Upcoming classes: Memoir
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
SATURDAYS, JUNE 17—JULY 15 | If you have started a writing project—or are longing to get one started—and need some structure and accountability and momentum, this is the class for you. Perhaps you’ve already taken a class and want to keep working in a structured environment. Or maybe you’ve been carving out writing time here & there on your own, and now’s the time to get more disciplined. Whatever your background, if you’re looking to generate pages and gain insight into your project, set aside five Saturdays this summer. You’ll find a supportive community designed to foster productivity and good writing habits.→ READ MORE
WEDNESDAYS, JUNE 21—JULY 26 | In this class, we will delve into the effective construction of memoir – whether personal essay or book-length manuscript. Weaving together the threads of plot (the situation described) and theme (the deeper underlying truth), we will examine how to use these building blocks to create a strong foundation for your project.
“What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the larger sense the writer is able to make of what happened,” writes Vivian Gornick, in The Situation and the Story, her seminal book on the art of the personal narrative.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, JUNE 24 | “Flat” writing hands off lifeless information in a two-dimensional exchange between reader and writer. Three-dimensional writing places the reader in a charged space of heightened experience, renewed perspective, and active meaning-making. How is that three-dimensionality created, and what do you do when you find your language stuck in 2-D? This combination lecture and workshop for writers of fiction and literary nonfiction examines specific strategies for three-dimensionality drawn from contemporary writers like Sheila Heti, Jo Ann Beard, and Maggie Nelson, and classics by Marguerite Duras and Bruno Schulz. We will try out new techniques and tricks—but ultimately what you will achieve is a shift in consciousness that will help make your writing spacious and transporting.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, JULY 16 | 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, JULY 29 | Why do some memoirs take off from the first page, while others stall out before the end of chapter one? More importantly: How can you make sure the memoir you’re writing gets all the necessary gears lined up on those all-important first five pages?
In this combination craft lecture and trouble-shooting workshop, you’ll learn the three Cs of narrative engine: Character, Conflict, and Clock. What’s clock, you say? Glad you asked. It’s a simple but elusive element that’s crucial to your story’s drive—but many memoir writers don’t realize their pages are missing it.→ READ MORE
SATURDAY, JULY 29 | Six hours, 60 bucks, free bagels, buckets of grammar. How can you resist? Grotto member Connie Hale will lead you through a series of hilarious exercises to perk up your writing in surprising ways. (We’ll use Sin and Syntax as our guide, but dip also into Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch.) Writers will stretch new muscles, disabuse themselves of bad habits, and duke it out in a war of words. We’ll also talk about how to cultivate that most elusive of literary elements: the writer’s voice. This 1-day session is perfect for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir who want to take their prose to the next level.→ READ MORE
SATURDAYS, JULY 29—AUGUST 26 | This class is designed as a follow-up to Work in Progress Workshop. It is limited to students who have already taken the Work in Progress Workshop (or will have done so by end of July). Please do not sign up if you haven’t completed Work in Progress by the end of July, or if you haven’t written me to make sure this is a good fit for you. If you are looking to generate pages, my first class is the one for you.
This class focuses exclusively on the exchange and reading of your fiction or narrative nonfiction.→ READ MORE
SUNDAY, AUGUST 13 | Michel de Montaigne, perhaps the father of the personal essay, wrote, “I have never seen no greater monster nor miracle than myself.” The personal essay has to identify the monster within us, and accomplish the miracle of transformation, through understanding and enlightenment. You have to track down the monster inside you, and worse, reveal it to the reader, and then describe how you set out to slay it. The transformation from monster to miracle is what makes your life interesting. A personal essay, above all, is not about you—it is about the story.→ READ MORE