Breaking Writer’s Block
Single session; short writing. Do you have a writing idea that’s struggling to get out? Has a project stalled partway through and now needs a jump start? Through a mix of exercises and supportive discussion, we’ll help each other break through typical blocks and move ahead.
Donner Party Presentation (Meet the Author)
Interactive; no writing. Bring the Donner Party story to your library, classroom, or organization in a unique way. Inspired by my award-winning book The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party, this visually rich PowerPoint program immerses you in the saga and tells how I researched the book. You’ll be assigned a Donner Party member identity at the start – and will discover by the end whether your character survived. Includes Q&A time. Can be tailored from one to two hours.
First Draft Fever: Introduction to Creative Writing
Multi-week; write in class. My core workshop will help you create rich first drafts in any genre. We write “in the moment,” either in response to exercises or on work-in-progress. We read our new work aloud or not, as we wish, and respond as careful listeners rather than competitors or critics. If time and interest allows, we can develop our pieces further for more detailed discussion by the group. Writers of all ages and experience levels are welcome.
From Anecdote to Story
Multi-week; write in class. Are you good at writing sketches, but not sure if they add up to a scene or a story? Would you like to boost the emotion quotient (EQ) and free your work from dry descriptions? Through exercises, we’ll practice ways to “thicken up” our writing. Especially suited to writers of fiction and memoir.
Leaving a Legacy: Family and Organizational Histories
Single session; no writing. If you don’t tell your story, who will? Learn how to start and what’s involved in capturing the history of your family or organization for posterity. We’ll cover content, research methods, formats, use of outside writers and editors, publishing possibilities, and more.
Life-Writing and Memoir: Mining Your Raw Material
Single session; short writing. Regardless of your age, everyone has a lifetime’s worth of experiences that can fuel great memoirs, short stories, and novels. Through a unique life-writing exercise, we’ll begin mining this gold. You’ll leave with a notebook full of inspiration.
Memoir Writing: Shape & Substance
Multi-week; write in class. Eager to start your memoir or expand and connect fragments you’ve already written? On this multi-week memoir adventure, we’ll use in-class exercises to delve deeper into our inner material. We’ll also explore ways to structure your memoir as a collection of essays or a book, using published memoirs as examples.
The Ode Less Traveled: Poetry in Forms
Multi-week; write in class. A diverting alternative to the usual poetry class! Guided by Stephen Fry’s book, we’ll create our own poems written in forms (not in free verse). Poetry experience is welcome but definitely not necessary. Bring your love of language and wordplay, and the desire to try your hand at haiku, pantoums, ballads, sonnets, villanelles, pattern poems, acrostics, and more.
Playwright for a Day
Single session; write in class. Play with playwriting! Draft a monologue and a one-minute play for instant performance and supportive feedback. No experience necessary. A great way for poets and prose writers to experiment with a new form.
Publishing 101 for Creative Writers
Single session; no writing. Get the whole publishing picture in one quick but intensive sitting. Explore the three current paths to book publishing (mainstream, print/ebook on demand, and true self-publishing). We’ll also discuss literary agents, the use of outside editors, and more. I leave plenty of time for Q&A and discussion of individual projects.
Writing Great Dialogue & Scenes
Multi-week; write in class. Strong dialogue and coherent scenes form the backbone of plays, fiction, and memoir. We’ll analyze examples by master writers including Tennessee Williams, Aaron Sorkin and Toni Morrison, then use creative prompts to craft our own.
Writing in Real Time
Multi-week; write in class. Find instant gratification in this experimental and non-judgmental workshop. You’ll come away with at least four poems (week one), a short-short story (week two), one memoir scene (week three), one play scene (week four), and a work in the format of your choice (optional week five). All of these will be first-drafted in class, without homework.
Writing Personal Essays
Multi-week; write in class; no homework outside of class. In the best essays, the personal becomes universal. We’ll frame our experiences and viewpoints by applying the basics of essay construction, all of which are within the reach of every writer. Short readings include work by master essayists such as E. B. White, Joan Didion, and David Sedaris.