September Grotto Class Bulletin!

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Lindsey Crittenden

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Sep 17, 2014, 4:40:53 PM9/17/14
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Class Bulletin

Welcome to our monthly e-newsletter including tips about writing, what we're reading now, our favorite books about writing, and the latest news about our classes.

Many fall classes still taking students!  Classes fill up fast, so check our offerings 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 Meghan Ward (Social Media Madness, 1 session Oct. 12, and Advanced Blogging Workshop, 6 sessions, beginning Oct. 13)

When writing memoir, you need to strike the right balance between scene and summary. Too much summary and you’ll bore the reader. Too much scene and you’ll make the reader feel like she’s reading a screenplay. Scenes bring the story alive. Exposition serves to show the passage of time and allows the narrator a chance to reflect on the past experiences described in scenes, giving the story a layer of depth that is specific to memoir and that is needed to keep the reader engaged.

Note two: Our latest favorite book on writing
From Zoe FitzGerald Carter  (Truth, Lies and Storytelling: A User’s Guide to Writing Memoir, 4 sessions beginning Oct. 13)

While preparing to lead a writing workshop with fellow Grotto writers Connie Hale and Stephanie Klassen, I stumbled on the 30th anniversary edition of William Zinsser’s best-seller, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. Flipping through it in search of a pithy quote on first person narrative, I realized that the entire book is filled with pithy observations. For example: “The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.” And “Writers are at their most natural when they write in the first person.” 

I read the book from cover to cover, finding insight, instruction and encouragement on every page. From tips on language and craft to the larger principles of why we write to the specific demands of various nonfiction genres (humor, memoir, travel), this book has it all. Zinsser is also a master of all he preaches. His writing voice is spare, relatable and funny. (“Telling a writer to relax is like telling a man to relax while being examined for a hernia.”) Finally, Zinsser does not romanticize the writing process. In fact, he admits that writing can be hell. But with Zinsser in hand, you will have an intelligent, helpful guide to help you navigate those fiery depths. 

Note three: What we're reading now
From Lindsey Crittenden (Spiritual Writing Workshop, 2 sessions starting Oct. 19, and What We Talk About When We Talk About Stealing: Using Existing Models to Craft Short Fiction, Nov 8 & 9)

My summer reading combined novels I've needed to read for teaching, writers I’ve liked in the past, and a couple happy surprises.  At the top of list, Colum McCann’s masterful Transatlantic, a compelling blend of three narratives with indelible characters and gorgeous insights.  I was hooked from the first image.  Lauren Bacall’s death in August made me pick up my mother’s copy of Bacall’s Now, fresh and distinctive in its direct voice.  Probably the biggest surprise was The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I resisted, since I disliked (to put it mildly) Eat, Pray, Love.   Signature is a compelling, old-fashioned novel, a kind of American spin on the British “baggy monster” genre with larger-than-life characters and adventures (as well as quite a few references to masturbation) .  A few details strain credibility, and the ending’s a big pat, but botanist Alma Whittaker’s life makes for compelling companionship.  And I felt (mostly) enchanted by the 3rd person omniscient voice.

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

Sundays:

Creating the One-Person Show with Zahra Noorbakhsh (8 sessions, beginning Sep 28)

Getting Published: The Secrets of Structure and Self-Editing with Laura Fraser (1 session, October 5)

Developing Your Comedic Voice in Prose with Zahra Noorbakhsh (6 sessions, beginning October 5)

Social Media Madness with Meghan Ward (1 session, October 12)

Why Love What You Will Lose: Writing Through Grief with Genine Lentine (1 session, October 12)

Gettin’ on the Gravy Train: How to Win a Writing/Reporting Fellowship with Vanessa Hua (1 session, October 26)

Spiritual Writing Workshop with Lindsey Crittenden (2 sessions, beginning October 19)

What We Talk About When We Talk About Stealing: Using Existing Models to Craft Short Fiction with Lindsey Crittenden (2 sessions, November 8 & 9)


Mondays:

Advanced Blogging Workshop with Meghan Ward (6 sessions, beginning October 13)

Truth, Lies and Storytelling: A Users Guide to Writing Memoir with Zoe FitzGerald Carter (4 sessions, beginning October 13)

 

Tuesdays:

Demystifying Mystery: How to Plant Clues for Your Investigator (and Reader) to Uncover with Joe Clifford (5 sessions, beginning September 16)

The Art of Change: A Poetry Incubator with Genine Lentine (4 sessions, beginning October 21)

Pushing the Boundaries: Experiments in Writing with Jenny Bitner (6 sessions, beginning October 28)

 November Novel Marathon — NaNoWriMo or Not with Janis Cooke Newman (4 sessions, beginning Nov. 4)

 

Wednesdays:

Fabulist Worlds: Writing Magical Realism with Jenny Bitner (6 sessions, beginning September 17)

Mastering the Personal Essay with the Masters with Rachel Howard (8 sessions, beginning September 24)

Life into Literature: A 4-Week Intensive with Laura Fraser (4 sessions, beginning October 1)

How to Write an Effective Query Letter with Chelsea Lindman (1 session, October 29)

 

Thursdays:

Scene by Scene with Julia Scheeres (6 sessions, beginning September 25)

How to Write a Novel (And Not Stop Half-Way Through) with Janis Cooke Newman (6 sessions, beginning October 2)

Screenwriting Workshop with Xandra Castleton (8 sessions, beginning September 25)

 

Saturdays:

Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wicked Good Prose—$60 bucks, six hours, your own book with Constance Hale (1 session, October 4)

Characters Talking: How to Craft Great Dialogue that Lives on the Page and Moves Your Plot with Seth Harwood (2 sessions, October 25 & November 1)

Writing Your Hero’s (or Heroine’s) Journey with Sasha Cagen (1 session, November 8)

What We Talk About When We Talk About Stealing: Using Existing Models to Craft Short Fiction with Lindsey Crittenden (2 sessions, November 8 & 9)

Weekend Workshops:

Spiritual Writing Workshop with Lindsey Crittenden (2 sessions, beginning October 19)

Characters Talking: How to Craft Great Dialogue that Lives on the Page and Moves Your Plot with Seth Harwood (2 sessions, October 25 & November 1)

Writing Your Hero’s (or Heroine’s) Journey with Sasha Cagen (1 session, November 8)

What We Talk About When We Talk About Stealing: Using Existing Models to Craft Short Fiction with Lindsey Crittenden (2 sessions, November 8 & 9)

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.

Thanks for reading!


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