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.

Literary Portraits:

The Art of Profiles and Personality Sketches 

San Francisco Writers' Grotto ~ Jan. 22 — Feb. 26

6:30 — 9 p.m.

Storytellers—whether they are novelists, memoirists, or narrative journalists—know that characters are key to any great yarn. Yet developing characters is harder than you might think. Especially minor ones, where few words must make an impression. But even when we have paragraphs—or an entire book— to capture character, we don’t always hit the nail on the head. Connie Hale uses readings, in-class exercises, and writing prompts to help you draw people on the page—and draw out important themes. The class will move from short sketches to longer work, which will be workshopped in class. The final project will be a finished piece of your choosing, whether a short vignette, a magazine-style profile, or a portrait integrated into a story. Writers in all genres welcome. $320. For more information and registration, see the Grotto's listing.

Make Your Writing Unforgettable:

Finding the Literary Voice That Makes Readers Turn the Pages

San Francisco Writers Conference

Feb. 19 

You recognize a literary voice when you read it. Some writers put words on pages in a distinctive way. But how do you move from clear, competent sentences to those that sparkle with your personality? Constance Hale will explain the idea of literary voice and show you how your own experiments with vocabulary, tone, point of view, and sentence length will make your writing so distinctive that readers have to keep reading. You will learn to:
  • Avoid the seven habits of ho-hum sentences
  • Use Connie’s three spectra for choosing words for maximum impact
  • Modulate phrasing and rhythm to create emotional effects
  • Play ventriloquist to help find your voice
  • Allow your sentences to echo to your meaning

The San Francisco Writers Conference happens from Feb. 15 - 18 at the Mark Hopkins Hotel. This special session will be offered as a special session on Monday, Feb. 18, from 2 -5 p.m.

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

A two-week online workshop led by Constance Hale

UC-Berkeley Extension

Feb.22 – March 11, 2018 


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.

Dazzle an Agent: Secrets to "Wicked Good Prose"

Writing workshop with South Bay Writers

March 24 ~ Harry’s Hofbrau ~ San Jose

In a three-hour workshop for a branch of the CWC (California Writers Club), Constance Hale leads you through a series of hilarious exercises to perk up prose. Using evocative readings, hilarious challenges, and wacky contests, writers will stretch new muscles, disabuse themselves of bad habits, and duke it out in a war of words. We’ll also talk about how to cultivate that most elusive of literary elements: the writer’s voice. This session is perfect for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir who want to take their prose to the next level. No grammar competency required, but a sense of humor is a must. To register: Contact Edie Matthews for information: edie333 [at] sbcglobal.net.

Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat

 on O‘ahu’s North Shore ~ May 6 - 11

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. North Shore native Constance Hale is the director; instructors vary each year and include nationally known novelists, poets, and narrative journalists. Some classes explore new sides of our creative selves. See another side of Hawai‘i with readings by local writers and cultural excursions including a guided tour of sacred sites. Yoga, swimming, beachcombing, turtle watching, and unforgettable sunsets all free. The cost of $600–1,300 includes food, workshops, and activities. Packages that include lodging start at $700. Information is here.