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  • Workshop
  • Online: Zoom
  • Intermediate
  • 7 Weeks

Personal Essay 101

No Longer Enrolling

  • $355.00 Non-Member
  • $340.00 Member

Class Description

What elements make up a successful narrative personal essay? How do you focus your ideas, memories, and experiences into a coherent form and make sure you’re telling a story? In this 6 week workshop, we'll learn how. Each week, we'll look for models and inspiration in essays by Cheryl Strayed, Lee Martin, Brady Udall, Brian Doyle, Dinty Moore, Meredith Maran, Junot Diaz, and other examples from literary magazines and commercial publications such as the New York Times's “Modern Love" and Salon's "Life." Through exercises and sharing our work, we'll examine typical structures for how to build your personal essay around key scenes and passages of reflection and backstory, and explore ways to structure for your essay. You'll identify the narrative arc or "plot" for your essay, and look at strategies to develop characters—both the character of yourself and others. We'll also look at how to craft vivid description, "close-ups" and scene-work, and discuss how pacing, narrative order can hook readers from the first paragraph. Depending on enrollment, each student will have her short exercises and/or completed essay drafts workshopped by the class up to 3 times.

Note: No class on 7/5.

Did you know that we have scholarships available for all GrubStreet classes? To apply, click the "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button in the top right corner of this page. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your scholarship application and await our Scholarship Committee's decision before registering for the class. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

Scholarships Format/Location

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. Please visit the Resources tab to access the video-conference link.

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!