Spring 2015 Workshops

Our writing workshop program—launched in 2013—has been a tremendous success and we are excited to continue the program, bringing you low-cost workshops led by celebrated and award-winning writers.


This spring, workshops will be led by Dina Nayeri, Stefan Merrill BlockGabriel RothTerese SvobodaSimon Van Booy, Dawn Raffel, and Alexander Chee.

Alexander Chee: Autobiography and Fiction
6:30 - 9pm, Every other Monday, February 23 - May 4


Dawn Raffel: 

Revising and Editing Your Work For Publication
7 - 9:30pm, Wednesdays, February 25 - April 11


Simon Van Booy: Workshop for Beginners
7 - 9:30pm, Wednesday evenings, Mar. 4 - April 15


Dina Nayeri:
Advanced Fiction

6:30 - 9pm, Tuesday evenings, Mar. 10 - April 14


Gabriel Roth: The Novel
6:30 - 9pm, Every other Thurs., March 12 - May 21


Terese Svoboda: Focusing Your Fiction
6:30 - 9pm, Tuesday evenings, Mar. 31 - May 5


Stefan Merrill Block: The Story Laboratory
6:30 - 9pm, Thursday evenings, April 2 - May 7




Plot and Pacing

by Simon Van Booy

For an author’s first book, I would suggest adhering to a basic plot structure, then deviating where and if it feels right. For example, a character’s life in its entirety, from birth to death, doesn’t matter. A novel is about a very specific time in history or in the history of a character. This is what happened at this point. You need only go back and visit the character’s childhood in the book if there is some vital clue to something that is happening in the present. Often there will be, as childhood is full of clues.

So that’s it then. Plot is all the things that have happened in a place or to a person, or to people over a certain period of time. Digression will weaken your plot and the reader may lose interest.

How should an author arrange these events? Chapters. Imagine a string of pearls. Each chapter is an event that drives the narrative forward to the next event in the next chapter....READ MORE


Spring 2015 Workshops


Sign up for one of our Spring Crime Fiction Academy writing workshops led by acclaimed crime writers Jonathan Santlofer (The Death Artist, Color Blind, The Killing Art, The Murder Notebook, and Anatomy of Fear) and Alison Gaylin (the Brenna Spector series, Hide Your Eyes, You Kill Me, Trashed, and Heartless).

Crafting the Perfect Crime Novel: A Writing Workshop 
led by Alison Gaylin

Session One: 6:30 - 9pm, Mondays, March 2 - April 6
Session Two: 6:30 - 9pm, Mondays, April 13 - May 18

Advanced Crime Fiction Writing Workshop
led by Jonathan Santlofer
Session One: 6:30 - 9pm, Mondays, March 2 - April 6
Session Two: 6:30 - 9pm, Mondays, April 13 - May 18


Research Your Life 

by Alaxander Chee


One of the most important exercises Annie Dillard had us do when I was her student in literary nonfiction as an undergrad was to research your own life.

You want to write about your life, she said, approximately. How much do you know about your life? Do you know the major industries of your hometown? When was the town settled? Do you know the seasons, the flora and fauna, the population size, the climate… on and on she went, rattling off points for us to check. And off we went, to research our hometowns....  READ MORE


Tumbling Down a Hill in a House That is On Fire

by Duane Swierczynski


The best bit of that advice, and one I would take to heart as a novelist, is the idea of keeping your readers off kilter whenever possible. If they know what’s coming, there’s a good chance they’ll put down your book and move on to something else.

So how to keep your readers off kilter?


My own method, it seems, is all about keeping myself off-kilter during the plotting process.


With my first crime novel, The Wheelman, I winged it completely. Opened with a bank robbery gone wrong and just followed the aftermath. I had a vague idea about where it go, but when I sat down to write each section, I allowed the story to be the boss.... READ MORE


The Truth About
Writers' Block

by Dawn Raffel


I’ve never been a wake-up-at-five-in-the-morning-and-write-every-day kind of gal. I have nothing but admiration for people with that seat-of-the-pants-to-the-chair discipline, but that’s never been me. Instead I tend to wait — to cogitate and agitate — until I absolutely must put something on paper, until, whether because of an imposed deadline or internal pressure, it’s simply imperative. Partly, this is because I’ve often worked two jobs while raising two kids, but that’s not the whole story. I’m sure that given infinite free time, I’d be more productive on the page than I am now, and I’m equally sure that I’d still find myself procrastinating and sometimes “blocked.” Procrastination, in its weird way, is part of the process. While I’m procrastinating, I’m never really free of the task; I’m turning the creative problem over and over in my mind, consciously and unconsciously, reformulating the terms. At some level I am saying no to the easy, knock-it-out solution, the tired-and-true, the familiar. I might not be typing words on a keyboard, but something is marinating.

At a certain point, however, procrastination can morph into all-out blockage, silence, the freeze every writer dreads. Writer’s block issues out of fear — but of what? Some people speculate that it’s fear of failure... READ MORE


Craft Post

On Writing Space
by Dina Nayeri


I've been searching for a suitable writing space—a place that fits my mood, that feels sacred and creative and peaceful, that coaxes the words from my fingers—since the day I started calling myself a writer. Having decided to leave the business world to write professionally, the physical space I occupied suddenly seemed important. This was, after all, no joke; this was my job. I've been writing essays and stories and theses and papers since I was a kid, and never did space matter then. It wasn't a sacred thing, or a part of the process. READ MORE



Need a place to write?


Don't want to spend a fortune for your literary sanctuary? Our writing studio is located in a beautiful, sky-lit space on our top floor. It provides the perfect setting for writing. We even provide M&Ms!  Read more


News from our
Writers' Studio


Our Writers' Studio members have been busy upstairs, and we want to share some of their successes with you. Click here to find out about recently published works and awards.