Seminars

Online Seminars

Spring 2024
Applications Are Currently Closed
Cost:
$600
Program

Our online seminars comprise six 2.5 hour sessions limited to no more than twenty participants. Writers will meet in a supportive environment to discuss assigned readings, learn craft, and develop accountability systems to support their completion of a manuscript or collection.

A mix of craft lectures and generative exercises, writers will be encouraged to ask questions, share problems within their manuscripts, produce and share work during sessions as well as engage in thoughtful craft discourse.

Participants will leave with a greater understanding of craft, supportive peers, and possible solutions to their manuscript’s toughest problems.

This is not a critique-focused workshop. Instructors will not be required to critique participants’ work outside of class or provide letters. Participants will be encouraged to share and receive feedback during sessions. 

Our hope is to provide a unique community-building opportunity for writers to learn and grow that it is not solely based on critiquing each other.

 

In an effort to continue to support our community, alums will have access to select panels with publishing professionals throughout the year. The tuition covers the entire cost of these post-seminar offerings.

 

 

Seminars

Planning a Novel with Jeanne Thornton

Genre: Fiction

Date: Saturdays

April 20, April 27, May 4th, May 18th & June 1, June 15

Time: 9 AM – 11:30 AM PST/ 12 – 2:30 PM EST

Planning a Novel is a seminar designed to take you from the loose impulse for a novel to a solid outline and vivid first act. Over six weeks, we’ll build out from whatever starting point each student chooses—a genre, a setting, a character concept, a theme, a line of music—to distinct and felt characters, a sense of unique voice and perspective, and the beginnings of conflict that will help determine the novel’s overall shape. We’ll do journaling assignments designed to help us clarify and reflect on our story and make clear choices to shape it, as well as set and work to meet accountability goals (word count or otherwise.) We’ll also read pieces of theory and criticism that will help define and suggest different potential forms a narrative might take. In the end, each student should leave the seminar with substantial writing toward a novel’s “first act”—the crucial pages that connect with readers and teach them how to read the book, as well as a plan for reaching a finished, thoughtful draft.

View the syllabus

 

Character Craft in YA Fiction with Nova Ren Suma

Genre: Fiction

Date: Sundays

April 21, May 5th, May 19th & June 2, June 16, June 30th

Time: 11:00 AM – 1:30 PM PST/ 2 – 4:30 PM EST

Teenage protagonists can be such fickle creatures. Sometimes they get away from us. Sometimes they stare back at us stone-faced and refuse to engage, let alone reveal their secrets. This online writing seminar taught by New York Times bestselling YA author Nova Ren Suma is for those who want to go beneath the surface and delve into writing riveting character-driven stories for the young adult space.This generative fiction seminar will be held over six sessions in Zoom, meeting twice a month for three months. Each session is themed and aims to offer tools that will aid YA writers in embodying compelling and complex young characters and building organic plots that stem from these characters’ wants, fears, histories, and needs. In-class exercises, spotlights on excerpted reading, and writing prompts will focus on elements of character craft such as voice, perspective, motivation, specificity, coming of age, and transformation. There will be multiple opportunities for volunteers to speak about process and share new work aloud with the group, creating a community during our time together.

Writers should come to the first session with a YA project and a character already in mind who you’d like to deepen and explore. You can be at any stage of the writing process—first-drafting or revising a novel, imagining the early bits of a story—so long as you’re open to generating fresh scenes and possible new story avenues during our time together. All experience levels and all genres of YA and YA-crossover are welcome.

View the syllabus

 

Fiction Revision as an Act of Radical Love with Reena Shah
Genre: Fiction
Date: Saturdays
May 4th, May 18th, June 1st, June 15th, June 29th, July 13th
Time: 9 AM – 11:30 AM PST/ 12  – 2:30 PM EST

Revision is perhaps the part of the writing process least discussed. It’s also, in Kiese Laymon’s view, an act of love (“We revisit what we love.”). Using this principle, we will work together to revise a short story or novel excerpt from beginning to end. Regardless of whether the work is a 2nd draft or a 6th, the goal is to be open, take risks, and make significant changes. We will talk about our intentions for a specific story or novel excerpt, what we love about it, as well as the problems we’re encountering. We’ll move from global revision techniques, such as outlining cause and effect and diagraming character arcs and conflict, to more surgical shifts, like rewriting a scene from a different perspective and reworking the rhythm of our sentences. We will also read, watch, and listen to texts and videos from writers like Peter Ho Davies, Kiese Laymon, Mat Bell, and Garielle Lutz, among others, with plenty of time to discuss, ask questions, and write together.

