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