Writing Courses


Date and Time: Thursday, October 8, 9am-2pm

Location: 521 Heather Place, Nashville, TN 37204 (behind Baja Burrito)

Cost: $79 (includes lunch from Baja Burrito)

Your truest writing voice shares more than you might think with your regular voice--the voice you use when you tell a friend about your vacation, when you discuss the day's schedule with your spouse, when you order lunch. This one-day, live-action seminar explores the idea that better writing may not be a matter of trying harder or straining after increasingly clever similes and metaphors or imitating your favorite writers, but settling into the voice that comes most naturally to you.

The day's instruction will include short lectures, group discussions, and several short writing exercises. 

Topics to be Covered:

  • Trusting Your Native Tongue
  • Resisting cliche and formula
  • Mining your experience for story-worthy moments
  • Finding Meaning vs. Making Sense
  • Relying on the concrete and the particular
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June 8-July 16

Besides being a brilliant writer, Flannery O'Connor wrote quite a bit about the craft of writing. In this six-week course, we will look at O'Connor's essays about writing in Mystery and Manners, examine ways that she implemented her principles in her short stories, and implement those principles ourselves in short writing exercises. 

My goal as instructor will not be to get you to mimic O'Connor, but to help you find your own voice--to help you write in your native tongue, just as O'Connor wrote in hers. Though O'Connor's wrote more or less exclusively about fiction, most of her principles are equally applicable to non-fiction narratives.

Typical weekly workload 

  • Reading: One essay and one story from O'Connor (there will also be optional readings)
  • Writing: 2-3 pages 
  • Listening: 20-30 minute lecture
  • Online Discussion: I will post several discussion questions each week. Hopefully they will lead to fruitful discussion in which you can participate as time allows.

Required Texts

  • Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners
  • Flannery O'Connor, Complete Stories

Recommended Text

Syllabus (tentative)

Week 1: The Nature of Narrative

Essay--"Writing Short Stories"

Short Story--"The Life You Save May Be Your Own"

Week 2: Native Country, Native Tongue

Essay--"The Fiction Writer and His Country"

Short Story--"Greenleaf"

Week 3: Using Metaphor and Symbol

Essay--"The Nature and Aim of Fiction"

Short Story--"Good Country People"

Week 4: Unexpected but Believable

Essay--"Some Aspects of the Grotesque in Southern Fiction"

Short Story--"A Good Man Is Hard to Find"

Week 5: Mystery and Manners

Essay--"Novelist and Believer"

Short Story--"A Temple of the Holy Ghost"

Week 6: Fiction and Faith

Essay--"The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South"

Short Story--"The River"



June 8-July 16

A six-week online creative writing course devoted to the habits of “earthy” writing—writing that is concrete rather than abstract, concerned with the material facts of our existence. (Limited to 12 participants).

Topics covered:

  • Concrete Language and Imagery
  • Learning to See
  • Place
  • Memory
  • Character
  • Metaphor

For full course description, click here

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A four-week online course designed to help writers better understand the building blocks of English sentences and become more skilled at assembling those building blocks into sentences that communicate meaning efficiently and stylishly.

Topics covered will include (but not be limited to):

  • Active and passive voice
  • Subordination and coordination 
  • Parallelism
  • Pronouns and antecedents
  • Nominalization
  • Sentence structure

We will not spend much (or any) time on their/they’re/there, its/it’s, the Oxford comma, or similar questions, which you can easily sort out for yourself with the help of a textbook or a grammar website. We will focus instead on more substantive matters of sentence construction, always with an eye to clearer communication. 

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