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Brian Tierney: Making Poetry out of Our Lives – A Poetry Workshop

5 Tuesdays, August 15 – September 12, 7-9:30pm  San Francisco   
$275 members/$295 non-members 

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“Reading and writing poetry have long been occasions for self-exploration,” says instructor Brian Tierney. “Poems uncover and recover; they engage memory and personal history, bringing them back to life with new meanings and new understandings; they express intimate feelings and, sometimes, tell stories. In short, all poetry is informed by life and identity. Only you can write like you, and that is what poets must nurture.”

In this class, we will journal on topics and poems discussed in the first class meetings as a way to come to poetry as an observer, as well as an aspiring writer. Then we’ll explore how poetic craft informs our autobiographical impulses, looking at the essential roles that word choice, perspective, narrative, and sound play in the making of a poem. We will write several poems with an eye toward revising, and we’ll read poets such as Philip Levine, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Sylvia Plath who use their personal experiences as material for their work.

“By the end of the five weeks,” says Brian, “we will have broken through some of the challenges of making poetry from our personal lives. We will also more fully understand ourselves and our experiences through the reading and writing of poems.” All writers and voices are welcome.

Brian Tierney is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. He is a graduate of the Bennington College’s MFA Writing Seminars, and holds a BA in English and Journalism, as well as an MA in Literature, from Duquesne University, where he was a teaching fellow and, later, an adjunct instructor in Literature and Composition. Brian’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming in: Kenyon Review, FIELD, Poetry Northwest, Gettysburg Review, Best New Poets, AGNI, Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, and others. In 2013, Narrative magazine named him among its “30 Below 30” emerging writers.

Brian Tierney: Poetry Revision Boot Camp

1 Saturday & 1 Sunday, August 5 – August 6, 10am-4pm  Berkeley   
$240 members/$260 non-members 

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For most writers, a poem rarely, if ever, emerges on the page as a finished thing. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey has said: “Once or twice, I’ve had a dream of a fully formed poem, but I spend years revising a single one.” In order to evolve a first draft toward its fullest realization, a poet must step back and re-read, re-evaluate, and retool: in other words, revise.

“To established and fledgling writers alike, revising can feel even more intimidating than a blank page,” says instructor Brian Tierney. “It is natural, when creating something with words, to become attached to certain phrases, sounds, beginnings, endings—what writers have called darlings; sometimes, that fear of losing our first, treasured impulses holds us back from decision-making and craft. Knowing what to change and how to change it are difficult considerations, but key to developing one’s poetic instincts.”

During this weekend intensive boot camp, you will learn about the craft and the practice of revision, specifically focusing on how to re-engage your own work with a readiness and curiosity to change it.

We will discuss drafts of poems by established writers, alongside those writers’ finished products, in order to gain insight into the decision-making process during revision. You will receive learning prompts and exercises for revising a poem—strategies that you will be able to carry into your own writing lives. You will also have an opportunity for in-depth feedback on a single poem during a workshop. All writers are welcome.

Brian Tierney is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University. He is a graduate of the Bennington College’s MFA Writing Seminars, and holds a BA in English and Journalism, as well as an MA in Literature, from Duquesne University, where he was a teaching fellow and, later, an adjunct instructor in Literature and Composition. Brian’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming in: Kenyon Review, FIELD, Poetry Northwest, Gettysburg Review, Best New Poets, AGNI, Ninth Letter, The Rumpus, and others. In 2013, Narrative magazine named him among its “30 Below 30” emerging writers.

Nate Klug: Wade in the Water – A Class in Spiritual Writing

1 Saturday, July 15, 10am-4pm  Berkeley
$130 members/$145 non-members

Writing and spiritual exploration have always been closely linked. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” Augustine wrote in his Confessions. More recently, Mary Oliver put it this way: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do/ with your one wild and precious life?”

“In this course,” says instructor Nate Klug, “we will create prose and poetry that puts our hearts in conversation with the divine and the ineffable. Journaling, ghazal poems, tiny stories with God as protagonist, spiritual aphorisms, and haiku — our writing exercises will help us explore these forms, as well as our own urgent spiritual questions and concerns. We will also integrate meditation and visualization into our prompts, in order to explore the link between creativity and centeredness.

“As a religious professional, I am used to working with people of different faith backgrounds, including none at all. No particular spiritual identification is expected for this course — only a restless heart and a willingness to ask big questions.”

Participants will produce several pieces of new writing. They will also walk away with a renewed intimacy with their own spiritual lives.

Nate Klug earned a BA in English at the University of Chicago and a Masters from Yale Divinity School. He is the author of Rude Woods, a modern translation of Virgil’s Eclogues (The Song Cave, 2013), and Anyone, a book of poems (The University of Chicago Press, 2015). His writing has been supported by the Poetry Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the James Merrill House. His poems, translations, and essays can be found in Poetry, Threepenny Review, Image, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. A UCC-Congregationalist minister, Nate has served churches in Connecticut, Iowa, and right here in California.

Kate Montgomery: Intermediate Screenwriting – Hone Your Craft!

Katie Montgomery Screenwriting5 Tuesdays, April 4 – May 2, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members   
Testimonials for Kate

In this course, writers who are already familiar with the basics of story structure and screenwriting will be able to take their skills to the next level.

“The devil’s in the details,” says instructor Kate Montgomery. “While there’s more demand now for original content, and opportunities abound, the industry is not easy to impress. You get just one chance to make that first impression with Producers, Agents, and Talent. The good news? You will be taken seriously right away with a screenplay that is original and compelling, one with a solid structure, memorable characters, great pacing, and strong visuals.

We’ll dive deeper into the craft of screenwriting and what separates the amateurs from the pros. You’ll learn how to craft a story that keeps us engaged each step of the way, with a protagonist we can relate to, a through-line that keeps us guessing, a central struggle that makes us care, and a resolution that is genuinely satisfying, even if it’s not a “Hollywood ending”.

With a mix of short lectures, writing exercises, screenings, class discussions, brainstorming sessions, and handouts you can take home with you to refer to later, this class is designed to be interactive and encouraging and to give you the added expertise you need to create work that is truly exceptional and opens doors.

Kate Montgomery wrote, directed and produced the Sundance indie feature Christmas in the Clouds, which won top honors at festivals in Austin, Santa Fe, Vancouver, Philadelphia and Ft. Lauderdale, and endorsements from Oprah Winfrey & Roger Ebert. She executive produced the micro-indie, Ever Since the World Ended, which won at the SF Indie Fest and the London Sci-Fi Film Festival. She has optioned & sold screenplays to producers and studios in the US, Canada and UK, and works for hire as a script editor and production consultant. Her current feature projects include the Italian romantic comedy Pane Vine, and the western Stealing Lily, for which she also wrote the adaptation.

Laura Atkins: The Craft of Creating Picture Books – Where Text and Image Meet

1 Saturday, August 12, 10am-4pm  Berkeley
$130 members/$145 non-members

Picture books provide one of the most exciting and innovative spaces for play in the book world today. Genres collide, stories become graphic novels, and nonfiction dances from the page in lyrical twists and twirls. This concise form, with a close relationship to poetry, needs to carry a strong emotional core, giving satisfaction with minimal words. Picture books can be aimed at young children, even toddlers and infants, but reach older readers as well, especially through nonfiction. While 4-8 is the typical age group associated with this genre, we will look at some examples that target older readers.

Instructor Laura Atkins says, “In this workshop, I will provide an overview of some of the options available within the exciting variety of the picture book form. Nonfiction picture books for older readers are becoming more popular and receiving awards, in part building from the Common Core focus on nonfiction. This can be a more flexible and innovative form than many people realize.

