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Adult Workshops

Austin Bat Cave offers adult writing classes for writers of all skill levels. Because we want our programming to be accessible to writers of all backgrounds and income-levels, we are pleased to offer participants support through scholarships and payment plans. Apply for a scholarship here, and for more information on payment plans, please email emily@austinbatcave.org. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all classes meet virtually. Class times are listed in Central Time (CT). 

Please note: The fees from ABC’s adult writing workshops subsidize our free writing programs for kids and pay our adult workshop instructors. A major factor in determining tuition rates is the instructor’s time and preparation outside of the classroom. Classes that provide students with highly-personalized feedback, such as long-term workshops, will generally be priced higher than courses that meet only once. If you have the means, we encourage you to consider donating to Austin Bat Cave and help arts education and literacy continue to thrive during these challenging times.

All classes are non-refundable but are transferrable to another person or to another class of equal or lesser value!

2020 Instructors include Kristen Arnett, Manuel Gonzales, Rion Amilcar Scott, Rachel Heng, Jenny Tinghui Zhang, Bridget Brewer, and more.


 

Summer 2020 Adult Writing Workshops

Writing Compelling Characters with Willie Fitzgerald

Tuition: $350.00

6-week online Fiction Workshop — 12 students

Time & Date:
Wednesdays, 6:00 — 8:30 pm
June 10th — July 15th

Register here!

Often when a story feels flat, or like it doesn’t quite peak, the problem is not plot but character. What are our characters willing to do to get what they want? What will they sacrifice to avoid what they fear?

In this workshop, we’ll read and revise stories with an eye on character, plumbing the depths of the people we write to craft stories that other people will want to read.

About the Instructor:

Willie Fitzgerald is a fiction fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin. His fiction, reviews, and essays have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Stranger, Cold Cube Anthology #3 and elsewhere. Before moving to Austin, he founded and co-directed APRIL, a festival of small press and independent publishing.


ABC’s Spectacular Summer Seminar Festival

Building Characters with Dungeons & Dragons with Willie Fitzgerald

Tuition: $35.00

Open-Genre Online Seminar 

Time & Date:
Saturday, May 30th, 2:00 — 4:00 pm

Register here!

Do you struggle with coming up with characters with compelling motivations? Do you feel like you’re writing the same protagonist over and over again? In this one-day class, we’ll use dice to come up with new characters with random motivations, relationships and objectives. My goal is to shake up how you think of the people who populate your stories.

Absolutely zero D&D experience required!

About the Instructor:

Willie Fitzgerald is a fiction fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at UT Austin. His fiction, reviews, and essays have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Stranger, Cold Cube Anthology #3 and elsewhere. Before moving to Austin, he founded and co-directed APRIL, a festival of small press and independent publishing.


Suffering the Consequences: Building Exciting Plot through Consequential Action with Manuel Gonzales

photo by the authorTuition: $35.00

Online Fiction Seminar 

Time & Date:
Thursday, June 25th, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

Life is arbitrary in a way that fiction cannot stand to be, but when you sit down to tell a story, the plot can begin to feel contrived, forced, predictable, anecdotal, or happenstantial. In this course, we’ll explore building plots that feel organic and without contrivance by focusing on characters, their decisions, their actions, and the consequences that arise from these. Characters drive plots, and we’ll spend our time examining exactly how.

About the Instructor:

Manuel Gonzales is the author of The Miniature Wife and other stories, winner of the Sue Kaufmann prize for first fiction and the John Gardner Fiction Prize, and the novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack!, which was awarded the YALSA Alex Award. He currently lives in Massachusetts and teaches literature and creative writing at Bennington College and serves as a core faculty member of the Bennington Writing Seminars low-residency MFA program.


On Place: Regional Writing & Home Narrative in Fiction with Kristen Arnett

Photo by Maria JonesTuition: $35.00

Online Fiction Seminar 

Time & Date:
Thursday, July 2nd, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

In regional writing, setting is key. How is home constructed in place narrative? Through application of all five senses? Does it require thinking of place as character? Attendees will spend time in this session discussing the craft of place and regional writing in narrative fiction. Readings will be provided by the instructor with a focus on the craft of place writing. In this course, we will encounter and extract techniques used by regional writers in home and place work, in both novel and short fiction.

