Master Classes and Workshops

We know we can’t replace the experience of coming to Sewanee this summer, but we’re excited to offer an opportunity for learning and community via a series of online master classes taught by writers, editors, agents, and theater professionals. Registration will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis, with a cost of $75 for each two hours of a session. Please register using the links below for classes that explore everything from using theater for social change to how to write a pitch, in addition to small workshops.

 

Erin Harris HeadshotErin Harris

How to Submit Your Work to Agents
June 1, 12-2pm EST, and June 29, 12-2pm EST
Master class, $75, no cap
You’ve completed a manuscript or non-fiction book proposal and now it’s time to seek representation. How do you proceed? In this two-hour master class, Erin Harris, a VP and literary agent at Folio Literary Management, will guide you through the process, offering tips on how to craft a stand-out submission package, effectively manage your submission, and ultimately determine which agent is the best fit for you.  The second hour will be structured around a Q&A.
2 separate sessions
 

Margaret Riley King headshot‌Chloe Benjamin, Sally Kim, and Margaret Riley King

From Manuscript to Publication: An Author, Editor, and Agent Discuss the Birth of a Book
June 11, 3-5pm EST
Panel, free, no cap
While writing a book is a solo endeavor, publishing a book is far from one—with many decisions along the way that affect the fate of that book. Join author Chloe Benjamin, agent Margaret Riley King (William Morris Endeavor), and editor Sally Kim (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) as they discuss the many-stepped journey of THE IMMORTALISTS from conception to manuscript, development to bestselling publication.
1 session
 

Michelle BrowerMichelle Brower

What to Expect Once You Have an Agent
June 12 and June 15, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 15
In this session, Michelle Brower will outline the stages in the process of working with an agent to secure a book deal, from editorial work through publication and beyond. This session will focus heavily on discussion with participants, so feel free to bring your most burning questions about agents, the publishing process, and whatever else you are curious about.
2 separate sessions
 

Bea TroxelBea Troxel

Nature Songwriting
June 15, 3-5pm EST
Master Class, $75, cap of 10
We will explore how to bring the natural world into songwriting. How can a song be a form of environmental awareness/justice? How can the natural world bring us closer to the heart of a song? How does an image of a tree or a canyon help us clarify and tie together the message of a song? I am fascinated by the relationship between the human heart and the natural world, so we will closely examine this relationship and the heft it can bring to writing. This is a class for any level of songwriter.
2 separate sessions
 

Monica Youn

The Poet’s Toolkit: A Generative Workshop
Tuesdays 1-3pm EST; June 16, 23, 30, and July 7 FULL
Workshop, $300, cap of 10
This is a craft-based workshop for those who want to take their poems to the next level, to learn new modalities for reading poems, new techniques to expand and deepen their poetic practices. Absolute beginners and workshop veterans are all welcome. Each class will focus on a particular topic: for example, sonic resonance and repetition, momentum and pace, syntax and lineation, and the uses and abuses of certain voids. I will also distribute reading packets keyed to each craft topic, including a wide-ranging array of poetic approaches to each technique. We will use in-class exercises and take-home prompts to generate new work, but there will also be opportunities to workshop existing poems, if participants would prefer.
Number of sessions: 1 workshop with four classes
 

Michael_WiegersMichael Wiegers

A Guide to Letting it Go: Submitting Your Poetry Book
June 17 and June 24, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 15
Tips for preparing your poetry manuscript for submission to a poetry editor. Regardless of whether you've published a lot, or not at all, we will take a behind-the-curtain look at some of the characteristics editors consider when acquiring collections. We'll explore a wide range of topics such as queries and cover letters; whether to get an agent for poetry; second books; the pros and cons of big houses and small presses; ways of orchestrating your manuscript package and query for maximum attention; working with an editor. We will look at common considerations that can inform how a manuscript is evaluated, what you can expect, and how a poet can develop and refine their book toward publication. Students will be invited to submit sample queries in advance, to be reviewed in class, together with personalized individual responses.
2 separate sessions
 
Poetry: What to Expect When You're Expecting
June 26 and July 1, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 15
With enough patience, hard work, and an unending dance with rejection slips, eventually your book will be accepted for publication. Most of us think of getting our book accepted, but often the real work begins after acceptance. Knowing the latter can help expedite the former. Regardless of what stage you're at, this class will go deep into setting your book up for maximum success in the world over the transom. We'll cover questions such as: What does a publishing contract look like and what should you advocate for? How do you engage design and editing? How does publicity & marketing work? In this class, we'll look at how to work in tandem with a publisher to get maximum visibility and advocacy for your work—and make your project more attractive to a prospective publisher. We'll also discuss how poets can best respond to a changing publishing environment.
2 separate sessions
 

