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Feasting on Form: Noodling around with Experimental Creative Nonfiction with Arielle Silver
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Feasting on Form: Noodling around with Experimental Creative Nonfiction

Exploring structural inspiration for sensory writing:

From holiday feasting to grocery shopping, every bite-sized moment is ripe for narrative discovery. What’s in your pantry? What’s not being eaten? The sensory experience of simply squeaking a utensil drawer open can trigger inspiration, but how can we scoop it up? 

Constraints foster creativity. Think croissants, croutons, and loaves of challah: they’re all flour. Like a baker’s set of cake pans, here we’ll explore creative inspiration in the menu and the mess, and serve it up by way of experimental, hybrid, lyric essay.

4-WEEK WRITING COURSE

CLASS OBJECTIVES

* Discover creative inspiration within the common minutia and fodder of everyday life.

* Study and discuss the ways in which the assigned short pieces utilize found forms.

* Explore structural constraints to generate new material with imagery and other sensory detail.

* Write and revise short pieces of creative nonfiction that incorporate structure concepts inspired by the work we’ve read in class.

* Connect with other writers by reading their work and offering feedback.

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is a 4-week exploratory, generative writing course. Each week we will read short non-traditional essays inspired by found forms, generate three first drafts of new writing inspired by the form, and enjoy lively discussion in our classroom forum about the assigned readings and each other’s original drafts. The syllabus provides prompts to get the discussion going—but students are encouraged to come up with their own questions and food for thought.

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

Week 1: Menu

We will begin with a brief tutorial on lyric essay and read the first short non-traditional piece. We will discuss the use of structure, and draft an original piece inspired by this form, due by Monday of Week 2.

Week 2: Recipe

In Week 2, we will read each other’s Week 1: Menu drafts and offer reflective feedback. Additionally, we will read and discuss a new non-traditional piece in a different format, and draft a new original work inspired by this form, due by Monday of Week 3.

Week 3: Feast

As before, in Week 3 we will read each other’s Week 2: Recipe drafts and offer reflective feedback. Additionally, we will read and discuss a new non-traditional piece in a different format, and draft a new original work inspired by this form, due by Monday of Week 4.

Week 4: After Dinner

In this final week, we will read each other’s Week 3: Feast drafts and offer reflective feedback. As before, we will read and discuss a final non-traditional piece in a new format. During the week, there is the option to generate another first draft of new original work inspired by this form or to submit a revision of writing from the Menu, Recipe, and Feast weeks for group discussion and/or instructor feedback.

ABOUT ARIELLE SILVER

Arielle Silver spends half her life hunting words, the rest singing and baking pies. And though she shivered through many Boston winters, the wind was blowing west, and her last music tour ended at the cliffs above El Matador beach on a night when the Pacific shimmered under a full moon. Since, her original music has been licensed internationally for film and television, and her essays have appeared in Literary Hub, Brevity, Gulf Stream, Moment, Lilith Magazine, and others. She is former editor-in-chief of Lunch Ticket and earned her MFA at Antioch University Los Angeles, where she now teaches in the MFA, BA, and Inspiration2publication programs. She is currently at work on a memoir about (step)mother/ing and a secret project inspired by the creative process. She is the co-creator of Create & Flow Retreats and lives in Los Angeles with her sweet & snarky family. www.ariellesilver.com @relsilver

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Writing the Community: Write to Effect Change! with Precious Rasheeda Muhammad
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"I'm interested in the way in which the past affects the present and I think that if we understand a good deal more about history, we automatically understand a great more about contemporary life."  —Toni Morrison

Explore what it means to write the community as a means of effecting change. We will study successful authors' stylistic approaches to writing for the community. We’ll examine how figures in our local communities have valuable stories that too often go untold, simply because they do not have national acclaim. We will learn creative approaches to documenting and sharing the stories of these people and how this is an effective means to “building community through history” across seemingly intractable divides. 

4-WEEK COURSE

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

Articulate ideas about approaches to writing as a means to effect change in the community

Compose a short piece to submit for publication or donation to a local community organization or institution, for benefit of the greater community

Receive and give constructive feedback, as a trial run for engagement with larger audiences and engagement with the work of other authors

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER:

Week One: Got Character?

