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How to Start a Story

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“I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.”
―Steve Martin

In this newsletter:

  • How to start a story, how not to start a story, and what the beginning of your story ought to accomplish.
  • Good news from a student and an instructor.
  • Browse our updated course calendar through early February.
  • Join our Facebook group and share your craft with us, and find us on Instagram.

I hope you and yours are happy, healthy, and well.


New Writing Tips

How to Start a Story: Examples and Inspiration

A look at the best ways to start stories, including examples from classic and contemporary literature.

Read more

Congratulations to...

Mindy Stern, whose flash essay "It Might Be Your Kid" was selected as one of the "Medium Stories That Defined 2021." Read Mindy's award-winning essay here.

Instructor Rudri Patel, whose flash piece "Ganesh and Southern Maid Donuts" received a nomination from Moonpark Review for the 2022 Best Small Fictions Anthology. Read Rudri's award-winning story here.

Congratulations to Mindy and Rudri!

Our Upcoming Courses

Browse full course calendar

January Courses

Writing with Tarot (January 12)

with Sandra Novack | 8 Weeks | $395

Jump-start your creative juices, and explore a world of divination, symbolism, and imagery right at your fingertips: learn short story and novel writing through Tarot.

Crafting the Poetry Novel for Young Adults (January 12)

with Kelly Bingham | 5 Weeks | $300

Even if you’ve never written poetry before, you can begin the rewarding process of crafting a poetry novel for Young Adults. Is there a market for novels written in verse? Are they well received? Yes, there is, and yes, they are!

Mastering the Elements of Fiction (January 12)

with Jack Smith | 10 Weeks | $460

In this course, you’ll work with the basic elements of fiction--the fundamentals that drive the story and determine the quality of the work.

Rapid Story Development: A Master Plan for Building Stories That Work (January 19) NEW!

with Jeff Lyons | 10 Weeks | $550

In this 10 week story writing class, Jeff Lyons pairs the Enneagram with story development techniques to revolutionize your writing practice.

Poetry Workshop: Bring Your Poems to Life (January 19)

with Rosemary Tantra Bensko | 8 Weeks | $395

Join us for this workshop on creating powerful poems—poems that are clear and organized, fresh and moving, full of life.

Writing Our Grief: How to Channel Loss into Creative Expression (January 19)

with Rudri Patel | 8 Weeks | $395

Writing about grief is a powerful healing tool. Turn pain into power in this personal essay course, with instructor Rudri Patel.

The Ongoing Fiction Workshop (January 19)

with Shelley Singer | 10 Weeks | $460

Many students have attended this 10-week online fiction workshop with Shelley Singer multiple times, completed novels, and come back to finish more books.

(Live Workshop) Writing Beginnings and Endings (January 20) NEW!

with Sarah Aronson | Single-Day Webinar | $89

How do you write a story that's compelling to start and satisfying to finish? Sarah Aronson explains in this comprehensive one-day workshop.

Building a Career as a Literary Artist (January 26)

with Lyzette Wanzer | 6 Weeks | $330

Not sure how to start building a literary career? By the end of this course, you'll have tackled the author's bio, C.V., LinkedIn, and more!

Plot Your Novel (January 26)

with Jack Smith | 8 Weeks | $395

Over eight weeks, you'll develop a solid basis in the fictional elements—protagonist, setting, secondary characters, point of view, plot, and theme—while you develop the outline of your novel. You'll receive feedback at all stages from your fellow writers and your instructor.

February Courses

Death Riding Shotgun: How Awareness of Our Mortality Impacts Poetry (February 2) NEW!

with Lisa Taylor | 6 Weeks | $330

How can your own mortality inform your work? In this 6-week course, you'll use death to inspire and motivate your poetry writing.

The Watching Eye/Thinking Mind: Writing Flash Fiction (February 2)

with Barbara Henning | 8 Weeks | $395

Poet and Novelist, Barbara Henning offers this eight-week online workshop, writing tiny fictions while experimenting with first and third person points of view and analyzing how point of view affects the craft of fiction writing. There is no pre-requisite. Barbara will offer practical instruction and assignments, suggestions for revision, as well as lectures and and articles.

Humor Is The New Black! (February 2)

with Giulietta Nardone | 4 Weeks | $235

Ready to add a splash of fun to your writing life? Join us for a four-week humor writing class. We’ll read. We’ll laugh. We’ll write. We’ll experiment.

Creating the Visual Journal (February 2)

with Lissa Jensen | 8 Weeks | $395

Go beyond narrow definitions of “journaling" to include visual images and let writing give what is seen a new voice. Surprise yourself.

Browse full course calendar

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