Writing Classes & Conferences

This is an entirely subjective selection of classes taught either by me or by writers and teachers I respect. I also include writing conferences that I am participating in, or that I think are well worth your time and money. All are listed (more or less) in chronological order, unless one item is especially newsy.


Practicing the Craft: Veterans from The Writers Grotto Help You Write Action, Character, and Dialogue (with prompts)

Master Class

San Francisco Writers Conference

SUNDAY, February 16, 6-9 pm.

$109 (including book)

The Writers Grotto has launched a light-hearted, smart series on the writing craft, called LitStarts. This workshop uses the first four books—Writing Action, Writing Character, Writing Dialogue, and Writing Humor—to deepen your mastery of the writing craft through fun exercises and lively prompts that will change the way you approach the page. The popular writing coach Constance Hale will lead the workshop, joined by essayists and novelists and even a poet from the Writers Grotto, San Francisco’s oldest literary community. A copy of one of the books is included in the price of the class, and you don't have to attend the conference to take the class.

This session will help you: Sketch dynamic characters in three words Write dialogue that sounds natural but sizzles with energy Build conflict into scenes and stories Understand varieties of plot and structure Use tone to put humanity and humor into your sentences This session is for writers: Prepared to do a lot of writing in three hours Eager to explore more than one genre Looking for ways to perk up their stories Ready to make the mediocre more magical

Read, Write, Rinse, Repeat: Lit Starts Workshop

The Writers Grotto at Sports Basement (Berkeley)

Mondays ~ Feb. 17–March 23 

$320 (including three books)

Practiced writers often use freewrites, prompts, and journaling to get going in the morning, shake out the cobwebs at night, and generate new material at any time of day. This workshop uses the Lit Starts series, published by The Writers Grotto, to inspire you. Led by Constance Hale— author of seven books, master editor, and longtime writing coach—each session relies on prompts from the Lit Starts books Writing Action, Writing Character, and Writing Dialogue. Lots of flash writing in class, as well as homework assignments, will help you apply new techniques. Connie will give you detailed edits, so that you can revise (or “rinse”) and develop finished pieces. (These might be vignettes, character sketches, screenplay scenes, short stories, poems, or plays.) A copy of all three books is included in the price of the class. Writers in all genres welcome. Come ready to play and to discover new facets of your writing self.

How to survive—and thrive—as a freelance writer or editor

A two-week online workshop led by Constance Hale

UC-Berkeley Extension

July 9 - 26, 2020


This online seminar offers inspiration and practical advice to help you design the writing life you want. You examine the changing media landscape and develop strategies to both survive and thrive in it. We'll deepen your understanding of what magazines, newspapers, books and websites look for, and discuss where and how social media and blogging fit in. You also consider how to support dream projects with good work that pays the bills—whether it's tech writing, teaching, ghostwriting or corporate editing. Guests share their unvarnished experiences, and innovative course materials help you define your goals, sharpen your skills and develop a personal strategy. You'll even get feedback on a pitch for a story. The presentations are rich in wisdom, the exercises rigorous but fun. To register, visit the UC-Berkeley Extension site.

2020 Writers Retreat at Camp Mokulē‘ia

 November 15 – 22, on O‘ahu’s North Shore

At this annual retreat, three dozen writers gather at a beachfront sanctuary for five nights and six days of daily workshops, private coaching, evening readings, and writing in the shade of ironwood trees. Instructors include nationally known novelists, poets, and memoirists. Some sessions explore new sides of our creative selves, whether through songwriting, visual storytelling or children’s lit. All instructors are extensively published, with much teaching experience. See another side of Hawai‘i appearances by Hawaiian musicians and cultural excursions to sacred sites. Yoga, swimming, beachcombing, hiking, turtle watching, and unforgettable sunsets all free. The cost varies according to package purchased, with a top rate of of $1,500 that includes lodging, food, workshops, and activities. Day rates start at $500. For information email connie [at] sinandsyntax.com.