Writers! Start your writing year off right by taking a class. If you’re interested in exploring craft, I’m offering several classes in the winter session at SF Grotto. One is a 6-week session on sentence-level style and editing, with an optional 4-week follow-up workshop (style geeks can take just the workshop), and another is a 4-week introduction to point of view (fiction, nonfiction, poetry). Not right for you, or not right now? I’d appreciate it if you’d spread the word to anyone who might be interested. Many thanks!
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT: SENTENCE-LEVEL STYLE AND EDITING
SATURDAYS, JANUARY 14 —FEBRUARY 18, 10am–12:30pm
Good writing functions on many levels simultaneously. Tone, suspense, character, imagery, and subtext combine to make a story compelling, whether it’s flash fiction or War and Peace. We tend to think of these elements within the context of a whole—a story, essay, or novel—but to deliver that package, the pieces—the words, phrases, and sentences—need to work hard for us. When should our sentences be lean and mean, and when would a languid, lyrical flow be best? When can a single word say it all, and when might a paragraph-length sentence lead the reader deeper into a place or time or character?When is repetition annoying, and when does it add power? Why should you care about musicality in writing? And how can you learn to see your own work more objectively so that you can make all these decisions?
In this class we’ll explore sentence-level style and self-editing techniques through analysis, discussion, in-class exercises, and homework. Bring a piece or pieces of writing (fiction or nonfiction; no poetry) you’d like to work on and share, and be prepared to play. Master the micro for macro effects!
Note: This class will be followed by an optional four-week workshop (separate enrollment), that will give you additional opportunities to use the knowledge you’ve gained in revising your work.
NOT JUST A PRONOUN: THE POWER OF POINT OF VIEW
MONDAYS, JANUARY 23 —FEBRUARY 13, 6:30-9pm
Point of view is one of the most essential aspects of imaginative writing. In fact, perspective is everything in narration, but writers sometimes place the narrator without understanding the implications of the choice they’ve made. In this class, we’ll talk about POV options—the use of first, second, or third person as well as the manipulation of narrative distance and its impact on characterization across the genres of fiction, creative nonfiction, and even poetry. We’ll identity common POV “violations” and look at published examples, and we’ll experiment in POV in our own work. (You’ll need two pieces, each 2 to 4 pages, one written in first person and one in third.) By investigating how POV works and harnessing its power, you’ll find new narrative possibilities—and bump up your writing skills a notch.
SENTENCE-LEVEL STYLE AND EDITING WORKSHOP
SATURDAYS, FEBRUARY 25 — MARCH 18, 10am-12:30pm
Students who took The Long and the Short of It: Sentence-Level Style and Editing asked for a follow-up workshop, so here it is. We’ll dig deeply into revision in this four-week workshop, working intensively with the elements of style and editing our work in ways that are objective, experimental, and even ruthless. We’ll play with sentence structure, rhythm and flow, schemes and tropes, and more, keeping in mind how all of these things affect meaning, suspense, and characterization.
This workshop is open to all writers of fiction and nonfiction, but completion of the six-week Long and the Short of It course (which precedes this workshop) is strongly recommended.