Writing Classes


Those of you who have been working on drafts of novels have asked for a class that will help you get your book to the finish line. We're happy to announce a new year-long group for experienced writers who have finished at least one full draft of a novel.

This will be an MFA-level class led by novelist Mary Kay Zuravleff, author of three books published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Man Alive! (, 2013), The Bowl is Already Broken (2005), and The Frequency of Souls (1996).

Admission to this class will be by application and will be limited to 10 students. The fee is $2,499 for the entire year (beginning in November 2014 and running until October 2015) and will include an individual manuscript consultation with the instructor, copies of 4 novels, and a few other bonuses we're working on but can't announce yet.

Your Novel: Getting to the Final Draft

November 2014-October 2015
20 Class/Workshop Sessions
(Sunday Evening/Monday Mornings, dates below)
Individual Consultation and Group Writing Sessions
Instructor: Mary Kay Zuravleff
Cost: $2,499

Mary Kay Zuravleff StandingIf you've drafted a book, you're already a novelist. Here is your chance to shape that draft into the book that not only matches your vision but also captivates an audience! "Getting to the Final Draft" provides deadlines, compassionate criticism, a community of writers, and master classes on the art and business of revising a novel.

This MFA-Level workshop covers the basics, such as identifying the point of view, structure, and verb tense that best serves your book. Ready to go deeper? You'll also practice bringing characters to life, illuminating the intimate detail, using exposition with finesse, and grabbing the reader by the throat for the read of a lifetime. You'll take apart three published novels, too, to understand how each was constructed. And before it's over, you'll write and rewrite a pitch to deliver to agents!

Class size is limited to 10, and participants must apply for admission.


November 16/17
December 14/15
January 18/19
February 15/16
March 15/16
April 12/13
May 17/18
June TBA (Guest Instructor)
July 12/13
August 16/17
September TBA (Individual Conferences)
October 17-19 (James River Writer's Conference)

Read more: New! Year-Long Class for Novelists

Class Size

Our workshops are capped at 12 students, and the minimum to hold a class is 5. We've been in workshops elsewhere that had 16 or more students, so we feel 12 is a reasonable size. A few of our classes are designed to have smaller groups and that number is specified in the description. The prices of these are increased accordingly. Most of our seminars are capped at 12 students; a few seminars are capped at 18, as noted below. 

Inclement Weather

If the weather is questionable, we will send an email to your class list. We will also change our outgoing voicemail message, put a notice on our home page, and post messages to Facebook and Twitter. Here is the complete policy from our FAQ.

If you have other questions about our class policies, please see our FAQ.

New Refund Policy

Our new refund policy will go into effect for all Fall 2014 classes and seminars. This refund policy does not apply to Summer 2014 classes and seminars. Since it was announced in spring, the seminar On Submission: Understanding Your First Readers will still follow the old refund policy.

If you need to cancel your enrollment for any reason, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Our refund policy for cancellations is as follows:

3 weeks before the class or seminar start date: Eligible for a full refund.

1-3 weeks before the class or seminar start date: Eligible for a full credit towards a future class or seminar.

Less than 1 week before the class or seminar start date: Not eligible for credit or a refund.

In the event that we have to cancel a class or seminar for lack of enrollment or any other reason, you are eligible for a full refund or credit towards a future class. If your payment was made via PayPal, you will be eligible for a full refund, minus the nonrefundable PayPal fee.

We have a limited amount of funding to help those who want to take a class or seminar but can't afford it. In order to apply, please download and fill out our Scholarship/Subsidy Form and send it to us with your class registration and partial payment. We ask that anyone who receives subsidies please remember us with a donation when you are able.

In addition to our regular eight-week classes, we have half-day, one-day, and two-day seminars. See the current list below.

Joel Jones new Instructor: Joel Jones
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, September 20, 2014 | 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Dip your stinky toe into the art of writing comic sketches! Whether you’re a writer wanting to explore a new medium or a fan of comedy wanting to know how sketch shows operate, this one-day workshop is for you. Guided examples from classic routines and quick-fire exercises will teach you to recognize the funny stuff, whether it’s in the characters, relationships or entire worlds. You’ll learn how to develop your peeves into characters, and how to turn characters into hilarious situations, plus you’ll get a taste of a ‘writer’s room’ atmosphere. Rubber chickens welcome!