We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned creative writing pieces, the key role effective characterization can play in writing the community. We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned related texts, writing the community and writing to effect change. We will each draft an original piece based on what we learned in week one.

Week Two: Do You See What I See?

We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned creative writing pieces, the key role effective imagery can play in writing the community. We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned related texts, writing the community and writing to effect change. We will explore and discuss, through a brief tutorial, how to give and receive constructive feedback. We will read and discuss week one’s original piece and each draft a new original piece (or take the option to build on the previous week’s piece) based on what we learned in week two.

Week Three: Make a Scene! 

We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned creative writing pieces, the key role effective dialogue and balancing of scene versus summary can play in writing the community. We will explore and discuss, through a brief lesson and assigned related texts, writing the community and writing to effect change. We will read and discuss week two’s original piece and each draft an original piece (or take the option to build on the previous week’s piece) based on what we learned in week three.

Week Four: It's a Wrap (Up)! 

We will read and discuss week three’s piece. We will each pick one of the submitted pieces from the past three weeks to revise and polish into a final piece. We will receive one last round of feedback from each other. We will discuss submission or donation options of the final piece.

ABOUT PRECIOUS RASHEEDA MUHAMMAD

Precious received her MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California Riverside, Palm Desert in 2016. She received her Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University. She is an author, lecturer, and researcher on religion in America, among other topics, and is known by many as “The History Detective.” She lives in Virginia with her family but travels frequently for research projects and speaking engagements. Her motto: “building community through history.” Her favorite craft-related, self-motivational saying: “write mama write.”

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Writing Through Trauma with Patrick O'Neil
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Writing Through Trauma

4-Week Online Writing Class

CLASS DESCRIPTION

When we experience a traumatic event, our memories are affected. Our perception of that event, and previous events can be negatively influenced. This negative influence can manifest itself as fear, resentment, and anger. All, or any of these, will affect our behaviors, relationships, abilities, and self-esteem—in short, our entire lives.

By learning to decipher what are actual memories and what are imagined, we can navigate the emotional obstacles of guilt, fear, shame, ego, and resentment; while exposing whatever secrets we are holding onto that are causing us emotional pain. And, as writers, working through our trauma will open up vast areas that we previously feared to explore. This will not be therapy. It is more an honest evaluation of self that will result in writing an in depth personal essay.

CLASS OBJECTIVES

• Participants will be encouraged to honestly write about their own traumatic event.

• Group discussions will focus on the way that we remember traumatic events by analyzing memory and how it is often at times faulty due to emotional input of resentments, the passing of time, and fear.

• Writing exercises will help examine perspective. By exposing the past we prevent it from continuing to influence the present. Allowing us to live healthier, more functional lives.

• Posting our work to the discussions will allow participants the opportunity to engage in divulging our secrets so we can lessen their influence on our present, and ascertain what is reality as opposed to our unhealthy misconceptions.

• Instructor will take the participants through the revision process from a first draft to a well-crafted personal essay.

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

Week 1: Personal Experiences

Lecture: My Personal Experience with Writing About a Traumatic Event. Students will complete the first writing assignment. Student introductory discussion.

Week 2: Memory

Lecture: Memory, The Reliability of, and The Influence of Emotions. Students will complete the second writing assignment. Discussion on lecture topic.

Week 3: Shame, Guilt, Secrets

Lecture: The Emotional Effects of Shame, Guilt, Fear, Ego, Anger, Resentments, and Keeping Secrets. Students will complete the third writing assignment. Student discussion on lecture topic.

Week 4: Forgiveness

Lecture: Forgiveness: Of Self and Others. Writing assignment: revision. Student discussion on lecture topic, and the process of revision.

Each week there will be a lecture, a discussion forum, a writing assignment, and optional extra reading material. Instructor gives detailed feedback on the first assignment and works with participant to revise and edit that assignment for a final draft.

ABOUT PATRICK O'NEIL

Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoir Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Juxtapoz, Salon, The Nervous BreakdownAfter Party Magazine, and Razorcake. O’Neil is a contributing editor for Sensitive Skin Magazine, a Pushcart nominee, a two time nominee for Best Of The Net, and a PEN Center USA Professional and former Mentor. He holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles where he is an instructor for the inspiration2publication program. Most days you can find him teaching some form of creative writing at various rehabs, correctional facilities, institutions, and workshopsand he is the co-coordinator for the Why There Are Words, Los Angeles reading series. O’Neil currently lives in L.A.’s monument to broken dreams, the über hip downtown district, with his fiancé and two giant Maine Coons. For more information, please visit: patrick-oneil.com.

