SPRING 2017 – ALL CLASSES



SEMINARS


Two-Day Seminar: Getting to the Heart of Your Characters (taught by Scott O'Connor in Los Feliz) – SOLD OUT

Two Sundays
11:00 am to 2:00 pm

April 30 and
May 7, 2017

Character is the heart of story, but how do we create characters that come alive on the page, resonating with readers and grabbing their attention? During this intensive two-day seminar, we’ll explore what it takes to create unforgettable characters. Engaging from a variety of directions—voice, point of view, backstory, and motivation—we’ll help new characters come alive on the page and turn existing (and potentially difficult) characters into compelling players in your story.

We’ll also read authors who have a particular genius for creating vibrant, authentic characters. We’ll discuss their work, analyze their techniques, and find ways to apply those techniques to our own character-building process. Through writing exercises, we’ll shake up our ways of thinking about character and test some of the strategies we’ve learned. During the second meeting, participants will have the opportunity to workshop a piece of writing.

This seminar is open to students of all levels. It will be held in Los Feliz, where coffee, sparkling water, and light snacks will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$170 for new students; $150 for returning students

 

One-Day Seminar: Writing the Contemporary Fairy or Folk Tale (two sections taught by Francesca Lia Block in Culver City) 

Section 1:
May 6, 2017
1:00 to 5:00 pm
(SOLD OUT)

Section 2:
May 20, 2017
1:00 to 5:00 pm
(3 spots left)

 

This one-day seminar looks at the way traditional fairy and folk tales can inspire contemporary literature, as well as the differences between the two genres and between the postmodern protagonist and traditional hero or heroine. Using the folk tale research of Vladimir Propp, we will examine the plot elements of the traditional tale and see how they can be applied to contemporary stories. Setting, style, and theme will also be discussed through the work of Angela Carter and Anne Sexton. Students will create and/or revise their own fairy or folk tales (either a contemporary retelling of an existing tale or a story containing certain elements of the original). The overall emphasis of this course will be to use fairy tales as inspiration for writing the short story or novel and as a way to better understand the self.  

This seminar is open to students of all levels. It will be held in Culver City, where tea and sparkling water will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$130 for new students; $120 for returning students
 

 

Two-Day Seminar: Close to the Edge—Joan Didion’s Nonfiction (two sections taught by Bernard Cooper in Silver Lake)  

Two Saturdays
11:00 am to 2:00 pm

Section 1:
May 13 and
May 20, 2017
(SOLD OUT)

Section 2:
June 17 and
June 24, 2017
(1 spot left)

Although no longer a resident of California, preeminent essayist Joan Didion not only influenced the direction of contemporary American nonfiction in general, but she also created a vital literary voice dedicated to the singular nature of life in Los Angeles.  

In the first session of this two-day seminar, we’ll examine three of Didion’s pivotal works of short nonfiction: “Los Angeles Notebook,” “In Bed,” and “Why I Write.” Through group discussion, students will explore why Didion’s work is essential to our understanding of life “lived close to the edge,” as she said of our costal city. What narrative tactics (fragmentation, irony, select statistics) and nuanced qualities of the writer’s voice make her prose almost instantly recognizable? What can writers learn from Didion’s rigorous journalistic distance from her charged and often personal subject matter?

For the second session, students will bring in excerpts of a writing assignment based on “Los Angeles Notebook” to be read aloud and discussed in class. The goal of this seminar is to use Didion’s work to inspire students to better observe and use their daily experiences of life in LA for their own work and for the formation of a sensibility that can inform future writing projects.

This seminar is open to students of all levels. It will be held in Silver Lake, where coffee, sparkling water, and light snacks will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$170 for new students; $150 for returning students

 

Two-Day Seminar: Make America Write Again (taught by Seth Fischer in Chinatown)

Two Saturdays
11:00 am to 2:00 pm

June 3 and
June 10, 2017

In the last few months, distraught over the ominous and overwhelming political landscape, many writers have been asking themselves some tough questions: Why continue to write? How can activism and writing coexist and what, exactly, does that look like? What rhetorical techniques are best for communicating political ideas? How can you use craft to tell the kinds of stories that can transform minds without being didactic? 
 
In this two-day seminar, students will spend the first day discovering how effective political writing can be. We'll investigate how writers like James Baldwin, Arundhati Roy, and George Saunders use scene, detail, and reflection in both fiction and nonfiction to transform the perspective of their readers, and we'll experiment with our own political writing using prompts based on their work. On the second day, students will work to develop a short piece of political writing, receive feedback from other students and the instructor, and discuss how we are all planning to incorporate activism into our writing lives. 

