The Craft Class is an integral part of The Writers Studio approach to creative writing, where we teach students how to read fiction and poetry as writers. By identifying and closely studying the techniques at play in published work—both contemporary and classic—students discover how literary writers have achieved their artistic goals. In the process, students greatly expand their own knowledge of the writer’s craft, which improves their own writing and sharpens their critical skills. We are never content talking in a general way about the power or prowess of a particular celebrated author. We do something much more useful: we pinpoint how that author’s paragraphs or stanzas were put together to achieve such power. We look at how the narrative or verse moves forward, who the narrator is, what is stated directly and what is left out and why, and how the narrator’s tone plays against the underlying emotion.
Craft Class is an eight-week course that meets weekly via live video during the school’s four sessions. It is taught by various Writers Studio teachers and the occasional celebrated author as guest teacher, such as Edward Hirsch, Jonathan Santlofer, Ellen Bass, Cornelius Eady, Tina Chang, Akil Sharma, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson, Gerald Stern, and Carl Dennis. Whether you attend the virtual class or not, a recording of each class is available to stream or download at your convenience. We offer technical assistance for students new to the technology.
Each craft class includes suggested exercises based on the narrative technique studied that week. These exercises form the basis for the work students bring in to their respective workshops. Over the years, the reading list for this class has included the short stories, novels and poems of a wide array of venerable and up-and-coming authors, including fiction writers Isaac Babel, Lucia Berlin, Bonnie Jo Campbell, John Cheever, Anton Chekhov, Juno Diaz, Julia Glass, Clarice Lispector, Thomas Mann, Gabriel García Márquez, Lorrie Moore, Toni Morrison, Akhil Sharma, Gary Shteyngart and John Updike; poets Kim Addonizio, Yehuda Amichai, Elizabeth Bishop, Rita Dove, Jorie Graham, Pablo Neruda, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, James Tate, Colson Whitehead, Walt Whitman, James Wright, and Adam Zagajewski.
Craft Class welcomes students at every level, whether or not they are enrolled in a workshop. We encourage anyone ready to immerse themselves in our method to take it. All students begin taking it when they enter their third term of Level 3 (NYC or Online), their fourth term of Advanced Poetry (NYC or Online) or Advanced Memoir, or when they begin taking the Advanced Workshop in Tucson, San Francisco, or Westchester.
Listen to a sample Craft Class where Philip Schultz discusses techniques from The Collected Stories of Isaac Babel: Listen.
The Writers Studio Craft Class Archive includes 30 years of recordings of Craft Class lectures taught by Philip Schultz, various Writers Studio teachers and distinguished authors. Purchase recordings here.