 

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From Paper to Pixels: Writing Online Content that Matters and Gets Noticed with Seth Fischer
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To many writers, the Internet is a scary place: we spend more of our lives on it than we'd like to admit, it lacks that delicious book smell, photos of fluffy cats and sloths seem to eat up more and more of our time, and no matter how many social networks we join, we can't shake this feeling that we're not doing enough. Other writers see endless potential in the Internet, envisioning blogs and clever Twitter handles turning into book contracts turning into millions of dollars in royalties.

This class aims to look past all this fear and improbable expectation to ask a different set of questions we writers should be well-equipped to answer: How can you use the Internet to tell the best possible story? What tools does the Internet offer that print books do not, and how might those be useful for you? What sorts of articles and stories have the Internet powers-that-be come to expect in online writing, and how can you use that information? What online publications might be the best fit for your writing? Is your writing a good fit for these publications, or might the Internet be better used in other ways to further your projects? In sum, how can you, as a writer, use the Internet to create the best writing and storytelling while reaching as large an audience as possible?

4-Week Onlinw Writing Class

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore ways that we can use the Internet to best achieve our goals by sharing our knowledge about its changing landscape

  • Identify best practices for writing and living online, discovering ways to best use the Internet as a tool rather than vice versa.

  • Compose a short piece of writing that incorporates these practices, identifying the best venues for potential publication.

Week 1: An Internet Accounting

We will explore and discuss, through examples and through an assignment, what our online diet consists of and why we are attracted to the parts of the Internet we most often find ourselves in. We will analyze the patterns of this diet and begin to rethink our online habits. 

Week 2: A New Plan

In this second week, after having taken an accounting of our online habits, we will work to develop a plan for how to alter our online habits to best achieve our writing goals. Then, we will begin to plan a writing project that will allow us to use the Internet to achieve them.

Week 3: Practicing Writing Online

In this third week, we will explore in detail the differences between writing online and writing in print, as well as the similarities. Each student will develop a plan for their writing project and they will write a rough draft.

Week 4

In the final week, students will share their final projects and provide feedback for one another. We will polish this into a finished piece, which we will ideally submit to online publications or post on our own blog or website. 


About Seth Fischer:



SETH FISCHER'S writing has appeared in Guernica, Joyland, Buzzfeed, PANK, and Best Sex Writing and listed as notable in The Best American Essays. He is a developmental editor for independent publishing houses and individual clients. Seth is also the nonfiction editor at The Nervous Breakdown and was a contributing editor at The Rumpus, and he teaches for Antioch University Los Angeles, UCLA-Extension, and Writing Workshops Los Angeles. 

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Let's Write a Short Story with Natalie Truhan
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“When seriously explored, the short story seems to me the most difficult and disciplining form of prose writing extant. Whatever control and technique I may have I owe entirely to my training in this medium.”~ Truman Capote, interview to The Paris Review.

 

4-Week Writing Class

This course will take you from story inception to a finished draft through several stages of revision. Along the way, you will learn elements of a short story. Our goal is creating a story that, as the writer Michael Swanwick put it, “is like a knife–strongly made, well balanced, and with an absolute minimum of moving parts.”

I want you to become a radical explorer of your story and its possibilities. I will encourage you to approach your story from different angles, striving to better understand your artistic intention and ways to realize it. 

The course is designed for writers of fiction who want to explore a structured approach to developing a traditional story, as well as for writers of creative nonfiction and poetry who want to delve into writing short fiction.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:

By the end of this course, the students will be able to:

• identify the initial idea for a short story;
• develop a short story by exploring point of view, characterization, timeline, sensory detail, imagery, and more;
• share their work in progress and provide feedback which will help their peers write the best possible story.

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER: 

In Week 1 we will learn to identify the protagonist and the story.

In Week 2 we will do what Antonya Nelson calls “putting a clock on the story”.

In Week 3 we will explore theme and imagery.

In Week 4 will do something crazy and discuss what’s next for your story.

