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How to Read the Chicago Tribune Online

The Chicago Tribune offers a variety of ways to access its articles online. If you’re a subscriber, you can read the entire paper in digital form.

Reading the Digital Edition

The Chicago Tribune offers its entire paper in digital form to its subscribers. To access this version of the paper, just log into your account and click on the “eNewspapers” link in the menu. From there, you can choose whether you want to read the Chicago Tribune news or one of its affiliate newspapers. If you prefer reading the paper on your phone or tablet, you can also get the digital paper delivered to your device each day. To get access, subscribe to the paper. You can also purchase a subscription from Amazon.

Accessing Archives

If you’re interested in reading Chicago Tribune articles from the past, you can find plenty of articles and snippets online. For example, has archives of the paper dating back as far as 1849 as part of a joint project with the University of Illinois. Clippings and sample articles are free, but you can purchase a plan for full access. Whether you need the information for research purposes or you’re a history buff, this is a great way to dive into history.

Accessing the Paper Through a Library

If you have a library card, that card might grant you access to the Chicago Tribune’s digital edition. For example, the Chicago Public Library offers access to the full newspaper and the full historical archive, and the New York Public Library grants readers access to the paper. Just sign into your library’s website and use its search function to find the paper.

Reading Free Articles Online

If you just want to read the odd Chicago Tribune news story once in a while, go to the paper’s homepage and read some free articles. Although most of the paper is accessible to subscribers only, it does offer some free stories on its website.

Downloading the App

If you don’t enjoy reading articles on your internet browser, you can read the online version of the Chicago Tribune on its app. Its publisher offers app access to both Android and iOS users, and you can download it for free from the Play Store or Apple App Store. If you want to access all articles or the digital version of the paper, you need to sign into a subscriber account when you open the app.


fiction writing classes chicago

Open Enrollment

Writer’s Studio

A haven for writers of all genres and ambitions, the Writer’s Studio offers engaging courses taught by eminent practitioners.

A woman writes in a notebook while chatting with four classmates on Zoom.

Hone your craft. Tell your story.

The Writer’s Studio at the University of Chicago is home to a community of writers and instructors passionate about the written word. Through classes, events, and certificate programs, the Studio connects writers of all genres and ability levels in creative and effective writing.

Classes are designed to support, inspire, and challenge writers across experience levels. Whether you are new to creative writing or polishing your professional prose, the Writer's Studio will help you take your writing to the next level. 

Courses in the Writer’s Studio are offered in a mix of online and in-person formats. All courses are capped at 14 students to promote deeper conversation and provide ample time for review of written work.

Our methodology is inspired by more than 130 years of leadership at the University of Chicago in the craft of writing. 

Three adult students participate in a writing workshop.

The Writer’s Studio community is comprised of students, alumni, distinguished authors, and eminent instructors. In addition to courses and certificate programs, we also offer ongoing events to encourage new relationships and sustained learning. Students and alumni of the Writer’s Studio are also warmly welcomed into larger Graham School community events and opportunities.

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How an Olympian Turned Her Tales of Trial and Triumph into a Best-Selling Memoir

Perdita Felicien—champion hurdler, Olympian, television host, speaker, and now, author—finds a creative home in Graham's Writer's Studio.

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Best-Selling Author Helps Students Craft Compelling Nonfiction

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Suzanne Scanlon|building a memoir from journals

Foundations of Memoir with Lacy Crawford

There are as many different ways to approach memoir as there are memories, so this class will not assume any priority of form, but is designed to give writers looking to imagine, draft, and / or revise a book-length memoir the inspiration and tools to give a book its own life.

fiction writing classes chicago

Travel & Adventure with Suzanne Roberts

Have you ever wondered how to transform your adventures into compelling stories? This course will help you turn those trips into tales.

World Building|World Building

Novel Foundations with Juan Martinez

Writing a novel can feel like rehabbing a huge, intimidating house, but you can do it as long as you prepare. This class will give you the tools and---most importantly---the confidence to use those tools to your advantage.


fiction writing classes chicago

Writing About Art with David Welch

fiction writing classes chicago

Write to Change the World with Cleyvis Natera

In this generative workshop, participants will be guided through writing prompts that will leverage characterization and setting as tools to confront social injustice in fiction.


Collecting, Organizing, and Transforming Ideas into Fiction with Chaitali Sen

In this single-session class, we’ll tap into our curiosity to generate story ideas. The aim is to accelerate the process from first spark to finished draft.


fiction writing classes chicago

PJ Seminar: Memoir and Boundaries: A Master Class on Writing About Yourself (and Others) While Respecting Privacy with Mary Laura Philpott

It’s a challenge that comes up for every memoirist at some point: how to write compellingly and creatively about real life, when real life includes your own private existence and the lives of other people.

fiction writing classes chicago

PJ Seminar: Thanks for the Memories: A Master Class on How to Write Flashbacks with Frances de Pontes Peebles

In this PJ Seminar, we will get curious about flashbacks. How can we write flashbacks that propel a story rather than paralyze it?

fiction writing classes chicago

PJ Seminar: Teetering at the Edge: A Master Class On Sentimentality in Fiction with Kirstin Valdez Quade

In this class, I will explore that line between sentimentality and emotion in fiction.

fiction writing classes chicago

Stories Matter. Tell Yours Today

Upcoming classes.

Building Your Own World with Susanna Calkins

Building Your Own World with Susanna Calkins

In this interactive session, writers will explore key aspects of world-building and scene-setting, reflecting on how sensory details, language, dialogue and history (real or imagined) help authors create their own unique worlds.

Character Workout with Joseph Scapellato

Character Workout with Joseph Scapellato

This one-session course will take you through a rigorous but playful back-to-the-basics study of character in fiction. You’ll leave this class with practical and immediately applicable ideas for character in your current fiction projects, no matter where you are in the process.

Collecting, Organizing, and Transforming Ideas into Fiction with Chaitali Sen

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fiction writing classes chicago

StoryBall Fundraiser The Stories Matter Foundation Board of Directors invites you to celebrate2023 StoryBall: Turning 20 in the 20s Join us for a Literary Carnival as we celebrate StoryStudio Chicago’s…

fiction writing classes chicago

StoryStudio Chicago

We offer classes for writers to hone their craft, express their creativity, and communicate with confidence.

fiction writing classes chicago

Stories Matter Foundation

StoryStudio is part of this 501(c)3 charitable nonprofit and community of storytellers. We aim to change worlds using the power of story.

fiction writing classes chicago

Our Community

One of our main goals is building a community where writers and literary folks can come together to learn, share, and grow in the creative arts.

Read a bit from our blog…

20 stories: (#1) ericka carmona-vega.

Ultimately, StoryStudio Chicago’s teachings and empowering methods of inquiry led me to finish my first novel of the Rise series.

