Morning workshops

Our intimate and interactive workshops are restricted to fourteen participants, with the exception of the Master Class which is limited to twelve. Participants will follow their instructors for three mornings, Thursday through Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Enrollment for all workshops is first-come, first-served, with the exception of the Master Class which entails a juried entry. Like scholarships, Master Class applications are accepted early, from January 1-February 15. General registration for all other morning workshops opens on March 1. Participants in all workshops will be expected to submit work in the workshop genre by July 1 and to read and comment on the work of others. Submission guidelines will be supplied upon enrollment.

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master class: The Art of Fiction

Writing is best when it’s an act of discovery and we’re able to make use of unexpected turns in our work. As Bernard Malamud once said, “A writer has to surprise himself to be worth reading.” In this workshop, we’ll introduce exercises that give us opportunities for surprise, prying us from our predetermined outlines and syntactic ruts. The submissions of each participant will guide our discussions of various technical and artistic issues as well. Elizabeth McKenzie, National Book Award nominee, will share her observations as both a writer and an editor on the art of fiction.


The craft of Novel-Writing

The ultimate goal of a novelist is to write something that feels sublime and inevitable. The creation process of every novel is unique, but there are key elements to be explored and understood: the creation of complex and profound characters, setting that is both vibrant and meaningful, and a plot that grows organically from the characters you create. In this workshop with Shanthi Sekaran, we will engage with each other’s work and with sections of published novels in order to understand the craft of novel-writing, and the relationship between the writer and writing.  

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The Facets of Short Fiction

In this workshop with Vanessa Hua, finalist for the California Book Award, we’ll examine the building blocks of fiction—such as dialogue, setting, and point of view—through discussion, in-class writing exercises, and by looking at examples from published short stories, making this suitable for writers of all levels. We’ll also workshop a short story from each participant and discuss revision and publication strategies in a constructive, encouraging environment.

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The Magic of mg/ya novels

Writing for middle school or young adult readers is akin to  going on a roller coaster ride of emotion. But it is those very moments of intense feeling—the spirited, moody, misunderstood, cavalier dreamer self—that we will channel as we delve into the art of writing for young readers. In this workshop with Guadalupe Garcia McCall, we will read excerpts from award-winning MG/YA books, discuss what works in these samples as well as in our own shared work, and access that part of ourselves that we’ve never outgrown, much less forgotten.

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The Heart and Craft of Memoir Writing

When you write a memoir, you must bring everything you have to it—your past, your present, and their shadows. You must put your heart on the page, but you also have to create a world for the reader with a universal message. In this workshop with Linda Joy Myers, we will talk about truth, family, the inner critic, and your passion to write. And we’ll explore the skills that memoir writers need: the ability to find a theme, write powerful scenes, create an arc, and distill a takeaway.


Why and How Poetry Works

Great poetry is a combination of talent and the learned techniques that bring talent to the forefront. The goal of this workshop with Indigo Moor, Sacramento’s Poet Laureate, is to help you discover your strengths, your weaknesses and to teach you how to make your poetry move in your intended ways. To achieve these goals, we will concentrate on strong beginnings, balancing image to statement, and stronger endings. We will workshop participants’ poems, examine poetry by contemporary poets, and perform short exercises.

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In this workshop with Elizabeth Rosner we will consider and practice effective strategies for enhancing your non-fiction prose. By borrowing some techniques of fiction and poetry, we will explore a variety of methods for enlivening voice, integrating research, and developing your most original and compelling work. This workshop will include a combination of generative exercises, model excerpts, and manuscript discussion.

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The Business of Show: Successful Screenwriting

This class with seasoned producer, screenwriter and novelist Nina Sadowsky will provide an in-depth view of writing for film and television.  The mixture of lecture, in-class exercises and workshopping of participants’ material will reveal how material is pitched, developed and produced in Hollywood; give an overview of television and film story structure and craft; as well as provide tips for successful screenwriting that are also applicable to other genres. This workshop is sponsored by Humanitas.

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EMERGING WRITERS’ workshop: Your Voice, Your Story

Every author whose work we love has a unique voice, one rooted in their experiences, interests, and skills. But beginners often struggle with finding the early notes of their own voice amid all the influences of established authors. In this workshop, Jason S. Ridler will lead fun exercises and give short lectures to help you recognize the elements in your stories that shine. Manuscript critiques with instruction on craft and the key elements of narrative will help you find your voice—and it will be fun!