On Saturday, January 27th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PT, I’ll be teaching my online class “Narrative Engine: The First Ten Pages” through the San Francisco Writers Grotto. Click here for full information and to register.

Description: “Why do some memoirs and novels take off from the first page, while others stall out before the end of chapter one? More importantly: How can you make sure the book you’re writing gets all the necessary gears lined up on those all-important first ten pages?

In this combination craft lecture and trouble-shooting workshop, you’ll learn the three Cs of narrative engine: Character, Conflict, and Clock. What’s clock, you say? It’s a simple but elusive element that’s crucial to your story’s drive—but many writers don’t realize their pages are missing it. Character and conflict are also more complex than they first appear. Drawing from the teachings of novelists Eileen Pollack and David Haynes along with Lisa Cron’s book Wired for Story, this class will demystify all three Cs, then lead you through exercises and instructor feedback to identify Character, Conflict, and Clock in your narrative. Does your character have a compelling inner issue? Is your conflict harnessed to a theme that makes it meaningful? You’ll leave this class with the major story elements of your own work clarified, and your narrative engine ready to rev.

From February 21st to March 13th, I’ll be teaching a four-week course, “Playing with Point of View: A Generative Workshop,” on Wednesday nights from 6-8:30 p.m. PT on Zoom, via the San Francisco Writers Grotto. Click here for full information and registration.

Description: “Do you want to write a story with an omniscient narrator but worry the workshop will accuse you of “head jumping”? Curious to write parts of your memoir in second person but unsure you can pull it off? If you desire the increased freedom and artistic possibility of mastering point of view but feel daunted by technicalities, this class is for you.

Over four Wednesday evenings, we’ll break down the concepts you need in clear, simple terms, with a special focus on controlling psychic distance. But most important, we will play with the new imaginative possibilities, experimenting with short in-class and between-class assignments involving omniscience, third-person collective (the “we” point of view), varieties of second person, and more. This exploratory, discussion-driven class for both fiction and nonfiction writers will give you the tools and experience to become skilled in point of view, exponentially increasing your writing powers.”

For Spring 2024, I will teach a 10-week novel writing course at Stanford Continuing Studies, “Build Your Novel’s Narrative Engine: A Blueprint for Success.” As you might guess, this course expands on the concepts in the above one-day course. It will be taught on Canvas with optional weekly live Zoom meetings Mondays at 6 p.m. Pacific, from April 1-June 7. All live Zoom meetings are recorded, so if the live meeting time does not work for you, you can watch at your convenience and still participate fully on Zoom. This 10-week course will be open for registration in early March.

Past Class Updates

I’m very excited to offer my first class through Catapult’s outstanding program of online writing classes. My six-week course on the personal essay will start on Tuesday, August 2nd. This is a highly generative class in which we will close-read some excellent short essays by writers like Grace Paley, Kiese Laymon, and Lydia Yuknavitch, and borrow some of their structural elements to write new essay drafts of our own. For the full class info, click here.


I’m also very much looking forward to teaching a four-week online Life Into Literature course for the wonderful new San Francisco writing space Page Street. Check back here in August for full details. This class is for writers just beginning to experiment with memoir and essay and will take place fully online, on Saturday afternoons in October 2022.


For Fall 2020-2023 I taught Form and Theory of the novel for Stanford Continuing Studies’ Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing. You can read more about the program here.

For Winter 2019, I taught Writing About Spirituality for Stanford Continuing Studies. Course description:

Our spiritual experiences stir our most urgent desire to communicate. We burn to share the questions and convictions that draw us to a reality beyond our limited selves. But how do we work with language to contain the ineffable? How do we write about spirituality without oversimplifying infinite complexities? How can our writing reach those who already share our beliefs and those who don’t? In this course, we will read the work of inspiring spiritual writers who represent a wide range of faith traditions, from the reflections of Protestant memoirist Christian Wiman to the Dharma talks of Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön to the contemplative journals of Muslim poet Kazim Ali and the instructive essays of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. During our first six weeks, we will alternate between “reading weeks,” in which we deeply examine and contemplate our model texts, and “writing weeks,” in which we draft new work. During our final month, each student will workshop a longer essay or spiritual memoir. By reading published spiritual writers closely, we will find new ways to point to a greater truth in our own work.