20 Stories: (#2) Scott Onak

No one chooses a project like this — in writing, work, life — knowing exactly what it will demand. And even if we did, for the ones worth doing, we’d do it anyway.

20 Stories: (#3) Dionna Griffin-Irons

I am connected to some of the most prolific & talented writers in this community who have helped shape my own craft as student and instructor.

The Writing Place

Resources for writers in the chicago-area, greater chicago plays host to numerous events, workshops, services, and spaces for writers of all types. below is an annotated list of some of our favorites..

If you are aware of other Chicago-area resources you’d like us to highlight, email us at [email protected] .

Literary Organizations & Writers’ Workshops

Chicago dramatists  .

Through workshops, residencies, and classes, Chicago Dramatists assist aspiring playwrights and producers to develop and hone their craft. And for those who just love going to the theatre, their  Saturday Reading Series  is open to the public.

The Chicago Writers Association

The Chicago Writers Association is made up of both published and amateur writers of all types and is open to anyone who wishes to join. Members can participate in the CWA’s annual speakers bureau, enter the association’s Book of the Year contest, and may be published in the  Write City e-zine  or  Windy City Writer’s blog . Members are also able to interact in the CWA’s e-group to share publishing and marketing materials or in one of its critique groups.

Evanston Writers Workshop

The Evanston Writers Workshop sponsors events and workshops for a diverse array of writers. Their workshops include prompt and critique workshops, as well as an annual “In the Trenches” conference, where attendees can learn quickly about the ins and outs of writing and publishing in various genres and arenas. Members in the Evanston Writers Workshop receive priority admission to conferences and events, as well as promotion and marketing of their writing and other literary events.

Guild Literary Complex

The Guild Literary Complex sponsors writing programs featuring diverse writers and subjects. Past events have included bilingual poetry nights and marathon readings of Illinois-native Gwendolyn Brooks’ work. They solicit open submissions for their Annual Prose Award in both fiction and non-fiction categories, and sponsor several other contests throughout the year.

The Newberry Library

This world-renowned research library is open to the public. And, in addition to its extensive historic and literary resources, the Library also sponsors  writing workshops and series  on topics as diverse as memoir writing or writing childrens’ books.

The Poetry Center of Chicago

The Poetry Centerof Chicago is one of the nation’s largest promoters of poetry through readings, workshops, residencies, and arts education. Their  workshop series  are competitively priced, and aspiring poets can also work with the organization as volunteers or interns.

Story Studio Chicago

With locations in both Chicago and Winnetka, Story Studio offers classes in both creative and business writing. Additionally, they offer one-day workshops and write-ins to accommodate the schedules and needs of writers of all types. Check their current list of  classes and events  (some free) to sign up.

Writing Meetups and Work Spaces

Colab evanston.

Located on Chicago avenue near the Main El, CoLab Evanston provides shared workspace for individuals and groups. Full-time, part-time, and “floater” memberships are available, all of which come with discounts to on-site networking events.

Just Write Chicago

Just Write Chicago is a meetup group of writers who meet in several locales around the city several days a week to write together. With a focus on the writing process, not its product, they work together to inspire and motivate regular writing. There are currently over 1000 writers in the group, it costs nothing to join, and you can RSVP to attend a meetup whenever the time and place is convenient for your schedule.

The Writers Workspace

Located between Edgewater and Rogers Park, The Writers WorkSpace provides writers with a comfortable environment where they can write away from the distractions of their home or office. Both part- and full-time memberships are available.

Courses & Certificate Programs

The graham school.

The University of Chicago’s Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies offers certificate programs in creative writing, as well as professional development courses in writing and speaking for business professionals. They also offer several open-enrollment creative writing courses that don’t require advance application or registration to participate.

Oakton Community College

For international students hoping to improve their English writing and speaking, Oakton Community College offers both credit and non-credit ESL courses on their Skokie campuses. Many courses meet in the evening to accommodate students who have other responsibilities during the day.

Editing and Proofreading Services

Mb writing and editorial services.

Run by a Medill grad, this editing service has extensive experience copy editing doctoral dissertations and other academic work.

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

Jerry Cleaver’s

The Writers’ Loft

Chicago’s longest running and most successful writing workshop Featuring Mary Carter , Loft graduate & NY Times bestselling author


Register for workshop beginning: Tuesday September 6th vi Zoom 7 PM CST You can register by sending an email to: [email protected] I've been teaching this wonderful workshop since 2011 in New York City, North Carolina, and Chicago. I've met amazing people, I've helped a few achieve their goals of finishing and even helped a few get published. I'm also in the fortunate position of being a working novelist and I need to take the Spring and Summer to work on a new project. I will be suspending this workshop until the Fall of 2021. A few things are in play that may alter the future of the workshop and I should have all the info I need by August of 2021. Please check back to this site for more details then. In the mean-time I'd recommend a copy of Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver and just keep writing! If you want to be put on a waiting list for future workshops please email me at [email protected] . Cheers, Mary Carter aka Carlene O'Connor New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Coach/Owner The Writers Loft Chicago

You want to write but you have no time.

When you do find time, you just can't drag yourself to the desk.

If you do get going, your writing starts strong, but becomes such a mess you don't know whether to keep working or dump it all and start something new.

You write lots of bits and pieces, but none of them fit together into a meaningful whole.

You have training (workshops, college courses, or even a degree in creative writing) but little or nothing you write gets published.

You haven't taken a class because you're not sure where to turn or what to do first. One thing you do know is you want to get the right start so you don't waste a lot of time working on things that don't matter.

GET SOLUTIONS to these and any other writing problems at Chicago's legendary Writers’ Loft.

Jerry in China

Jerry’s book, Immediate Fiction , is the bestselling writing book in China. Here’s the banner they used on his book tour to Beijing and Shanghai where he gave student seminars at the five major universities plus special professional writers and writing professors conferences and writing teachers' workshops.

Only one workshop in Chicago has mentored 40+ novels and 5 nonfiction titles into print by major publishers — plus an Emmy winner.

"Simply brilliant. Brilliantly simple." Donal Harding, winner of Paris Afton Bonds Screenplay Award

"I recommend it to everyone who writes." Linda Lael Miller, NY Times bestselling author, 12 million+ books in print

"Simply the best workshop ever." Nicole Hollander, nationally syndicated cartoonist, creator of Sylvia

"Proves there is method to this madness." Tim Kazurinsky, Saturday Night Live writer, screenwriter

"Better than all my writing classes combined." Donald Catherall, Back from the Brink (Bantam)

"The best storyman ever." Jane Leder, Brothers and Sisters (St. Martins), Dead Serious (Atheneum)

"A powerful motivator." Laura Caldwell, Burning the Map and A Clean Slate (Red Dress Ink)

"Demystifies the story process." Michele Fitzsimmons, winner of Illinois Arts Council Award

Taught by NY Times bestselling author Mary Carter, The Writers’ Loft gives writers of all levels the crucial skills that make every story and every writer a success. Learn everything you need to unlock your imagination and bring your ideas to life on the page, stage, or screen.

