Creative Writing Classes & Camps

Parent Q&A

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  • For the past several years, my now 11 year old, has really enjoyed all his writing assignments at school and usually goes above and beyond the requirements of the assignemnt.  He sometimes wakes up at 5:30 am to write.  He has recently expressed an interest to be a writer as a profession (what type TBD).  Are there any camps, groups, seminars, or activities in the East Bay to encourage and hone his writing skills?

    That's great! One option is to check in with their English teacher for ideas. Otherwise I'd encourage you to subscribe to Cricket or Muse magazine (same publisher) and/or Week Jr. Both have lots of opportunities for young readers to submit their writing in various formats. Another option to look at for summer is ATDP through Berkeley. We've had mixed experiences with their classes for our now 12 & 14 yos., but no harm in checking out the catalog and seeing if something appeals to your child and if the logistics work for your family. Finally, when my now 14 yo was in 4th grade, he had a pretty good experience with an online Greek Myths class through CTY; it involved a lot of advanced reading and writing, with opportunities to read and comment on other students' work. [Note that CTY had a very bumpy summer in 2022 with their in person courses, but I think online is probably still running very smoothly, and it's easy to fit in during the school year.]

    I don’t know of any local creative writing programs, but Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan has a great creative writing program… far afield obviously, and expensive, BUT they have a generous scholarship program, and in addition to the general growth benefits of sleep away camp, there’s not the worry of fires and smoke we now have on the west coast. Interlochen is amazing place, even if it seems a reach, if you have a young writer, it’s definitely worth looking into. 

    So exciting!

    He could consider writing for The Teen Magazine: https://www.theteenmagazine.com/apply

    Also, The Writing Salon used to have a Berkeley location. Now they are just in SF. But they also have online classes. He could check them out.  https://www.writingsalons.com/ - It's mainly for adults, but very welcoming and supportive. 

    Albany middle school teacher Abby Skrivan runs amazing afterschool and summer camps -- check them out here: http://www.writeonyouth.com/.

    Sometimes ATDP has good summer writing classes. We had good luck with 826 Valencia, in San Francisco. In high school, there is the State Summer School for the Arts, which is at Cal Arts. That was a wonderful program, where the teachers really understood how to create a space for young people to write. They are starting a writing workshop at the San Pablo Branch of the Contra Costa County library. There is also a student writing workshop at the Mill Valley Library. Ideally, you will find workshop/class led by a writer, rather than someone who wants to "teach" and focuses on the kind of goals that are necessary in school, but aren't helpful in creative writing.

    Please look into the Bay Area Writing Project Young Writers Camps!  The Young Writers camps are designed and taught by Writing Project Teaching Fellows, all of whom have been selected for their expertise in teaching and motivating young writers.  THese camps are hugely popular and fill up fast; the kids have a great time and their development in a few weeks is nothing short of amazing.  The emphasis is on creating a fun, nurturing environment that young writers can grow in.    There are a number of sites around the Bay Area.   Here's a link: https://bawp.berkeley.edu/youth-programs

    Check out the programs at Chapter 510 (https://www.chapter510.org/workshops/). He may also be interested in doing National Novel Writing Month, which just started and has a Youth program (https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/) - it's self-paced/virtual, but they offer some guidance/structure and free writers' workbooks (https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/pages/writer-resources), and sometimes local libraries offer writing workshops in conjunction with NaNoWriMo. If his school has a school paper, encourage him to join - even if he doesn't want to be a journalist, planning, interviewing, meeting deadlines and being meticulous about grammar are valuable experience for any kind of writing. The great thing about writing is that just writing and reading, with or without an instructor, will make you a better writer, so he's on the right track already!

    Came here to second ATDP!

    https://bawp.berkeley.edu/youth-programs

    My daughter had similar interests and push to writing. When she attended her first after school program with BAWP, it was like she found her people! She has taken summer camps with them too. Highly recommend. 

    What a wonderful post to read!

    Professional writer here, who started at age 11.

    While others will have more current info on camps and classes, I will just note that there are many opportunities now that did not exist when I was that age:  blogging, online publishing, National Novel Writing Month.  The latter is probably an inappropriate amount of work for an eleven-year-old:  those who sign up write 1700 words per day in a thirty-day period, typically in the month of November. This results in a 50,000 word novel.  It's great for high school age and up, and for writers who are more productive when facing deadlines.

    One of my first projects, in fifth grade, was to "publish" a weekly comic book for my friend-group.  Perhaps your son could parlay his talent and enthusiasm into writing about a topic that his friends would enjoy.  That takes his writing from the realm of solitary pleasure into a social activity.  If he has buddies who are so inclined, they might turn into a writers' group.

