July Class Bulletin from the Grotto

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Lindsey Crittenden

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Jul 10, 2014, 5:08:38 PM7/10/14
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Class Bulletin
Welcome to our (newly renamed!) monthly e-newsletter including tips about writing, what we're reading now, our favorite books about writing, and the latest news about our classes.


Summer Classes are underway!  Several classes still taking enrollment, so act fast!   Summer Session classes listed at http://www.sfgrotto.org/classes/current-class-roster, or scroll down this Bulletin to Note four.

Note one: Writing tips from our teachers
From Xandra Castleton (Screenwriting Workshop, 8 sessions beginning July 8)

There's a very simple dramatic writing tip that I learned the hard way as a screenwriter. Years ago I sent a script to a famous screenwriter and director I knew who gave me one piece of feedback I never forgot: "lucky coincidences are rarely believable."  Since then I find myself repeating this to screenwriting students and it sounds so simple yet it can make all the difference in the engagement of a reader with your story.  Recently a student asked me how it was possible that in Little Miss Sunshine so many absurdly unlucky  events could transpire, such as the cop pulling the family over with the body of the dead grandfather in the car or the horn getting stuck on the van, and yet we the readers - or the audience members - buy it. All of our story events that hurt the characters work, and those that don't could very well keep your reader from taking that critical fictive leap with you. Don't leave your audience behind. Watch your coincidences.

Note two: Our latest favorite book on writing
From Lindsey Crittenden (The Art of Losing: Finding the Words for What’s Gone, 1 session July 19)

You know those books promising 10 Steps to Finishing Your Novel?  Or the answer to the riddle of the sphinx—that is, how to plot?  I’ve always resisted such formulaic tricks, even when I sneak a peek.  But, last summer when I was stuck on my novel revision, desperation took over.  I asked colleagues for recommendations and consulted John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story and Robert McKee’s Story.  While they didn’t change my life, they did improve my novel revision enormously.  Now, I think in terms of Bad Guys Moving In, and character webs, and the inevitable Obligatory Scene.  What I learned about pacing, my character’s moral need (every bit as crucial as the much-touted character desire), and Serving the Designing Principle has helped my novel enormously.  (Plus, it’s fun to read how Truby & McKee analyze movies such as The Godfather and Tootsie.)  But you’re not writing a screenplay, you say?  You still have plenty to learn from these books.  One caveat, however:  Save them for revising.  I do think first drafts should happen on their own, more or less.  

Note three: What we're reading now
From Steve Almond (How to Write Riveting Scenes & How to Create an Irresistible Narrator, both 1 session July 19, and Make Your Characters Snap, Crackle and Pop, 1 session July 20)

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr:  A crushingly good novel. True and wise and beautiful. Doerr is one of those writers who makes me see the world anew.

Slow Getting Up by Nate Jackson:  A memoir written by a former NFL tight end. Jackson is a real writer—funny, insightful, and wise to the sorrows as well as the glories of the NFL. I was riveted.

Zealot by Reza Aslan:  Completely enthralling account of the life of Jesus Christ. With, like, actual historical context.

I Want to Be a Cowgirl by Jeanne Willis:  I was the mystery reader in my daughter's first-grade classroom, which consists of, like, a dozen hard-core seven-year-old feminists. So I brought the big guns. This is one of my favorite kid books ever. It killed.

Note four: Our Summer Classes & Workshops
(For full descriptions, and to enroll, click on each class or visit http://www.sfgrotto.org/classes/current-class-roster.)

Sundays:

How to (Profoundly) Move Your Readers: The Craft of Developing Dramatic Emotions with Junse Kim (5 sessions, starting July 13)

Developing Your Comedic Voice in Prose with Zahra Noorbakhsh (6 sessions, starting July 13)

How to Make Your Characters Snap, Crackle and Pop with Steve Almond (1 session, July 20)

The Accidental Find: Looking for Poetry in Unexpected Places with Maw Shein Win (1 session, August 10)

Revision Boot Camp: Circuit Training Your Manuscript with Susan Ito (1 session, July 20)

Character Development, Motivations & Dialogue: Thinking Like an Actor with Zahra Noorbakhsh (1 session, August 24)


Mondays:

Blogging for Beginners with Meghan Ward (4 sessions, beginning June 23)

 

Tuesdays:

Screenwriting Workshop with Xandra Castleton (8 sessions, beginning July 8)

Arts Reviewing 101: How to Be a Smart, Sensitive Critic, Online and In Print with Rachel Howard (3 sessions, beginning July 8)

 

Wednesdays:

Mastering the Personal Essay with the Masters with Rachel Howard (9 sessions, starting July 16)

 

Thursdays:

Fabulist Worlds: Writing Magical Realism with Jenny Bitner (6 sessions starting June 26, no class July 3)

 

Saturdays:

Gesture Writing: What Writers Can Learn from Artists about Capturing Life on the Page with Rachel Howard and David Tallitsch (1 session, July 12)

How to Write Riveting Scenes with Steve Almond (1 session, on July 19) – free exclusive DIY book from author if taken with How to Create an Irresistible Narrator

How to Create an Irresistible Narrator with Steve Almond (1 session, on July 19) – free exclusive DIY book from author if taken with How to Write Riveting Scenes

The Art of Losing: Finding the Words For What’s Gone with Lindsey Crittenden and Monica Wesolowska (1 session, July 19)

The First 10 Pages of Narrative Nonfiction with Julia Scheeres (1 session, July 26)

Writing Your Hero’s (or Heroine’s) Journey with Sasha Cagen (1 session, August 2)

Beyond Poop and Puberty: The Practice and Pitfalls of Writing About Parenting with Susan Ito and Tomas Moniz (1 session, August 23)

 

Weekend Workshops:

How to Write Riveting Scenes with Steve Almond (1 session, on July 19)

How to Create an Irresistible Narrator with Steve Almond (1 session, on July 19)

How to Make Your Characters Snap, Crackle and Pop with Steve Almond (1 session, July 20)

Revision Boot Camp: Circuit Training Your Manuscript with Susan Ito (1 session, July 20)

The First 10 Pages of Narrative Nonfiction with Julia Scheeres (1 session, July 26)

Writing Your Hero’s (or Heroine’s) Journey with Sasha Cagen (1 session, August 2)

The Accidental Find: Looking for Poetry in Unexpected Places with Maw Shein Win (1 session, August 10)

Beyond Poop and Puberty: The Practice and Pitfalls of Writing About Parenting with Susan Ito and Tomas Moniz (1 session, August 23)

Character Development, Motivations & Dialogue: Thinking Like an Actor with Zahra Noorbakhsh (1 session, August 24)


Note five: Hearing from you
We’d like to hear from you.  What would you like us to include in the Grotto Class Bulletin?  What classes would you like to see offered at the Grotto?  What books about writing have been particularly useful for you?  Send your thoughts/comments/kudos & complaints to Lindsey Crittenden at lindseyec...@gmail.com 

Note six: Subscribing & unsubscribing
And of course, if you'd like to opt out of the Grotto Class Bulletin, you can always do so at http://groups.google.com/group/grotto-class-notes, just click on Edit my membership, and then Unsubscribe.

Lindsey Crittenden

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Aug 11, 2014, 7:37:26 PM8/11/14
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On Jul 10, 2014, at 2:07 PM, Lindsey Crittenden <lindseyec...@gmail.com> wrote:

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