About the Instructor:

Kristen Arnett is the NYT bestselling author of the debut novel Mostly Dead Things (Tin House, 2019) which was listed as one of The New York Times top books of 2019. She is a queer fiction and essay writer. She was awarded Ninth Letter‘s Literary Award in Fiction and is a columnist for Literary Hub. Her work has appeared at The New York Times, North American Review, The Normal School, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly, Guernica, Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, McSweeneys, PBS Newshour, Bennington Review, The Guardian, Salon, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Her story collection, Felt in the Jaw, was published by Split Lip Press and was awarded the 2017 Coil Book Award. She is a Spring 2020 Shearing Fellow at Black Mountain Institute. Her next two books (Samson: A Novel and With Foxes: Stories) will be published by Riverhead Books. You can find her on Twitter here: @Kristen_Arnett


Flash Fiction with Hilary Leichter

Photo by Katie Webb PhotographyTuition: $35.00

Online Fiction Seminar 

Time & Date:
Thursday, July 9th, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

What makes fiction flash fiction? Is it just a matter of length, or is it a matter of urgency, whimsy, deadliness? How do you innovate with a limited word count, and how do you make every word count? Is there enough space to care about things like character and plot, or are we already out of time? Brevity isn’t just the soul of wit, it has its own soul, its own mysterious properties and elisions. In an age when facts are trampled and language obliterated, there’s a sacred place for the precision, clarity, and elegance of an idea that comes across in the kind of stories that we call flash.This seminar is open to writers with all levels of experience, from beginners to fiction veterans. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try shorter forms, or maybe you’re a seasoned poet looking to dip your toe in prose. We will look at a brief history of the style, reviewing its origins and examining work by the writers Diane Williams, Vi Khi Nao, Russell Edson, and more. We’ll diagram stories, do exercises in class together, generate material, and interrogate the form.

About the Instructor:

Hilary Leichter is the author of the novel Temporary. Her writing has appeared in n+1, The New Yorker, Harper’s, Bookforum, and Conjunctions. She teaches writing at Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn, NY.


Scriptwriting for Television and Film with Gillian Kümm

photo by the authorTuition: $35.00

Online Screenwriting Seminar 

Time & Date:
Thursday, July 16th, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

Ever wondered what writing a script would look like? In this one day workshop, you’ll dip your toes in the writing room for television and film. We’ll cover the basics of format and story structure for these two mediums with examples and short-burst writing exercises. The goal is to give participants a better understanding of writing for a visual medium.

About the Instructor:

Gillian Kümm is a writer and artist with an Army brat background. She received a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from MSU Denver and a certificate in writing for television from UCLA. Her fiction and poetry have been published in Metrosphere, Texas’s Best Emerging Poets 2019, and others. She is also part of the leadership team for the Austin based writing collective Lenguas Locxs.


Poetry Seminar with Ted Dodson

Tuition: $35.00

Online Poetry Seminar 

Time & Date:
Tuesday, July 21st, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

Course description coming soon! 

About the Instructor:

Ted Dodson is the author of “At the National Monument / Always Today” (Pioneer Works, 2016) and “Pop! in Spring” (Diez, 2013). He works for BOMB and is a former editor of The Poetry Project Newsletter. For more information, go to www.ted-dodson.com.


I’ll Build Me A World with Rion Amilcar Scott

Photo Credit: Rebecca Aranda PhotographyTuition: $35.00

Online Fiction Seminar 

Time & Date:
Thursday, July 23rd, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

Building a fictional world that stretches across works is its own particular challenge. In addition to paying attention to the usual narrative elements (plot, character, sentences, etc.) the writer of this kind of work must pay close attention to the shape and feel of an additional element: a world that must be both strange and recognizable. In this course, students will examine recurring characters, locations, and objects, as well as setting as “character.”

About the Instructor:

Rion Amilcar Scott is the author of the story collection, The World Doesn’t Require You (Norton/Liveright, August 2019). His debut story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016), was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the 2017 Hillsdale Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. His work has been published in journals such as The New Yorker, The Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, and The Rumpus, among others. One of his stories was listed as a notable in Best American Stories 2018 and one of his essays was listed as a notable in Best American Essays 2015. He was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland and earned an MFA from George Mason University where he won the Mary Roberts Rinehart award, a Completion Fellowship and an Alumni Exemplar Award. He has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writing Conference, Kimbilio and the Colgate Writing Conference as well as a 2019 Maryland Individual Artist Award. Presently he teaches Creative Writing at the University of Maryland.