“After this overview, we will shift to looking at the nitty gritty of the picture book format — typical page counts, expectations including trip-off-your-tongue language, repetition, and using the drama of the page turn. There will be a chance to do your own writing play in order to generate picture book ideas and time for Q & A about craft and also publishing trends. This session will be accessible to those who have been reading and writing picture books for years, but also those fresh to the form. Bring your curiosity, your youthful spirit, and be prepared to play.”

Laura Atkins is a children’s book author, editor, and teacher. She has edited books for over twenty years (Children’s Book Press, Orchard Books, Lee & Low Books, and freelance), taught undergraduate and MA-level children’s writing at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature in London, and received top evaluations when running the MG/YA workshop at the Mendocino Writer’s Conference. She has an MA in Children’s Literature from Roehampton University in London, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. The author of a picture book, Sled Dog Dachshund, and co-author of a MG biography, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up, first in the Fighting for Justice series, Laura lives in Berkeley with her daughter and their dog.

Jay Ridler: Writing from the Heart II – Developing the Project that Speaks with Your Voice

5 Sundays, July 9 – August 6, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members
Testimonials for Jay

*Writing from the Heart II is only open to students who have attended Jay Ridler’s 5-week class or 1-day intensive.

This is a class for those who are familiar with the techniques and approaches Jay uses in helping writers find the stories and themes they care about the most: “plot talks” for digging deep into emotionally powerful material, playing with point of view and setting, compressing premises to get to the heart of the story, and more.

In Writing from the Heart II, we will develop new material in class with the intent of starting a project (either a singular one like a novel or memoir, or one made of many parts like a collection of essays or stories). Classes will focus on using elements of dramatic structure from fiction with non-fiction (and vice versa), refining voice through use of language, and using conventional and unconventional structure to make the central themes of your project shine. For guidance, we will read excerpts from Richard Rhodes, Scarlett Thomas, Bruce Holland Rodger, and others.

Critiques will follow a similar structure to Writing from the Heart, with Jay’s trademark detailed feedback, but will also include discussion of technique, style, and language to help you revise your work. “In Writing from the Heart, you discover your themes and passions as a writer,” Jay says. “In Writing from the Heart II, we take those discoveries and refine them toward a sustained voice that sings throughout your writing.”

Jason S. Ridler is a writer, improv actor, and historian. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and the upcoming BRIMSTONE FILES series for Nightshade Press. He’s published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Jay holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Berkeley, CA.

Anita Amirrezvani: Exploring Your Identity Through Writing

5 Thursdays, August 17 – September 14, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members

No matter what your background, you have a unique and meaningful story to tell. Your family, heritage, culture, and traditions offer a rich source of material that can be used to generate powerful stories.

Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, or both, this class will show you how to draw on your own background to generate writing that is deeply meaningful to you, to the people you love, and even to complete strangers.

“As the daughter of an Iranian father and a Lithuanian mother, I have a complicated heritage that has inspired both my fiction and non-fiction,” says instructor Anita Amirrezvani. “This class gives students the tools they need to harness the power of their own rich backgrounds in their writing.”

Each of the first four classes will include in-class writing prompts, fiction and non-fiction reading assignments on the subject of identity, and writing or research assignments outside of the classroom that are both easy and fun. The last class will provide techniques for linking and organizing the material.

Sharing work will be encouraged but not required. Emphasis will be placed on identifying what is working well in student writing. At the end of this class, you will have written several pieces inspired by your own background and will have a roadmap for expanding your material.

Anita Amirrezvani was born in Tehran, Iran, and raised in San Francisco. Her first novel, The Blood of Flowers, has appeared in 31 languages and was long-listed for the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her second novel, Equal of the Sun, was published by Scribner in 2012 and has appeared in eight languages to date. Anita has been an invited speaker at book festivals in Australia, Canada, Dubai, Scotland, and in many locations throughout the United States. She teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the California College of the Arts.

Kathleen McClung: Embracing the Hush Hour – Deepen Your Poetry Practice

8 Fridays, July 14, July 28, August 11, August 25, September 8, September 22, October 6, October 20, 6-8pm  San Francisco
$340 members/$360 others
Testimonials for Kathleen

Slow down from the hustle of the week and turn inward to shape and polish your poems in a warm, comfortable space. “In our time together,” says instructor Kathleen McClung, “we’ll read and talk about work by contemporary writers such as Corrinne Hales, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Kim Bridgford and others. We’ll borrow and build from diverse published poems and tune into our own observations, memories, imaginations, rhythms. We’ll test drive various traditional forms—cento, ghazal, sonnet—as well as explore the elasticity of free verse, aiming for that fine balance of mystery and clarity in each line and stanza.”

The goal of this intimate 8-session class is for each person to finish a handful of new poems for potential publication. We’ll be drafting or revising a poem in between each class meeting; plan to complete 4-8 new works by the end of the class in May. Along the way we’ll share constructive feedback and discuss a variety of resources, including print and online journals, reading series, and contests as possible homes for our wide-ranging work.

This workshop is open to all writers who value the synergy and support of a small group guided by an experienced teacher. Join us two Fridays a month for a replenishing “hush hour” dedicated to moving in fresh and fruitful directions, deepening our craft, and expanding our reach as poets.

Kathleen McClung, author of Almost the Rowboat, and finalist for Gunpowder Press’s 2016 Barry Sacks poetry prize, has poems in Mezzo Cammin, Unsplendid, Atlanta Review, Ekphrasis, Heron Tree, Naugatuck River Review, A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens, Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, and elsewhere. Winner of the Rita Dove poetry prize, Maria W. Faust sonnet award, and Shirley McClure poetry prize from the 2016 Los Gatos-Listowel Writers Festival, McClung judges sonnets for the Soul-Making Keats literary competition and reviews books for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing.  She has mentored hundreds of writers at Skyline College, the Writing Salon, and other colleges and community centers. www.kathleenmcclung.com

 

Kathy Garlick: Daily Write “Round Robin”

July 9 – September 3
8 weeks of daily online activity (facilitated by Kathy)
Plus in-person final meeting
Sunday, September 3, Noon-2pm (optional)
$225 members/$245 non-members

“The more you use your writing muscles,” said Jane Underwood, founder of The Writing Salon and creator of Round Robin, “the more you tone and strengthen them. In the Round Robin, you practice writing every day, just as piano students practice scales and swimmers do laps. The only difference is that the Round Robin is more fun.”

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Jay Ridler: Creative Writing Boot Camp

1 Saturday, July 8, 10am-4pm  Berkeley
$130 members/$145 non-members
Testimonials for Jay

Scared to start writing? Need a burst of enthusiasm to work through writer’s block? Not sure if you want to do nonfiction, fiction, or something avant-garde? Then look no further, because Jay Ridler has got your back.

In this one-day workshop, you’ll get a quick and clear lecture on writing a complete story, ideas on how to approach biographical material, and exercises that will help you explore themes and characters. Using techniques, exercises, and tactics from classic writing methods and experimental innovators, you’ll generate ideas, vignettes, and stories that sing with your voice. You’ll also get feedback that focuses on what makes your writing engaging and interesting.

“It’ll be a fast, fun, and frantic day of laughs, writing, insights, and more writing.” Jay says. “In a short time we’ll explore our own hearts and souls through the use of the written word. I will give you 110% as a teacher and make sure you leave with the tools, ideas, and material to make stories only you can tell.”

Ideal for beginners or novice writers who need a dose of inspiration and insight, Jay Ridler’s Creative Writing Boot Camp is intended as a catalyst for your next great story.

Jason S. Ridler is a writer, improv actor, and historian. He is the author of A TRIUMPH FOR SAKURA, BLOOD AND SAWDUST, the Spar Battersea thrillers and the upcoming BRIMSTONE FILES series for Nightshade Press. He’s published over sixty stories in such magazines and anthologies as The Big Click, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Out of the Gutter, and more. He also writes the column FXXK WRITING! for Flash Fiction Online. A former punk rock musician and cemetery groundskeeper, Jay holds a Ph.D. in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada. He lives in Berkeley, CA.