MORE THAN A WORKSHOP, The Writers’ Loft is a writer's community. It's a place for you to be with other writers, have your work presented, and get the support, guidance, and coaching you need to write successfully in all genres and all media, including novels, short stories, screenplays, stage plays, biography, memoir, nonfiction. Plus you get insider help and advice on how to market your work and how to make those all-important connections to agents, editors, and publishers.

Jerry Cleaver created The Writers’ Loft 20 years ago. It’s been turning out published authors ever since.

Jerry cleaver.

Teacher of Professional Fiction at Northwestern University for ten years.

Teacher of special seminars for Writer's Digest, published articles in the Writer's Digest Magazine, and featured in the Writer's Digest Yearbook.

Creator of the worldwide "Write Your Novel Now" online course (students in Alaska, New Zealand, Turkey, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Ireland, England, Canada, India).

Creator and leader of the Fiction Writing for Lawyers seminar series.

Very sadly, Jerry is no longer with us. He is greatly missed by his family, friends and students. (Read more here .)

At the request of Jerry and his family, writer and teacher Mary Carter has come to Chicago to carry on his work at the Writers’ Loft.

Author — published in various magazines, and ghostwritten for several books.

Mary Carter

I followed Jerry Cleaver’s unique course when I was writing my first novel, She'll Take It (Kensington Books). It was published in 2006 and since then I have published over 22 titles and have become a USA Today bestselling author under my pen name Carlene O'Connor. My work has been translated into 7 languages, and my anthologized novellas were New York Times bestsellers for several weeks in a row. You can read more about me at or

I received personal training from Jerry in his Writers’ Loft workshop methods, and since then I have been leading successful workshops in New York and Wilmington, North Carolina. Jerry continued to train, coach and mentor me the whole time.

I am honored and thrilled to be chosen as the only person other than Jerry ever to teach at the Writers’ Loft. I feel a special responsibility to Jerry — and to Writers’ Loft students.

I follow Jerry's methods closely because I know from my own experience as a writer that they work. And I know from my experience as a teacher that they can work for you. That's why I strive to match the dedication, enthusiasm, empathy and insight that Jerry showed me — and every student.

Here's the thing — you can try The Writers’ Loft workshop with me for free. Just come to the first class and see what you think. You don't pay anything unless you return for the next class. So why not? To sign up, email me at [email protected] . Sessions fill up fast!

"After being stuck for years, I am now 150 pages into my first draft. Mary created just the right atmosphere." Martin Gavin, President of NYC's StarCom

"Mary Carter is a gifted writer and incredibly talented coach/mentor/instructor." Megan Cunningham, CEO/Founder of Magnet Media, Inc

"Mary efficiently revived my writing career." Craig Dixon, author of "Notes by a Nomad" and "Shorts"

Six 2 1/2 hour workshop sessions, plus all the help you need outside of class.

Each session meets from 7:00 PM to 9:30 PM. Each class consists of three things:

Specific story techniques presented and explored through examples and discussion.

Presentation of writing with feedback and coaching using Jerry's innovative feedback techniques. Mary reads your writing to the class, anonymously, so no one is put on the spot or forced to present their own writing.

In-class writing. The last half hour is committed to writing, using your own idea or one of the dramatic setups provided.

Each class ends with this half hour of writing to put you into the process of writing, get you loosened up, and create some momentum that will carry over to the outside. One Writers’ Loft student took a class exercise and expanded it into a novel ( The Leaving Summer by Donal Harding) that was published by William Morrow. Another student entered 21 pages of her in-class writing in the Illinois Arts Council Awards and won $7,000.

Sample the Course

A good story cannot be denied. Like falling in love, it's irresistible. It touches your heart before it reaches your head. You're drawn in — whether you want to be or not. And you're not asking yourself, "Is it good?" or "Is it real?" because you're part of the story, living and feeling it with the characters. That's the kind of story you'll learn to write in The Writers’ Loft. The craft and techniques you'll learn are those used by all great writers.

Fine. But how does it work?

A Touch of Craft

Here's an example that will give you a feel for the most critical story ingredient of them all. It's the single force that will turn any idea into a dramatic story every time. Without it no story, no matter how beautifully written, can succeed. I can do this in a couple of ways. I can give you a definition, a concept, a model. But, stories aren't ideas. They're not concepts or definitions. They're experience. So, rather than tell you how a story works, I'm going to show you—show you by giving you a little story to see how much of an experience I can cause you to have. Here's the story:

My wife and I have a friend named Larry who just went through a horrendous divorce. My wife ran into him at the mall. He looked terrible—sad and despondent. He sounded even worse than he looked, so she invited him over for dinner to try to cheer him up.

Larry's an old friend, so we know what he likes. My wife cooked his favorite food and I bought a bottle of his favorite scotch. We had a nice dinner and let Larry know we would be there for him whenever he needed us. He could call anytime night or day. No matter what, we would be there to help him through this. Larry felt better. We felt better. He went home happy. We went to bed happy. It was a great night, all around, for everybody. That's the end of the story.

How was it? Moving? Compelling? Dramatic? Did you identify? Were you gripped? Did you have the kind of experience you want from a story?

The answer, of course, is NO. You did not have an experience. You did not connect. You did not identify. You could not. The reason you could not was: I purposely gave you a dead story. So, the effect was boredom and maybe irritation. The cause was a dead story. I presented you with an experience that left you cold, with a mistake. Why? Because mistakes are what we start with.

We make mistakes, constantly. First drafts are loaded with them. Hemingway said, "The first draft is shit." If Hemingway's first drafts were shit, you shouldn't be expecting any better from yourself. Expecting too much is the surest way to get discouraged and blocked. The other reason I started with a mistake is: We learn more from our mistakes than our successes—not from the mistakes themselves, but from fixing them. Experiencing perfect writing will not teach you what you need to know. If it did, all you would have to do is read great writers and you'd be a great writer. I know people who read great literature all the time but can't write worth a damn.

Fine. So where do we go from here? Well, if I'm right, if I know what I'm doing, I should be able to show you how to turn this mistake into an involving story. But, before I do, consider...

Next: Making It Happen

Making it happen.

What's needed to turn this dead story into something with some energy, some drama? Detail, dialogue, emotion? Well, I could give you reams of detail and keep it as dull as it is. Dialogue? I could have them talking all night and far into the next day and you would be even more bored than you were. Emotion? Well, it has emotion. We're happy, satisfied, fulfilled. How much more do you want of happy, happy, happy?

Before I give you my answer, why don't you work on one of your own. See what you can do to give this dead story some energy. Think about what you could do, or you can actually write it out. You can write the whole thing out or you can just jot down some general ideas about how it should go—plan it out without doing it word for word.

