Saturday Aug. 10th, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$95 members/$110 non-members   San Francisco

Student Testimonials


Whether you’re intrigued by Norse settlements, your own grandmother’s journey to America, or an imaginary character from a far-away time, historical fiction can be an enchanting new outlet for your writing.

This introductory workshop will help you discover the unique requirements of writing historical fiction, and set you up for a successful journey into a popular new genre.

Says instructor Jess Wells, “We’ll look into how to research and when to stop researching, how to create credible characters without arcane dialogue and, most importantly, how to choose a historical era that excites your imagination. I’ve chosen to focus on the Middle Ages because I’m fascinated by inventions that change the way people live, and this era was filled with watershed moments. Of course, the gorgeous fabrics and remarkable settings don’t hurt, either.”

Whether you come to this workshop to explore the seed of an idea, flesh out an already existing plan, or move further along on a story you’ve already started, bring your questions and your drafts. “We’ll set aside time to look into your specific ideas, challenges and questions,” says Jess.

“We’ll start the day with a brief look at your ideas (regardless of how new or undeveloped they are) and then I’ll talk about the unique challenges of writing historical fiction.  After lunch, we’ll go through research techniques, a bibliography of the books that will become your best friends, and do some brainstorming exercises to help you create well-rounded characters. We’ll examine the first chapter of Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind, to see what a masterful job he does of working with time, place, and setting. (If you read the book ahead of time, great, but I’ll hand out copies of the chapter during the workshop.) Last but not least, we’ll take what we’ve learned and look at your project/ideas, in the hopes of sending you home with a solid grasp on the era, area, character, and story you want to tell.”

Jess Wells is thrilled to announce the signing of her new novel, A Slender Tether, to Fireship Press. It’s her fourth novel and second work of historical fiction.  Jess is also the author of five books of short stories and the recipient of the San Francisco Arts Commission Grant for Literature in 2008.  Her previous work, The Mandrake Broom, is available from Amazon.  She blogs at and at, and teaches “How to Write Historical Fiction,” “Theme Plot and Characterization,” “Fundamentals of the Short Story,” and “How to Write with a Full-Time Job: Time Management for Writers,” at The Writing Salon and other venues around the country.

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