Targeted workshops

Structure of Large Work

If you think you might write a novel or a screenplay, or if you’ve begun working on one, or if you’ve finished a first draft, this workshop is for you.

We’ll read The Writers Journey by Christopher Vogel, The Screenwriters Workbook by Syd Field, and refer to Theory of Fiction by Henry James. Each session I’ll give a short talk on a topic, followed by a discussion. Then we’ll proceed with a syngenetic workshop, looking especially at how well our work incorporates the week’s topic. Bring in copies of up to ten pages, double-spaced.

The first five topics, from a folder of many topics, are below. In the second half of the series we’ll choose topics according to what we need..

  • Whose Story is It? – identify and define the main characters, including strengths and flaws.
  • What’s at Stake? – some gripping problem, as family, identity, fortune, love, life, death.
  • Plot Works through Character – the characters need to change as the problem evolves.
  • Sequence of Challenges – the hurdles faced should follow each other in an organic way.
  • Subplot – a second story should be an enhancement or a counterpoint to the main story.

Fridays, 10:00am-1:00pm, starting November 14th.
Limited to six writers. Fee: $400 for ten sessions.
Contact Clive at (510)508-5149 for current series.
For a commentary on the class, see the blog entry Structure of Large Work.

The Novel’s Arc

In this workshop we’ll address the main issue that eludes us in our weekly classes: How well does your novel work as a whole? We’ll read one of our novels, meet for two hours and track how the essential components are developed throughout the novel. So far, in our other group, we’ve been able to give a comprehensive picture both of how well the novel is working and what it needs to arrive at a higher level, all in a single meeting. The next month we’ll do the same with another novel.

Some of the questions we’ll ask: Does your theme grab the reader’s attention from the start? Is the voice consistent, and do the visuals create a powerful movie? Does the plot keep the reader turning the pages? Do your characters develop in a compelling manner? Does dialogue move the plot forward and deepen your characters, while it’s both engaging and seems real? Does the pacing work in concert with the plot? Is the resolution satisfying?

Notice we won’t make any marketing decisions about the book (as, more sex, or more violence, or less of either) but only say honestly how we, as conscious, sentient beings, respond to the book.

Contact Clive at (510)508-5149 to join.

Fee: $500


  1. You have at least draft number one of a novel complete, with line editing already done.
  2. You can print out five copies of your novel.
  3. You subscribe to the notion that reading and discussing three peers’ novels will aid your understanding of your own novel.
  4. You commit to reading a novel once a month.

Short Story Workshops

We’ll examine elements of the short story and see how they are employed in examples of very short stories. These three to four page stories cover six minutes to six months of time. The various strategies used are fascinating. We’ll do a draft of at least one story on the first day of this two day workshop (two consecutive Saturdays). On the following Saturday, we’ll see how well the story elements are working in your draft. After these two days, you should take off with your short story writing skills.

We are careful to establish a warm and inviting atmosphere where even the rawest and shyest of writers can flourish and feel proud of what they accomplish. I expect, as usual, eight or ten people (including some of brave beginners), much exciting writing, and fun to boot.

Cost: $150.00

Contact Clive if you want to join or set one up.