This seminar is open to students of all levels. It will be held in Chinatown, where coffee, sparkling water, and light snacks will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$170 for new students; $150 for returning students

 

POETRY


Mixed Levels Poetry (taught by Elline Lipkin in Glendale) – SOLD OUT

Tuesdays
7:30 to 9:30 pm

April 18, 2017 to June 6, 2017

 

This eight-week workshop will focus on how to cultivate a practice of poetry as students integrate awareness, writing, and observation into their lives. Students will deepen their attention to language through use of metaphor, simile, or other poetic devices as they investigate and practice craft techniques. Writing exercises will focus on building an ongoing practice, creating poetic community, and new uses for poetry. Weekly workshopping of poems will help students to understand the mechanics of how a poem works and more about their own creative process. 

This class is open to students at all levels and will take place in Glendale or Boyle Heights, where wine and sparkling water—and the occasional gourmet cheese—will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)

 

FICTION


You may be wondering which fiction class you should take. If you use the form to the right, we will be happy to advise you on the most appropriate class for your project and/or experience. Keep in mind that Fiction I is generally for beginners who are not yet decided on whether they would like to write short stories or a novel (or some other fiction form). Fiction II is generally for writers who have taken Fiction I and are leaning toward short stories. Mixed Levels classes are designed for both Fiction I and Fiction II students. Novel I is for students who have decided they wish to write a novel and are in the early stages of their project. Novel II is generally for writers who have taken Novel I and have advanced further into their projects. If you prefer a class on the weekend, on the westside, or on young adult fiction, we have those options as well.


Fiction I (taught by Chris Daley in Los Feliz) – 1 spot left

Thursdays
7:30 to 9:30 pm

April 20, 2017 to June 8, 2017

In this eight-week workshop, beginning students will focus on the fundamental techniques of fiction writing: plot, characterization, conflict, scene, dialogue, setting, voice, and point of view. In class, students will discuss published fiction from a craft perspective, and they will complete writing exercises designed to tackle these particular techniques. Each week, students will also have the chance to discuss their work in a respectful and serious environment that prioritizes community, craft, and commitment to the practice of being a writer. The class is also open to more experienced writers who simply want to brush up on the basics.

This class will take place in Los Feliz, where wine and sparkling water—and the occasional gourmet cheese—will be served

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)

 

Novel I (taught by Kate Maruyama in Glendale) – SOLD OUT

Thursdays
7:00 to 9:00 pm

April 20, 2017 to June 8, 2017

In this eight-week class, students will share and explore their ideas for a novel and begin or continue to develop their manuscripts. Students will read and discuss novel excerpts to examine the tools of the trade and complete writing exercises designed to bring projects into sharper focus. The class will address issues such as character, pacing, tension, progression, and voice. Every week there will be a five-page requirement to make sure students are writing and rewriting regularly. In the last few weeks of the course, students can workshop up to 40 pages of their manuscript. 

This class will take place in Glendale, where wine and sparkling water—and the occasional gourmet cheese—will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students (Payment plans available to returning students.)

 

Weekend Mixed Levels Fiction (taught by Neelanjana Banerjee at Other Books in Boyle Heights) – SOLD OUT

Sundays
10:30 am to 12:30 pm

April 30, 2017 to June 25, 2017 (No class on May 28)

This eight-week mixed levels class is designed for both short story writers and novelists who cannot attend a workshop during the week. For the first four classes, students will complete in-class writing exercises and discuss published short fiction and novel excerpts from a craft perspective. The course will cover such topics as characterization, pacing, point of view, structure, voice, and scene. Every week, there will be a five-page requirement to make sure students are writing and rewriting regularly. For the final four weeks of the course, students will be workshopped in a serious environment meant to challenge and inspire every member of the class. Each student will have the opportunity to workshop either one short story manuscript or one novel excerpt (maximum 25 pages).

This class will take place at Other Books in Boyle Heights, where coffee and sparkling water—and the occasional snack—will be served. The bookstore will not be open during the time the class meets.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)

 

Westside Mixed Levels Fiction (two sections taught in Culver City) 

Section 1 with Laura Warrell in Culver City (SOLD OUT)

Tuesdays
7:30 to 9:30 pm
April 18, 2017 to June 6, 2017

Section 2 with Francesca Lia Block in Culver City (3 spots left)

Mondays
7:30 to 9:30 pm
April 17, 2017 to June 12, 2017 (No class on May 29)

This eight-week mixed levels class is designed for both short story writers and novelists. For the first three to four weeks, students will complete in-class writing exercises and discuss published short fiction and excerpted novels from a craft perspective. During the last four to five weeks, students will be invited to bring in their own work to receive feedback from their instructor and peers. The class will cover such topics as characterization, pacing, point of view, structure, voice, and theme, and there will be short take-home writing assignments designed to help students explore different topics and story ideas. Students will have the chance to workshop their writing in a serious environment meant to challenge and inspire each member of the class.

