Elements of Craft
Special Topics in Nonfiction

Writing Great Scenes for Your Personal Essays

Friday, February 12th, 10:00am-5:00pm
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
13 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 essays—what I call "live moments"—where things are happening, characters are interacting, stuff is being said, action is going on, and big things change. We'll show 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 GrubStreet's Elements of Craft series, dedicated to exploring craft issues on a deeper level. For more on this series' offerings, click here.


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Ethan Gilsdorf
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Previous Students Say

  • "High-Energy Class"
  • "Inspired Me to Write More"


  • Craft Lessons
  • In-Class Writing
  • Instructor Feedback
  • Class Discussion


  • Personal Essay
  • Nonfiction

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