Anita Amirrezvani: Exploring Your Identity Through Writing

5 Thursdays, August 17 – September 14, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members

No matter what your background, you have a unique and meaningful story to tell. Your family, heritage, culture, and traditions offer a rich source of material that can be used to generate powerful stories.

Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, or both, this class will show you how to draw on your own background to generate writing that is deeply meaningful to you, to the people you love, and even to complete strangers.

“As the daughter of an Iranian father and a Lithuanian mother, I have a complicated heritage that has inspired both my fiction and non-fiction,” says instructor Anita Amirrezvani. “This class gives students the tools they need to harness the power of their own rich backgrounds in their writing.”

Each of the first four classes will include in-class writing prompts, fiction and non-fiction reading assignments on the subject of identity, and writing or research assignments outside of the classroom that are both easy and fun. The last class will provide techniques for linking and organizing the material.

Sharing work will be encouraged but not required. Emphasis will be placed on identifying what is working well in student writing. At the end of this class, you will have written several pieces inspired by your own background and will have a roadmap for expanding your material.

Anita Amirrezvani was born in Tehran, Iran, and raised in San Francisco. Her first novel, The Blood of Flowers, has appeared in 31 languages and was long-listed for the 2008 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her second novel, Equal of the Sun, was published by Scribner in 2012 and has appeared in eight languages to date. Anita has been an invited speaker at book festivals in Australia, Canada, Dubai, Scotland, and in many locations throughout the United States. She teaches in the MFA Writing Program at the California College of the Arts

 

Ben Jackson: A Formal Feeling – Poetry Workshop

5 Sundays, February 26 – March 26, 7-9:30pm
$275 members/$295 non-members

It’s easy to forget, but poetry belongs to the body. Often, our senses know how to respond to a poem’s power before our minds can work out its exact meaning. Maybe this is what Emily Dickinson meant when she said that poetry began for her as a physical thrill.

Instructor Ben Jackson says, “In this class we will remain true to poetry’s roots in physicality, by exploring how form relates to and inspires feeling of all sorts…from goose bumps to lump-in-your-throat sadness to contagious joy.”

“During our five weeks together, we will write our own poetry while focusing on several elements of the lyric poem—sound, metaphor, voice, and syntax. I will provide examples that help you learn to identify and employ these sometimes intimidating elements. Together, we will figure out how these formal parts work together in good poems, and we will begin to use them in our own writing. Trusting our senses, we won’t be afraid to read out loud, laugh suddenly, or get choked up.”

Participants will come away with several new poems. They will also gain exposure to the wide variety of lyric poetry being written today. First-time poets are welcome, as well as those with more experience.

Ben Jackson has taught poetry to students from the second grade up to the college level. His poems have appeared in New England Review, Southern Review, Hudson Review, FIELD, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. His awards include the 2015 Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize for Poetry as well as residencies from Vermont Studio Center, Jentel Artist Residency Program, and Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts. A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, he is the director of The Writing Salon.

Kate Montgomery: Screenwriting for TV & Film

Katie Montgomery Screenwriting5 Tuesdays, July 11 – August 8, 7-9:30pm   Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members   
Testimonials for Kate

“Let’s face it, you’re already in the business,” says instructor Kate Montgomery. “You’ve seen more movies than you can count and stayed up late way too many times to watch just one more episode of an addictive series on Netflix, Amazon or Cable. If you’re reading this, then you’ve also thought about writing one yourself. And here’s the good news—there’s never been a better time to break in. The industry is rapidly expanding, and there’s more demand now than ever for original content.”

But where to begin as a writer? How to write a screenplay that can sell? What’s the difference between a feature screenplay and a backdoor pilot? What’s a spec script, a series bible, a mini-movie? Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser”?

In this class, Kate will introduce a variety of screenwriting techniques that help writers tap into their own natural strengths to build great stories for the screen. Whether you want to write a major motion picture or the next hit series, you’ll learn the key elements of structure, plot, character development, and pacing that every great screenplay contains.

With a mix of lecture/discussion, film clips, writing exercises and improv, along with course materials you keep to reference later, Kate provides a safe, encouraging environment where you can explore the process, find your voice, and get yourself on the path to completing a professional script that can open doors.

“I began writing scripts while still working full-time in the corporate world,” says Kate. “It took time and dedication, and still does, but it’s also great fun. And it should be. After all, if you hope to entertain anyone else, you should start by first amusing yourself!”

Kate Montgomery wrote, directed and produced the Sundance indie feature Christmas in the Clouds, which won top honors at festivals in Austin, Santa Fe, Vancouver, Philadelphia and Ft. Lauderdale, and endorsements from Oprah Winfrey & Roger Ebert. She executive produced the micro-indie, Ever Since the World Ended, which won at the SF Indie Fest and the London Sci-Fi Film Festival. She has optioned & sold screenplays to producers and studios in the US, Canada and UK, and works for hire as a script editor and production consultant. Her current feature projects include the Italian romantic comedy Pane Vine, and the western Stealing Lily, for which she also wrote the adaptation.

Katharine Harer: Nomad with a Notebook – Introduction to Travel Writing

5 Mondays, August 14 – September 18 (skip September 4), 7-9:30pm  San Francisco
$275 members/$295 non-members

“Ten years ago I stepped out of my life in San Francisco and spent a month in Chile,” says instructor Katharine Harer. “I wandered the hills of Valparaiso, the rocky beaches of Isla Negra, and the lyrical and eccentric houses of Pablo Neruda, my notebook always close at hand. Now I don’t travel any other way.”

Whether you’ve just returned from Paris or Sacramento or you’re dreaming of a trip, this class will help you transform your observations into vivid and lasting images. Katharine will provide tips on how to carefully observe and record your impressions of new places and cultures. In-class writing exercises will guide you in identifying themes, composing scenes, and cultivating your distinct voice.

During class sessions, you’ll draw inspiration from seasoned essayists and travel writers, such as Pico Iyer, Joan Didion, Ann Patchett, and Geoff Dyer. You’ll have short weekly out-of-class writing assignments with the goal of completing a rough draft of a travel piece or personal essay/memoir by the end of the course.

Katharine Harer loves teaching creative writing. She has worked with hundreds, maybe thousands, of students in her over thirty-year career as a community college writing teacher at Skyline College and private workshop instructor. Katharine has published six collections of poetry, the most recent, Jazz & Other Hot Subjects, in 2016. Her poetry and nonfiction have been published widely in literary journals, newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. Her most recent travel essay, Delle Donne, appears in Best Women’s Travel Writing 2016, from Travelers’ Tales. She’s currently working on a personal travel essay about Bali.

Elaine Beale: Writing a Novel – Building the Framework

5 Wednesdays, September 28 – October 26, 7-9:30pm
$275 members/$295 others   
        
Testimonials for Elaine   

     

*Combine Elaine’s class with Karen Bjorneby’s Writing a Novel – Filling in the Frame for a complete novel writing package: Writing a Novel – 10-Week Class + Final Reading/Celebration.

Writing a successful novel demands a lot of a writer: from creating compelling dialogue and description, to crafting a gripping plot. Novelists need to develop convincing characters, create settings that make their story vivid, and write in a voice that makes their work unique.

The Writing Salon is offering two five-week classes on novel writing. These will help newbie novelists make their first steps in the genre and provide guidance to those who may have already started their book.

This class will focus on building the overall framework for your novel. Topics covered will include how to put together a page-turning plot, creating story momentum, and building a network of fully developed characters.

“We’ll explore these topics through discussion and exercises,” says instructor Elaine Beale, “and homework assignments will allow students to practice the skills we talk about and to get feedback on their work in class.”

“My goal,” she continues, “is for students to leave with a novel outline they’re happy with, an understanding of their characters and their roles in the story, and a draft of their opening. We’ll also build a supportive group in which students can air their ideas, problem-solve obstacles, and share their successes.”

