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Craft Intensives

Craft Intensives

Winter 2023
Online Craft Intensives

We’re offering online classes year round! Taught by some of our favorite writers, these three-hour online classes combine close readings, practical advice, and in-class writing exercises.

If you’d like to be notified about our upcoming online programming, including lectures, multi-week workshops and craft intensives before they’re added to the website, sign up here!



Time is Our Mink: Strategies for Successfully Applying to Residencies with Jean Chen Ho

“I think writers are often terrifying to normal people—that is, to nonwriters in a capitalist system—for this reason: there is almost nothing they will not sell in order to have the time to write. Time is our mink, our Lexus, our mansion. In a room full of writers of various kinds, time is probably the only thing that can provoke widespread envy, more than acclaim.” (Alexander Chee, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel)

Time is a writer’s most precious commodity. This year, how will you make the time for your project? For many of us, writing time unfortunately comes last. More likely, our jobs, school, family and friends, etc. take precedence over our creative work. Ever wished for a way for writing to move up in your busy schedule? The answer may be an artist residency! Whether you retreat for a week or longer, the dedicated time and space of a residency will feed your writing and replenish your creative well.

In the process of writing Fiona and Jane, Jean Chen Ho was awarded several residencies, including The Mastheads, MacDowell, and Vermont Studio Center. In this one-day intensive, she will share her strategies for drafting your best artist statement, project description, and responses to other common application questions. Other topics of discussion: artist residency environments and how to choose the right one for you, costs and funding opportunities, and how to prepare for a fruitful time while in residence. This class is appropriate for writers of all levels who are interested in learning more about residency applications.


Don’t Let an Artist Statement Stop You!: Demystifying the Conference and Residency Application with Reena Shah

As residency, summer conference, and scholarship season approaches, every application wants an artist statement or a statement of purpose or a project summary or a “why you want to attend” short answer. Those requests can elicit all sorts of feelings in writers, especially anxiety and confusion. What are these things? Why are they important? Are they important? While the work—our stories, poems, plays, screenplays, creative nonfiction—is most important, the other sections of an application can make the process feel like an especially heavy lift.

As someone who has not only attended residencies, workshops, and retreats but also read applications for these opportunities, and experienced rejections, I hope to shed light on the process, offer strategies to help writers generate artist statements and project summaries that feel good instead of icky, and hopefully make the application feel more manageable and less stressful. We’ll also touch on how to select writing samples to submit, how to prepare once you get in, why applying again after a rejection is highly recommended, and funding opportunities.


Distinction in Voice as a Method of Storytelling with Jennifer Baker

Creators talk about “voice” frequently. When we think of artists like Sonia Sanchez, John Steinbeck, Helen Oyeyemi, or Gabriel García Márquez their voices are so assured, so very much theirs. But what exactly is it about voice that carries through each work? Through the reading of other voices, how do we find our own? How does the flow of one word into another through sentences or stanzas create a rhythm that’s representative of an author or specific to a narrator? In this craft intensive we’ll review works across genres to dissect how the narrative voice sounds and how POV frames a piece; what is imbued and extrapolated in the syntax, tone, and structure; and how voice helps present identity. Readings will be interspersed with the opportunity for participants to share their own writing for group discussion on the intention behind voice and the sounds we create in a particular work. 


Using Your Obsessions with Genevieve Hudson

Susan Sontag once said, “Never worry about being obsessive. I like obsessive people. Obsessive people make great art.” In her introduction to Touching Feeling, Eve Sedgwick wrote, “I’m fond of observing how obsession is the most durable form of intellectual capital.” This Craft Intensive examines the generative and critical function obsession plays in writing and the creative process. Through lecture, discussion, and generative writing, we’ll explore how infatuation fuels and sustains us through the blood, sweat, and time it takes to create art and literature. We will examine the following questions: Does writing our obsessions exorcise those obsessions from us? Can we dedicate ourselves to art if the subject doesn’t enthrall us? Why do we sometimes shirk the stuff that obsesses us instead of lean into it? We’ll experiment in form and play with structure and narrative strategy to see how to best fit our obsessions into the most effective literary containers. We’ll become captivated. We’ll develop fascinations and one-track minds. Students will leave with an understanding of how infatuation can fuel literary pursuits and frameworks for how they can channel their obsessions into something productive that drives their writing.