Here's another version of the same story. See if I can get you more involved. In this version...

I've got a touch of bronchitis or flu the day Larry is coming for dinner. I'm not feeling great, so I stay home to rest up so I won't let Larry down.

Now, the flu is a minor detail, but I want you to decide whether you want it in or out. You don't have to have a reason—just a feeling. A few people usually go for the flu, but not many. Remember, this is not flu we're talking about. This is story and in story, everything counts. Nothing is along for the ride. So, the flu is in.

Larry comes over. We have a few drinks. He and my wife are both smokers. Before we get to dinner, they run out of cigarettes. "I'll go get them," I say. "I want to get out of this haze and clear my lungs."

Smokers is the next element. Yes or no? A few more go for it than the flu.

OK, so I head out for the corner store to get their smokes. It's a nice walk. I get their cigarettes and head back, but instead of walking up the front walk, I decide to take the shortcut down the alley.

OK, next item: Alley in or out? Pretty much everybody goes for the alley. Why? The answer to that is at the very heart of successful storytelling. It's not alley, not flu, not smokers. It's story.

So, I'm walking down the alley, relaxing, breathing fresh air, looking at the yards. Now, our kitchen sticks out from the back of the house and has a window in which I can see Larry and my wife. As I come through the yard, I see they're having a rather intense conversation. My wife is especially lively. I haven't seen her that bubbly in months.

OK, what's on your mind right now? What are you thinking? Let me guess. You're thinking, hanky-panky, fooling around, touching, embracing, kissing, etc. Right? Not only are you thinking it, but you're wanting it. Oh, yes. Not only do you give me the flu, make me walk down the alley, but you throw my marriage into crisis by making my wife unfaithful. Maybe not in reality, but in story, we prefer cheating to loyalty—always. We want chemistry, passion, fireworks! You don't go to the amusement park to ride the merry-go-round. You go to ride the roller coaster.

Next: The Active Ingredient

< previous

The Active Ingredient

I knew what you were thinking, not because I read your mind, but because I know how people work and how stories work. I led you there—with story. I gave you an experience that hooked you in. Something you can learn to do every time by mastering the story craft.

Fine, so far, but where do we go from here? We left me standing there, watching my wife talking to Larry. What's next? Well, I've raised your expectations, so I have to give you what you want—or something better. Let's go with the kiss.

My wife says something. Larry laughs, opening his arms. They embrace and have a nice long kiss.

What now? She kisses Larry. End of story. Yes? No? Why not? I'm sure you know in your heart, it's not over. Your heart is a good guide. It might be enough for an obvious example like this—might be. But when it's not obvious, when it gets subtle and tricky, when you get lost, it's never enough. To be a successful storyteller, you have to know in story terms, why it's not over. So, what has to happen to complete this story, to give it a bang-up ending? How about this:

I figure, "Heck with it. What do I care? Everybody cheats. Look at Clinton." Then I go in, we have a nice dinner, pledge our friendship to Larry, and wind up good friends just like before.

A satisfying ending? Maybe the characters are satisfied, but we are not and no reader will be either. All right. If this story is going to hold someone, I have to care, to feel betrayed, and go in and do something about it. Stories are about doing, always. It could go like this:

"Hi, guys," I say happily as I come in. "Here's the smokes."

They thank me and both light up. Larry pours himself some scotch.

"How'd it go while I was gone?" I say, flopping into a kitchen chair.

"Fine," my wife says.

"How about you, Lar? Enjoy yourself in my absence?"

He glances at my wife. "I did," he says.

"Good. I was worried you might get lonely. But when I saw you through the window, I could see you didn't need me to entertain you."

"Well," Larry says. "We both missed you and we're glad you're back."

"That's right, honey," my wife says. "It's not the same without you."

"Of course not," I say. "Say, hand me the butcher knife, darling."

"Butcher knife, what for?"

"No reason. I just feel like holding it."

"Don't be silly," she says.

"No, really. Indulge me."

"Will you stop," she says.

"Stop what? You don't trust me with a knife? What is this: No sharp objects for the lunatic?"

"Very funny," she says.

Larry stares at me, smiling weakly.

"Afraid I'll hurt myself — slit my wrists — or my throat? What do you think, Lar? Can I be trusted with a knife in my own kitchen with my best friend and my loyal wife?"

"Of course, you can," Larry says flatly, then downs his scotch.

"Damn right. Hear that, angel? Larry trusts me. He trusts you. We all trust each other. So pass me the knife, sweets."

Next: The Crucial Difference

The crucial difference.


All right, let's stop here. The story's not over yet. It can go in many directions. Each writer will do it his or her own way. But no matter which way it goes it must fulfill the basic story requirements or it will fail.

For now, the question is: what's the difference between this last version and the first? Can you see it? It's not details. It's not dialogue. It's not emotion. I left it out when I raised this question earlier so you could experience it first. The first version — happy, happy, happy — left us cold. The last — trouble, trouble, trouble — got to us. What does that tell us?

It tells us that you must have conflict to create an engaging, compelling story. Conflict. We all know what conflict is, right? Your wife calls you an insensitive slob. You get run off the expressway on the way to work. Your boss tells you you'd better get your work up to par or you'll be out of a job. Your mother disinherits you.

Well, guess what, none of those is conflict, our kind of conflict — dramatic conflict. Oh, those examples are troubling, disturbing, upsetting, but none of them is what's needed to set a story in motion. They're false conflict. Trying to create a story from false conflict is like dragging a dead horse around a racetrack: You might get to the finish line, but you'll never win a race.

Even though every writing teacher and every writing book will tell you that conflict is the necessary ingredient, it remains the single, most misunderstood, most deceptive part of all storytelling. It's the reason why writers write as many duds as hits and why there are so many feeble stories limping around.

Conflict is deceptive because: All conflict is trouble but all trouble is not conflict. What we think of as conflict in everyday experience — disagreements, arguments, insults, shouting matches, even fistfights — are not dramatic conflict. They can be turned into dramatic conflict — anything can, once you know how — but dramatic conflict is a different creature entirely. Dramatic conflict is made up of several elements. Get one wrong, and no matter how brilliantly you write, your story will fall flat.

Because it is the source of everything that happens in story, understanding, creating, and using dramatic conflict is at the heart of The Writers’ Loft.

Conflict is critical but how your story is presented on the page is also critical. That brings us to our last example.

Next: You Can Do This

Experience vs. ideas.

If I said, Francesca was uncomfortable in her marriage especially when it came to sex, it might get your attention, but only because you'd want to know more. If that statement, that idea, were as far as it went, it wouldn't be very satisfying because it's an idea about her marriage and not the experience of it. If I wanted to give you the experience of her and her marriage, I would have to put it in Francesca's personal terms, give you her specific experience, which is what every successful story must do. Here's how one of my students did it:

Sex had never been Francesca's forte. In fact, she had to admit to her rather drab reflection in the bathroom mirror as she stood brushing her teeth, sex wasn't even her mediumte — if there were such a word. No. She paused in her brushing, listening for the sound of Jack's snoring, hoping for the snoring, waiting for the snoring.