Elaine Beale’s second novel, Another Life Altogether, was published by Random House in 2010. It has received praise from the Boston Globe, Lambda Literary, Curve Magazine, the Bay Area Reporter, and Publishers Weekly, among others, and it was featured in Oprah Magazine. Elaine was the winner of the 2007 Poets and Writers California Writers Exchange Award and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She has taught creative writing for more than a decade.

Kathleen McClung: Intro to Creative Writing

mcclungnew25 Saturdays, April 22 – May 20, 2-4:30pm  San Francisco
$275 members/$295 non-members
Testimonials for Kathleen

This class is closed.

In this beginner’s course, you’ll be introduced to creative nonfiction (i.e., personal essays/memoir), fiction, and poetry. Kathleen will give you writing prompts to spark your imagination, memories, and observations. In fun and instructive exercises, you’ll explore craft basics such as developing distinctive characters, creating believable dialogue, and using specific sensory language.

In addition to doing your own writing, you’ll read short selections from writers like Ellen Bass, Edwidge Danticat, Kazuo Ishiguro, and others. “We’ll talk about both what the writers are saying and how they shape their writing in artful ways, their strategies as well as their subjects,” says Kathleen. Supportive discussions and sharing of your own writing will also be an important part of the class. By the end of the course you’ll have the tools to develop a creative piece in any genre you choose.

Kathleen McClung has mentored hundreds of writers at Skyline College, The Writing Salon, and other colleges. She has also edited books at small presses including UCSF Nursing Press, Food First Books, and Westview Press. She serves as a reviewer for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, sponsored by the Stanford University Libraries, sponsor/judge for the Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition, and coordinator of Women on Writing community events. Her memoir, poetry, and fiction have been published in the Healing Muse, Bloodroot, Unsplendid, Poets 11, Spirituality & Health, Tilt-a-Whirl, Tule Review, A Bird Black as the Sun: California Poets on Crows and Ravens, and elsewhere. In 2012 Kathleen won the Rita Dove Poetry Award, and Naomi Shihab Nye selected her work as the winner of the national poetry competition sponsored by the Cultural Center of Cape Cod. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Almost the Rowboat, in January 2013.

Alison Luterman: The Art of Resistance Writing

Alison_Banner5 Saturdays, August 19 – September 23 (skip September 2), 2-4:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members

Testimonials for Alison    

“In the face of the current political reality, many of us want to raise our voices in a way that is not just enraged or pedantic but also artful,” says instructor Alison Luterman. “We, too, want to read works of literature that speak to us in our hour of need, that guide us through our own roiling emotions and the chaos in our political landscape.”

This five-week class will provide a vibrant and encouraging space for you to raise your voice and savor writing that, as Kafka says, “cracks the frozen sea within us.” You will explore several key elements in the art of resistance writing, including radical empathy and the power of point of view. You will learn how writers like James Baldwin, Carolyn Forche, and George Saunders use craft, voice, and imagination to put themselves in the shoes of the outsider, the misfit, or even, as Baldwin does, the antagonist.

“During in-class writing exercises and weekly homework assignments, we will strive to push past our own limitations and biases and, in expressing them, transcend them,” says Alison. “We will learn how to create artful resistance writing that doesn’t judge but observes and describes and explores. Come prepared to read, write, think, feel, and talk!”

Alison Luterman has been shamelessly telling tales from her own life ever since she could grip a sweaty pencil. She has published essays in The Sun, Modern Love, L.A. Review, Radiance, Response, The East Bay Express, The Boston Phoenix and Salon. She has also written an e-book of essays entitled Feral City, about midlife domestication, remarriage, and second chances (available from SheBooks). Alison is also the author of three books of poetry: The Largest Possible LifeSee How We Almost Fly, and Desire Zoo. Last but not least, she writes plays, including Saying Kaddish With My Sister, Glitter and Spew, and a musical, The Chain. Visit her website for more details.
Jess Wells: Crafting the Story of Your Family – For Writers and Non-Writers Alike

5 Sundays, November 6 – December 11, 10:30am-1pm
Skip November 27
$275 members/$295 others  

Testimonials for Jess

Many families have fascinating pasts driven by courageous ancestors and wise elders—great material for either biography or historical fiction. Have you inherited letters or diaries? Have you heard a story at Thanksgiving that is just begging to be written? How do you go from items in the attic to fully-realized characters on the page? Could adding a fictional character increase the thematic clarity of the project?

Instructor Jess Wells says, “We will work with some of the powerful writing and storytelling techniques to craft either fact-based biography, fictive biography, or historical fiction. And if you have already started a project, we’ll help you untangle your plot or bring verve to your language.”

Jess Wells is the author of thirteen volumes of work, including the novel A Slender Tether on the early years of Christine de Pizan, a pioneering thinker of the 14th century French court; and the novel The Mandrake Broom, dramatizing the fight to save medical knowledge during the witch-burning times in Europe (1465-1540). Wells is the winner of a San Francisco Art Commission Grant for Literature and a four-time finalist for the national Lambda Literary Award. Her work is included in dozens of anthologies and literary journals.
Leora Fridman: Raw Writing – A Class for Generating New Material

5 Tuesdays, April 18 – May 16, 7-9:30pm  San Francisco
$275 members/$295 non-members

Do you struggle to find time to write? Do you have a project in mind that you just can’t find your way into? Or do you simply want to try out something new? In this class we will focus on the tender excitement of getting started: we will learn to see the opportunity in the blank page.

“We will get going with writing prompts from a variety of genres,” says instructor Leora Fridman, “and we’ll look beyond our notebooks and keyboards for inspiration, using strategies from the visual, the somatic, and other modalities of the body and mind. We’ll write in response to prompts from visual art, found objects and more—and participate in collaborative writing exercises that will push us into new territory.” 

Although you’ll have optional opportunities to share your work with the class and to support one another’s writing, this is not a workshop focused on critique or revision. We’re focusing our attention on starts and experiments. During class, we’ll also spark creativity by reading examples of contemporary writing, with an emphasis on lyric and shorter forms.

At the end of the course, you will have a new understanding of your own writing process, a selection of prompts you can use moving forward, and brand-new starts that you can draw from and revise on your own time. This course is appropriate for those with lots of experience in writing and for those with very little experience—the purpose of the course is to generate your own momentum in ways that will be useful across all genres of writing.

Leora Fridman is the author of My Fault (Cleveland State University Press, 2016) in addition to five chapbooks, and is currently at work on a book of nonfiction. Her poems, prose, and translations appear and are forthcoming in magazines including Tricycle Magazine, Denver Quarterly, jubilat, and jacket2. Leora holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts Amherst MFA Program for Poets and Writers and from Brown University, and has taught for universities and community organizations across the country. She is a recipient of multiple grants and honors from supporters including the Vermont Studio Center, the Center for Cultural Innovation, and the Dorot Foundation. More at leorafridman.com.
Jess Wells: From Daydream to Story – Learn the First Steps in Fiction

5 Thursdays, August 17 – September 14, 7-9:30pm  San Francisco
$275 members/$295 non-members
Testimonials for Jess

Whether you are a nonfiction writer who wants to break out of the mold or a daydreamer who wants to get those stories down on paper, join us for this fun and informative course in the essential elements of fiction.

In this class, you’ll get in touch with the fanciful, daydream side of yourself and also work with the core elements of storytelling that will help you transform your ideas into art.

“It’s a real joy to build stories in your head, but when it’s time to share them, there are structural things you need to know to help you recreate the excitement and experience of that story,” instructor Jess Wells says. “This class will help you get comfortable with the key elements of a story, such as the classic three-part story structure, point of view, and the role of the protagonist, antagonist and even ‘the sidekick’.”