Clean As A Bone with Denne Michele Norris
Sunday, January 29 
3 PM – 6 PM PST/ 6 PM – 9 PM EST

James Baldwin said, “You want to write a sentence as clean as a bone. That is the goal.” The novelist Taiye Selasi (Ghana Must Go) often says that the only standards she holds herself to, when writing fiction, are truth and beauty. Through several close readings and writing exercises, this lecture will explore voice and lyricism, as well as examine what, really, is a clean sentence and what is the purpose of that cleanliness. Together we will shape sentences, personify characters, and ultimately refine the building blocks for writing that maximizes emotional and political heft in the writers’ quest toward writing truth, and writing it beautifully.

Sign-up here! 



Control and Abandon in Any Genre with Meredith Talusan
Saturday, February 25th
8 AM – 11 AM PST/ 11 AM – 2 PM EST

Any piece of effective writing must be written with enough abandon so words on the page feel alive, yet with enough control so that the work feels well-considered. This craft seminar will take participants through a series of exercises designed to promote greater spontaneity in their writing, then another set that allows writers to make controlled decisions as they refine their work. The hope is that by intensive’s end, participants will have not only started pieces they’re excited about, but also gained a clearer sense of how they can refine the elements of control and abandon in their writing process.

Sign-up here! 


The Things We Carry: Generating writing about everything we inherit with Vanessa Chan

This generative session will be focused on fiction, nonfiction, or the blurred space in between, about all the things we carry and inherit – from genetic material to family stories to trauma to transformative friendships, and how to use our inheritance to bring life to our writing. This class will examine all that is passed on to us – whether via our families or our chosen communities – and how we interpret what we have inherited and write about it in a way that feels truthful. This class is not meant to be a traumatic excavation, rather an interpretive exercise to access the things that make us (those things could be sad, humorous, ridiculous, joyful). We will read work from contemporary writers of color. Participants should leave with one or several beginnings of pieces addressing these themes of lineage, inheritance, ancestry, and history.



Trapped: Exploring Crucibles in Fiction with ’Pemi Aguda
Saturday, March 4th
9 AM – 12 PM PST/ 12 PM – 3 PM EST

In this craft intensive, we will explore moments in fiction where characters are restricted to a physical space and moment in time. What can this kind of imposed claustrophobia reveal about characters and their motivations? How do writers create compelling situations within the limitations of space and time? Along with some writing exercises, we will look at examples in short fiction, novels, and drama, to find what effect these frying pan moments can have on characterization, mood, tension, and momentum.

Sign-up here! 


Deepening Character with Lydia Conklin
Sunday, March 5th
12 – 3 PM PST / 3 – 6 PM EST

This session will explore ways to deepen character in fiction. We will take a look at a few brief novel excerpts from Jessamine Chan, Katie Kitamura, and Richard Yates, and discuss the ways these writers use propulsive interiority and high emotional stakes to bring characters alive. We will discuss roadblocks in character building and explore some tactics for deepening characters that are hard to access, using the sample texts as blueprints. The session will build to the execution of a developmental writing prompt using characters the participants have previously developed, and we will all share work with the group. Students will leave with a deeper understanding of how to deepen and enrich characters within their short stories and novels.

Sign-up here! 


All the Life that Surrounds Us: Inviting the Natural World into your Work with Talia Lakshmi Kolluri
Saturday, March 18th
11 AM – 2 PM PST/ 2 PM – 5 PM EST

In a world full of technology that separates us from the natural environment, how do we incorporate the vibrancy and variety of the natural world into our creative work? Is it important for the environment to be as richly rendered as our characters, and how do we accomplish this?