No snoring.

Francesca began brushing again. No. The fact was she wasn't good at sex at all. Never had been. And, as she looked again at her reflection — gray hair mixed freely with the brown, lines fanning out from the corners of her eyes, the sag underneath her chin-she realized now that she was 43, she was never going to get good at it. She spit in the sink and listened again for the sound of snoring. In vain.

It wasn't that she wanted to be this way.

And hadn't she enjoyed Jack — his kisses, the warm feel of his body in bed, the simple touch of his hand with the swirled scar from the time he went over the handle bars of his bike at 12 and landed with a stick piercing his palm?

Yes, she had enjoyed Jack, at one time at least. But that had been, what? A year ago? Two? Maybe two and a half.

Maybe she just needed to adjust her attitude.

"Hey, what's going on in there? Did you drown yourself?" Jack called.

Yes, adjust her attitude — be positive. Maybe sex would be…nice for a change.

"Did you flush yourself down the toilet?" Jack called again. "I sure hope not 'cause big daddy is out here waiting for you."

Positive attitude. Francesca smiled to the mirror, flicked off the bathroom lights, and stepped into the bedroom.

"There you are," he said, looking up from the Outdoor Sportsman magazine he had in his hand.

"Here I am." Francesca kept smiling. He had already pushed all the covers down to the foot of the bed — the way she hated — and was lying on top of the top sheet in nothing but his boxers and round-framed glasses.

"Big daddy's ready for some fun." He smiled and wiggled his thin hips on the bed.

"I've told you I don't like it when you say that."

"Say what?" he grinned.

"What?" He patted the side of the bed next to him.

"Big daddy," Francesca said through her teeth. "It's really not a turn on." She walked around his scattered clothes — shirt, pants, half curled-up belt — on the floor.

"Big daddy," he said, smiling.

by A. C. Paterson

There you have it. Which hits home, the idea or the experience? (Notice also that there's conflict throughout.) Being able to create an experience in this way is another of the several essential tools you must master to succeed as a writer. All of them are at the heart of The Writers’ Loft.

You Can Do This

That's the most important thing to keep in mind. Storytelling is an acquired skill and not an inborn talent. You don't have to be brilliant or write a brilliant story. You just have to master enough craft to tell a good enough story. Plenty of writers of average intelligence are making lots of money writing mediocre stories. Look around. They're not hard to find. Unlike the other arts (music, painting, dance, etc.) where you must have an inborn ability, to be a successful storyteller, you have what you need already. You don't have to know how to play the piano or paint a portrait to get along in the world, but you'd better understand yourself, how people work, how the world works if you're going to make it in this life. In fact, if you've survived this long, you have at least 10 novels in you. You have a full set of emotions and plenty of dramatic, painful, and exciting experience to draw on. That doesn't mean you have to write about yourself. Even if you're creating Martians, it all comes from your imagination. They're your Martians and your Martians are unlike all others.

You have what you need already, but you must learn how to use it. That means developing the skills to get in touch with your imagination and to bring it to life on the page. So, it's not what you have, but learning how to use it. All you need is the desire. The Writers’ Loft gives you everything else.

Classes are now forming. To register or for more information please email me at [email protected] or call 206.618.3747.

You Also Get

Audio files that cover the critical elements of storytelling. Play them as you ride in your car or on your phone or iPod. The more you listen the more you learn. A great way to perfect your skills and technique while you're doing other things.

STORY HELP LINE. Call any time for help with any writing problem. Get the help you need when you need it. No need to wait until the next class. Call any time for personal help with any and every writing problem whether it's trouble with your story or yourself. Don't sit there and suffer. Remember no writing problem is too big to conquer and no problem is too small to disable you. This is Mary's specialty. Call any time and let Mary get you back on the track.

PERSONAL CONFERENCES. Unlimited personal conferences. Personalized help tailored to your needs of the moment and the future. Help finding your subject, setting your goals, and dealing with any other writing problems.

OUTSIDE WRITING HELP. Get feedback and coaching with outside writing. If you already have a story, you will get the coaching and guidance you need to get it into shape and off to market.

The first class is free. Any time you miss a class you are able to attend that class the next time it is presented.

FULL MARKETING STRATEGY. Taking one Writers’ Loft workshop entitles you to full marketing help and guidance - even if you're no longer in the workshop. Whenever you have a novel, short story, screenplay, or stage play ready, Mary will give you everything you need to market your work and help you short cut the submission process and get your story a serious read by agents, editors, and publishers.

How You Learn, What You Learn, and More

What You Learn

STORY CRAFT AND TECHNIQUE. Plot, character, dramatic momentum. The source of all drama. The few dramatic forces that will turn any idea into a compelling story.

THE CREATIVE PROCESS. Overcoming doubt, fear, and panic. Techniques to overcome resistance, stop fighting yourself, and get the flow going the moment you sit down.

SELF-COACHING AND SELF-EDITING. Learn to stop torturing yourself when it doesn't come out the way you wanted. Learn to trust your own emotional radar to find that dramatic potential that's always in your work and learn how to use it to bring your story to life on the page every time.

REWRITING TECHNIQUES. Turning drudgery into excitement and inspiration. Rewriting is the best part. Once you know how, rewriting becomes re-exciting.

THE ESSENCE OF CHARACTER. What's needed to bring characters to life in all their depth and complexity. How to make the deepest, most personal connection to your characters.

SHORT STORY TO NOVEL, STAGE PLAY OR SCREENPLAY. How to turn any short story or story idea into the longer form without stressing, straining, or padding. Plus the easiest (and hardest) kind of novel to write and the easiest (and hardest) kind of novel to sell. What makes literature literature (exactly what it takes to write literary fiction.) How to write a bestseller. And how to write down-and-dirty, commercial fiction with the least pain and most pleasure in the least amount of time if that's your goal.

UNIVERSAL PLOT FORMS. Aristotle, quoted in nearly every writing book and by every writing teacher, said there were six fundamental plots. Learn what even Aristotle didn't know — but Shakespeare did and so did Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Fitzgerald and many, many others. Learn how simple and easy it is to create compelling plots.

ORIGINALITY. What is it? Do you have it? (In a word: Yes. It's already there inside you. All you need are the tools to uncover it.) You're full of original ideas. You'll see how originality, this often intimidating concern, is easily achieved when you learn how to unlock your imagination and turn it loose on the page.

WORK METHODS. How to approach your story idea. (Should you outline, know the end first, write straight through before revising, have a plan, just jump in and go, write from a premise, have a theme in mind, etc). What you need to know before you start and what you don't.

