Ellen teaches fiction writing classes in the San Francisco Bay area and several international locations. Check here regularly for updated schedules, class openings, and registration information.

To receive periodic emails with information about Ellen's classes, send an email and ask to be added to her writing class email list.

Ellen also works one-on-one with writers. If you're looking for a book doctor or a writing coach, or if you'd like a critical evaluation of your manuscript, contact her by email.

2015 Stanford Continuing Studies

Ellen teaches a one day seminar each semester through Stanford Continuing Studies.
For information and registration:

Private Classes

Here's to a Creative New Year

Join me for a day of inspiration and creativity - a perfect way to start the new year. I'll provide prompts and writing exercises that will help you find new material for stories or novels. You'll learn about story structure and will leave class with a few stories sketched out and ready to roll. You'll learn about character development and will have a few new characters ready to enter your fictional worlds. And you'll play with stylistic choices so that your next stories might take you in new directions. We'll also talk about ways in which you can make the muse more available in this next year - how to nurture and encourage creativity.

This is a perfect holiday gift - for yourself or for someone you know who might be eager to explore writing as a creative outlet. The workshop is appropriate for writers at all levels, from beginning to advanced.

One day workshop
Date: Saturday, January 24
Time: 9am - 4pm
Cost: $225 (includes lunch)

A Writer's Life

This half-day workshop will focus on ways in which you can shape a writer's life for yourself. We'll start with a discussion of how you can fit writing into your busy life. We'll examine writing as a daily habit, writing as a job, writing as a discipline. I'll share some of my own writing tricks of the trade - the unit system, writing meditations, separating research and editing from the first draft process. We'll also talk about writing conferences, writing residencies, and finally, how to search for an agent. And we'll discuss ways in which you can separate the business of writing from the process of writing. 

Half-day workshop
Dates: Saturday, February 28
Time: 9 AM - noon
Cost: $75

Best American Short Story Seminars (BASS)

This is one of my favorite classes. We meet on four Saturday mornings and discuss the stories in the Best American Short Stories 2014. The editor this year is Jennifer Egan. Our discussions focus on what we, as writers, can learn from these masters of the short story. You can take one, two, three or all four classes. We'll discuss five different stories in each class. 

Sat, March 21
Sat, April 4
Sat, April 18
Sat, April 25
Time: 9 AM til noon
Cost: $75 per class
Location: my home in Los Altos Hills

Novel in a Year

This year's class is full and has already begun. A new class will begin in January, 2015.
I've been reading the novels and memoirs from my most recent class and I'm thrilled to see what they've produced in a year. I've taught this class for five years and I'm convinced this works. Here's what happens:
You begin this class with a vague notion of a novel or a memoir that you'd like to write. We meet six Saturday mornings during the course of the year. In those classes, I talk about each aspect of the process: pre-writing, developing characters, plot, voice and point of view, the problematic middle of a novel, endings, and rewriting. I don't read anything until you hand in your novel or memoir at the end of the year. This class is NOT a workshop -- you don't read other students' work and they don't read yours. This is a year for you to write a novel or memoir, to have a teacher and coach to guide you along the way, and to receive a thorough critique at the end of the year. I give you deadlines and I'm available to help you through the rough spots. I do a lot of cheering from the sidelines. And sometimes I pick up the whip as well. 
The cost is high. The reason for this is mostly the full critique that you receive at the end of the year. I do a line-by-line read and hand back a critique that is usually a 5 - 6 page single spaced document. You'll also meet with me for a private consultation twice during the year, usually at the midpoint and definitely after you receive my critique. I will also offer my help with query letters when you're ready to find an agent, even if that's years after our class has ended.
So: the cost. It's $4,500. Before you gasp, remember that it includes that critique. And you can pay on the installment plan.
For the first and last class I will serve lunch after class -- that's so the group gets a chance to know each other a bit -- and to celebrate our accomplishments at the end. I also assign a "writing buddy" to each member of the class. Some students have had great success with this concept -- I know of one team that still meets five years later. The writing buddies might choose to meet once a week to write at the same time, they might choose to read each other's work, they might choose just to check in with each other at the end of each week to account for their productivity. I try to match writing buddies who are looking for the same thing.
Class dates:
Jan 10
Mar 14
May 9
July 11
Sept 12
Dec 5
We meet from 9 am til noon, except for the first and last classes which will run til 1PM because they include lunch.
The rest of the year I'm available for consultation at any time, through email or phone calls. And of course, through the one on one in-person consultations.
If you have questions about this, please email me at I can also give you student testimonials—I have plenty of those. Let me know as soon as possible. 

What Ellen's Students Have to Say

“I was an English major and have an MFA in creative writing and after years of workshops, Ellen remains one of my all-time favorite teachers. She has a natural talent for motivating students to write, handling the group critique dynamic, and helping you shape and push a story forward. I always left her classes with a spark of inspiration.” — Lolly Winston, NY Times Bestsellers Good Grief and Happiness Sold Separately

“Why take one of Ellen Sussman's classes? Inspiration. Not enough? How about the kind of criticism that will enable you to find your own voice and move your writing from the pedestrian to the distinctive? You want still another reason? Well, then there's this: with the class comes membership in a writing fellowship that brings both shared excitement and terror. Go for it!” — Keith Raffel, Dot.Dead

“Ellen is a perfect combination of tough coach and head cheerleader. She teaches with deep understanding how a writer stuggles. While creating a warm and welcoming environment, she challenges you to find depth in your work you never knew you could achieve.” — Shelly King, author of The Moment of Everything, coming 2014