All students new to The Writers Studio NYC start with Level I. Since we approach teaching with our own method and vocabulary, even experienced writers with publications and/or MFAs will find plenty that is new and challenging in Level I. Our short weekly exercises are designed to stimulate students’ imaginations while also teaching a lot of nuts-and-bolts narrative strategies. Students learn that a narrative voice is born out of conscious creation and is not merely the voice we use when speaking or keeping a journal. We encourage students to turn autobiographical fragments into publishable work by using different narrative personas to tell their story in fiction and poetry.
The class is organized around a weekly assignment based on a piece of published writing. The teacher helps students understand the technique that makes the piece effective. The following week students bring their written exercise to class, where it is read aloud. Classmates offer feedback, and then the teacher, who has been trained for three years in The Writers Studio method, gives the final supportive critique. In the last few weeks of the class, students work toward turning one of these exercises into a story or poem. We also teach students to give constructive, supportive feedback. We work to assure that critiques build on each other, so that students never leave the class with a head full of conflicting reactions and suggestions.
In all on-site Writers Studio Workshops, we ask students to remain silent when their classmates and the teacher offer feedback. Though this may seem harsh at first, the policy is enormously helpful, as it lets students take in the information calmly and without the reflexive tendency to grow defensive. The workshops are designed to help students learn from their own work, as well as from the work of others. As the student’s understanding of technique deepens so does the emotional power of the writing.
Some Level I teachers are fiction writers and others are poets, but they all have experience writing and teaching both genres. In Level I, we teach techniques relevant to both fiction and poetry, and the excerpts that form the foundation of the weekly assignments are drawn from both fiction and poetry. Students who already know that they want to pursue fiction should write fiction even when the assignment is poetry, and likewise students who already know they want to pursue poetry should write poetry each week even when the assignment is fiction. But because in Level I we sometimes have students who aren’t yet sure, students have the option of trying out both fiction and poetry. (Once they move on to Level II, we ask them to write in one genre.) Level I is designed as a 16-week sequence, which means that students who want to continue after their first term take a second term of Level I before moving on to Level II. The two terms do not have to be taken consecutively. Barring a scheduling conflict, generally students stay with the same teacher.
Class meets in Greenwich Village at The Village Community School, 272 West 10th Street. Bring a photo i.d. to sign in at the front desk.
For more information, please call us at (212) 255-7075 or visit us on Facebook.