Monday, August 20, 2007

Never Leave Your Desk

If you can’t handle rush hour traffic to Bethesda and the Writer’s Center…or, heck, if you don’ t even live in the Washington area, you might consider an online writing class. Here’s an announcement for two independent novel-writing classes taught by Masha Hamilton, a highly accomplished writer and teacher:

Dates: Sept. 4 through Nov. 13.

Novel Writing I is right for any writer who has been thinking about starting a novel or is up to halfway through. The class will include weekly lectures, critiques, and exercises aimed at helping you see your work freshly. We'll motivate you as we cover discovering the essence of your novel (and learning how to convey it in a single sentence), as well as the importance of the opening chapter. We’ll discuss where to start the story, how to create a strong protagonist, the dramatic arcs of major characters, choosing a point of view, and exploring the voice of your novel as well as individual characters within it. We'll analyze scene and delve into the dramatic possibilities created by strong dialogue. We'll also look at setting, pacing, profluence and psychic distance. Finally, we’ll consider the business end – where and how to market your novel manuscript – and you’ll get guidance on the next step. Limited to 10-15 students. $500 for ten weeks.

Novel Writing II is for the writer who has more than half of a novel completed and is looking for a critical, helpful eye before the manuscript reaches the agent or editor. In this class, more of your work will be critiqued, and you will be called upon to write detailed weekly critiques yourself. Lectures will spring more naturally from the nature of the work. We'll talk about motivation in the soggy middle of our manuscripts. This will be a chance to workshop a large portion of your completed work, and resubmit if you choose. We'll focus on the skills of revision and layering your novel, as well as how to become our own teachers, learning by reading the work of others. The class also will include guidance on what to do once the manuscript is finished. Limited to 6-10 students. $650 for ten weeks.

Classes are small to allow for lots of individual attention to manuscripts. Please email me at masha at mashahamilton dot com for more details about either class.

About: Masha Hamilton has taught novel-writing privately, on-line, and for Gotham Writers Workshop in New York City; 92nd Street Y/Makor in New York City; Ann Arbor Writers’ Workshop in Ann Arbor, MI; Pima Writers’ Workshop in Tucson, AZ; Willamette Writers in Portland, OR; Ocean Park Maine Writers’ Conference near Portland, ME; Poets and Writers League, Cleveland, OH; and others.

Masha’s students have gone on to get agents, get published, to be accepted to prestigious MFA programs in creative writing. Here are some comments:

Masha is a born writer—and a born teacher. I believe she can help writers on any level with story, character, even sentence structure. I’ve earned an MFA in writing but I turn to Masha for something that no academic environment offers: concise, practical advice that brings results immediately. Plus, her energy and enthusiasm inspires me to keep writing, which is the most important issue of all. She’s the best! — John, Brooklyn

Masha Hamilton gears her writing classes to suit varying skill levels without sacrificing the pace or content of her teaching. No matter how much you've written, there is always something to learn. Balanced, substantive critiques combine with meaningful exercises and readings to create a productive and memorable workshop experience. Masha's ability to maintain open classroom camaraderie while facilitating rigorous analysis of student work is particularly impressive. If you want to sharpen your craft, and approach your writing and revision with greater depth and objectivity, look no further. — Maggie, New York

The wisdom and energy Masha Hamilton brings to teaching the art of writing a novel are nothing short of inspirational. It would be hard for me to imagine having finishedThe Boy Who Killed Caterpillars and getting it published by a literary press if it weren't for her four workshops that I took during the process of writing it. I charge Masha for my own intense focus on character, voice and subtext. — Joshua Kornreich, author of The Boy Who Killed Caterpillars

When I took the step into novel writing two years ago, Masha was there with open arms. She inspired me to dig deeper, much deeper, in my writing. She was not willing to accept the status quo. At the same time, she respected and nurtured my individuality, not bending me to her will but guiding me through self-discovery. And, as a sign of a truly great teacher, she was never too busy to take time to calm my fears as I struggled through the unknown, deeply emotional waters of writing. — Rob, California

I spent a year working with Masha on completing my first novel. Masha's insights both as a reader, writer and teacher were invaluable to me in understanding how to overcome the challenges of my story. She took the time to carefully critique my work in a positive and constructive way. In class she fostered a supportive environment, which brought out the best comments and feedback from fellow students. As a result of studying with Masha, I completed that novel and recently signed with a literary agent and am working on my next novel. If what you want is feedback and guidance, then Masha's class is the way to go. – Teri, New York

Wow, what a meeting!!!! (I know, don't use more than one exclamation point, but it is necessary in this case.) It was truly our pleasure to have you with us. How you involved us was not only sharing a valuable technique but enlightening/liberating as well. Thank you so very much for sharing your expertise with us. – Jan, Portland, OR


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.