Plaracterization: Marry Plot & Character (with Joshua Mohr)


Joshua Mohr

Joshua Mohr

Contact: joshuamohr76@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

Date: Saturday, March 5

Course fee: $75

The best plots aren’t controlled by the author. They spring from the characters themselves. The writer masterminds all things, yes, but the more we as writers realize that our characters are sovereign beings with independent consciousnesses, the better prepared we are to traverse what Joshua Mohr calls plaracterization.

Plot + characterization = PLARACTERIZATION.

Get it?

In this one-day intensive, we’ll ponder characters’ decision-making, the causality between plot points, and how to keep a reader excitedly flipping pages. We’ll also delve into specific tactics for constructing a present action, and how to fold backstory into it. During the session, there will also be writing exercises and the opportunity to share your work with others. Plaracterization is an exciting strategy that will help any aspiring writer, by getting you to dig deep down into your characters, your plot, and the very DNA of your story!

Joshua Mohr is the author of four novels including Damascus, which the New York Times called “Beat-poet cool.” He’s also written Fight Song and Some Things that Meant the World to Me, one of O: the Oprah Magazine’s Top 10 Reads of 2009 and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller, as well as Termite Parade, a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His novel All This Life was recently published from Counterpoint/Soft Skull.

How to (Profoundly) Move Your Readers: The Craft of Developing Dramatic Emotions (with Junse Kim)


Junse Kim

Junse Kim

Contact: junse6@gmail.com

Sessions: 5

Time: 6:30 pm -9:00 pm

Dates: Sundays, January 24, 31; February 21, 28; March 6 (no meetings Superbowl Sunday & Valentine’s Day)

Course fee: $325

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 5-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.

This is a rare opportunity to take a class that was originally designed as a graduate level fiction writing course.

 Junse Kim is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Faulkner Short Story Award, and the Philip Roth Residence in Creative Writing at Bucknell University. His fiction and creative nonfiction has been published in a number of literary journals, including Ontario ReviewZyzzyva, and Fourteen Hills. He teaches fiction writing at the MFA program at San Francisco State University.

Get the Grant! (with Lizette Wanzer)


Lizette Wanzer

Lizette Wanzer

Contact: RoadKing1200@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Date: Saturday, January 16

Course fee: $85

Get the Grant! is open to writers who plan to apply to the Literature Cultural Equity Grant, to the Literature Investing in Artists grant, or for a writers’ residency program. Those applying for other writers’ grants are welcome, though the focus will be on these specific grant opportunities.

We will cover:

  • Applicant qualifications
  • Defining a clear, feasible goal that costs a specific amount of money
  • How to demonstrate a rising trajectory (remembering that most people who are awarded grants are on their way up, not already there)
  • Tips for writing clear, concise statements that do not ramble
  • Using headings and “buckets” to make your statement navigable
  • The dreaded Project Statement, Work Plan, or Goals and Objectives portions of grant/residency applications

Lizette Wanzer is an Affiliate Artist at Headlands Center for the Arts. She received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Mills College. She has been awarded writing residencies at the Blue Mountain Center (NY), Kimmel Harding Center for the Arts (NE), Playa Summer Lake (OR), Horned Dorset Colony (NY), Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and The Banff Centre in Canada. She is the recipient of an Investing in Artists grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, an Individual Artist Commission grant from San Francisco Arts Commission, and two Professional Development Grants from the Creative Capacity Fund. Lizette has completed Gelatin Prints, a short story collection, and is currently at work on an essay collection entitled Jaywalking.