A.E. Stallings HeadshotA. E. Stallings

One for Good Measure: Meter Demystified
June 22, 12-2pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 12 FULL
The vocabulary and mechanisms of meter in the English-speaking world are often at odds with each other, resulting in what can seem like an off-putting and arcane muddle. Meter is more often overthought than understood. Over the years, I have developed my own simplified method for teaching scansion that is both easy to use and to put into practice. In this session, we will approach meter as a practical and pleasurable matter, and develop confidence through demystification. Suitable for any level.
1 session
 

Beth headshot Joey Stocks photo credit‌Beth Blickers

Play Production 101
June 24, 26, and June 30, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 10
An engaging and interactive conversation about building and sustaining a career as a playwright. We will discuss how to submit your work effectively, the do’s and don’ts of networking, when to approach agents (and how to keep that relationship healthy) and challenges in the process of bringing stories to the stage. Participants will experience a safe and open environment in which to ask questions of an agent with twenty-five years of experience in theater, opera, television, and film. Bring your dreams, your questions, and your dilemmas. The more you participate the more you’ll gain.
Number of sessions: 3
 

Darcy headshot‌Darcy Parker Bruce

Staging the Impossible: Theater as a Tool for Social Engagement
June 25, July 1, and July 7, 3-5pm EST
Master Class, $75, cap of 10
How can theatricality push social boundaries? How do fantastical moments onstage translate to moments of action offstage? How can we continue to imagine theater in a way that speaks to all communities, and responds with urgency to the world within which we live? 
3 separate sessions
 
Liminal Spaces and Rites of Passage: World-Building and Guiding Characters Through the Unknown
August 5 and 7, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 15
What makes a play distinctly a play? How do the characters that populate plays differ from the characters that populate films or books? In this class we will discuss how to break with traditional realism and imagine spaces that exist between the known and the unknown.
2 separate sessions
 

Adam LathamAdam Latham

Short Fiction Workshop
M/W/TH, June 29, 1, and 2, 3-5pm EST; F/T/TH, August 7, 11, and 13, 3-5pm EST
Workshop, free, cap of 6
Each participant will submit one short story (15 pages double-spaced, max). We will examine exemplary stories by other writers, discuss aspects of craft (with particular emphasis on voice, dialogue, character, and structure), and critique submitted work. Participants will read each submitted story, provide a thoughtful written response, and engage in workshop discussion.
2 workshops of 3 meetings.
 

John PsaropoulosJohn Psaropoulos

Pitching and Writing Nonfiction Features
July 7, 12-2pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 12
How does one go about writing a feature in a world saturated with emergency and exigency? How should they be pitched? To whom? Writer, editor and broadcaster John Psaropoulos drives you through the decisions that make a successful news feature. As an independent journalist, John is pitching all the time. He has written news, features, and editorials for, among others, The Daily Beast, the Times Literary Supplement, the Weekly Standard, the American Scholar, the Washington Post, the Sewanee Review and for broadcasters NPR, CNN and Al Jazeera International. As editor-in-chief of Greece’s historic English-language newspaper, the Athens News, for a decade, he was on the receiving end of pitches. He brings this experience to a master class whose first part will be an introduction to feature writing and the second part will be Q&A. One manuscript per student, nonfiction, 1,500 words maximum, is welcome.
1 session
 

AdamVinesHiRes1 (1)Adam Vines

Unconventional Approaches to Ekphrastic Poetry
July 9, 3-5pm EST; July 16, 3-5pm EST; and July 23, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 12
In this master class, we will look at models of ekphrastic poems that move in surprising directions, distinguishing themselves from the ekphrastic poems that merely ground themselves in the encapsulated content within the confinement of the frame. In addition, we will look at paintings by artists such as Hopper, Miro, and Frankenthaler and discuss the narrative trajectories that are evoked by the frozen moment in the painting and how these trajectories can inform a unique approach to a draft and its subjective, associative underlayments. I will provide writing prompts for the participants as well.
2 separate sessions
 