This class will take place in Culver City, where wine and sparkling water—and the occasional gourmet cheese—will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)

 

Young Adult Fiction (taught by Diana Wagman in Echo Park) – SOLD OUT

Sundays
10:30 am to 12:30 pm

May 7, 2017 to
July 2, 2017 (No class on May 28)

Writing young adult fiction should be easy, right? We’ve been young. We’ve had dysfunctional families, unhealthy friends, and embarrassing moments in the school bathroom. Maybe we've had compelling childhood fantasies of dystopian fairylands or alien creatures to chase across the galaxy. But it is every bit as complex to write a YA or middle grade story as it is to write one for adults. This workshop will explore YA’s unique parameters and how to get back in touch with your younger self—while concentrating on the traditional elements of all good storytelling: character, setting, plot, style, language, and narrative voice. There will be readings and in-class exercises to help you develop your YA novel or short story.

This class will take place in Echo Park, where coffee, tea, and delicious baked goods will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)

 

NONFICTION


You may be wondering which nonfiction class you should take. If you use the form to the right, we will be happy to advise you on the most appropriate class for your project and experience level. Keep in mind that Nonfiction I is generally for beginners who are interested in exploring personal narrative (memoir in short or long form) and/or non-personal narrative (creative nonfiction, journalism, art criticism, science writing, etc.). Nonfiction II is generally for writers who have taken Nonfiction I and would like to keep the freedom to write either form of narrative. Memoir I is for students who have decided they wish to write personal narrative (memoir or personal essay). Memoir II is generally for writers who have taken Memoir I and are in the early stages of a project (a memoir or collection of personal essays). Essay Writing is designed to produce inquisitive essays in which the primary focus is not personal experience. Mixed Levels classes are designed for both Level I and II students in the genre offered.


Nonfiction I (taught by Margaret Wappler in Mount Washington) – SOLD OUT

Tuesdays
7:30 to 9:30 pm

April 18, 2017 to June 6, 2017



In this eight-week course for beginners, students will read craft essays and models as an introduction to the nonfiction genres. The class will help determine what kind of nonfiction would be the best vehicle to express your ideas. We will discuss overarching issues such as persona, audience, ethics, memory, and truth as well as specific techniques such transitions, dialogue, use of sensory detail, etc. The first four weeks of the course will be devoted to exploring various types of nonfiction through generative (homework and in-class) writing exercises. In the second half of the class, students will have the chance to workshop their writing in a serious, respectful, and community-oriented environment meant to challenge and inspire each member of the class. 

Nonfiction I is also open to more experienced writers who want to brush up on the basics or try their hand at a new nonfiction form. This class will take place in Mount Washington, where wine and sparkling water—and the occasional gourmet cheese—will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)

 

Nonfiction II (taught by Bernard Cooper in Silver Lake) – SOLD OUT

Thursdays
7:30 to 9:30 pm

April 27, 2017 to June 15, 2017

 

This eight-week intermediate level course is designed for writers who have a clear idea of the persona, audience, and purpose driving their work, whether personal essay, memoir, or other forms of creative nonfiction. Our main goal will be to bring projects toward completion through a process of drafting, feedback, and revision in a challenging but supportive environment. There will be assigned craft readings and suggested exercises that will help students develop their projects. Writers will have the opportunity to submit work for feedback from the instructor and other students twice. 

This class will take place Silver Lake, where wine and sparkling water—and the occasional gourmet cheese—will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)

 

Memoir I (taught by Seth Fischer in Miracle Mile) – SOLD OUT

Tuesdays
7:30 to 9:30 pm

May 2, 2017 to June 20, 2017

This eight-week workshop will introduce writers to the essentials of the memoir, both short- and long-form. We will explore all the fictional techniques that bring memoir to life—dialogue, setting, characterization—as well as those aspects of recollection and reflection that make it such an engaging and moving genre. Assigned readings will demonstrate how effective memoir writers have made personal experience vivid and unforgettable, but the class will emphasize rigorous discussion of student work with the aim of fully realizing autobiographical prose. This class is also open to more experienced memoirists who are in the ongoing process of honing their craft.

This class will take place in Miracle Mile, where wine and sparkling water—and the occasional gourmet cheese—will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)

 

Mixed Levels Memoir (taught by Elline Lipkin in Echo Park) – SOLD OUT

Wednesdays
7:30 to 9:30 pm

April 26, 2017 to June 14, 2017



Are you interested in writing about your experiences navigating the world? Then this class is for you. This eight-week mixed levels class is designed for anyone writing personal narrative of any length. Students will complete writing exercises and discuss published personal essays and excerpted memoirs from a craft perspective. The class will address issues such as persona, audience, structure, stakes, voice, point of view, memory and truth, and ethical considerations specific to the genre. Students will have the chance to workshop their writing in a serious environment meant to challenge and inspire each member of the class. 

This class will take place in Echo Park, where wine and sparkling water—and the occasional gourmet cheese—will be served.

Enrollment limit: 8 students
$390 for new students; $350 for returning students. (Payment plans available to returning students.)