a website where readers can go to find out more about you and your work, but not all publishers will set one up for you. Creating one for yourself might be intimidating, but the web offers a wealth of resources that make creating your own site easy — and even fun.
This three-hour workshop will cover the basics of setting up your author website, whether you’re working on a shoestring budget or you have a little money to spend. We’ll go through the following topics:
- How to set up your own web address
- How to choose a web host
- Mapping out what you want on your site
- How to integrate other social media, such as Twitter
- The benefits and drawbacks of having a website versus a Facebook page
Beth Winegarner is a journalist and author.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAYS, APRIL 19 —JUNE 7 | A first draft is a goofy-looking thing, a lean-to of hopes and fears and observations you want to build into something that connects with an audience. But how? Stephen King says a short story is like leading your reader to a room in a house to show them something; a novel is like building a house and showing off every room. Paul Bowles said he wrote fiction because he wanted to destroy the world. They’re both right. Each method involves planning, structure and focus, and times for SMASHING THINGS TO PIECES.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, APRIL 25—MAY 30 | Is it true or is it fiction – and does it matter? Often the lines between memoir and fiction can be blurry. And most of great literature has at least some elements of truth in it, from books that are largely autobiographical like Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, and Chris Kraus’s Aliens and Anorexia to fictional worlds like Raymond Carver’s and Denis Johnson’s that are drawn from a world that could only be created through personal experience.
In this class we will explore memories, experiences, and characters from our own lives and turn them into fictional stories, blending the richness of our emotional and felt experiences with elements from our imagination to create compelling writing.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, APRIL 29 | Writers of all levels interested in screenwriting 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 life cycle 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
SATURDAYS, APRIL 29—JUNE 3 | “Every short story is a drama,” V. S. Pritchett tells us. “A movement towards disclosure, a complete revelation of character, the changing of an emotion, the close of a mood…”
Do you have an idea for one of these brief illuminating jewels? Have you written a first draft but don’t know where to go from there? Do you need feedback, encouragement, and a deadline to get that next draft out? This class, suitable for story writers of all levels, will combine craft lessons, in-class writing exercises, workshopping, and a look at a few published stories for inspiration and to see how they’re made.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, APRIL 30 | This one-day workshop will give you the tools to help get your voice heard, whether writing opinion pieces or doing local reporting. In challenging times, it’s important to write as an act of resistance. Over the course of the day we will help you:
- Identify issues you care most about and how to focus on them
- Figure out what you have to say about those causes, how to report them, and how to write about them
- Talk about what makes an engaging, readable opinion piece or essay
- Connect with other people who are interested in writing as resistance
- Look at potential places to be published to get your voice heard
Special guest Tim Redmond has 30 years’ experience as a San Francisco investigative reporter and editor, mainly at the San Francisco Bay Guardian and more recently at the daily digital local newspaper, 48 Hills.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, APRIL 30 & MAY 7 | Whether you have a half-written piece tucked away in a drawer, or a new story fresh out of the printer, this highly interactive, two-session workshop will give you concrete tools to strengthen your work and publish it. We’ll talk about revision as a process of “re-envisioning,” and you’ll learn how to accomplish this in do-able steps. You’ll have the chance to step back and look at your piece, assess where it would benefit from more work, and select among different in-class revision exercises to get the process going.→ READ MORE
THURSDAYS, MAY 4—25 | This is a workshopping class for people who have already taken a Personal Essay or OpEd class and want to continue refining their pieces and working on new ones. The class is also open to people who haven’t taken a previous essay class if they can show up to class with an essay in hand. Laura creates a safe, supportive atmosphere for students to help them make their writing the best it can be, focusing on structure, voice, and lively writing – with an eye toward publication. The class will be small enough for a lot of individual feedback.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, MAY 7 | Make your voice and your point of view heard! This day-long workshop will cover everything you need to know to write a persuasive OpEd piece, whether for newspapers, blogs, or other venues. We’ll talk about how to write about what you’re passionate about in order to enlighten readers or change people’s minds. We will cover the nuts and bolts of what makes a good, compelling OpEd piece, and take a look at some examples. We will also look at where and how to get your OpEd published.
Laura Fraser is a longtime journalist, Grotto member, and New York Times-bestselling memoirist.→ READ MORE
TUESDAYS, MAY 9 & 23 | Are your writing ideas (not to mention to-do lists and appointments) on a mess of Post-it notes, random online apps that you never use, and crumpled paper napkins? Do you forget, lose, and spend too much time looking for things? This class will introduce the bullet journal – a handwritten, analog “everything book” to plan for your future, organize your present, and track your past. Many of us writers are “creative types” with messy desks that can sometimes hinder more than help our creative life.
This class will take part in two sessions.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, MAY 27 | These days, it seems almost impossible to figure out whether a news article comes from a trustworthy source or was written by money-grubbing teenagers from Macedonia. When legitimate news sources resort to click-bait headlines to compete with sensationalist media sites, how do you know what to believe?
Whether you’re a journalist, a writer inspired by current events, or someone who wants to be better informed, this workshop will give you the tools you need to tell the difference between outright fake news, propaganda and “alternative facts,” satire, and legitimate reporting. You’ll also learn how to do some quick, easy fact-checking of your own so you won’t wind up spreading links that seem truthy but really aren’t.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, MAY 28 | 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
SATURDAY, MAY 20 | Whether you’re writing about your own life in memoir or personal essay, or developing characters and situations for a fictional plot, imagery brings your material to life. Effective imagery goes far beyond flowery description to reveal character, mood, context, tone, setting, and theme. In this one-day intensive, we’ll explore how to make imagery work for you on the page. We’ll use exercises of intuition and right-brain association to harvest images, and we’ll look at how to choose and shape those images. Analyzing the uses of imagery in published pieces will help you cultivate your own voice and technique.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, JUNE 3 | Point of view is one of the most essential aspects of imaginative writing. In fact, perspective is everything in narration, but writers sometimes place the narrator without understanding the implications of the choice they’ve made. In this one-day 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 identity common POV “violations” and look at published examples, and we’ll respond to some writing prompts in class to experiment with POV.→ READ MORE