MANAGING TIME. Where to find it (yes, it's there) and how to use it. Learn how you can write the first draft of a novel in just minutes a day in one year, regardless of your busy schedule and have fun doing it.

POINT OF VIEW. The ins and outs of this often confused and poorly explained story dimension made simple.

DEAD-WEIGHT. Learn the things that sound good but only serve to confuse, impede, or even disable you. Advice and misconceptions that many writers hold dear and struggle against that you need to be aware of and ignore.

Next: How You Learn

How you learn.

LECTURE AND DISCUSSION. In the first part of each workshop session, a specific technique is presented using concrete, clear-cut examples so you can see and apply these techniques directly to your writing. This approach demystifies the process, eliminates the guesswork, and puts the pleasure and satisfaction back in.

IN-CLASS WRITING. We end each session by writing for the last half-hour. Putting words on the page is what it's all about so we end by putting you in the process to get you loosened up and create some momentum that will carry over to the outside. This is your time to write anything you want, but a number of dramatic, provocative scene and story setups are given each time to help you get going if you need them.

WORKSHOP OF THE WRITING. It's not just feedback. The single, best way to master the story craft. Special techniques for actually practicing your craft and developing your skills and your ideas while considering some one else's work even though you're not putting words on the page. You will not be required or pressured to present your own work. All writing is presented by Jerry and is presented anonymously so the members can be relaxed and focus on the craft. Emphasis is on your own immediate, spontaneous response, which is where every story lives or dies. Like falling in love, you shouldn't have to be mulling it over or asking yourself, Is it working? Again, it's all about learning to trust your emotional radar and use it to turn any idea into a dramatic, compelling story.

STORY HELP LINE. Mary is a full time writer and workshop leader. She's around all the time, which means you can call any time and get the help you need without waiting until the next class. Getting the help when you need it is a great catalyst in developing your skills.

PERSONAL CONFERENCES In-person conferences about any and all writing problems. Get help with picking ideas, setting goals, scheduling, etc, to make sure you're not working against yourself and setting yourself up for failure with unrealistic expectations.

Next: Do You Have What It Takes?

Do you have what it takes.

What does it take to be a successful writer? Two things: motivation + story craft. I know you've heard about talent and of course it does exist but you don't need it to be successful, even very successful, in this art. Unlike the other arts (music, painting, dance, etc.) where you must have a special inborn talent to succeed, no special talent is needed to be a successful writer. How can that be? That's because the very skills you need to get along in the world are exactly what you need to be a successful storyteller. You don't have to know how to play the guitar or paint a landscape to survive, but you must know how people work, how you work, and how the world works. If you didn't, you wouldn't have made it this far. And because you've made it this far, you've got at least ten novels in you. You may not feel it. But trust me, they're there.

They're there because you have a full set of emotions, plenty of dramatic and exciting experience, and a rich imagination. Getting in touch with what you have is what The Writers’ Loft workshops are all about. Your emotions, your experience, your imagination, and the desire to write are all you need to create successful novels, short stories, screenplays, stage plays, biographies, memoirs, and nonfiction - plus one more critical skill. Story craft and technique. That's what you get at The Writers’ Loft in the quickest, easiest, most enjoyable way possible.

Now I'm not knocking talent. It does exist and if you have it, it's a bonus. But talent alone, talent without craft, will never do the job. I've had many talented, gifted writers who don't take the time to master the story craft and because they don't, they never bring their ideas to life on the page and they never get published. Beautiful writing will not save a dead story. A beautiful corpse is still a dead body. No matter how pretty you make it, it's never going rise up and do something exciting.

And of course talent comes into play if you're trying to win a Pulitzer Prize or the National Book Award. But few writers win those prizes - just as few actors ever win an Oscar but still go on to make fortunes in the movies.

Also, you may have noticed when you read novels or go to movies, there are plenty of average writers writing mediocre stories and making lots of money doing it. The competition isn't that tough. You can do it. You have what you need already. Come to the Writers Loft and get the skills to unlock your imagination and bring your ideas to life on the page, stage, or screen.

Next: Philosophy

It's not just a philosophy but a method — a method that works. A method that has produced many successful, prize-winning writers. At the heart of this method is the understanding that there is no such thing as a bad idea. Every idea has potential and dramatic possibilities. How can that be true? It's true because any and every idea can be shaped, reshaped, added to, subtracted from until it becomes dramatic and compelling.

If you don't believe me, Sample the Course for a demonstration of exactly how it's done. Also, to survive (to do your best work and have a good time doing it), you must cultivate a state of mind in which you're always looking for the possibilities and potential in your writing and not beating yourself up because it didn't come out the way you wanted. You must address the weaknesses, but the question must always be "What do I have and what can it become" "How do I make this work?"

In Printers' Row, just south of the Loop.

Important update: due to the current covid-19 pandemic all classes will be held over zoom meeting.

New Address. The Writers Loft is now located in Printers Row in downtown Chicago.

The Pope Building 633 South Plymouth Court #1002 (10th Floor) Chicago, 60605

Close to all train lines at Harold Washington Library stop at State/Van Buren and close to the Harrison Red line stop. Also close to the Metra. Parking lot across the street or metered street parking. Ask Mary for more details.

And guess what? It really does meet in a loft!

The best measure of a workshop is the success of its students.

Loft Successes: more than 40 novels*, 5 nonfiction titles*, plus an Emmy winner *All major publishers. Self publishing doesn’t count at the Loft.

How do you judge a workshop?

You may have never had a workshop and may have little or no idea what to look for. Or you may have had a workshop or two or even a bunch and still not be sure what you need and what works. Or you may feel you know what you need, but how can you tell if that's what you'll get from any particular workshop?

What is the best way to choose? What's the best measure of a workshop's effectiveness?

If your goal is to be a successful writer, then only one thing matters: Results. Learning the right skills to get you there as quickly and as painlessly as possible. And that can only be measured by the accomplishments of the students who have studied at that workshop.

Here is what a few of those who have studied at The Writers’ Loft have to say:

I recommend it to everyone who writes." Linda Lael Miller, author of eight New York Times bestsellers. Over 12 million books in print.

"The best there is." Michael Harvey, Emmy winner, writer for Academy Award nominated documentary Eyewitness , novelist.

"Without Jerry I never would have published at all." Josh Landsman, playwright, author of Frank Talk About Matters Big and Small (Organic Theatre, Chicago).

"A powerful motivator." Laura Caldwell, author of Burning the Map and A Clean Slate (Red Dress Ink), The Year of Living Famously (November, 2004), Look Closely (June, 2005).

"Simply brilliant. Brilliantly simple." Donal Harding, author of The Leaving Summer (Wm Morrow) and winner of the Paris Afton Bonds Screenplay Award.