This course will be a combination of short lectures on craft, in-class writing exercises, fun homework assignments to use new skills in building your fictional world, and readings of great stories. We may also have informal discussions on topics like how to battle writer’s block/procrastination and ways to validate yourself as a writer.

Jess Wells is the author of thirteen volumes of work, including the novel A Slender Tether on the early years of Christine de Pizan, a pioneering thinker of the 14th century French court; and the novel The Mandrake Broom, dramatizing the fight to save medical knowledge during the witch-burning times in Europe (1465-1540). Wells is the winner of a San Francisco Art Commission Grant for Literature and a four-time finalist for the national Lambda Literary Award. Her work is included in dozens of anthologies and literary journals.

Nate Klug: A Formal Feeling – Poetry Workshop

5 Thursdays, July 13 – August 10, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members

It’s easy to forget, but poetry belongs to the body. Often, our senses know how to respond to a poem’s power before our minds can work out its exact meaning. Maybe this is what Emily Dickinson meant when she said that poetry began for her as a physical thrill.

Instructor Nate Klug says, “In this class we will remain true to poetry’s roots in physicality, by exploring how form relates to and inspires feeling of all sorts…from goose bumps to lump-in-your-throat sadness to contagious joy.”

“During our five weeks together, we will write our own poetry while focusing on several elements of the lyric poem—sound, metaphor, voice, and syntax. I will provide examples that help you learn to identify and employ these sometimes intimidating elements. Together, we will figure out how these formal parts work together in good poems, and we will begin to use them in our own writing. Trusting our senses, we won’t be afraid to read out loud, laugh suddenly, or get choked up.”

Participants will come away with several new poems. They will also gain exposure to the wide variety of lyric poetry being written today. First-time poets are welcome, as well as those with more experience.

Nate Klug is a poet, translator, and essayist living in Berkeley. He is the author of Rude Woods, a modern translation of Virgil’s Eclogues (The Song Cave, 2013), and Anyone, a book of poems (The University of Chicago Press, 2015). His writing has been supported by the Poetry Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the James Merrill House.

Kathy Garlick: Intro to Creative Writing

5 Sundays, May 14 – June 18 (skip May 28), 2-4:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members

“Each of us has a story to tell, but finding the words and voice for that story is an art and craft specific to each individual,” says instructor Kathy Garlick. “This class is designed for writers who may be uncovering and sharing that story for the first time.”

In this class, we’ll explore the creative writing process, from idea generation to the development of craft. To spark imagination, Kathy will give the class frequent and diverse writing exercises on imagery, narration, characterization, and dialogue. Writers may be interested in different genres, so we’ll discuss poetry, short fiction, memoir, and personal essay.

We’ll also read and learn from writers such as Jhumpa Lahiri, Zadie Smith, Fanny Howe, and Edmund White. Kathy says, “In writing we’re always trying to find something honest, something hidden under the trap door of the skull. Our reactions to other writers can open that door.”

Discussions, homework exercises, and sharing our work with one another will be essential for this class. By the end of the course you will have the tools to develop creative work in any genre you choose.

Kathy Garlick’s poetry and prose have appeared in Art and Ideas, Fourteen Hills, Field, and other publications. Her chapbook of poems, The Listening World, was published by Momotombo Press at St. Mary’s College. Kathy currently teaches creative writing and academic writing at University of San Francisco and creative writing and literature in the English Master’s program at Holy Names University.

Kate Montgomery: The Elusive Art of Comedy Writing

Katie Montgomery Screenwriting1 Saturday, June 10, 10am-4pm   San Francisco
$130 members/$145 non-members   
 Student Testimonials

“It’s one thing to tell a funny story to your friends over drinks, but to be funny on the page is an art unto itself,” says comedy writer Kate Montgomery. “Comedy is fragile and demanding. With drama, you can get away with so much. With comedy, one extra word can ruin the laugh.”

In this workshop, we’ll explore the elusive craft of comedy writing. You’ll learn the difference between situation comedy, character-driven comedy, comedy drama, and action comedy, how to structure a set up and pay off, and the ever-essential ‘rule of three’. With a combination of screenings, short lectures, group brainstorming, individual writing exercises, games, and improv, you’ll learn how to tap into your comic side and become a more entertaining storyteller.

All are welcome to sign up for this class, whether you’re an actor who would like to start writing, an author who’s curious about crafting comedies, or a journalist who’s looking to get some laughs.

Kate Montgomery wrote, directed and produced the Sundance indie feature Christmas in the Clouds, which won top honors at festivals in Austin, Santa Fe, Vancouver, Philadelphia and Ft. Lauderdale, and endorsements from Oprah Winfrey & Roger Ebert. She executive produced the micro-indie, Ever Since the World Ended, which won at the SF Indie Fest and the London Sci-Fi Film Festival. She has optioned & sold screenplays to producers and studios in the US, Canada and UK, and works for hire as a script editor and production consultant. Her current feature projects include the Italian romantic comedy Pane Vine, and the western Stealing Lily, for which she also wrote the adaptation.

Kate Montgomery: Writing for the Small Screen – Craft Original and Engaging Content for TV and the Web

Katie Montgomery Screenwriting5 Tuesdays, February 21 – March 21, 7-9:30pm
$275 members/$295 non-members   
Testimonials for Kate

Some of the best storytelling these days can be found on the “small screen”.

Award-winning dramas like Game of Thrones, House of Cards, and Breaking Bad feature complex characters in multi-layered stories and the production quality is truly cinematic. Comedies like Modern Family, Veep, and High Maintenance not only make us laugh. They successfully challenge some of our more counterproductive political traditions and cultural stereotypes.

“There’s never been a better time to break into the industry,” says instructor Kate Montgomery. “The traditional gatekeepers are no longer calling all the shots. Some of our best new sitcoms have started out as low budget indies on YouTube, and social media has created a solid market for storytelling that genuinely engages us.”

In this course, through a combination of lectures, hand-outs, screenings, discussions, writing exercises, and other class activities, you’ll discover the difference between an A story and a B story, find out who a “show runner” is, and experience how a writer’s room works. We’ll also explore a creature that inhabits one of the web’s hottest new spawning grounds: the artful and elusive sketch comedy.

We’ll read and study successful pilots in various genres and formats, and analyze what makes them each so entertaining. You’ll learn how to craft a set of characters who are familiar yet original, how to weave their storyline into an engaging and compelling arc, and how to package all this into a professional Series Bible and Season Outline.

Kate Montgomery wrote, directed and produced the Sundance indie feature Christmas in the Clouds, which won top honors at festivals in Austin, Santa Fe, Vancouver, Philadelphia and Ft. Lauderdale, and endorsements from Oprah Winfrey & Roger Ebert. She executive produced the micro-indie, Ever Since the World Ended, which won at the SF Indie Fest and the London Sci-Fi Film Festival. She has optioned & sold screenplays to producers and studios in the US, Canada and UK, and works for hire as a script editor and production consultant. Her current feature projects include the Italian romantic comedy Pane Vine, and the western Stealing Lily, for which she also wrote the adaptation.

Kathy Garlick: Daily Write “Round Robin”

January 15 – March 12
8 weeks of daily online activity (facilitated by Kathy)
Plus in-person final meeting
Saturday, March 25, 2-5pm (optional)
$225 members/$245 non-members

*This class is closed. To be placed on the waiting list, email hello@writingsalons.com.

“The more you use your writing muscles,” said Jane Underwood, founder of The Writing Salon and creator of Round Robin, “the more you tone and strengthen them. In the Round Robin, you practice writing every day, just as piano students practice scales and swimmers do laps. The only difference is that the Round Robin is more fun.”

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David Hill: Bring Your Characters to Life!

David Hill copy1 Saturday, April 29, 10am-4pm  Berkeley   
$130 members/$145 non-members     
Testimonials for David

Among the many aspects of successful narrative, one of the most essential is effective characterization. “Think of your favorite books or stories,” says instructor David Hill, “and chances are you remember the central characters as if you’d experienced them in real life.” But how do writers bring characters to life on the page?

