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.

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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.

Sonoma County Writers Camp

For information about upcoming writing retreats, go to

Stanford Continuing Studies

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

Private Classes


Make 2023 the year you write your novel or memoir!

This class, Novel/Memoir in a Year, will offer you guidance, support, craft lessons, deadlines, butt-kicking and a full critique of your novel/memoir at the end of the year. And it all takes place on zoom.

Here's how it works:

We'll meet on zoom over 5 weekends during the year. For the first weekend, we'll have class on Saturday morning and on Sunday morning. For the other weekends, we'll have class on Saturday morning and "office hours" on Sunday morning, all on zoom. 

You begin this class with a vague notion of a novel or a memoir that you'd like to write. In our 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.

In addition to the classes, We gather on zoom once a week for "virtual cafe writing" -- that includes a check-in, two hours of writing, and a check-out. It's been a wonderful way to build community and to keep up the conversation about process and craft. And to be held accountable! (It is optional for those who are available and interested.)

The cost for this class is high.  I do a line-by-line read of your manuscript at the end of the year and hand back a critique that is usually a 4 - 6 page single spaced document. You'll also meet with me for a private one-hour 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 $5,200. You can pay on a three-part installment plan.

Class dates:

Jan 14/15

Mar 11/12

June 3/4

Aug 19/20

Oct 21/22

If you are not available for any of the dates, you'll receive a video of each class. I'm available for consultation at any time, through email or phone calls. And of course, through the one on one consultations. If you have questions about this, please shoot me an email and let me know your concerns. I can also give you student testimonials -- I have plenty of those. Email me at


The BASS Seminars In this four-part class, we read the Best American Short Stories from the latest edition and discuss them in terms of craft. What can we writers learn from these masters? You can sign up for one, two, three or all four classes. We'll meet on zoomon four Saturday mornings from 9:00 AM (Pacific time) until noon.

DATES: to be announced
COST: $100 per class 


HOW TO REGISTER: email or sign up for my mailing list.

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