Writers on Craft

Do you long to dive more deeply into your characters? Are you in need of some new methods to invite the reader into your work? Do you wish to get over your fear of dialogue? Do you want to write at the intersection of the personal and the political? Have you always wished you understood the poetic line? Please join our favorite Writing By Writers faculty members online on Monday nights as we offer two-hour topic-specific craft seminars in character, structure, dialogue, and all the elements of style and storytelling. Choose your favorites or sign up for the whole series. Classes will be offered via Zoom and capped at 20 participants. More writers being added.

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Joe Wilkins - Best Smiling
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Amy Irvine Headshot
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John M
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
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Paul Lisicky
Chip Livingston foto
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headshotroberts2
Kate_edited
Joe Wilkins - Best Smiling
Author photo 2013 copy
author photo sweater_credit_John Ricard
Amy Irvine Headshot
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John M
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
ginger-gaffney
Paul Lisicky
Chip Livingston foto
lidia authorphoto1
pamnew
Aimee_NezhukmatathilBlack-240x360_edited

The Architecture of Story with Sunil Yapa

Online Seminar - $75

October 12, 5:00pm - 7:00pm PDT

Class Full

Story structure is a taboo subject in a discussion of literary fiction, and yet is all too often our greatest stumbling block. Ever started what you hoped would be a long project only to get stuck on page 42? 30? 15? In this craft seminar we will identify what makes a story go and what makes it keep going. (Hint: it ain't plot!)  Using examples from novels, short stories, films, and tv shows, we will explore the process of dramatic structure and story engines; you’ll leave the course with the  high octane tools you need to write your own long form project.

Sunil Yapa’s debut novel  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner award and was named one of the best books of 2016 by Amazon, Time Magazine, The Washington Post, Bustle, and others.  The novel was described as "fast-paced and unflinching" by The New Yorker, "a genuine tour-de-force" by the Seattle Times, and “a shot across the bows of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom and Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Garden...” The Spectator (UK).  The winner of the 2010 Asian American short story award, Yapa’s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in American Short Fiction, Guernica, O Magazine, Poets & Writers, The Margins, Hyphen, Slice, LitHub and others. He has studied at the London Film School, UCLA Extension for Television & Film, and holds an MFA in fiction from CUNY Hunter.  He lives in New York City, freelances as a manuscript editor, and teaches fiction both online and in the low residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada University in Lake Tahoe.

Flash Fiction with Kate Wisel

Online Seminar - $75

October 26, 5:00pm - 7:00pm PDT

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Writing a piece of flash fiction is like standing on the three-state spot: in 1,000 words or less you are employing the concision of poetry to tell a short story that evokes a world with the breadth of a Proustian novel. Out of breath? Good! Flash moves quickly. But it’s not as impossible as it sounds. The elements utilized in flash are crucial for any form of fiction: crisp language, world-building, character development, plot turns and conflict. So how do we get it all? Think of those tiny houses on HGTV. Constraints make room for innovation. It is possible to make a lot with a little. In this class, we will look at a series of micro pieces from flash masters to discuss livewire and framing devices. With assigned prompts, we will explore various structural limitations that can spark sudden and deep truths, all while containing them. This session will also offer tactics for ruthless revising and tips on how to submit flash fiction in today’s market. Participants are asked to bring notecards, a pen and paper for in-session generating. 

Kate Wisel is the author of Driving in Cars with Homeless Men, winner of the 2019 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, selected by Min Jin Lee. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in publications that include Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast, Tin House online, Los Angeles Review, New Ohio Review, The Best Small Fictions 2019, Norton Anthology: Flash Fiction America, Redivider (as winner of the Beacon Street Prize), and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the “Poetry on the T” prize and the Marcia Keach Prize. She was a Carol Houck fiction fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and awarded scholarships at The Wesleyan Writer’s Conference, the Squaw Valley Writer’s Workshop, the Juniper Institute, Writing x Writer’s at Tomales Bay and Methow Valley and elsewhere. She lives in Chicago where she teaches at Columbia College Chicago and Loyola University. 

Literary Voice: The Never-ending Pursuit of Eloquence with Mitchell S. Jackson

Online Seminar - $75

November 2, 5:00pm - 7:00pm PDT

Class Full

One of the most effective ways in prose to, as Susan Sontag says, “preserve the works of the mind against oblivion,” is to craft an eloquent voice. But before one can do that, one must know what is meant by an eloquent voice. In this seminar, we will define literary voice and identify its most prevalent aspects: diction, syntax, acoustics, and visual logic included. As well, we will discuss philosophies on why voice is important. The seminar will also include discussion on the cultural and historical factors involved in shaping a literary voice. It will furthermore cover several rhetorical tools used to compose an eloquent voice. We will read published exemplars to foster a critical discussion of the context, philosophies, and tools presented in the seminar. Finally, we will complete a writing exercise with an eye towards applying the tools discussed.

Mitchell S. Jackson’s debut novel The Residue Years received wide critical praise. Jackson is the winner of a Whiting Award. His novel also won The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for The Center for Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the Hurston / Wright Legacy Award. His honors include fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN America, TED, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Center for Fiction. His writing has been featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, Time Magazine, and Esquire Magazine, as well as in The New Yorker, Harpers, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, The Guardian, The Washington Post Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and elsewhere. His nonfiction book Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family was published in the spring of 2019 and named a best book of the year by fifteen publications, including NPR, Time Magazine, The Paris Review, The Root, Kirkus Reviews, and Buzzfeed. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Chicago.

