Upcoming Classes

“Pantsing” Your Novel: Writing Without a Road Map, online at The Loft

Saturday, October 14, 2023; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST; 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST

Register for Pantsing Your Novel

In the writing world, there are Plotters and there are Pantsers. Plotters create outlines, knowing where their novel ends before they type the first words of their drafts. Pantsers write “by the seat of their pants,” diving in knowing only the broad strokes of their stories. Pantsing, however, doesn’t mean there isn’t a method to the madness. By foregoing the outline so beloved by Plotters, Pantsers give themselves the gift of freedom and discovery. As Terry Pratchett says, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” While we Pantsers are loathe to admit it, writing this way does have its challenges. It’s easier to get stuck, to write yourself into a corner, or lose sight of what you’re writing. In this class, we’ll explore ways to delve into your novel without a master plan. Through exercises, research, and yes, stealing a few ideas from Plotters, you’ll develop the tools to keep your novel moving forward, even if you are unsure where it’s going. Please come to this class with the idea for your novel. We will be doing in-class writing focused on your project.

“Say What?” Writing Dialogue that Speaks to the Reader, online at The Loft

4 weeks, Mondays, October 30  to November 27,  2023, no class November 20,  7 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST; 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. CST

Register for Say What?

We talk every day. So why is writing dialogue so difficult? Dialogue serves many purposes in fiction: It reveals conflict and creates tension. It advances the storyline. It develops characters and must accurately represent the novel’s time and place. It must sound natural, but not too natural. Dialogue is important for what’s said—and what isn’t said. Those words between the quotation marks are the workhorses of your stories. In this class, you’ll learn how to make characters speak so the reader listens. We’ll examine both the mechanics of dialogue—tags, dialect, speech patterns—as well how it serves your story.

We’ll read excerpts and stories from Honoree Fanonne Jeffers, David Burr Gerrard, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and others to examine how they elevate their dialogues. Both in-class and out-of-class writing exercises will help you develop your ear for how people speak. Those who would like feedback on their writing will have the opportunity to receive it. If you’re mid-project with a story or novel, you’re welcome to bring dialogue-heavy scenes to work on in class. While not required, you will be encouraged to read your work aloud to allow you and your classmates to better hear the words on the page.

Past Classes

Writing and Revising the Historical Novel, online at The Loft, Fall 2021, an eight-week feedback class for those mid-writing an historical novel. 

Wake Up and Write!, online at The Loft, Fall 2021, a four-week early morning generative writing class

Writing the Historical Novel, asynchronous class at The Loft, Spring of 2021 and Fall of 2022, a beginner’s class on crafting an historical novel.

Creative Writing Write-Ins, online, 2020, a weekly drop-in generative writing session.

I Remember When… Writing Your Life Story, in person at Temple Emunah, Fall 2018 to 2019, taught the craft of writing personal essays for both publication and to preserve family history.

Past Events

July 30, 2017:Scribblers on the Roof with Rachel Kadish at Ansche Chesed, New York, NY

June 6, 2017: Tuesday morning book club at Temple Concord, Binghamton, NY

May 6, 2017: “In the Meantime: The Writer’s Life While Waiting” at Grub Street’s Muse & the Marketplace, Boston, MA

April 27, 2017: Hadassah-Brandeis Institue Book Club discussion, Columbia, MD

March 16, 2017: Book talk at Ohavi Zedek, Burlington, VT

March 2, 2017: Debut fiction panel with Victoria Kelly and Martha Hall Kelly at the Collier County Jewish Book Festival, Naples, FL

February 8, 2017: Women in Literature panel with Gayle Forman and Lynda Cohen Loigman at Barry Wilen Jewish Book Festival, Dave Posnack JCC, Davie, FL

February 7, 2017: Book talk at the Berrin Family Jewish Book Festival, Alper JCC, Miami, FL

February 7, 2017: A Literary Afternoon Series with Ellen Feldman, Adolph and Rose Levis JCC, Boca Raton, FL

December 15, 2016: Threads of Identity: A Conversation with Three Contemporary Jewish Women Authors, panel with authors Anna Solomon and Tova Mirvis at Hebrew Union College, Newton, MA

December 9, 2016: Reading with author Michelle Hoover, Common Stories reading series, Harvard, MA

November 29, 2016: Reading and talk with authors Holly Robinson and Maddie Dawson, Maynard, MA

November 11, 2016: Panel discussion with Discussion with Ellen Feldman and Soniah Kamal at the MJCCA Book Festival, Atlanta, GA

November 9, 2016: Talk at the at the JCA Book Festival, Jacksonville, FL

November 5, 2016: Arlington Book Festival, Panel discussion, “Research, Revisions and Rituals: How Does a Story Get Made,” with authors Stephanie Gayle, and Jenise Aminoff, moderated by Michèle Meaghe, Arlington, MA

November 3, 2016: Talk at the San Diego Jewish Book Fair, San Diego, CA

November 1, 2016: Talk at the Austin Jewish Book Fair: Beyond the Book, Austin, TX

October 30, 2016: Concord Festival of Authors, New Literary Voices with Louise Miller and Mary Waters-Sayer, moderated by Dottie MacKeen, Concord, MA

October 27, 2016: Talk at the Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts, Indianopolis, IN

October 15, 2016: Boston Book Festival, panel discussion “Eating Our Words: The Cultural Significance of Food in Literature,” with authors Dawn Lerman and Louise Miller, moderated by agent Lori Galvin, Boston, MA

October 6, 2016: Reading at Phinny Books, Seattle, WA

October 4, 2016: Craft on Draft series, writing about work, with Louise Miller and Hank Phillippi Ryan, Boston, MA

September 21, 2016: Talk for Hadassah Lunch and Learn, Weston, FL

June 29, 2016: Talk and reading with Lynda Cohen Loigman at Turn of the Corkscrew, Rockville Centre, NY

June 23, 2016: Talk and reading with Marian McMahon Stanley at Harvard Book Store, Cambridge, MA

May 17, 2016: Talk at Temple Emunah’s Sisterhood Donor Dinner, Lexington, MA

May 15, 2016: Talk and reading at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore, MA

May 11, 2016: Talk and reading with Lynda Cohen Loigman at Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

May 10, 2016: Talk and reading with Lynda Cohen Loigman at the Museum of Eldridge Street, New York, NY

April 6, 2016: Launch reading at Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA