Summer Write-Ins with the Writers Grotto, August 2022 Sessions (via Zoom)


Take some time for your writing this summer with a series of virtual 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!

Write-ins are held on a variety of days and times to give our students the opportunity to choose a write-in that works best for their schedule.

For virtual events, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom login information.

Questions and information: grottoclasses@gmail.com

Course fee: $25/session

Dates, times, and instructors:

  • Tuesday, August 2nd, 8 – 9 am Pacific Time, with Lisa Lerner (writingismagic100@gmail.com) (Virtual Write-In)
  • Wednesday, August 17th, 6 – 7 pm Pacific Time, with Rita Chang-Eppig (r.c.eppig@gmail.com) (Virtual Write-In)
  • Wednesday, August 24th, 6 – 7 pm Pacific Time, with Rita Chang-Eppig (r.c.eppig@gmail.com) (Virtual Write-In)
  • Wednesday, August 31st, 6 – 7 pm Pacific Time, with Rita Chang-Eppig (r.c.eppig@gmail.com) (Virtual Write-In)

Worlds & World-Building: How Setting Shapes Everything with Emily Holleman, Aug. 20th (via Zoom)


SATURDAY, AUG. 20th  |  Setting sometimes feels like the red-headed stepchild of the fiction-writing process—less integral, somehow, than character or story structure. But whether you’re writing a biting social satire or a sweeping historical epic, a high-fantasy adventure or a gritty dystopian one, your characters and their stories are indelibly shaped by the physical, temporal and social world in which they exist. In order to understand what makes your novel tick, you need to know that world inside and out. This one-session course will unpack how masterful writers across genre use setting to drive story and shape character—and help you discover the world of your own novel, from its unwritten mores and environmental constraints to its narrative traditions and natural wonders.

We’ll draw on excerpts from authors like N.K. Jemisin, Louise Erdrich, and Jess Walter to deepen our understanding of how a novel’s world informs its character, plot, and themes. Through in-class discussion, small-group exercises, and individual free-writes, you’ll gain a deeper sense of how worlds and stories intersect, how to dive into the world of your novel, and how to bring that world to life on the page.

Fall Write-Ins with The Writers Grotto (via Zoom and in person)


Take some time for your writing this fall with a series of virtual 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!

Write-ins are held on a variety of days and times to give our students the opportunity to choose a write-in that works best for their schedule. All class times listed are in Pacific Standard Time.

To learn more about the particular write-in you’re interested in, please select that session’s ‘show details’ in the details section.

For virtual events, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom login information. Their contact details can be found under ‘show details’.

In person class sessions will take place at 1663 Mission St., Ste. 602, San Francisco, CA, 94103 (classes to take place either in the Mezzanine level or in Suite 602; building access and parking details will be sent to registered students prior to class start date). Proof of vaccination and masking will be required, and all San Francisco health mandates will be followed. Please note that this class may be moved to a virtual format closer to the start date depending on the public health situation.

Questions and information: grottoclasses@gmail.com

Course fee: $25/session

Book Club: Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, with Mark Wallace, Sept. 6th – Oct. 4th (via Zoom)


TUESDAYS, SEPT. 6th — OCT. 4th  |  Revisit perception and perspective in a guided reading of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. First published in 1927, Woolf’s fifth novel is not only one of the most important works of early-20th-century Modernist literature, but also a deeply affecting portrait of a woman and a family beset by the forces of the modern world. Over the course of five weeks, we’ll read this masterpiece together, and explore its sitting rooms and hidden byways in search of not just lessons we might use in our own lives as readers and writers of literature, but new ways of perceiving (for it is nothing if not a novel of perception) the world around us and ourselves.

We’ll read about 50 pages a week (no reading is necessary before the first class), and then discuss when we meet. Each evening will begin with comments from Mark Wallace, which will help put the novel in the broader context of Woolf’s life and work, and the literature and culture of the time in which she wrote. But this is a community undertaking, one in which we will look for joy and insight not only in the text but in the experience of reading something deeply with a group of peers. Participants will have plenty of opportunity to chime in, so don’t be shy. No writing will be required, but you’ll receive optional readings, generative prompts, and other exercises that will help everyone flex their modernist muscles in contemporary ways.