LEARNING ACTIVITIES:

• Writing exercises: Each week students will complete writing assignments that will take their stories from the initial idea to the finished draft.

• Share work and provide feedback in discussion forums: Students will post their writing and give feedback on each other’s work.

• Assigned readings: Students will read assigned short stories and discuss them in forums to develop a better understanding of elements of short fiction.

• Progress discussions: Students will be encouraged to discuss their progress and reflect on their process.

ABOUT NATALIE TRUHAN: 

natalie-truhan

Natalie received her MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. She is a former Translation Editor of The Lunch Ticket literary journal. She lives in Los Angeles where she writes fiction and translates poetry. Connect with Natalie on Twitter or on Instagram.    

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Putting the Creative in a Creative Nonfiction Memoir with Patrick O'Neil
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Creative nonfiction merges literary fiction (and possibly poetry), research nonfiction, and journalism. It employs the same literary devices as fiction, such as setting, voice, and character development. This is what makes it different from standard nonfiction writing, and that difference is what this course is about. We will explore the use of scenes, dialogue, character arcs, and timelines; as well as discuss the difference between actual memories, and memories clouded by fear, resentments, and the passing of time.

4-Week Online Writing Course

This course will focus on the use of literary devices in nonfiction. There will be four lectures to read, and we will discuss one topic each week. Students will submit a short work of nonfiction/memoir at the beginning of the course. Then over the next four weeks they will revisit their original submissions and revise them using instructor notes and the ideas and materials that have been presented and discussed each week. On the final week they will submit their revised manuscript.

CLASS LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Students will be encouraged to develop their own writing within the context of Creative Nonfiction Memoir. We will analyze various elements traditionally considered as craft utilized by writers of fiction. Our focus will be to learn how to incorporate those elements into our writing. The course will invite students to consider the issues raised in the process of writing memoir, aiming to uncover various methods of confronting potential problems. Through lectures and group discussions students will be provided information that they can use to analysis and revise their own writing.

Recommended Texts:

While not required reading, these memoirs successfully utilize the literary devices we will be discussing.
Liars’ Club, Mary Karr
Permanent Midnight, Jerry Stahl
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Wells
The Los Angeles Diaries, James Brown
Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson
Let’s Not Go To The Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller
Another Bullshit Night In Suck City, Nick Flynn
The Bill From My Father, Bernard Cooper

Class Schedule:

WEEK 1

Lecture: Scene/Setting: descriptive scenery and the responsibility of each scene as it pertains to the basic idea of your writing.

* Student introductory discussion, and discussion on topic of lecture.

* Students submit short work of nonfiction/memoir (no more than 5-7 pages)

WEEK 2

Lecture: Dialogue: develop an ear for actual dialogue. Minimizing “wordiness” to better express emotion. Recreating dialogue from past events, and utilizing dialect, the pro’s and con’s of grammatical gymnastics.

* Student discussion on lecture topic

* Students work on writing exercise and revising their original submission.

WEEK 3

Lecture: Character Development: through the use of description, dialogue, actions, and non-actions. How to make your characters come alive by showing, not telling. And the narrator as a character

* Student discussion on lecture topic

* Students work on writing exercise and revising their original submission.

WEEK 4

Lecture: Memory/Timeline/Structure – what to use, and what not to use, creative editing of reality, and the reliability of memory.

* Students discussion on lecture topic, and the revision process

* Students submit revised original submission of nonfiction/memoir (no page limit)

ABOUT PATRICK O'NEIL

Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoir Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Juxtapoz, Salon, The Nervous BreakdownAfter Party Magazine, and Razorcake. O’Neil is a contributing editor for Sensitive Skin Magazine, a Pushcart nominee, a two time nominee for Best Of The Net, and a PEN Center USA Professional and former Mentor. He holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles where he is an instructor for the inspiration2publication program. Most days you can find him teaching some form of creative writing at various rehabs, correctional facilities, institutions, and workshopsand he is the co-coordinator for the Why There Are Words, Los Angeles reading series. O’Neil currently lives in L.A.’s monument to broken dreams, the über hip downtown district, with his fiancé and two giant Maine Coons. For more information, please visit: patrick-oneil.com.