Read more: Seminar: Writing Sketch Comedy

Don Fry new Instructor: Don Fry
Cost: $10 Members | $25 Non-Members
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 | 2:00 PM-3:00 PM


Work with writing coach Don Fry in a three-on-one coaching session. Each writer gets 20 minutes while the other two listen. (The secret is that you learn most by listening to the other two writers' sessions.) We will explore your writing process to help solve your biggest problem. Don does not work with text; writers' problems occur not in the text, but in the process that produced the text.

Read more: Small Group Sessions with Writing Coach Don Fry (September)

kenzie allen Instructor: Kenzie Allen
Cost: $90 Members | $100 Non-Members
Saturday, October 11, 2014 | 9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Applying to graduate programs in creative writing can be daunting, but it can also be exciting, rewarding, and even fun! In this seminar we'll cover the basics and initial questions of application research (Is an MFA the right step for me? What schools are a good fit for my goals? Low-residency or full-residency? Where do I begin?), the ins and outs of preparing your application materials (such as the Statement of Purpose, Letters of Recommendation, and the ever-important Writing Sample) and the types of programs and options available. You will also have the opportunity to receive feedback on your application materials.

Read more: Seminar: Applying to MFA Programs

Jane McGuire Instructor: Jane McGuire
Cost: $100 Students 
Saturday, October 18, 2014
& Sunday, October 19, 2014
1:00 PM-4:00 PM


Limited to 12 students.

Join us for an intensive two-afternoon writing workshop for students eager to move forward with their college essays. A seasoned teacher and admissions expert will provide an overview of successful essays and how to avoid common pitfalls, lively discussion and brainstorming, and varied writing exercises to generate engaging personal essays that capture authentic voice and vision. Getting started is the hardest part, but with expert advice and feedback, you’ll be well on your way! LIMITED TO RISING HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS.

Read more: Seminar: Writing Your College Application Essays

Erika Meitner Instructor: Erika Meitner
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, October 25, 2014 | 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

How can we learn to stop worrying about offending readers of our work? In this seminar, we'll explore taboos in poetry and ways to break common writing blocks around difficult subjects. We'll learn about various American rebel poets and poetic movements, and closely read poems by Catullus, Frank O'Hara, Sharon Olds, Denise Duhamel, and others. We'll also create new material using in-class writing exercises around taboo topics. Please bring a draft of a poem about something you consider “taboo.”

Read more: Seminar: Poetry Taboos and You

Deborah Prum SQ Instructor: Deborah Prum
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, November 8, 2014 | 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Do you have ideas you'd love to see in print? Perhaps you'd like to write humorous essays, political commentaries, articles on health, human interest stories, or something else that makes your heart beat a little faster. Participants in this seminar will identify their personal goals for freelance writing and come up with a plan for how to implement these goals. We'll discuss generating ideas, creating a good query letter, using social media efficiently, networking, and self-publishing.

Read more: Seminar: Getting Started with Freelance Writing

Don Fry new Instructor: Don Fry
Cost: $10 Members | $25 Non-Members
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | 6:00 PM-7:00 PM

Limited to 3 students.

Work with writing coach Don Fry in a three-on-one coaching session. Each writer gets 20 minutes while the other two listen. (The secret is that you learn most by listening to the other two writers' sessions.) We will explore your writing process to help solve your biggest problem. Don does not work with text; writers' problems occur not in the text, but in the process that produced the text.

Read more: Small Group Sessions with Writing Coach Don Fry (November)

ed falco Instructor: Ed Falco
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, November 15, 2014 | 9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Writing fiction based on historical events has its own set of rewards, headaches, and responsibilities. We’ll discuss creating characters and developing plots based on historical figures and events. We’ll also talk about the writer’s responsibility to a constructed character and narrative versus the accurate representation of events and people. We won’t be able to solve every problem that arises in our discussions, but with luck we'll learn a thing or two about writing historical fiction.

Read more: Seminar: Writing True Crime Fiction: Narrative, History, and the Elements of Fiction

Jay Varner SQ Instructor: Jay Varner
Cost: $60 Members | $65 Non-Members
Saturday, December 6, 2014 | 1:00 PM-5:00 PM

Limited to 18 students. This seminar will take place in the expanded main event space.