Yell Fire: How to Write Like Our Lives Depend on It, Because They Do with Amy Irvine

Online Seminar - $75

November 9, 5:00pm - 7:00pm PDT

Class Full

This year, the world as we knew it changed. What stories do we tell now, and do we tell them differently? Might we modify the story we were writing to meet this moment? And will anyone respond if we sound the alarm? In this workshop, participants will learn how to choose between urgent stories and timeless ones--or make them one in the same. We'll craft clarion calls. We'll discern what fuel, in these perilous times, ignites readers' hearts rather than extinguishes them. And we'll excavate epiphanies--the incendiary kind with the fire power to change the world.

Amy Irvine is a sixth-generation Utahn and long-time public lands activist. Her work has appeared in Orion, The Pacific Standard, Climbing, High Desert Journal, Triquarterly, Rock & Ice, Columbia Journal and more. Her memoir, Trespass: Living at the Edge of the Promised Land, received the Orion Book Award, the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, and Colorado Book Award. Her essay "Spectral Light," which appeared in Orion Magazine and The Best Science & Nature Writing series, was a finalist for the Pen Award in Journalism, and her recent essay in The Pacific Standard, "Conflagrations: Motherhood, Madness and a Planet on Fire," appeared among the 2017 Best American Essays' list of Notables.
She teaches in the Mountainview Low-Residency MFA Program of Southern New Hampshire University, in the White Mountains of New England; she also speaks and teaches in writing workshops across the continent. She lives off-the-grid in southwest Colorado, just spitting distance from her Utah homeland.

Layers of Landscape with Joe Wilkins

Online Seminar - $75

November 23, 5:00pm - 7:00pm PDT

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Though we live in a world chock full of chain restaurants and department stores, on-screen communications, and cross-country airplane travel, we ignore the power of place at our own psychological and, increasingly, physical peril. Truly, place and landscape are active forces in all our lives. They shape and re-shape us; they offer us foundation and refuge; they challenge us to be good citizens of our biotic and built communities. In life and in writing, we ought to be aware of this; we ought to try to understand and harness the power of place. This session offers writers four ways they might begin to do just that. Participants are asked to bring a pen and paper or a laptop computer for in-session writing.

Joe Wilkins is the author of a novel, Fall Back Down When I Die, praised as “remarkable and unforgettable” in a starred review at Booklist and short-listed for the First Novel Award from the Center For Fiction and the Pacific Northwest Book Award. His memoir, The Mountain and the Fathers, won a GLCA Emerging Writers Award, an honor that has previously recognized early work by Alice Munro, Richard Ford, and Louise Erdrich. Wilkins is also the author of four poetry collections, most recently Thieve and When We Were Birds, winner of the 2017 Oregon Book Award in Poetry, and his work has appeared in a host of the nation’s leading magazines and literary journals, including The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, Harvard Review, Orion, Copper Nickel, TriQuarterly, Ecotone, The Sun, and High Country News. As the winner of the Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency from PEN Northwest, he and his family spent the summer and fall of 2015 living in a remote cabin in the Klamath Mountains along the Rogue River in southwest Oregon. Wilkins serves on the faculty of Eastern Oregon University’s Low Residency MFA Program, and he has taught at a number of writers festivals and workshops, including the Breadloaf Environmental Writers’ Workshop, Fishtrap, and Orion in the Wilderness.Wilkins now lives with his family in the foothills of the Coast Range of western Oregon, where he directs the creative program at Linfield College

Turning Your Trips Into Tales: The Art of Travel Writing with Suzanne Roberts

Online Seminar - $75

November 30, 5:00pm - 7:00pm PDT

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Have you ever wondered how to become a travel writer? If so, this generative workshop will help you write about your journeys and adventures, past and future. We’ll discuss different kinds of travel writing opportunities, as well as how to craft an effective travel piece. Topics covered will include keeping a travel journal; sensory detail in setting; the use of effective dialogue; and the development of action and arc. 

Suzanne Roberts is the author of the travel essay collection Bad Tourist: Misadventures in Love and Travel (University of Nebraska Press, October 2020) and the memoir Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail (winner of the National Outdoor Book Award), as well as four books of poems. Named "The Next Great Travel Writer" by National Geographic's Traveler, Suzanne's work has been listed as notable in Best American Essays and included in The Best Women's Travel Writing. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, CNN, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, The Rumpus, Hippocampus, The Normal School, River Teeth, and elsewhere. She holds a doctorate in literature and the environment from the University of Nevada-Reno and teaches for the low residency MFA program in Creative Writing at Sierra Nevada University. She served as the 2018-2020 El Dorado County Poet Laureate and currently lives in South Lake Tahoe, California. 

More writers being added each week. Check back often for new craft seminars!

REGISTRATION INFORMATION & CANCELLATION POLICY: When you register you will receive an immediate confirmation email with the zoom link. If you do not receive this please check your junk mail folder. If it is not there, send an email to info@writingxwriters.org and we will confirm your registration. Please note, we DO NOT record the craft seminars. If you cancel your registration more than 48 hours before the start time of the seminar, you will receive a full refund. If you cancel within 48 hours of the start time, we will refund you based on our ability to refill your spot. To cancel please send an email to info@writingxwriters.org. 

Our Mission

To create a rigorous and compassionate environment to learn the art of reading and writing from accomplished authors.

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PO Box 1271

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info@writingxwriters.org