Personal Narrative Essentials: Writing Great Scenes

Friday, March 6th, 10:00am-5:00pm
GrubStreet HQ (Remote)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
12 seats max

The filmmaker Howard Hawks once said, "A good movie is three good scenes and no bad scenes." Substitute "essay" for "movie" and we might have a prescription for how to beef up your writing. In this course, we'll look at great examples of scenes in personal narrative—what I call "live moments"—where things are happening, characters are interacting, stuff is being said, action is going on, and big things change. Learning from master writers like Jaquira Diaz, Michelle Kuo, Cheryl Strayed, and others, you'll see how to shape your scenes so they have a beginning, middle, and end as well as a turning point that ups the drama. We'll also look at how to deftly interweave necessary expository information. During in-class exercises, we'll practice some techniques and write new scintillating scenes you can apply to a current writing project.

Part of The Personal Narrative Essentials series taught by Ethan Gilsdorf. Take every class in the series or simply choose the craft topics that are relevant to the challenges you face in your work. Classes include:

  • Personal Narrative Essentials: Writing Great Scenes
  • Personal Narrative Essentials: The Close-Up Detail
  • Personal Narrative Essentials: Summary & Reflective Voice
  • Personal Narrative Essentials: Building Characters


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Ethan Gilsdorf
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Previous Students Say

  • "Generative"
  • "Inundated with Great Info"
  • "Lots of Practical Tips"


  • Class Discussion
  • In-Class Writing
  • Lecture
  • Craft Lessons


  • Personal Essay
  • Literary Journalism
  • Nonfiction
  • Publishing & Promotion

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