"The best storyman ever." Jane Leder, author of Brothers and Sisters (St. Martins - nonfiction) and Dead Serious (Atheneum - nonfiction - rated one of the top ten books of the year by The National Library Board).

"Demystifies the story process." Michele Fitzsimmons, winner of $7,000 Illinois Arts Council Award for 21 pages of The Writers’ Loft in-class writing.

"Better than all my English and writing classes combined." Donald Catherall, author of Back from the Brink (Bantam).

"Simply the best workshop ever." Nicole Hollander, nationally syndicated cartoonist, creator of Sylvia .

Here are some endorsements from those who have the expertise to know:

"Plainly gifted." C. Michael Curtis, senior editor of The Atlantic Monthly .

"A true story master." Bernard Sabath, Broadway playwright, author of The Boys in Autumn , starring George C. Scott and John Cullum.

"Proves there is method to this madness." Tim Kazurinsky, Saturday Night Live writer and performer, screenwriter for About Last Night (Tri Star), For Keeps (Tri Star), and The Cherokee Kid , HBO special.

"Stretches your limits." Bob Condor, Columnist, Chicago Tribune .

We meet at 633 South Plymouth Court in Printers Row from 7:00 to 9:30-10:00 PM for six sessions.  The cost for the entire course is $575.  You can put it on a charge card if you want.  If you charge it, you can spread the payments out over five months.  Five payments bring it down to $115 a month.  If you were to take a course like this at Northwestern or another university, the cost would be over $6,000.

The right coaching and guidance is critical to your writing success. So, come try it and see. You have nothing to lose and much to gain.

To try the first class for free, email [email protected] or call Mary Carter at 206.618.3747.

2023 YarnCon Symposium 2023 YarnCon Symposium

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The Perfect Present

Writing Program

Learn the basics of sketch comedy scenes, the building block of any Second City show. Study classic Second City scenes, use improv to develop scenes and write original sketches.

Please note that some of these classes will be delivered online.

Call 312.664.3959

Sketch & Comedy Writing

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing 1 is for any student who is looking to start the journey of writing to and for a Second City-style revue. This class is the foundation for scenic comedy writing, a guide for utilizing an improviser’s skill set for rapid creation, and learning writing refinement. The concepts and tools…

More Details

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing 2 builds on the foundation for scenic comedy writing established in Writing 1 by expanding on scenic types, writing to cast and running order, and writing through collaboration. Writing 2 focuses on the construction of a sketch comedy revue running order. Students who understand the structure of a show…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing 3 builds on the exploration into a Second City running order established in Writing 2 by focusing on the various sources of scenic inspiration and delving deeper into satirical writing. Writing 3 addresses the satirical needs of a sketch comedy revue running order as well as the skills and…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing 4 completes the writer’s toolkit with advanced skills for achieving strong point-of-view and applying scenic writing skills to custom writing opportunities. Writing 4 is a culmination of the skills acquired through The Second City Writing Program. It is with this class that a student will be prepared to move…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing 5 focuses on generating and refining written satirical material that results in a fifty-minute sketch revue script. Writing 5 puts into practice the skills acquired from previous class levels to create and produce a Second City-style revue.

Students in Writing 5 learn how to complete a script for a Second…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing 6 is the culmination of the Writing Program guaranteeing the production and theatrical run of a Second City-style revue. Writing 6 focuses on producing a staged comedy sketch show by fulfilling production roles, writing to show and cast needs, and working with a director to mount a show properly…

Writing for TV & Film

fiction writing classes chicago

Intro to Writing for TV & Film

Intro to Writing for TV & Film is for anyone who wants to learn the crucial basics of writing for film and television or anyone with a great idea of a movie who needs help putting it into (properly formatted) words. It gives you a strong foundation for TV and…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing for Late Night TV and Talk Shows Levels 1 & 2

Level 1 – Learn how to write monologue jokes, desk bits, remote segments, guest pieces, sketch and a variety of segments for shows like Fallon, Kimmel, Amber Ruffin, Seth Myers, Colbert, Ellen, Noah, Oliver and more. Pitch monologue jokes weekly, brainstorm, explore and heighten material in this collaborative Writer’s Room…

fiction writing classes chicago

Comedy TV Pilots Program

Level 101 – Do you have an idea for a TV show but don’t know where to start? Comedy TV Pilots 101 is designed to give you the tools for converting your idea into an outline of your very own TV pilot. From character to relationship to story, each week…

Virtual Writing

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing Comedy News (Online)

fiction writing classes chicago

Satire and Humour Writing with Sophie Kohn (Online)

Over this four-class intensive, learn to write short, satirical pieces in the style of McSweeney’s, The Beaverton, Reductress, Shouts and Murmurs, and The Onion. Explore the elements that make for especially powerful, smart, memorable and ~funny~ humour writing as you and your fellow students workshop…

Writing On-Demand

fiction writing classes chicago

Sketch Writing Level 1 (On-demand)

Students living away from one of the Second City Training Centers can still study comedy sketch writing! In Sketch Writing 1 students receive individual instruction through online correspondence, exploring the fundamentals of character development and theatrical scene structure. Exercises include a variety of comedic genres, from “Simple Yet Impossible Goal”…

fiction writing classes chicago

Sketch Writing Level 2 (On-demand)

Building on Online Sketch Writing 1, students will continue to learn the universal comedy techniques used in mainstream media as well as focusing on satire, character development and rewriting.

Major Concepts: Short history of sketch comedy, relationship, game and blackout sketches.

Class Work Examples: 2-Person relationship sketches aren’t…

fiction writing classes chicago

Sketch Writing Level 3 (On-demand)

In Online Sketch Writing 3 you will continue building the blocks of a sketch revue! Explore sketch structures that “break the rules”, including blackouts and clothesline scenes. Expand your ability to collaborate with other writers as you learn the structure of a Second City sketch revue.

Major Concepts: Specialty…

fiction writing classes chicago

Sketch Writing Level 4 (On-demand)

The culmination of the Online Writing Program allows you to strengthen your own voice as a writer as you explore concepts of satire founded in historical and personal events. Gain new tools for rewriting your sketches to strengthen the point of view. This term includes special workshops in songwriting and…

fiction writing classes chicago

Intro to Writing for TV (On-demand)

Intro to Writing for TV is for anyone who wants to learn the essence of writing for television or anyone with a great idea for a series who needs help putting it into (properly formatted) words. This on-demand course gives you a strong foundation for TV writing structure, demystifies the…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing a Screenplay 101 (On-demand)

A sellable screenplay = quit your day job. This class will help you create characters, understand structure & learn to pitch. You’ll end this course with an outline of your [awesome] screenplay idea as well as the start of your script.

