Craft of Fiction and Memoir: Building Vibrant Characters (with Joshua Mohr)


Joshua Mohr

Joshua Mohr

Contact: joshuamohr76@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am-1:00 pm

Date: Sunday, June 28

Course fee: $75

Great literature is always about the main players.  Charismatic protagonists stay with readers long after finishing a text.  Yet most aspiring writers wonder: how do our imagined people morph into “real” ones?  Why is it that my characters feel so flat, passive, and obvious on the page, whereas Salman Rushdie and Alice Munro have brought theirs to life?

In this course—appropriate for short story writers, novelists, and memoirists—we’ll learn ways to dig up the secrets of our characters.  We’ll unearth the unknown inside their hearts, minds, and souls, their presents and pasts. 

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Writing Family Stories (with Susan Ito)


Susan Ito

Susan Ito

Contact: susanito@mac.com

Number of sessions: 5

Time: 6:30 pm-9:00 pm

Dates: Thursdays, July 9, 16, 23, 30, and August 6

Course fee: $300

Whether you want to tell your family’s history or write a memoir based on your grandmother’s life, your child’s birth story or a fictional account of your distant cousin’s escapades, this class will help you to shape those family tales into compelling, polished stories. Start with memories or bits of family lore and learn how to develop characters, identify structure and themes, and craft these personal threads into memorable pieces of writing. We will study examples of excellent family-based writing, as well as the inner challenges that published authors have faced when revealing family.

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Fiction Workshop: Novel and Short Story (with Natalie Baszile)


Natalie Baszile

Natalie Baszile

Contact: nbaszile@gmail.com

Number of sessions: 6

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Dates: Tuesdays, June 23, 30, July 7, 14, 21, 28

Course fee: $375

The best fiction transports us.  We open to the first page of a novel or short story and the world falls away.  We will begin each session with a craft talk.  We’ll examine characterization, conflict, plot, and other elements that make for compelling storytelling. Then we will move into intensive, supportive workshopping of student stories and opening novel chapters. This course is best suited for students who already have a work in progress.

Natalie Baszile is the author of the debut novel Queen Sugar, soon to be adapted into a TV series by writer/director Ava DuVernay of Selma fame, and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey for OWN, Winfrey’s cable network.

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Fiction Workshop: Magical Realism (with Jenny Bitner)


Jenny Bitner

Jenny Bitner

Contact: jennybit@yahoo.com

Number of sessions: 6

Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Dates: Mondays, July 6, 13, 20, 27, August 3, 10

Course fee: $385

Why is so much of contemporary literature playing with the boundaries of what is real and fantasy? Maybe because our own world often borders on the surreal.  Speculative fiction, magical realism, slipstream, fabulist—there are many names for the forms of writing that blend the imaginary and real world. In this class we will read from this genre (authors such as George Saunders, Aimee Bender, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Franz Kafka, Margaret Atwood) and write our own stories with elements of the surreal.

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Said and Unsaid: Dialogue in Fiction and Memoir (with Laurie Ann Doyle)


Laurie Ann Doyle

Laurie Ann Doyle

Contact: doyle.l@berkeley.edu

Number of sessions: 1

Time: 10:00 am–4:00 pm (includes break for lunch)

Date: Sunday, May 17

Course fee: $75

Is dialogue meant to reveal or conceal? In this interactive one-day workshop, you learn dialogue actually accomplishes both, revealing your characters by what is said and not said in fiction and memoir. We’ll read work by masters of dialogue, examining how artfully crafted speech, gesture, and silence helps you not only develop character, but generate tension, subtext, and move the plot forward. You’ll learn how to take full advantage of your characters’ expressive tics, favorite phrases, and complete withdrawal to build an immersive world for the reader.

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