Mapping Identity through Personal Narrative with Zaina Arafat

Tuition: $35.00

Online Open-Genre Seminar 

Time & Date:
Tuesday, July 28th, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

Course description coming soon!

About the Instructor:

Zaina Arafat is a Palestinian-American writer and the author of the novel, You Exist Too Much, an Indie Next Pick for June. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications including Granta, The New York Times, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, VICE, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic and NPR. She holds an MFA from Iowa and was awarded the 2018 Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship from Jack Jones Literary Arts. She currently lives in Brooklyn.


Writing Comedic Personal Essays with Sophia Benoit

Sophia Benoit photo by Shanley Kellis

Tuition: $35.00

Online Creative Nonfiction Seminar 

Time & Date:
Thursday, July 30th, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

The struggle with comedic writing is not only finding what you actually want to say, but how to use comedy as a vehicle to deliver that message. In this course, we’ll focus on marrying the art of personal essay writing with comedic storytelling and letting each complement the other. We’ll explore making the personal feel universal through comedy and anchoring comedic writing in personal experiences to elevate the humor. We will look at examples of great humor writing and personal essays, how to mine your life for stories, and how to make those stories fun to read. 

About the Instructor:

Sophia Benoit is a writer who lives in Los Angeles. She’s a sex and relationships writer for GQ, and has had bylines in The Guardian, Reductress, Refinery29, Allure, The Cut and more. She went to school originally for screenwriting and also does stand up when the world isn’t in a pandemic; currently she has an advice column newsletter called Here’s the Thing, but you can always always always find her on Twitter.


The Surreal Seminar: A One-Day Exploration with Sarah Rose Etter

Photo by Katie Webb PhotographyTuition: $35.00

Open-Genre Online Seminar 

Time & Date:
Thursday, August 6th, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

From Duchamp to Macahdo, how has the thread of surrealism woven its way from visual art into writing? In this seminar, we’ll explore the history of surrealism in visual and written forms, and how this mode has evolved to impact literature today. We will survey and dissect the early tenets of Surrealism in favor of a closer look at contemporary Surrealism that is modern, inclusive, and vibrant.

In this class, we’ll discuss theories of writing the way an artist discusses canvas and paint, and how to create space for play, exploration, and the freedom to create first drafts written from the depths.We’ll also examine three surreal short stories together, then have a Q+A that allows for a robust discussion. Each attendee will receive a reading packet and a series of writing prompts to be used after class in order to explore the subconscious mind through a surrealist approach.

About the Instructor:

Sarah Rose Etter is the author of Tongue Party and The Book of X, her first novel, which was a finalist The Believer Book Award. Her fiction, interviews, and essays have appeared in Guernica, Gulf Coast, BOMB, The Cut, VICE, and more. She has been awarded residences at Disquiet International program in Portugal and the Gullkistan Writing Residency in Iceland. She earned her B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University and her M.F.A. in Fiction from Rosemont College. She lives in Austin, TX.


A Different Way To Make A Writer with Lauren Francis-Sharma

Photo by Anna Carson DeWittTuition: $35.00

Online Open-Genre Seminar 

Time & Date:
Thursday, August 13th, 7:00 — 9:00 pm 

Register here!

In the current North American literary context, much of our understanding of how writers are created comes from the machine known as the “publishing industry,” which include both institutions that confer MFAs and the “houses” that offer such MFA holders six-figure advances. But what about the other ways writers are made? How do you maintain a creative life with the demands of a 9 to 5 and perhaps even a family? How can you become a “break out” writer via a non-traditional route? I will share my personal journey from practicing lawyer to novelist and Assistant Director of Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, sharing my mistakes along the way. We will also have time to answer your questions.

About the Instructor:

Lauren Francis-Sharma is the author of Book of the Little Axe (May, 2020) and ‘Til the Well Runs Dry, which debuted in 2014 and was short-listed for the William Saroyan International Prize, awarded the Honor Fiction Prize by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. ‘Til the Well Runs Dry was also chosen as an O, The Oprah Magazine Summer Reading Pick and lauded by the New York Times, USA Today, Essence Magazine, and People Magazine amongst other publications.

 

If you are interested in leading a writing workshop for adults, please email emily@austinbatcave.org.

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