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.
2013 Stanford Continuing Studies
Ellen teaches a one day seminar each semester through Stanford Continuing Studies.
For information and registration: https://continuingstudies.stanford.edu/
Jump Start Your Novel - One Day Seminar
This seminar is for students who are ready to begin writing a novel or who have hit some roadblocks along the way. It would also help the student who has a fledgling idea for a novel and doesn’t know how to develop it.
In this workshop , we will tackle essential novel-writing questions including:
Is my novel idea big enough? Is it interesting enough? How much do I need to plan before I begin writing? What point of view should I use for this novel?
Are my characters well-developed? Do I know who they are and how they’ll change? Do I need to know where I’m heading in this story? How much plot do I need to know? How will I write this novel?
By the end of the day, the students will discover how pre-writing can help them bring their novel ideas into focus and prepare them for first draft writing.
Date: Saturday, October 25
Time: 9 AM - 4 PM, with an hour break for lunch
Cost: $225 (includes lunch)
The Best American Essays Seminars
I've been teaching a class on the Best American Short Story collection for many years -- it's been one of my favorite classes. This year I'd like to try the same format with the Best American Essay collection. We'll use The Best American Essays 2013 by Cheryl Strayed. I'll choose 10 of the essays in the collection and we'll discuss 5 of them in each class. Our focus will be on learning from the masters -- how can we write better essays. You can take one or both classes.
Dates: Saturday, Nov. 1, Saturday, Nov. 8
Time: 9 AM - noon
Cost: $75 per class
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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