Nonfiction author Philip Gerard says, "We write out of mystery, looking for an answer we don't have, trying to resolve what troubles us, to understand what seems beyond comprehension." Has any quote better encapsulated why we write about our family? Over a few hours, through writing exercises and group discussions about selected reading, we’ll come to understand how to approach what can be one of the trickiest but also one of the most rewarding things in a writer's life: putting your family on the page.

Read more: Seminar: Writing Your Family Story

Christine Stoddard Instructor: Christine Stoddard
Cost: $90 Members | $100 Non-Members
Saturday, December 13, 2014 | 9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

The magic of Virginia lies in its stories, from textbook legends taught across America to neighborhood tales passed down for generations. Do you love Appalachian yarns or have an ancestor worthy of a biography? Bring your nonfiction Virginia story, including any research or drafts you may have. You will have the chance to share your ideas, try out several writing exercises, learn about Virginia history and folklore resources, and receive feedback on any work you've completed thus far.

Read more: Seminar: Writing About Virginia History

We offer a variety of eight-week classes, daytime and evening. Our workshops are limited to 12 students, except where otherwise specified. See the current list below.

Sharon Harrigan Instructor: Sharon Harrigan
Cost: $189 Members | $210 Non-Members
8 Mondays, September 29-November 17, 2014
6:30 PM-9:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Learn how to turn your experiences into a true story that is as engaging as a novel. Writers in all stages are welcome, whether you are starting with a personal essay or two you’d like to turn into a book, you already have a book manuscript, or you are just starting with an idea. We will talk about the differences between memoir and autobiography and how choosing what not to tell is as important as choosing what to tell. We will do in-class writing prompts and read short passages from memoir masters to illustrate how to solve tricky problems. Each participant will be workshopped twice, with an option to meet individually after class with the instructor on the day of workshop. Previous students are welcome to enroll again. Required text: To Show and To Tell by Phillip Lopate. 

Read more: Your Life as a Story: Writing the Book-Length Memoir

Brendan Wolfe New Instructor: Brendan Wolfe
Cost: $189 Members | $210 Non-Members
8 Saturdays, October 4-November 22, 2014
1:00 PM-3:30 PM

Limited to 12 students.

In this workshop, we'll critique student writing in addition to considering a few published selections. The goal will be to move from the chin-strokingly philosophical—"What is a true story?" "Is it memoir or mem-wah?"—to the more practical: "How should this story be told?" "How do I convince my readers to share my passions?" "What parts am I allowed to make up?" All levels are welcome, but be prepared to write!

Read more: Creative Nonfiction Workshop

david ronka new Instructor: David Ronka
Cost: $189 Members | $210 Non-Members
8 Wednesdays, October 1-November 19, 2014
6:30 PM-9:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Are you a fiction writer looking for guidance and support? Here’s the chance to share your work with other writers as you craft what John Gardner calls the “vivid and continuous fictional dream.” Through class discussion, writing exercises, and close reading of each others’ writing, we’ll explore the writer’s craft, from generating ideas to producing a polished short story. Expect to contribute at least two short stories and brief written responses to your peers’ work.

Read more: Evening Fiction Workshop

Andrew Martin Instructor: Andrew Martin
Cost: $189 Members | $210 Non-Members
8 Wednesdays, October 1-November 19, 2014
1:00 PM-3:30 PM

Moved to Wednesday afternoons.

Limited to 12 students.

This course on writing very short stories will ask some big questions. Like: what makes something a story, anyway? We'll read lots of contemporary flash fiction—pieces that range from a sentence to a couple of pages long—and workshop plenty of our own, too. The class welcomes writers of all experience levels, and, since "flash" often moves in the shadow-land between fiction, poetry, and memoir, writers of all genres will be welcome as well.

Read more: Flash Fiction Workshop (Daytime)

doug nordfors new Instructor: Douglas Nordfors
Cost: $189 Members | $210 Non-Members
8 Wednesdays, October 1-November 19, 2014
6:30 PM-9:00 PM

Limited to 12 students.

Starting from the notion that good poets believe that writing and reading are joined at the hip, this class will combine a friendly book-club-like atmosphere discussion of a wide selection of contemporary poets, both well known and not so well known, with in-class writing exercises designed to complement the discussion and to generate poem ideas. Participants will also be invited to bring in contemporary poems they admire, or have questions about, for discussion.

Read more: Contemporary Poets