My goal for you is to 1) have a full short story or novel excerpt revision by the last session and 2) leave the seminar with new revision techniques for future drafts and work. The last session will include a reading of revised sections—it might be a scene, the opening, the ending—with the aim of showcasing and celebrating our work. This is not a critique workshop, rather a deep dive into sustained revision that approaches the process with more love, more play, and less fear.

These 2.5 hour-sessions include two 10-minute breaks on the hour or one 15-20-minute break midway. Readings will be delivered at least 1 week prior to a scheduled session. As a group, we can continually add readings to a course library.

View the syllabus

Collaging the Personal Essay with Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Genre: Nonfiction
Date: Saturdays
May 4th, May 11th, May 18th, May 25th, June 1, June 8th
Time: 9 AM – 11:30 AM PST/ 12  – 2:30 PM EST

This virtual seminar will investigate the way that contemporary essayists approach questions of structure. At the same time, we will conduct a very amateur investigation into how collagists approach their work by exploring the work of a new collage artist every week. In order to borrow from collage as a frame for thinking about the writing process, you will be invited to use scraps, scissors, and glue every week to play with visual elements of collage. Participants will sign up to give one presentation each on a collage artist or collage-related idea and synthesize this topic with the essay forms we’ve encountered that week, including at least one writing prompt. My hope is that, regardless of your comfort level with visual art/crafting coming into the class, over time we will all build some level of trust in our own ability to use visual techniques to conceptualize of essay structures we’re interested in using ourselves. As we consider the work of essayists and artists, we will begin drafting essays of our own.

View the syllabus

Faculty

Aisha Sabatini Sloan

Aisha Sabatini Sloan was born and raised in Los Angeles. Her writing about race and current events is often coupled with analysis of art, film, and pop culture. She studied English literature at Carleton College and went on to earn an MA in cultural studies and studio art from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at NYU and an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Arizona. She is the author of the essay collections The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White and Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit. With her father, she is the author of Captioning the Archives, a conversation through image and text. She is a recipient of the 2018 CLMP Firecracker Award for Creative Nonfiction and a 2020 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship. She teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan.

A headshot of a person with shoulder length brown hair looking at the camera

Jeanne Thornton

Jeanne Thornton is the author of Summer Fun, winner of the Lambda Literary Award, as well as The Black Emerald, The Dream of Doctor Bantam, and A/S/L (forthcoming 2024.) Her work has appeared in n+1, WIRED, the Evergreen Review, Harpers' Bazaar, and other places. She is the coeditor, with Tara Madison Avery, of We're Still Here: An All Trans Comics Anthology, and the copublisher of Instar Books. More information is available at http://jeannethornton.com

Nova Ren Suma

Nova Ren Suma is a New York Times bestselling author of young adult novels and a two-time Edgar Award finalist. Her novel A Room Away from the Wolves was an Edgar Award finalist and called “shiver-inducingly delicious” by the New York Times. Her other novels include the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us as well as Imaginary Girls and more, and she was co-editor of the story & writing craft anthology FORESHADOW: Stories to Celebrate the Magic of Reading & Writing YA. She is a MacDowell fellow and a Yaddo fellow and has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. She’s taught creative writing in the Writing for Children & Young Adults MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, Columbia University, and currently at the University of Pennsylvania, and she’s led novel-focused workshops and retreats at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Highlights Foundation, Fine Arts Work Center’s 24PearlStreet online workshop program, the Tin House YA Fiction Workshop, and elsewhere. Her next YA novel is forthcoming from Algonquin YR. For more: www.novaren.com

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 reenadshah.com and on twitter (while it lasts) @reenashah.

Applying

Applicants will be accepted on a rolling basis. 

We ask for a short unpublished writing sample of 2,000 words or less. In addition to the writing sample, the application includes several questions. 

Applicants must be 21 years of age to apply.

International writers  are welcome and encouraged to apply. 

All applications are evaluated through the lens of our Core Values. 

There is no application fee.

Financial Assistance

SCHOLARSHIP DEADLINE EXTENDED

The deadline for scholarship consideration is April 12th. 

Payment plans are available for admitted participants. We  are willing to work out a payment plan that best meets your needs. While seminar scholarships are merit-based and do not require financial disclosures, we ask our community to be mindful of the opportunities they can and cannot afford to pay for and apply accordingly.