In this class, we’ll explore the many available tools for developing believable and interesting characters, focusing not only on external appearance and dialogue, but also on characters’ interiority, authorial intrusion, and filtering through other characters. We’ll explore elements of “flat” and “round” characters, direct and indirect characterization, consistency vs. contradiction, the development of a character as the story progresses, and how our choice of point of view affects the way we represent characters on the page.

We’ll read closely from the work of established authors and engage in writing exercises designed not only to begin creating characters but to put those characters into action. We’ll also have opportunities to share what we write in class in order to learn from and encourage one another, as well as offer constructive and meaningful feedback for further development. Writers of all levels of experience are welcome.

David William Hill served as assistant editor for two oral history books: Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives (McSweeney’s, 2008) and Invisible Hands: Voices from the Global Economy (McSweeney’s, 2014). He currently serves on the editorial staff of Chicago Quarterly Review. His fiction has appeared in [PANK], Chicago Quarterly Review, Hobart, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and Cimarron Review, among others, and he was a finalist for both a Glimmer Train prize and the Montana Prize in Fiction. He holds an MFA from San Francisco State University and has taught creative writing at San Francisco State, Academy of Art University, and City University of Hong Kong.

SPECIAL KICK-OFF Creative Writing Boot Camp with Jenny Pritchett

Saturday, April 8, 10am-4pm  San Francisco
$145 members/$130 non-members
Testimonials for Jenny

Bring your laptop or a pen and plenty of paper—this creative writing boot camp will shock you out of stasis and into practice. In this Saturday workshop, Jenny Pritchett will help you tease out the creative impulse that has lain dormant beneath obligations, fear, laziness, or just plain confusion at how to get started.

“Sometimes taking a class is the only way to get back to your creative practice,” says Jenny. “Signing up is the first step. And then, when you show up to class, pen and paper in hand, with all the hopes and fears of any lapsed or beginning writer—you’re halfway there.”

Come writers, come poets, come essayists: Writers of all types and levels are invited to delve into the fundamentals of craft and process in this fun, funny, and encouraging urban retreat. We’ll read stories that inspire us and other examples of good writing—and some bad, just for fun—brainstorm ideas, and complete a variety of free-writing exercises (some short and automatic and some more involved and tiered). We’ll dive into lively discussions and pause for brief workshops, which help us reflect, connect the dots, and generate new ideas as well as break through the fears that keep us from showing up for our own work. Throughout the day, students will engage with their personal observations and experience—the core to their authentic voices—and emerge with ideas and inspiration about how to keep going the day AFTER class ends.

Jenny Pritchett is very self-motivated. In addition to working full-time as an editor at a local nonprofit, she has taught creative writing classes since 2006 and writes the popular blog, Jenny True: An Excruciatingly Personal Food Blog. Her debut story collection, At or Near the Surface (Fourteen Hills Press), won the 2008 Michael Rubin Book Award, and she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in Guernica, Salon, Southwest Review, Northwest Review, Boulevard, Best of the Web 2008 (Dzanc Books), and elsewhere. She holds a degree in magazine journalism from Northwestern University and an MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. The former managing editor of Fourteen Hills, she has taught or lectured at SFSU, California College of the Arts, Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Kate Montgomery: Write Your Screenplay in 9 Weeks – A Hands-On Workshop

Katie Montgomery Screenwriting9 Tuesdays, September 27 – November 22, 7-9:30pm
$445 members/$475 non-members   
Testimonials for Kate

 

Are you ready to start and actually finish a screenplay? That’s the goal of this 9-week course. You’ll learn all about screenplay structure, character development, story arcs & archetypes, dialogue, theme, genre, conflict, pacing, visualization, and WGA formatting while crafting the first draft of your own original screenplay.

This is a “learn by doing” approach to screenwriting. It’s fun and genuinely inspiring, but it’s also a lot of work. Writing a 90-120 page screenplay takes passion, self-discipline and commitment, but the process is more easily achieved when it’s broken down into clearly articulated goals and deadlines, and divided into manageable weekly assignments.

“It’s great to have the support of the group,” says instructor Kate Montgomery. “We’re all taking on the same challenge – and will be hitting many of the same obstacles. This includes me. Leading a hands-on workshop is a great time for me to get another spec script written. It keeps me in the same creative mode and on the same deadline schedule, which is always a benefit. No matter how seasoned a writer you are, it helps to have a deadline.”

Students do not need to have any previous screenwriting experience but each should come to the class with a story idea that can serve as a starting point for their screenplay. Access to a PC or Mac is highly recommended.

Kate Montgomery wrote, directed and produced the Sundance indie feature Christmas in the Clouds, which won top honors at festivals in Austin, Santa Fe, Vancouver, Philadelphia and Ft. Lauderdale, and endorsements from Oprah Winfrey & Roger Ebert. She executive produced the micro-indie, Ever Since the World Ended, which won at the SF Indie Fest and the London Sci-Fi Film Festival. She has optioned & sold screenplays to producers and studios in the US, Canada and UK, and works for hire as a script editor and production consultant. Her current feature projects include the Italian romantic comedy Pane Vine, and the western Stealing Lily, for which she also wrote the adaptation.

Ben Jackson: Journaling – Turn Your Life into Art

Ben_Jackson5 Thursdays, April 6 – May 4, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley   
$275 members/$295 non-members 

Testimonials for Ben

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Class is closed.

“I still have that navy blue hardback journal that my mom gave me for Christmas when I was ten,” says instructor Ben Jackson. “After writing my first few entries, I was hooked. Years later, when I started writing a long sequence poem about my twin brother, I mined through journal entries all the way back to early adolescence in order to understand the recurring themes in our relationship.

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Elaine Beale: Plot & Structure – The Big Picture

elainebeale825091 Saturday, October 15, 10am-4pm 
$130 members/$145 others
Testimonials for Elaine

 

Plot and structure are the “big picture” ingredients of fiction. A good plot can turn a novel into a page-turner. The right structure will make a story more resonant and compelling and amplify its themes.

“Creating a successful structure or plot for a story or a novel can be especially challenging for writers,” says instructor Elaine Beale. “But without a good grasp of these ingredients, many writers find themselves stuck.”

This one-day workshop is designed for writers who want to better understand how to develop a coherent plot that engages the reader and a structure that brings a story to life. The class will cover key concepts such as story arc, causality, flashbacks, plot twists and revelations, as well as techniques for creating momentum, and how character development and plot are intertwined.

Drawing on examples from published novels and short stories, participants will look at how a writer’s choice of structure can create tension and heighten a story’s impact. The workshop will also include in-class exercises in which students try their hand at plotting, and brainstorm solutions for the plot or structural problems they may be encountering in the stories they’re working on now.

At the end of the day, participants will find themselves far better equipped to successfully integrate these “big picture” ingredients into their fiction.

Elaine Beale’s second novel, Another Life Altogether, was published by Random House in 2010. It has received praise from the Boston Globe, Lambda Literary, Curve Magazine, the Bay Area Reporter, and Publishers Weekly, among others, and it was featured in Oprah Magazine. Elaine was the winner of the 2007 Poets and Writers California Writers Exchange Award and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She has taught creative writing for more than a decade.

Alice Templeton: Embodied Writing – Giving Shape to Personal and Collective Pain

5 Saturdays, May 6 – June 10 (skip May 27), 2-4:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members

*This class is a continuation of “Embodied Writing – Giving Shape to Darkness,” offered as a 3-week class in Nov/Dec 2016, but you do not need to have taken the earlier class to enroll.

As writers, most of us expect to draw subject matter from our most troubling personal experiences. And daily news of shootings, terrorism, and natural disasters—along with conflict around the 2016 election—also call us to respond to discord within the civic realm. With so many difficult stories circulating in and around us, the task of writing about them might seem straightforward, yet doubts abound: Where are the words? Hasn’t everything already been said? How do I make my pain and anxiety artistically meaningful?