This workshop is not offered every term. If you would…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing for Late Night TV and Talk Shows Level 1 (On-demand)

Write desk bits, remote segments, guest pieces, sketch and a variety of segments for shows like Fallon, Seth Meyers, Kimmel, Amber Ruffin, Colbert, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Ellen, Desus & Mero and more. Write monologue jokes weekly, create original material to strengthen your writing samples, and produce the elements to…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing for Late Night TV and Talk Shows Level 2 (On-demand)

Building on Writing for Late Night TV and Talk Shows Level 1, this class will consist of joke maximizers for monologue jokes, finding the angle for your joke to help come up with multiple punch lines, jokes with visual punchlines, writing a rant on a topic like John Oliver’s show….

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing Satire for the Internet Level 1 (On-demand)

In this four-week online writing satire course, you will learn how to form a strong comedic point of view on topical news and pop culture events. You will brainstorm, draft and rewrite short pieces in the style of McSweeney’s, Shouts and Murmurs and The Second City Network. Internet presence, pitching,…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing Satire for the Internet Level 2 (On-demand)

This second four-week satire writing intensive builds on the concepts learned in Satire 1 and puts an increased emphasis on writing at a professional level. Students will keep a running pitch document, have access to exclusive interviews with top editors and satire writers working today, and create a website for…

Writing Satire for the Internet Level 3 (On-demand)

Portfolio, pitching and submitting bootcamp.

In this two-month class, the final in the Online Satire series, students will complete a writing portfolio that showcases their voice and POV, work to create a professional network, and focus on pitching and submitting finished pieces throughout the course. Topics covered…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing Sadness Through Humor (On-demand)

Cry ‘Til You Laugh! In this four-week course, you will learn to write about sad experiences either in your own personal life or through fiction. This class will also teach you how to add humor to your writing in order to provide some comic relief. Writing about emotional experiences can…

fiction writing classes chicago

Writing the Humorous Personal Essay (On-demand)

Do you have funny personal stories to share? In this three-week course, you will learn to write about humorous experiences in your own life. We will discuss how to make your stories interesting and relatable to other people.

We will brainstorm ideas and develop them into personal essays. You can write…

fiction writing classes chicago

Comedy TV Pilots 101 (On-demand)

Netflix. Disney+. Apple TV+. HBO Max. Peacock. CBS All Access. Streaming content has made this the second golden age of television. 497 scripted shows were made last year. If you have an idea for a comedy or dramedy that you’d like to develop, this is the class for you. An…

fiction writing classes chicago

Stand-Up 101: Joke Writing (On-demand)

Develop yourself as a solo comedic performer by writing and workshopping your own material. By understanding how earlier stand-up comics evolved, students experiment outside their comfort zone and experiment in a variety of styles until discovering their own unique style. Students will be encouraged to perform in local open mics…

fiction writing classes chicago

Storytelling: Tell Better Stories (On-demand)

An online, go at your own pace Personal Storytelling course.

Understanding the basics of a good, compelling story is essential to life, essential to connection, essential to whether you want to write a memoir, give a Ted Talk or share a story piece for The Moth. Understand your story and you’ll…


Fiction Writing Workshop

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94 Have Dabbled

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About this event, event category, event overview.

Beginning Writers! Want to dabble in creative writing, but don't know where to start?  Come learn technique AND get the creativity flowing. You will begin a story in class and learn how to continue it on your own. You do not need to come prepared with any story ideas. Just come with an open mind, trust the process, be prepared to participate and have fun. 

What to Bring

You'll be writing the old school way. Have paper and a pen handy. No writing on your laptop.

Minimum age

All ages welcome

What's Provided

Will send a follow-up email with links to stories I recommend.

What You Can Expect From This Experience


Registration is closed.

Bummer, registration is closed for this class. Try searching for a similar class here or message the teacher to request a spot.


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Cyn Vargas’ short story collection, On The Way, received positive reviews from Shelf Awareness, Library Journal, Heavy Feather Review, Necessary Fiction, among others. Book accolades include: Book Scrolling's Best Short Story Collections of All Time, Newcity Lit’s Top 5 Fiction Books by Chicago Authors, Chicago Book Review’s Favorite Books of 2015, Bustle’s 11 Short Story Collections Your Book Club Will Love, and Chicago Writers Association 2015 Book of the Year Honorable Mention. Cyn's prose and essays have been widely published. She received a Top 25 Finalist and Honorable Mention in two of Glimmer Train's Short Story Award for New Writers Contests, is the recipient of the Guild Literary Complex Prose Award in Fiction, a company member of the award-winning storytelling organization 2nd story, on the Board of Directors for Hypertext Studio, and earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago.


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Cyn did an excellent job providing us with a quick education on flash fiction story mechanics. She created a welcoming environment and let us get writing. I got some great writing tips and a lot of practical information for submitting my works in the future. Loved the class and would gladly take another with Cyn.

I had a really great time at the flash fiction workshop. If you are a writer like me, or not a writer at all, Cyn does a great job of reminding (or informing) you of the most important elements of writing. She takes time to break these all down and pin-points how they play a role in story telling. Trust in her process and you'll have a great time while learning your strengths and weaknesses.

Cyn was great! Kept a great schedule and was very clear with how to go about writing fiction. I would absolutely take another class with her.

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Cyn was very prepared and friendly. I felt like the class was taught in a way that was not too intimidating! It was fun! I plan on attending other events with Cyn in the future!

Cyn is a talented writer and teacher! The warm up exercises and ability to share with others in the class are really wonderful. I am inspired to begin writing on a regular basis, and to be involved with CHI-PRC if possible! Thank you!

My experience was very positive. It was well worth my time. It was fast-paced but appropriately so. The instructor was well-prepared and focused. I also appreciated that everyone was on time, which made the class feel purposeful.

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What a great two hours, Cyn is the perfect workshop teacher fostering a comfortable and creative environment. Thanks!

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Good class, small size, personal feedback. Anyone with a pen and a few hours to spare should give it a shot!

Loved this class. She really knew what she was talking about and was very encouraging. Highly recommend!

The instructor got into writing exercises very quickly, and designed a highly interactive evening. The instructor provided encouraging feedback that helped us create thoughtful scenes by the end of the evening.

It was a small group that allowed very close coaching on our stories. When I joined I had no story, no idea ... really nothing to start with. A few questions and suggestions later I was off to create a story which I now want to finish, purely out of curiosity where it will lead.

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It was a really fun group of people from different walks of life with varying perspectives & each story that we wrote & told are something that I would love to read after the writers explore the different paths they could have taken with their characters. Cyn, the instructor, was great at explaining various styles & methods that you can use to make your story more interesting & communicate things without spelling them out. As someone with very little writing background, I was not sure how it was going to turn out but I had a blast!

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Embracing the more creative side, making people come out of their shells and really think about how to create images and stories with their words.

More Events From Cyn Vargas

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Creative Writing Workshop Series

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Loyola University Chicago

Department of english, creative writing.

fiction writing classes chicago


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