Using multi-genre excerpts, this generative workshop will explore techniques oriented towards breathing dynamic and complex life into natural settings, non-human characters, and journeys through the wild world. Students will leave with concrete tools they can use to immerse their characters, their subjects, and their readers in all the life that surrounds us.

Sign-up here! 


Wielding the Craft of Genre to Power Our Fiction with Gerardo Sámano Córdova
Saturday, March 25th
10 AM – 1 PM PST/ 1 PM – 4 PM EST

Why is a scary story so thrilling? A dinner-party mystery so satisfying? Or rom-coms so popular?

One thing (among many) that genre fiction writers know how to do is enchant us by building stories that move powerfully along. No wonder a great diversity of contemporary authors are diving into genre to give us deliciously complex stories while pushing the boundaries of what genre is and does.

In this craft intensive, we’ll explore genre techniques that will allow us to harness such power for our own stories, be they traditionally within a genre or not. We’ll discuss, pick apart, and play with a variety of horror, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, and romance tropes and structures in order to build stories from scratch, get us out of a rut, or imagine new and exciting ways our writing can power up. Come on a journey through a handful of wonderfully effective engines upon which our stories will build, transform, and transgress.

Sign-up here! 


Denne Michele Norris

Denne Michele Norris is the editor-in-chief of Electric Literature, winner of the 2022 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize. She is the first Black, openly trans woman to helm a major literary publication. A 2021 Out100 Honoree, her writing has been supported by MacDowell, Tin House, VCCA, and the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction, and appears in McSweeney’s, American Short Fiction, and ZORA. She is co-host of the critically-acclaimed podcast Food 4 Thot, and she resides in Harlem, where she is hard at work on her debut novel.

Headshot of a person with short blonde hair staring at the camera.

Genevieve Hudson

Genevieve Hudson is the author of the novel Boys of Alabama, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Their other books include the critical memoir A Little in Love with Everyone and Pretend We Live Here: Stories, which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist. Their work has appeared in ELLE, Oprah Daily, LA Review of Books, Bomb, Bookforum, No Tokens, McSweeney’s, Catapult, and other places. They have received fellowships from the Fulbright Program, MacDowell, Caldera Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. They live in Portland, Oregon.

A person wearing glasses with a beard smiling at the camera.

Gerardo Sámano Córdova

Gerardo Sámano Córdova is a writer and artist from Mexico City. He holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. His first novel, Monstrilio, about a boy who transforms into a monster, a monster who tries to be a man, and the people who love him in every form he takes, comes out March 2023. Gerardo has studied at Bread Loaf as a work/study scholar and at Tin House. His work has appeared in The Common, Ninth Letter, Passages North, Chicago Quarterly Review, and others. He’s also been known to draw little creatures.

Jean Chen Ho

Jean Chen Ho is the author of Fiona and Jane (Viking 2022). Her writing appears in New York Times Magazine, The Cut, Electric Literature, Los Angeles Times, Georgia Review, GQ, Harper's Bazaar, Guernica, and elsewhere. Jean is a doctoral candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at USC, where she is a Dornsife Fellow in fiction. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Jean has received scholarships from Kundiman, VONA, the Tin House Workshop, Napa Valley Writers Conference, Community of Writers, and Bread Loaf. She has been awarded residencies to Hedgebrook, the I-Park Foundation, MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, and the Mastheads. She was a 2019-20 W.M. Keck and George & Arlene Cheng Research Fellow at the Huntington Library, where she worked on an archival project on gender and racial violence in 19th-century Los Angeles Chinatown. Jean is a board member at Kaya Press, an independent publisher of experimental writing from the Asian Pacific Islander diaspora. Born in Taiwan and raised in Southern California, she currently lives in Los Angeles.

Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional of 20 years, the creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and faculty member of the MFA program in creative nonfiction at Bay Path University. In 2019, she was named Publishers Weekly Superstar for her contributions to inclusion and representation in publishing. Jennifer is also the editor of the BIPOC-short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life (Atria Books, 2018) and the author of the forthcoming novel Forgive Me Not (Putnam BFYR, 2023). Her fiction, nonfiction, and criticism has appeared in various print and online publications. Her website is:

Lydia Conklin

Lydia Conklin has received a Stegner Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, three Pushcart Prizes, a Creative Writing Fulbright in Poland, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, a Creative Writing Fellowship from Emory University, work-study and tuition scholarships from Bread Loaf, and fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, Djerassi, the James Merrill House, and elsewhere. Their fiction has appeared in Tin House, American Short Fiction, The Paris Review, One Story, and VQR. They have drawn cartoons for The New Yorker and Narrative Magazine, and graphic fiction for The Believer, Lenny Letter, and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago. Last year they served as the Helen Zell Visiting Professor in Fiction at the University of Michigan and they are currently an Assistant Professor of Fiction at Vanderbilt University. Their story collection, Rainbow Rainbow, was published by Catapult in North America and Scribner in the UK.

Meredith Talusan

Meredith Talusan is founding executive editor of them., Condé Nast’s first-ever platform devoted to the queer community. An award-winning journalist and author, Meredith has written features, essays, and opinion pieces for many publications including The Guardian, The New York Times, The Atlantic, VICE Magazine, WIRED, The Nation, Mic, BuzzFeed News, and The American Prospect. Her fiction is also published or forthcoming in GuernicaBoston ReviewEpochThe Rumpus, Grand, Catapult, and BLR. She is the recipient of the 2017 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism, and has contributed to many books, including the New York Times Bestselling Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture.


A person with round glasses wearing a white blouse looking at the camera.

’Pemi Aguda

’Pemi Aguda is from Lagos, Nigeria. W.W. Norton will publish her debut short story collection, Ghostroots, in early 2024 and her debut novel, The Suicide Mothers, in 2025. She was a 2022 MacDowell fellow, and is a graduate of the Helen Zell Writers' Program. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Zoetrope, Granta, ZYZZYVA,, American Short Fiction, and One Story.

Reena Shah

Reena Shah is a writer, editor, and teacher. Her work has appeared in The Masters Review, Midnight Breakfast, Electric Literature, Waxwing Magazine, Joyland, BBC, and National Geographic, among others. She is a Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State University and a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, and has received support from Millay Arts, Tin House, Sustainable Arts Foundation, Cuttyhunk Island Residency, and the Fulbright Foundation. She is also a senior fiction editor at The Rumpus. For many years she was a kathak dancer and public school teacher in New York and India. She is currently at work on a novel. You can reach her at and on twitter (while it lasts) @reenashah.

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Talia Lakshmi Kolluri

Talia Lakshmi Kolluri is a mixed South Asian American writer from Northern California. Her debut collection of short stories, What We Fed to the Manticore (Tin House 2022), is available now wherever books are sold. Her short fiction has been published in The Minnesota Review, Ecotone, Southern Humanities Review, The Common, One Story, Orion, Five Dials and others. A lifelong Californian, Talia lives in the Central Valley with her husband, a teacher and printmaker, and a very skittish cat named Fig.

Vanessa Chan

Vanessa Chan is the Malaysian author of THE STORM WE MADE (Jan. 2024), a novel, and THE UGLIEST BABIES IN THE WORLD, a story collection — both forthcoming from Scribner/Marysue Rucci Books. Her novel will be published in eighteen languages worldwide. Vanessa’s other work has been published in Electric Lit, Kenyon Review, Ecotone, and more, and she has received scholarship support from the Sewanee, Bread Loaf, and Tin House writers’ conferences. You can find her at


After submitting payment, you will receive an email with registration information.

Online Intensives are held on Zoom and you do not need a paid account to participate. We cap classes at 25 participants.

Classes will be recorded and participants will have access to recordings for one month.

We offer full refunds for class cancellation up until a week before the Intensive. After that date, we do not offer refunds.


We have a very limited number of scholarships available for the Intensives. If you are interested in putting your name in the lottery, please fill out this form. Please fill out a separate form for each class that you would like to attend.