Intensive Novel Writing Workshop (with Glen David Gold)


Glen David Gold

Glen David Gold

Contact: glenxgold@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 8

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Date: Wednesdays, September 23 — November 11

Course fee: $540

When you’re working, there is an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. One of them is telling you the work is great; the other is telling you it’s terrible — but which is which? There is no place better for a novel to go from good to great than in a room of concerned, interested, contrary, helpful people who all agree that for the three hours a week we meet that fiction writing is the most important thing you can do. This eight-week workshop runs on the traditional MFA model: you will turn in a novel excerpt of up to 5000 words for your fellow students to critique constructively, based on the understanding that we are all trying to make the work the best version of itself it can be. Be prepared to write a brief (less than one page) critique of each manuscript and to speak up in class discussion. Our goal is to figure out how each story ticks, and to open up possibilities you hadn’t discovered on your own of how to improve, continue and finish your book.

Glen David Gold is the author of the international bestselling novels Carter Beats the Devil and Sunnyside. His fiction, essays, journalism and memoir have appeared in McSweeney’s, Playboy, the New York Times Magazine, Tin House and Zyzzyva. He’s written comic books for DC and Dark Horse, and podcasts for The Thrilling Adventure Hour and Welcome to Night Vale. His three-volume memoir, I Will Be Complete, is forthcoming from Knopf.

Query Letter Workshop: Tips From a Literary Agent (with Chelsea Lindman)


Chelsea Lindman

Chelsea Lindman

Contact: clindman@sjga.com

Number of sessions: 3

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dates: Tuesdays, October 20 & 27; November 3

Course fee: $195

This course will provide useful tips on how to write an effective query letter that gets an agent’s attention, presents you as an appealing potential client, and introduces your work in the most saleable way. Broken into three sections, class topics will cover the query letter and how you can make sure yours grabs an agent’s attention. We’ll also discuss author-agent working relationships and what to look for in your agent, as well as publication strategies, including what you can do to help your work stand out.

Our first class will discuss the query letter, discussing the goals of a query letter and what first-time authors ought to do as well as avoid when approaching an agent. In our second class, students will come with their query letter written and ready to read aloud for critique. We will also discuss the author-agent relationship, approaching it from both sides and giving writers plenty of tools for making the important decision of choosing their best literary agent. Whether you are writing fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, or cookbooks, finding the right agent to champion your work is essential to getting your book published. In our final meeting, we will discuss the publishing process as well as have a final reading of query letters. Students should be able to leave this class feeling confident that they have a clear understanding of what goes into making their manuscript a book, and have a polished and effective query letter ready to send out to their potential agents. This class is suitable for aspiring authors at any stage in their writing.

Chelsea Lindman is a literary agent at Sanford J. Greenburger, Associates. Her fiction clients include Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award Winner Kristopher Jansma, Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist Ariel S. Winter, and Richard Bausch Fiction Prize Winner Jesse Goolsby; and her nonfiction clients include essayist Chloe Caldwell, TEDx speakers Stacey Ferreira and Jared Kleinert, and Harvard PhD candidate Jason Silverstein. Chelsea began her publishing career as an editor at Europa Editions, where she worked with bestselling authors Elena Ferante and Muriel Barbery. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara.

Short Story Bootcamp (with Elizabeth Bernstein)


Elizabeth Bernstein

Elizabeth Bernstein

Contact: ebernstein@aol.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Date: Sunday, November 8

Course fee: $165

In one information-filled Sunday, learn everything you need to know about writing, revising, and publishing your short stories. This hands-on intensive will cover various aspects of the craft, using fun in-class exercises and discussion. You’ll learn about all about character, voice, story arc, and point of view, plus how to get started, write convincing dialogue, and create believable heroes and villains. We’ll talk about the revision process and editing and sharing your work, as well as overcoming procrastination and living the writer’s life. Finally, we’ll talk about publishing and selling your work, including contests and the growing market for flash fiction.

Elizabeth Bernstein is a fiction writer and book and story editor. Her short stories have been published in McSweeney’s, Tin House, the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine, the North Atlantic Review, Eleven Eleven, and other journals. She has won the Bay Guardian Fiction Contest and the Katherine Manoogian prize, and was a finalist for the West Coast Live fiction contest and a two-time finalist for the Wilner award. She founded the online litmag The Big Ugly Review. The SF Weekly named her a “Best Bay Area Writer Without a Book” in its 2015 “Best of” Issue. www.biguglyreview.com. www.ebc-books.com.