allisonheadshot‌Allison Joseph

The Villanelle as Vehicle for Elegy and Revelation
July 10, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 10
This class will focus on the villanelle, that elusive and beautiful poetic form. It will investigate why we turn to forms of repetition when mourning our "griefs and grievances." We will look at examples by the masters of the form: Elizabeth Bishop, Theodore Roethke, Sylvia Plath, Donald Justice, and will write villanelles in sync with the current elegiac mood at this turn in our turbulent communal history. We will also look at converting other forms to villanelles: reluctant sonnets, recalcitrant free verse, wandering prose. Each poet in the class will be expected to write and share poems in this particular form.
1 session
 

mccorkle_jill_author_CMYK (c) Tom Rankin‌Jill McCorkle

Fiction Workshop Intensive
Workshop group one: M/W/F, July 13, 15, 17, 3-5pm EST FULL; Workshop group two: M/W/F, July 20, 22, 24, 3-5pm EST FULL
Workshop, $225, cap of 6 per class
In this workshop, each participant will submit a short story or first chapter of a novel (25 pages double-spaced, max). All manuscripts will be exchanged and read in advance of the class discussions. The emphasis will be on submitted work, with ample time for discussion about structure and revision. We will talk nuts and bolts as well as literary inspirations.
Number of sessions: 2 workshops of 3 meetings each
 

konermann_headshot-3086‌Alyssa Konermann

Pitch On: How to Successfully Query Magazines & Websites
July 15, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, no cap
Get the editor's side of story pitches: What makes the good ones stand out? What might be getting yours deleted that has nothing to do with your story? When's the time to send? And to whom should you send? I'll offer a candid take on what to expect, how to proceed, and how to place—and get paid for—your stories with magazines, websites, and other outlets. I will also offer feedback on one pitch per participant within a week of the class.
1 session
 

Gail Hochman__PhotoGail Hochman

What All Publishing Professionals Wish New Writers Would Know: You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way
July 20, 3-5pm EST
Master class, free, no cap
The basic rules of publishing are absorbed relatively well by new writers: learn your genre or your type of book; identify your audience; only send your most polished material; make sure your book has a strong premise or hook and tells a story so the reader becomes enthralled; be able to pitch it in a persuasive and enticing way; build your platform and think ahead about what you bring to the table. In this class, I want to talk about the real things that motivate every agent and editor, how and why they make the decisions they do, what you should look for in an agent and editor, how to induce your agent/editor to work harder for you, and why every book length project you write may not need to be published.
1 sessions
 

morganSpeer Morgan

Gusto in Meaning: What this Editor Hopes for in all Three Genres
July 20, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, no cap
The purpose of this class is for us to try to point out what this editor looks for in the pieces that we publish. We now receive so many "almosts" in all three genres that it would seem useful to try to convey what we hope to see in published pieces. William Hazlitt wrote "On Gusto," a brief essay, in 1817, in which he defined the greatest artists in all genres as capable of displaying gusto or "some character of power." What we look for at The Missouri Review is power in meaning, theme, or overall purpose by whatever style or method the author employs. To us, that means depth of purpose in which authors show how alive, resilient, and often paradoxical a subject or issue is in the world that they convey. I will refer to examples in all three genres and talk informally about how they show these qualities.
1 session
 

Renee Z__Headshot‌Renée Zuckerbrot

How to Catch an Agent’s Eye with Your Opening Pages
July 21, 3-5pm EST FULL
Master class, $75, cap of 20
Every agent’s in-box is flooded with queries and sample pages. How can you make your pages catch and hold an agent’s attention? What are we looking for in an opening paragraph? What turns us off? What makes us miss our subway stop and forget to place our lunch order? In this class, I'll bring sample pages––all identifying details redacted, of course––to illustrate what agents are hoping to find when they open your Word attachment. I’ll highlight the markers agents are looking for in your writing, and the markers that will take you out of the running.
1 session
 

Dan O_BrienDan O’Brien

‘Who Am I?’: Character On Stage
July 22, 24, 27, 29, 31; 3-5pm EST FULL
Master class, $375, cap of 10
The theatre is a crucible of identity. This Master Class will investigate how we create and develop compelling characterizations over the course of a play’s narrative arc. Additionally, where is the playwright’s identity—that is, the playwright’s own character—amidst the characters of the play? And lastly, as we strive to create theatre with integrity and empathy: in whose voice can we—should we, must we—speak? Each session of this Master Class will consist of a short lecture followed by vigorous discussion and opportunities to respond to participants’ work.
Number of sessions: 1 class with 5 meetings
 