This class offers tools to help you write about personal pain and collective anxiety with clarity and complexity. “Our task as writers, as citizens, is to resist abstraction by imaginatively embodying our subject in concrete terms,” says instructor Alice Templeton. “This means reconnecting the imagination with the body. When we do this work, the paralysis of pain and anxiety can give way to the energy of transformation.”

The class provides writing exercises, along with literary examples, to help writers get past obstacles and practice concrete ways of expressing personal and collective pain. We will look at excerpts by Audre Lorde, Paul Celan, Claudia Rankine, and others. Writers of all genres are welcome.

Alice Templeton’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Calyx, Asheville Poetry Review, and elsewhere, and her chapbook Archaeology won the 2008 New Women’s Voices Prize in Poetry from Finishing Line Press. Alice has been a resident at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Moulin a Nef (France), Blue Mountain Center, Vermont Studio Center, and the Millay Colony. She teaches creative writing and humanities at the Art Institute of California-San Francisco.

Lori Ostlund: Let’s Begin Here – Approaching Craft in Fiction through Character, Dialogue & Scene

5 Sundays, January 22 – February 26 (skip February 12), 10:30am-1pm
$275 members/$295 non-members   

This class is closed. To be placed on the waiting list, email hello@writingsalons.com.

In order to write, one must read constantly, observe the world well, and take seriously the craft of writing. During this five-week course, we will focus on the last of these, the craft of writing—specifically, we will focus on three mainstays of fiction: character, dialogue, and scene.

“I think that writers often feel more comfortable writing exposition and summary than scene, perhaps because in our own lives we often feel more comfortable observing than engaging, and scene is about getting our characters to engage,” says instructor Lori Ostlund. “In this class we will focus on creating scenes as a way to develop characters, demonstrate changes in them, and increase tension.

“We will also spend a lot of time on dialogue, thinking about it as a way to reveal character and relationships and, perhaps most important, as a way to reveal the shifting power dynamics that are at work in those relationships and which create tension.”

We will look at examples from short stories and novels and engage in in-class exercises that focus on these three craft building blocks. Participants will use these exercises to create work at home, which we will workshop during the last two weeks of class. “My goal,” Lori says, “is for us to think about these craft elements in ways that are new and generative.”

Lori Ostlund’s novel After the Parade (Scribner, 2015) was shortlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, was a finalist for the 2016 Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction and the Northern California Book Award for Fiction, and was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. Her first book, a story collection entitled The Bigness of the World, won the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Award, the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and the 2009 California Book Award for First Fiction. Stories from it appeared in the Best American Short Stories and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories. Scribner reissued the collection in early 2016. Lori received the 2009 Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and a fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Most recently, her work has appeared in ZYZZYVA, The Southern Review, and the Kenyon Review.

Susie Hara: Rewrite and See the Light – Prose Revision Workshop

S_Hara_Active_Writing5 Tuesdays, May 9 – June 6, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members

In this workshop, we’ll explore the rewriting process—the re-visioning of the kernel that is the first draft of your work. We’ll look at how to revise fiction or memoir with an eye to voice, plot, setting, dialogue, and character. Using exercises and prompts, we’ll work hands-on to deepen and develop your rewriting process.

The rewriting is the writing. Many authors, such as Jennifer Egan and Louise Erdrich, say that the bulk of their writing takes place after the first draft is written. We’ll read excerpts from various authors’ accounts of their rewriting process, and from their wildly divergent approaches we’ll get a sense of how every writer revises in their own unique voice.

Instructor Susie Hara says, “When I turn my hand to revision, I generally start with big-picture stuff: the chopping up and putting back together of scenes and chapters—the paradox of paring down and fleshing out. At the subterranean level, I examine how the characters’ bumps and flaws align or wreak havoc with their actions, relationships, and the heart of the story. Then, in the later stages of revision, I focus on the fine-tuning of language, such as getting rid of repeated words or cliches, varying the rhythm and structure of sentences, and adding sensory details.

“Come join me—we’ll explore these techniques for you to build (and add to) your own revision process. Each week we’ll focus on a different aspect of craft and use exercises to stock your rewriting toolbox, leading you on the path to your completed, polished manuscript.”

Susie Hara’s novel, Finder of Lost Objects (Ithuriel’s Spear Press), was a finalist for a 2015 Lambda Literary Award and received a 2015 International Latino Book Award. Her stories have been published in several anthologies, including Fast Girls and Stirring up a Storm. She has a degree in Dance and English from UC Riverside, and an MA in Theater from New York University. She was a resident theater artist at Z Space Studio and performed with the companies Teatro de la Esperanza and Word for Word. Her play Lost and Found in the Mission won a Best of Fringe award in the 2008 San Francisco Fringe Festival. www.susiehara.net

Alison Luterman: Write from Real Life – Personal Essays & Memoirs

Alison_Banner9 Mondays, January 16 – March 13, 7-9:30pm
$445 members/$475 non-members

Testimonials for Alison    

In this class you will plunge into the personal themes that make your real life stories uniquely yours. In the first half of this class, instructor Alison Luterman will give you writing exercises carefully designed to elicit the undertones and overtones that elevate events and anecdotes into the realm of art. In the last half of class, Alison will guide you through workshopping and refining the pieces you have begun.

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Laura Atkins: Catching Them Young – Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction

5 Wednesdays, May 10 – June 7, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley
$275 members/$295 non-members

You can’t find a better audience than young readers, and many publishers realize that books for this audience support much of their entire publishing program. Now more than ever, it’s an excellent time to be writing books for children.

In this class we will focus on Middle Grade (MG, 8-12) and Young Adult (YA, 12 and up) fiction, with some discussion of New Adult (protagonists over 18) and non-fiction for MG and YA. Each week will have its own focus (such as building a great character, how to craft your plot, language that sparkles), alongside opportunities to do writing exercises and share your work with others. There will be a few assigned readings as well, allowing participants to explore and learn from stellar authors. Open to experienced writers, and those who are fresh to the field, you will come away with greater confidence in your writing and a better understanding of MG and YA writing.

Instructor Laura Atkins says, “Children’s books today provide some of the most exciting and varied examples of storytelling of our time. I love teaching and helping people to find their unique voices and passions – drawing from my two decades of editorial experience, but also from my own more recent shift to writing. You can write about any topic for kids – it’s just a matter of finding the right voice, approach and structure.”

Laura Atkins is a children’s book author, editor, and teacher. She has edited books for over twenty years, taught undergraduate and MA-level children’s writing at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature in London, and received top evaluations when running the MG/YA workshop at the Mendocino Writer’s Conference. She has an MA in Children’s Literature from Roehampton University in London, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. The author of a picture book, Sled Dog Dachshund, and co-author of a MG biography, Fred Korematsu Speaks Up, Laura lives in Berkeley with her daughter and their dog.

Andy Touhy: Tiny Kingdoms II – Writing and Publishing the VERY Short Story

1 Saturday, April 22, 10am-4pm  Berkeley
$130 members/$145 non-members  
Testimonials for Andy

You’ve set foot in the kingdom of flash fiction (the smokelong, the short-short, the sudden or micro fable) and now you’re ready to write more. A tale told quickly offers an almost addictive pleasure beyond its telling, perhaps because brevity and urgency invite return and close study, perhaps because in this compressed length we find the soul of storytelling itself.

“In this one-day workshop,” says Andy Touhy, “participants will deepen their understanding of just how we fit a full and pleasing narrative into such a tiny space. To reach this end, we’ll be looking at a fresh selection of published flash, from the sharply distilled moment of truth to the extended joke, from the philosophic inquiry in miniature to the irascible dramatic monologue—all with an eye toward decoding the craft and art of their design.