Get the Grant! (with Lizette Wanzer)


Lizette Wanzer

Lizette Wanzer

Contact: RoadKing1200@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Date: Wednesday, September 30

Course fee: $75

Get the Grant! is open to writers who plan to apply to the Literature Cultural Equity Grant, the Literature Investing in Artists grant, or for a writers’ residency program. Those applying for other writers’ grants are welcome, though the focus will be on these specific grant opportunities.
We will cover:

  • Applicant qualifications
  • Defining a clear, feasible goal that costs a specific amount of money
  • How to demonstrate a rising trajectory (remembering that most people who are awarded local grants are on their way up, not already “there”)
  • Tips for writing clear, concise statements
  • Using headings and “buckets” to make your statement navigable
  • The dreaded Project Statement, Work Plan, or Goals and Objectives portions of grant/residency applications

Lizette Wanzer is an Affiliate Artist at Headlands Center for the Arts. A fiction writer and essayist, she received her MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Her work appears in Callaloo, Guernica, Tampa Review, The MacGuffin, Ampersand Review, Journal of Advanced Development, Journal of Experimental Fiction, Pleiades, Potomac Review, International Journal on Literature and Theory, Fringe Magazine, Aesthetica Magazine, and others. She is a contributor to the award-winning Chalk Circle: Intercultural Prizewinning Essays. Lyzette has been awarded writing residencies at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, The Banff Centre (Canada), Blue Mountain Center (NY), Kimmel Harding Center for the Arts (NE), Playa Summer Lake (OR), Horned Dorset Colony (NY), and Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow (AR). She’s received grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, San Francisco Arts Commission, Horned Dorset Foundation, and the Creative Capacity Fund. Lizette was proud to be invited to present her work earlier this year at the Far West Popular Culture Association conference in Las Vegas.

Edit Yourself: How to Make a Good Manuscript Great (with Meghan Ward)


Meghan Ward

Meghan Ward

Contact: meghan@meghanward.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Date: Sunday, November 15

Course fee: $150

Save thousands of dollars hiring professional editors by learning to edit your own work! As a freelance book editor, 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 1-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. Her clients include novelists, memoirists, nonfiction authors, short story and personal essay writers, and PhD candidates. Through 15 years of editing experience, Meghan has developed a series of steps all writers can master to improve their stories, clean up their writing, and save thousands of dollars on freelance editors. Follow Meghan on Twitter @meghancward, on Facebook @meghanwardauthor and on Google+ at +MeghanWard.

Create a Writing Habit in 21 Days (with Jenny Bitner)


Jenny Bitner

Jenny Bitner

Contact: jennybit@yahoo.com

Number of sessions: 2

Time: 10:00 am – 12:30 pm

Dates: Saturdays, October 3 & 24

Course fee: $190

Have you read about writers who write every day and felt envious? Well, me too, until I decided to create a daily writing habit. I had tried to do it alone and couldn’t (even after 20 years of writing). In order to create my habit, I hired a creativity coach to check in with every day for a few months. It worked! So, I decided to create a class that gives you the accountability to get started and also draws on my training as a hypnotherapist to channel the unconscious to help you. In this class we will draw on research on the psychology of creating habits, use the power of the unconscious through hypnosis, and create a support structure to help you create a new writing habit. There will a group hypnosis in the first class, daily accountability posts to a Facebook group, frequent emails from the teacher, rewards, writing dates, and a “call a lifeline” option. We will meet in person on the first and 21st days, with an optional coffee-shop writing meeting on the second and third weekends. If you really want to create a writing habit in your life, join us and let’s do it!

Jenny Bitner’s short stories, articles and flash fiction have been published in Best American Nonrequired Reading, PANK, The Sun, Men’s Health, Utne Reader, The Mississippi Review and Fence magazine. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Virginia. She is a certified hypnotherapist.