Writing Family Stories with Susan Ito, Sept. 7th – Oct. 5th (via Zoom)


Susan Ito

WEDNESDAYS, SEPT. 7th – OCT. 5th  | Writing about family can be meaningful, intense, sticky, rewarding and challenging. There is no topic that feels more personal, more urgent, or more fraught. We are drawn, over and over again, to telling stories about those who have profoundly shaped our experience.

In this class, we will explore these irresistible tales of kinship and then learn how to shape them into compelling essays or fiction (and how to choose which is the best vehicle for a particular story). We will study examples of published authors who have produced unforgettable work using family as inspiration. We will also explore the emotional terrain that comes with this genre, by reading the anthology Family Trouble: Memoirists on the Hazards and Rewards of Revealing Family. 

Writing Day: Inspire, Create, Share with Jenny Bitner, Sept. 11th (In Person)


Jenny Bitner

Jenny Bitner

SUNDAY, Sept. 11th  | The three components of writing success are inspiration, writing and community. This one day writing retreat will be a red-letter day on your calendar to focus on your writing.  It will be divided into three parts. During the morning, I will give you prompts for writing and you will do writing exercises to get you started on a piece. In the later morning, you will have time to write and meet with me one-on-one as needed to coach you about your work and writing life. In the late afternoon, we will share something that you wrote in the workshop and talk about what you can do to stay motivated and get support for your writing.

The light-filled new office at 1663 Mission Street has high ceilings, views of the city, and desks and nooks to cozy up, write, and be inspired in.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Stealing, with Lindsey Crittenden, Sept. 17th & 18th (In Person)


Lindsey Crittenden

Lindsey Crittenden

SATURDAYS and SUNDAY, SEPT. 17th & 18th | “Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” This weekend immersive course will explore the implications of this statement for anyone interested in fiction writing.  (And no, we’re not talking about plagiarism.) We’ll examine how models such as newspaper headlines, fairy tales and myth, short-story classics, and non-narrative forms such as recipes and to-do lists can supply practical solutions and inspiration to our fiction writing. We’ll look at such stories as “The Bloody Chamber,” “Good People,” and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank” in which Angela Carter, David Foster Wallace and Nathan Englander “steal” from fairy tale, Hemingway, and Raymond Carver respectively. We’ll analyze elements of craft and voice as ways to navigate the risks of parody and imitation, and identify the ways in which writers make “stolen material” fresh. Using prompts, students will do legitimate “stealing” of their own. This workshop gives a fresh and intriguing way of uncovering new material for fiction writers.

DIY Author Events with Elizabeth Forsyth, Sept. 17th (via Zoom)


Elizabeth Forsyth

Elizabeth Forsyth

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 17th | Are you looking for a way to share your work with the world but have no idea where to start? Does the thought of reading your work in front of strangers terrify you? Are you a self published author looking for ways to promote your book? This class gives an overview of how to plan your perfect author event.

In this class we will cover:

  • How to plan your author event
  • How to market your author event
  • Traditional and non-traditional ideas for where to host your author event
  • How to identify potential venues (and how to avoid bad ones!)
  • Practical suggestions for the night of your event
  • …and much more!

Start from Scratch: Write a Story in 6 Weeks with Lindsey Crittenden, Sept. 19th – Nov. 7th (via Zoom)


Lindsey Crittenden

Lindsey Crittenden

MONDAYS, SEPT. 19th – NOV. 7th | 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

Intermediate Short Fiction: Refining Your Work for Submission with Rita Chang-Eppig, Sept. 21st – Oct. 26th (via Zoom)


Rita Chang-Eppig

WEDNESDAYS, SEPT. 21st – OCT. 26th | If you’re serious about improving your craft and preparing your short stories for submission to journals/magazines, this class is for you. In this 6-week class, the focus will be on workshopping your fiction and deep-diving into craft, centering works by marginalized authors. Students are expected to have taken previous writing classes and to understand the basics of craft elements like description, POV, etc. because we will be building on (or, in some cases, tearing down) our understanding of what “good craft” is. Please make sure you have at least one story ready for workshopping by the start of the class so that you can take full advantage of the class.