October Grotto Class Bulletin

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Lindsey Crittenden

Oct 14, 2015, 4:31:24 PM10/14/15
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Class Bulletin

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

Plenty of fall courses still on offer.  We’ve got workshops & intensives in fiction, memoir, screenwriting, personal essay, social media, and more.  Classes meet multi-weekly and in one-day and weekend intensives, and all are taught by writers published in the genre they’re teaching. To register and learn more, scroll down to Note Four or go to http://www.sfgrotto.org/classes/upcoming-classes.  

Note One: Writing Tips from Our Teachers

From Laurie Ann Doyle (Airports, Catacombs and Rooftops: Setting in Fiction and Memoir, Sun., Nov. 15):

When I bring up the element of setting in fiction and memoir, people’s eyes sometimes glaze over.  Oh setting, they say, I’ll put that in later. But when I talk about the world of your story—its physical environment—they’re interested. Think about Moby Dick without the ocean, I say, or To Kill a Mockingbird (or Go Set a Watchman) without rural Mississippi. Every human being has a profound connection to time and place. In creating the world of your story, first consider the physical environment in its largest sense, whether it’s the southwest desert, the city of Nashville, or Saturn’s icy moon. Then focus in on a smaller area— the trail up a barren mountain, the recording studio, the crash site—and get your character acting within it. What challenges does this particular place pose for this particular person? Use sensory details—sights, sounds, smells—to describe this space. What’s the light like? No two people see the world in quite the same way.

Note Two: Our Latest Favorite Book on Writing 

From Meghan Ward (Blogging for Beginners, 4 sessions starting Mon., Nov 2; Edit Yourself: How to Make a Good Manuscript Great, Sun., Nov 15; Social Media Bootcamp, Sun., Nov 22): 

I don’t normally recommend books on blogging because social media platforms and tools change so rapidly that how-to books tend to be outdated by the time they hit the shelves. But when I saw Joy Deangdeelert Cho’s Blog Inc. at the bookstore, I had to have a copy. Despite the grammatically incorrect subtitle (Blogging for Passion, Profit and to Create Community), this beautiful little book is full of fantastic advice for the new blogger—everything from blogging community etiquette to SEO and blog monetization. Cho even includes interviews with fabulously successful bloggers like Emily Schuman of Cupcakes and Cashmere and Joanna Goddard of A Cup of Jo. From now on, I’m going to recommend it to all my Blogging for Beginners students.

Note Three: What We’re Reading Now

From Karen Bjorneby (Fiction Workshop: Ratcheting Up Conflict, 6 sessions starting Thurs., Oct 15):

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.  I like the way she takes what would be realist domestic strife – an unhappy married couple deep in financial crisis – and then places that couple in an extraordinary time and place. As I read, I’m noting how skillfully she’s paced the story, so that major plot turns happen exactly where they should. I’m also noting how the characters’ internal struggles and their interpersonal conflicts are both deepened and magnified by the social conflicts within the story world. Atwood’s novel takes place in a dystopian near-future, but writers of realist fiction can learn from her too. If you’re struggling with pacing, take a look at how Atwood turns the story at each quarter mark, where the main characters reveal first darker and then more self-aware and heroic aspects of themselves. If you want to deepen the meaning or increase the stakes in your story, look at how she weaves social conflict, which is always around us, with personal conflict.    

Note Four: Upcoming Classes

Classes are listed in chronological order, by date of first session, for the next six weeks.  For full descriptions and to enroll, click on each class or go to http://www.sfgrotto.org/classes/upcoming-classes for the complete catalog.

6:30 pm – 9:00 pm

Tuesdays, October 20 & 27; November 3


9:00 am – 12:00 noon

Sunday, October 25


2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Sunday, November 1


10:00 am – 4:00 pm (includes a break for lunch)

Sunday, November 15


10:00 am – 4:00 pm

 Sunday, November 22


10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, November 22


Note Five: Hearing 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.

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