Writing Workshops at the Grotto

The Grotto is going to start offering writing workshops beginning next month. Here’s the skinny:

The Grotto is pleased to announce a new series of seminars and workshops for people who are serious about writing. These classes are designed to offer high-quality instruction to students who have a professional interest in writing, and will be comparable to those taught in MFA or graduate journalism school programs. All classes are taught by professional writers devoted to teaching practical aspects of craft to committed students in a comfortable environment. The Grotto writing classes will give students an opportunity to become familiar with the Grotto literary community, and hopefully, to develop a supportive writing community for themselves.
We offer courses in the short story, the novel, memoir, magazine writing, literary journalism, book reviewing, screenwriting, and book length non-fiction writing. Our faculty members have taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, Stanford, California College of the Arts, St. Mary’s, USF, the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, San Francisco State, and include winners of a wide variety of national and international awards. Most courses are limited enrollment and requite an application with a writing sample.
The Grotto, now in its second decade, was established as a space for professional writers to work, to provide a sanctuary for creativity and to nurture the broader literary community.
To register for classes, please send a non-refundable $100 deposit to your teacher at the Grotto by April 7. The Grotto address is 490 Second St. #200, San Francisco, CA 94107.
Fine print policies: Class spaces are limited and will be first come, first served; your check will be returned if there is no space for you. Checks for the balance of the course fee ($495) will be due the first day of class. Students have the option of dropping the course after the first day of class, but the teacher will keep the deposit. After the first class, there will be no refunds. For further information about the class, please email the individual teacher, below.

Meet the teachers: Come to a reception at the Grotto April 12 at 6:00 pm to meet the teachers of the upcoming Grotto Writing Workshops.
***Grotto Workshops Co-sponsored By The Booksmith***

Instructor: Julia Scheeres
Contact: jscheeres@sbcglobal.net
Number of sessions: 8
Meeting times: Tuesday nights, April 24 through June 12, 6:00 to 8:30
Course fee: $595.00
Translating your life story into a vivid, compelling and ultimately, salable manuscript is the focus of this class. Through reading, discussion, and writing, and re-writing, we will explore the changing shape of memory and the creative license that it affords us on the page. The writing assignments will build toward a 20-50 page excerpt for use in a nonfiction book proposal. Class size limited to 12 people.
Students will learn how to:
– Find their memoir’s “theme”
– Enhance their memory of people and events
– Distinguish between emotional and factual truth
– Research their own lives
– Revise their manuscript until it sings
– Find and query agents
Admission Requirement:
Please submit a writing sample of up to 1,500 words, preferably written in the first person, to Julia Scheeres (jscheeres@sbcglobal.net). If you don’t have a writing sample, send a one-page synopsis of your memoir. Students will be notified by e-mail if they have been accepted.
Instructor bio:
Julia Scheeres is the author of the memoir Jesus Land (Counterpoint 2005), which made both the New York Times and London Times bestseller lists and has been translated into Swedish and Norwegian. Jesus Land was the recipient of the American Library Association’s “Alex Award” and the Quality Paperback Book Club’s “New Visions Award.” Scheeres, who has a an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Southern California, is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review.

Instructor: Ethan Watters
Contact: ethanw1@mindspring.com, 415-348-1849
Number of sessions: 8
Meeting times: Thursday nights, April 19th through June 7th, 6:30 to 9:30
Course fee: $595.00
This class will put beginning and intermediate writers on a path to getting published. We will focus on developing magazine pieces and book projects. An emphasis will be placed on getting students to begin pitching ideas to magazine editors and agents. Students will be expected to develop two magazine projects during the class or one book proposal. These will be workshopped during class. There will be a reader and short weekly writing assignments both in and out of class. Class size limited to 14 people.
Students will learn how to:
-Find ideas for non-fiction writing
-Write effective query letters for magazine
-How to craft book proposals and magazine features
-Understand the magazine market place
-Develop relationships with editors and agents
-Critiquing and re-writing first drafts
Admission Requirement:
Instructor bio:
Ethan Watters has been a freelance writer for 20 years. He has taught non-fiction writing at Berkeley and Stanford extension and is currently an adjunct professor in the masters writing program at California College of the Arts. He’s written for The New York Times Magazine, Men’s Journal, Outside, Esquire, Discover, Spin, Mother Jones, GQ, Details, HG, and San Francisco Magazine, among other national and regional publications. He has also created pieces for Public Radio International’s This American Life. He has written three books: Making Monsters, Therapy’s Delusions and Urban Tribes. Ira Glass has purchased the rights to Urban Tribes and is currently developing it into a major motion picture at Dream Works. In 1994 he co-founded the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Instructor: Laura Fraser
Contact: laura@laurafraser.com, 415-227-0353
Number of sessions: 8
Meeting times: Wednesday nights, April 25 through June 20, 6:00 to 9:00 (out of 9 weeks, one week will be off. To be announced.)
Course fee: $595.00
This course is aimed at helping experienced writers take their craft to a new level. We will focus on writing articles and essays that sparkle—with crisp language, clear structure, and thorough research. We will explore different non-fiction genres every week, discussing the differences between personal essays, reported features, profiles, travel articles, essays, and department-length articles. We will deconstruct successful articles to understand what makes them work. Students will be expected to develop two magazine articles or essays during the class, or one book proposal. These will be workshopped during class. There will be a reader and short weekly writing assignments both in and out of class.
Students will learn how to:
-Write effective beginnings and endings
-Organize their work into a coherent structure
-Seamlessly weave research into an article
-Read like a writer
-Edit their own work
-Develop relationships with editors and agents
-Critique and re-write first drafts
Admission Requirement:
Please email the instructor a non-fiction writing sample, preferably published, of up to 1500 words, by April 15. Students will be notified by email if they have been accepted.
Instructor bio:
Laura Fraser has been a freelance writer for 25 years. She has taught at the University of California at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Aspen Summer Words, UC Santa Cruz, and other venues. She is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines, including O the Oprah Magazine, More, Mother Jones, the New York Times, Self, Wired, Gourmet, and many others. Her travel memoir, An Italian Affair, was a best-seller. Her previous book, Losing It, was a critically acclaimed expose of the diet industry. Her personal essays have appeared in numerous anthologies.

Instructor: Xandra Castleton
Thursday evenings, 6:00-9:00
Contact: email xandra@sfgrotto.org
Course fee: $595.00
Xandra Castleton will be teaching an Introduction to Screenwriting course designed to workshop the screen story premise of each student into a solid screenplay outline and the first ten pages of a script. The course will focus on screenplay structure, both traditional and alternative, with each class organized around one key element of a successful screenplay. Each class will also incorporate film clips, readings and group discussion.
This course will be followed by an Advanced Screenplay workshop that will begin with a completed draft of a screenplay and focus on character, dialogue, atmosphere and further examples of both traditional and alternative screenwriting choices.
Instructor Bio:
Xandra is a writer and producer whose film and television credits have earned her multiple awards, including an Emmy. She co-wrote the critically acclaimed dramatic comedy, FULL GROWN MEN, which stars Judah Friedlander, Alan Cumming, Amy Sedaris and Debbie Harry.


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