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Making Poems: Turning Thoughts, Memories, and Life Experiences into Poetry with Dana L. Stringer
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There are numerous approaches to poetry writing, and in this exciting 4-Week introductory course, designed for writers who are new to the poetry genre, students will learn the essential nuts and bolts of poetry writing in a safe and supportive online environment. The course will primarily focus on free verse poetry and introduce the use of specific poetic devices to help craft effective poems. Students will write poems prompted by writing exercises, provide peer feedback, read selected poems from contemporary poets, and participate in online discussions.

4-Week Online Writing Course

COURSE OBJECTIVES

The primary goal of this course is to introduce students to the basic elements of poetry writing, familiarize students with key terminology, help students develop their poetic voice, assist students in crafting poems and gain a solid understanding of the art and craft of poetry writing.

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

WEEK 1

In the first week, students will learn the role of the line in poetry by exploring the various effects created with line breaks, line length, stanzas, pauses, enjambment, end-stop, and punctuation.  Students will draft their first poem, post it, and receive peer feedback.  Students will also read and discuss a selected poem.

WEEK 2

In the second week, students will learn key terminology and how to employ the use of figurative language in poetry. Emphasis will also be placed on the use of concrete and sensory details. Students will draft their second poem, post it, and receive peer feedback.  Students will also read and discuss a selected poem. 

WEEK 3

In the third week, students will explore the use of sound devices that contributes to musical qualities of poetry. Students will draft their third poem, post it, and receive peer feedback.  Students will also read and discuss a selected poem. 

WEEK 4

In the final week, we will discuss helpful tools and resources available for poetry students, including important websites, poetry readings, workshops, and essential poetry books to read.  There will be an open forum discussion where students can ask any additional questions concerning specific poetry topics.

About Dana L. Stringer:

Dana L. Stringer

About Dana L. Stringer

Dana Stringer is a poet, playwright, freelance writer and writing instructor.  She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, where she currently serves as an online instructor and instructional facilitator in the Inspiration2Publication Program.  In addition, she is an academic writing tutor for an eLearning corporation, serving colleges, universities, libraries, and school districts.  She is the author of the chapbook In Between Faith (Black Picket Fence, 2014).  Her poetry has appeared in the African American Review as well as other literary journals and anthologies.  She has also been a contributing writer for several online outlets.   In addition, Dana is a member of the Dramatists Guild and Working Title Playwrights.  Her produced plays and staged readings include:  Kinsman Redeemer, ID, The Costume Waver, Colored in Winter, Looter, Ms. Frankie Lee, Spare Change, Secret Life in a Sacred House, and Solomon’s Porch.  She is based in Atlanta, Georgia.

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From Heartache to Hard-Ons: How to Write a Potent Sex Scene with Antonia Crane
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SEX. Everyone wants it. Everyone does it. Cell phones were invented as a monument to it. As a culture, we are obsessed with it. Why are so many writers so good at writing bad sex scenes while others chicken out altogether, ending vague erotic embroilments with a wet spot, panties on the floor and a shame walk?

In this four-week course, you will not write good sex scenes—at first. You will write bad ones. After the performance anxiety is removed, we will get down to the business of what really matters the most, which is that horrible, awkward, exciting and heartbreaking truths are revealed about your characters throughout a sexual interaction. Sex scenes are important because it’s an opportunity to allow your characters to lay bare while being pushed up against their greatest fears and desires.

Great sex scenes are not about what goes where and how lubrication advances but what is revealed about your characters during the sexual encounter. In this 4-week course, you will write about desire and heartbreak like your life depends on it.

This course is designed for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction of all levels.

4-week Course

Instructor's Bio: 

 Antonia Crane is a writer, professor, and Moth Story Slam Winner in Los Angeles. She is the author of the memoir Spent (Barnacle Books/Rare Bird Lit, March, 2014). Her other work can be found in PlayboyCosmopolitan Magazine, Dame Magazine, Salon, PANK magazine, Black Clock, The Rumpus, The Weeklings, The Believer, Frequencies, Slake, The Los Angeles Review, The New Black, and lots of other anthologies. She is a co-founder and Senior CNF editor of the Antioch Alum journal The Citron Review and the CNF editor of Word Riot. She can be found running up Griffith Park mountain and here: https://antoniacrane.com. She tweets @antoniacrane.

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