We’ll then engage in targeted writing prompts to elicit our own hot material worth honing and marshaling into the world. We’ll discuss the results of these, exchange light feedback, and press forth in our discussion of the form.”

Writers of any genre are welcomed in the class, and they need not have taken Tiny Kingdoms I in order to sign up. All participants can expect to depart with a clutch of rich new material, if not several works-in-progress. At class end, Andy will revisit an updated list of flash-friendly venues, in print and online, and discuss strategies for submitting work for publication.

Andy Touhy, a recipient of the San Francisco Browning Society’s Dramatic Monologue Award and Fourteen Hills’ Bambi Holmes Fiction Prize, is also a nominee for inclusion in Best New American Voices. In 2016 his story manuscript, “The Secret of Mayo,” was named the finalist for BOA Editions’ Short Fiction Prize. Work from the collection has appeared in journals such as Conjunctions, New England Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, New American Writing, New Orleans Review, Colorado Review, Eleven Eleven, and The Collagist. He holds graduate degrees in literature and creative writing and has taught at SFSU, Academy of Art, and Ohio University. He lives in Oakland with his wife and child.

Memberships

We are not offering new memberships at this time.  Previous memberships will still be honored.

 

Gift Certificates

Options:

1) $145 for a 1-day workshop
2) $295 for a 5-week class
3) $475 for a 9-week class

There is a place on the checkout form to include your gift recipient’s name and email address (for our administrative purposes). But we leave it to you to tell them about the gift certificate and/or to find a way to “present” it to them (i.e. with a card). Just let them know that when they’re ready to take a class of their own choosing, all they have to do is send an email to hello@writingsalons.com, and we will sign them up via email.

Junse Kim: Intro to Fiction – Laying the Foundation

5 Sundays, April 9 – May 7, 2-4:30pm  Berkeley  
$275 members/$295 non-members  
Testimonials for Junse

“We writers too often need others to tell us that our writing is good,” says instructor Junse Kim. “And this is where it all goes horribly wrong. We become impatient for praise, obsessed with completing a story before learning the basic skills we need to write it. It’s the equivalent of, say, an aspiring carpenter who has committed to building a beautiful house, yet doesn’t know how to hammer in a nail or saw a piece of wood.”

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Junse Kim & Elaine Beale: Combo: Intro to Fiction/Starting Your Novel

inst-junsekelainebeale8250910 Sundays, Jan. 24-March 27,  2-4:30 pm  Berkeley
$365 members/$395 others    Cancellation/Refund Policy  

CLASS CLOSED/WAITING LIST CLOSED

COMBO SPECIAL: First 5 weeks: Intro to Fiction with Junse Kim; second 5 weeks: Starting Your Novel with Elaine Beale. Ten weeks for the price of a 9-week class. This combo is considered to be ONE class when it comes to our cancellation/refund policy. So please read the policy. Thanks!

Julie Bruck: Fearless Poetry Workshop

5 Thursdays, April 20 – May 18, 7-9:30pm  San Francisco
$275 members/$295 non-members
Testimonials for Julie

This workshop is intended for people who want to jumpstart their poetry practice and to keep the engine oiled. You’ll do plenty of writing and reading, and have lively discussions about both the craft and the process of poetry.

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Jenny Pritchett: Raw Writing – A Class for Generating New Material

5 Saturdays, November 5 – December 10, 10:30am-1pm
Skip November 26
$275 members/$295 others  
Testimonials for Jenny

In an interview on Salon.com, Grace Paley—finalist for both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award—told A.M. Homes that every single time she sat down to write, she thought, “How come I thought I could write? How am I gonna do this? How am I gonna write this ****ing story?”

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Cary Groner: Fiction Workshop – Build & Refine Your Storytelling Skills

9 Wednesdays, July 12 – September 6, 7-9:30pm  Berkeley 
$445 members/$475 non-members
Testimonials for Cary

When we read good stories they tend to endure in our hearts as touchstones that enrich our understanding of the world. We’ve all had the experience of reading something we like and wondering how the author developed such a breathtaking idea, with such compelling characters, and brought it to fruition. Those of us who admire good writing, and aspire to it ourselves, naturally wish to develop those skills. But without feedback from others it’s hard to escape the echo chamber and get a fresh perspective on our work.

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Julie Bruck: Out of the Drawer & into the Light: Finish Those Poems!

Julie-B.-New1-e13297848389369 Thursdays, Jan. 28 thru March 24, 7-9:30 p.m.  San Francisco
$365 members/$395 others   Cancellation Policy
Testimonials for Julie

“It’s not where you take things from–it’s where you take them to.”–Jean-Luc Godard

A good workshop sends its members home with ideas and strategies for revision, but new (and not-so-new) poets often find revising difficult on their own: they keep accumulating fresh work without finishing what they’ve begun.

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Karen Bjorneby: Novel Writing Continuation Workshop

Karen Bjorneby 9.4.14Six Fridays, Jan. 29-June 17 (Jan. 29, Feb. 26, March 25, April 22, May 20, June 17) 7-9:30 p.m. (plus online activity between meetings)   San Francisco     
$365 members/$395 others   Cancellation Policy   Student Testimonials            

Congratulations! You’ve started your novel. You have a sense of your main character and some ideas of the plot, maybe even a full plot outline. You’ve written a few pages, gotten some feedback, and know what your strengths are. Now the challenge is: TO KEEP GOING AND NOT GIVE UP.

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Patricia Cotter: Playwriting 101 – Taking the First Step

5 Thursdays, February 23 – March 23, 7-9:30pm
$275 members/$295 non-members
Testimonials for Patricia

How do you begin writing when you don’t even know where to start? Many writers begin their play, and then find themselves losing steam after only a few pages. Usually it’s because they aren’t quite clear about what or who they are writing about. So, then the million dollar question is: “What is your play about?”

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Alison Luterman: Write from Real Life – Personal Essays & Memoirs

Alison_Banner9 Mondays, July 10 – September 11 (skip September 4), 7-9:30pm   Berkeley
$445 members/$475 non-members

Testimonials for Alison    

In this class you will plunge into the personal themes that make your real life stories uniquely yours. In the first half of this class, instructor Alison Luterman will give you writing exercises carefully designed to elicit the undertones and overtones that elevate events and anecdotes into the realm of art. In the last half of class, Alison will guide you through workshopping and refining the pieces you have begun.

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Kathy Garlick: Daily Write June “Round Robin”

June 4 – June 25
3 weeks of daily online activity (facilitated by Kathy Garlick)
$85 members/$95 others

“The more you use your writing muscles,” said Jane Underwood, founder of The Writing Salon and creator of Round Robin, “the more you tone and strengthen them. In the Round Robin, you practice writing every day, just as piano students practice scales and swimmers do laps. The only difference is that the Round Robin is more fun.”

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Jenny Pritchett: Flash Fiction: When Less Is More

jennypritchett5 Saturdays, Feb. 27-March 26, 10:30 a.m to 1 p.m   Berkeley
$215 members/$245 others   Cancellation/Refund Policy
Student Testimonials

Class Cancelled

You’ve heard it called plenty of things: flash fiction, micro-fiction, the short-short story, prose poems. But what is this delicious, quirky art form, and how do you create it?

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Kathleen McClung: Are You Allergic to Poetry?

mcclungnew221 Saturday, April 30, 10am-4pm  San Francisco
$95 members/$110 others    
Cancellation/Refund Policy
Testimonials for Kathleen

If your answer is yes, then this non-allergenic poetry workshop is custom-made for you. Maybe you identify as a memoirist, novelist or playwright. Maybe you find the short story a more appetizing genre.  Maybe you write code for a living. But whatever kind of writing you do, devoting a day to reading, talking about, and cooking up some poems of your own — yes, poems — can add an extra dimension of strengths, strategies, and spice to your creative projects in any genre.

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