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What does it mean to have a voice? Why does a certain word or sentence make us laugh? How can a sentence increase tension? Is it fair to hate adverbs? What do people mean when they call a story quiet or refer to writing as lyrical? We will discuss these questions and many more as we discuss the craft and magic of the sentence,” say co-instructors Lori Ostlund and Anne Raeff.

In this six-hour class, we will examine style and voice via their building blocks: word choice, punctuation, and syntax. We will study excerpts from various writers to demystify what it is that makes their style distinct and will practice imitating in order to understand. Along the way, we will bring in connotation vs denotation; rhythm and repetition; adjectives and adverbs; figurative language; and tone. We will also offer practical advice on such topics as building tension at the sentence level and controlling narrative distance, and will introduce a variety of sentence structures for those who are feeling stuck in the same old sentence structures.

We will look at lots of prose examples, talk about sentences at the granular level, and write lots of them during in-class exercises. Participants will leave with a clearer understanding of how to write sentences that don’t just cater to content but that create rhythm and emotion, tension and beauty as well as with specific ideas about how to freshen and sharpen their own sentences.


About The Writing Salon's Remote Classes

You will be able to participate in live class meetings via Zoom videoconference. To attend classes, you'll need a phone, tablet or computer and access to the internet. You can participate in the class from wherever you'd like, whether on your living room couch or in your office. Before your class meets, you'll receive an email from The Writing Salon with more information about Zoom and your remote class. If you have any questions about remote learning, please don't hesitate to reach out to us at hello@writingsalons.com.



    Anne Raeff‘s second novel, Winter Kept Us Warm, was published in February 2018 by Counterpoint Press. Her short story collection, The Jungle Around Us, won the 2015 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and her stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, ZYZZYVA, and Guernica among other places. Because her parents were both refugees from the Holocaust and war and because of her penchant for travel, her work is often set far away, both in time and space, from the New Jersey suburbs where she grew up. She is proud to be a high school teacher and works primarily with recent immigrants.

    Lori Ostlund’s novel, After the Parade, was a Barnes & Noble Discover pick, a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her story collection, The Bigness of the World, won the 2008 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the California Book Award for First Fiction, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award, and was a Lambda Finalist. Lori’s work has appeared in the Best American Short Stories and the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories as well as in ZYZZYVA, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, and other journals. Lori has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award and was a finalist for the 2017 Joyce Carol Oates Prize. She has been a teacher for over twenty-five years in New Mexico, Spain, Malaysia, and North Carolina and is currently on the Mile-High MFA faculty. Since 2022, she has served as the series editor of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She lives in San Francisco, where she is at work on her fourth book, a novel entitled The Proprietresses, based on the years that she and her wife owned a furniture store in Albuquerque. Her third book, a story collection entitled Are You Happy?, will be published by Zando Projects in April 2025.

  1. Saturday, February 12, 10:00am-1:00pm
  2. Saturday, February 19, 10:00am-1:00pm


Saturday, February 12, 2022 @ 6:00 pm PST
Saturday, February 19, 2022 @ 9:00 pm PST
Event Categories:


Online (SF Zoom)
Live Remote Meetings, ZOOM
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Cancellation Policy

10 days or more before the start date for a class, the registrant will receive a credit minus a 10% fee OR a refund minus a 20% fee.

3-9 days before the start date for a class, the registrant will receive a credit minus a 20% fee OR a refund minus a 30% fee.

2 days or less before the start date for a class, the registrant will not receive a credit or a refund.

The Writing Salon cannot offer refunds, credits, or makeup sessions for classes a student might miss.

In the event of an emergency, we may consider a refund or credit, whether partial or full. We review these requests on a case-by-case basis, and we ask that you notify us as near as possible to the start date for the class.

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