‌Jessica St. Clair

“Sell Your Show”
July 23, 28, 30; 3-5pm EST
Master class, $225, cap of 15
Actor, writer, and producer Jessica St. Clair, who has co-created comedies for NBC, HBO, and USA, will share strategies and tools for taking a TV series idea from your notebook to pitch meetings to the soundstage and beyond. Participants are encouraged—but not required—to come prepared with drafts of synopses and treatments for the discussion portion of these online meetings.
Number of sessions: 1 class with 3 meetings
 

Bennett, Millicentjpg‌Millicent Bennett

Behind the Curtain: How Acquisitions Decisions Get Made
July 24, 12-2pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 20
Join Millicent Bennett, Senior Editorial Director at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for a revealing glimpse into the decision-making process of an acquisitions editor at the major New York publishers. A longtime editor of both fiction and nonfiction, Bennett talks writers through the steps that an editor and her acquisitions committee take in deciding which projects to pursue, as well as providing additional context for the many complex factors that can lead to an offer and a book contract.
1 session
 

Anjali SinghAnjali Singh

The Art of the Query Letter (and anything else you ever wanted to know about how publishing really works)
July 27, 10am-noon EST; August 3, 11am-1pm EST; August 24, 11am-1pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 10
This master class is designed to help students learn to write a successful query letter. Some of the subjects covered will include: "doing your homework"; how to describe your work in a selling way and writing your own flap copy; thinking about your literary influences and authors you imagine your work sitting alongside; articulating why your book is meaningful to you and will be meaningful to potential readers; what and how much to include in your bio. Participants are invited to send their own sample query letters ahead of the class and to submit a list of questions they hope will be addressed.
2 separate sessions
 

Cropped_Xalapa_Kitamura‌Katie Kitamura

Fiction Workshop Intensive
July 28, July 30, August 4, and August 6, 3-5pm EST FULL
Workshop, $300, cap of 12
In this fiction intensive, we will look at openings: How can your first chapter introduce the reader to the key dynamics and concerns of your novel? How do you establish setting and character? Participants are invited to submit the opening chapter of their novel in progress (with a maximum of 15 pages). Submissions will be distributed to the group in advance of each session. You are asked to read each submission carefully, and offer a considered written response in addition to contributing to workshop discussion.
Number of sessions: 1 workshop, four meetings
 

Ananda LimaAnanda Lima

Writing Parents and Their Children
August 1, 8, and 15, 3-5pm EST
Workshop, $225, cap of 6
Parent-child relationships are personal, emotionally charged, and complex, and can offer rich meaningful material for a writer. But some of the same features that make it a powerful source, can also make it difficult to gain distance from the writing. This multi-genre, generative workshop will look at the crafting challenges and opportunities of writing about parents, children, and their relationship. We will read poetry, fiction, and non-fiction that navigate parenthood, writing about children from the perspective of parents, as well as parents from the perspective of their grown children. We will reflect on how these texts are vehicles for other universal themes. Then we will use the discussions along with exercises to write new material. Participants will do some pre-reading before the first session as well as new writing and revising between each session.
Number of sessions: 1 class, meeting 3 times
 

Liz+Van+HooseLiz Van Hoose

The Art of the Pitch: How to Free Your Story Description from Chronology
August 3, 3-5pm EST, and August 5, 8-10pm EST
Master class, $75, cap of 16
“Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.” —Warren Spahn
You’ve finally hit the print button. Now comes the perennial question: How to convey your thematically rich, high-stakes, character-driven fiction without resorting to episodic summary? This seminar will cover the fundamentals of pitching your work to agents, with a focus on crafting a winning description of your novel. Bring your book synopses. Bring your pitch letter drafts. We’ll roll up our sleeves and make magic together in 300 words or less.
2 separate sessions
 

Sharrell2_Small72dpi‌Sharrell D. Luckett

(Re)considering inclusion and diversity in your writing
August 4, 3-5pm EST
Master class, $75, no cap
What does it mean to write the voice of a culture that you have limited knowledge about? How do you maintain the integrity of your piece when it's being published or staged by PWIs; or a company and editors with limited knowledge on the topic? Using key concepts from the field of "black acting methods", such as community, devising, and identity-building, this workshop will center the most pressing issues and concerns about inclusion and diversity as it relates to your writing. We will also explore best practices to help you confidently ask for what you need in your writing ventures.
1 sessions