I just keep trying to make something out of words that you’d think couldn’t be made out of words.
~ Deborah Eisenberg
LOFT WRITING WORKSHOPS (ongoing. on zoom.)
Please, email me for details! I would love to welcome you to the writers’ room.
There are no fixed rules you must follow to get your story onto the page, but there are craft tools that can help to make your work rise up. First off, you have to want to do it, you must have confidence to dive in and try things out (making mistakes and discoveries along the way), and you must have the tenacity to keep going. I don’t know about you, but I find a group of writers helps me with accountability, with gaining new perspective on the work, and with striving to do my very best. In these multi-genre workshops we will utilize our writing tools: structure, setting, conflict, characterization, dialog, compelling stakes, true sentences, precise details, meaningful action, and embrace revision, all in the service of creating unique and shining stories/memoirs that compel our readers to turn the page.
In each workshop we may do a bit of generative writing together, we may look at some work in the world, but the bulk of our time will be spent discussing peer work in supportive and critical conversations. Whether you are working on short stories, memoir, personal essay, or have a longer project in mind, you’ll get thoughtful responses.
I run multiple (zoom) workshops and offer both morning and evening sessions. If you’re interested, shoot me an email and I will help find the best fit for your schedule and your work.
Saturday, May 28th, from 10:30am-1:30pm (EST) On Zoom
Many writers come to writing from a love of reading—the pleasure of being pulled out of the real world and plunged into the world of a story—only to discover how difficult it is to replicate that magic feeling. In this workshop, we’ll explore the tricks our favorite writers employ to create immersive fiction and nonfiction, and how we can borrow them to enhance our own work.
We will close-read excerpts from authors like Michelle Zauner, Saaed Jones, Deborah Levy, Louise Erdrich, and Samantha Hunt to study their use of movement, scene, and summary, dialogue, conflict, imagery, and character revelations. We’ll also launch into prompts and share what we come up with. Students will come away from the seminar with a new set of tools to read with an eye for craft, and encouragement to mark up the margins of their favorite books as they converse with the work inside.
6 Saturdays from 2:30pm to 5:30pm (EST), starting June 4th. On Zoom
- June 4, 2022, 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- June 11, 2022, 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- June 18, 2022, 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- July 2, 2022, 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- July 9, 2022, 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- July 16, 2022, 2:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Whether you want to expand your knowledge, experiment with new forms, or just produce fresh work, this fun, intensive class will give you the opportunity, over six weeks, to write six new short stories (300 to 1000 words) and/or write new material as a basis for longer work. Each week, through a series of directed, in-class writing exercises you will explore plot, form, character, theme, setting, and language. Students will bring copies of their completed stories to class each week where they will read them aloud and receive on-the-spot feedback in brief workshop sessions. Classes will also include craft discussions and reading of contemporary, published stories that will serve as models for analysis.
Sat, July 9 and 16 from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm (PDT) On Zoom
How to handle time can be challenging to master when writing in any genre. When should we slow down and dwell in a scene? When should we summarize and move rapidly through weeks, years, or even decades? Should we go back in time to unpack and understand a character’s motivation? How does the manipulation of time, the unfolding of events, work in a short story, a novel, or in memoir?
This workshop will explore how writers bend time to create different narrative effects. We will read work by Tessa Hadley, Rachel Cusk, Sally Rooney, Toni Morrison, John Cheever and others, as well as look at examples from TV shows and films such as Ted Lasso,Atlanta, and The Lost Daughter. After the discussion, we’ll work together on a long prompt, expanding and contracting time to see how we can effectively control time when telling our own stories.
STAY TUNED for more information:
I Know You So Well: Building Characters in Fiction and Nonfiction- Remote!
July 2022, date and time TBD. On Zoom
We’ve all heard the chestnut that good writing is character driven, but what does that mean exactly? Full and complex characters create and push forward all the meaningful action in a story. If you want your readers to be thinking about your people (even if that person is you) long after they finish your novel, story, or memoir, you must develop characters that the reader can root for, that rise up off the page.
In this workshop we will take a deep dive into how to write full and compelling characters. We will look at protagonists, as well as at secondary characters and the important jobs they have in making a story come to life.
Through published examples and in-class writing exercises, we will explore contradictions, desires, physical details, habits, tics, and other ways to make our characters live and breathe.
STAMP COLLECTING/ Another Approach to Memoir Writing
September 10 and 17, Saturdays, 10 to 1:00 p.m On Zoom
Do you think in lengthy narrative strands, elegantly formed with a beginning, middle and an end? I don’t. I flit from image, to feeling, to recrimination, to joy. Light flickers over my memories, both happy and hard. I call these messy memories ‘stamps,’ events or moments that have imprinted upon me in unshakeable ways.
In this workshop we will mimic our thinking on the page. We’ll write short pieces from our lives using strong storytelling techniques to enliven specific moments that changed us. We won’t be writing anecdotes, the funny stories we may tell a friend on a walk or a seatmate on a long flight. We will be writing the stories from our lives that haunt us, with joy and sorrow and growth. Finally, we will look at how to arrange these stamps from our lives into a long narrative that tells the complex story of you.
The workshop will include writing samples (Beth Ann Fennelly, Natasha Tretheway, Michelle Zauner, Nick Flynn, Anne-Marie Oomen, Kiese Laymon, + more) discussions, prompt responses, and sharing our work.
LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN ON THE WAY OUT/Endings in fiction
WEDNESDAYS, SEPTEMBER 14 AND 21, time and place TBD
We’re all familiar with satisfying story shape, the arc of a story that follows the pattern of jokes and sex—the inciting incident, rising action, crisis and the falling action. Yet sometimes this pattern can leave a story flat, without room for wonder.
If a story leads exactly where you would expect it to go, then both the writer and the reader have discovered nothing. How do we expand our well-behaved, satisfying stories to fully burst into the mystery and unpredictability of human experience? In this workshop we will look at a few endings to short stories by Anton Chekov, Alice Munro, James Joyce, Charles Baxter, Tessa Hadley, ZZ Packer, Carmen Maria Machado, and others, for ways they use time, imagery, dialog, and omission to open wide the close of their stories.
Close examination of any craft issue is crucial for all writers. Endings are so mysterious. We often sit at our desks and wonder, have we reached it? is it fulfilling? Does the ending turn around and shine a light over the entire story? This discussion class will hopefully give participants the tools to examine great stories for the mystery of the successful ending and then apply what they’ve gleaned to their own work.