    One word of caution:  love for writing may diminish if it ceases to be fun and starts to become work. As a parent, you would be wise to ensure  he can maintain his sense of agency.  He has to feel that his writing is HIS idea, not something that adults are pressuring him to do.

    Congratulations on having a kid who loves to write.

    Some of my friends' kids have enjoyed the Written Out Loud storytelling program. The program includes weekly small group Zoom brainstorming meetings and individual writing "missions," and the kids end up with a published book! The next cohort starts the week of November 14.

    Hooray for young writers! One thing that is happening now, is National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). They have a young writers program. Here is the link. It can connect them with many other writers. https://ywp.nanowrimo.org/ Good luck!

    I’m following this! My son is the same. 
    I saw last year that Bay Area Writing project had writing camps. One was sci fi which my son was into but they were all virtual. I’m hopeful they will have in person this summer. 

    I also agree that the CTY courses can be great. My kids had wonderful experiences at CTY, the Center for Talented Youth sponsored by Johns Hopkins at various sites around the country. Maybe this course in San Mateo would work? https://cty.jhu.edu/programs/summer/courses/being-a-reader--becoming-a-w...

  • Hello Wonderful Community,

    I am in search of a high quality summer residential writing program for my rising junior with a talent and passion for creative writing. She would prefer to travel outside of the area for the experience of living elsewhere, if only for a week, or two, or three, although will consider local programs if compelling. I realize we are a little late in terms of application cycles, yet hoping someone knows of a gem out there that might still have openings.

    Sincere thank you in advance!

    It's too late for this year but for next year, consider applying to Iowa Young Writers' Studio in Iowa. They have a very prestigious program that my daughter attended the summer after her junior year of high school. She produced, in my opinion, the best writing she had ever done during her time at the studio, and she loved the experience. She was able to interact with young writers from throughout the country and a group of teens from the Middle East. The deadline to apply is in late January or early February.

    This recommendation is too late for this year, but there is a little known (around here) but excellent program available to all HS students called California State Summer School for the Arts (CSSSA). It's a month long residential program, held at Cal Arts in Valencia. Admission is competitive, and the applications take place in the winter. They accept around 70 students in the creative writing program, 70 in dance, 70 in music, 70 in fine arts, 70 in acting, and 70 in animation. Students are housed in the dorms. It's a great pre-college learning experience. Tuition is very reasonable, and there are scholarships available. https://www.csssa.ca.gov/

    I recommend the Iowa Young Writers' Studio https://iyws.clas.uiowa.edu/summer-residential-program.  The program is a residential program at the University of Iowa which has one of the best creative writing programs in the country.

    My daughter attended Iowa as well and had a great experience with her teachers there! The University of the South in Sewanee Tennessee also has a wonderful summer residential program---it might be worth a call to see if they have rolling admission after the deadline for applications!

    The University of Iowa program is amazing, so I hear. My daughter will be attending another excellent program - Kenyon College, Young Writers. I believe those are two of the best, but there are lots of others. Sewanee is another good option. The application deadlines for the top programs are Jan or Feb, and admission, which is extremely competitive, has already been announced. There may still be some other programs accepting young writers.

  • Writing camp for 11 year old

    (5 replies)

    My 11 year old daughter is looking for a summer writing camp to work on fiction.  Does anyone have any strong recommendations?  We live in Berkeley but could commute a reasonable distance for a great camp, even to SF.  Thanks!!!

    My 11yo son is signed up for the Bay Area Writing Project, which is run by UCB and will be held at School of the Madeleine in Berkeley. They focus on creative writing. It's a 3 week, 9a-12 noon program. If you need a full day program, look into ATDP and its writing program (and other topics) in Richmond. It's more academic and encompasses a variety of writing disciplines; it's supposed to be excellent. Good luck with your budding writer!

    Not sure if you are aware of the Bay Area's Writing Camp. I think she will love it. It is for students who love to write. There are many locations in the Bay Area so you can find one that will work for you. 

    Check their website: https://bawpwritingcamp.org/

    -All the best

    826 Valencia, aka "The Pirate Shop." My daughter took many classes there which were taught by young writers -- they had a camp, but I can't remember the specifics.

    I want to recommend Deborah Davis' writing camps. My teen went to Deborah's camps for years and really enjoyed them and liked and trusted her a great deal. She also helped our kid with college essays. Now our kid is college-bound. Campers start beginning 7th grade... Here's her website:  http://www.deborahdavisauthor.com/2018-teen-workshop.html

    Write On! Youth Writing Labs is having weeklong summer camps in Albany. I don't have any experience with the class, but teacher Abby also teaches martial arts at my son's studio and she is amazing! Abby is a middle-school English teacher too. Check it out. https://www.writeonyouth.com/

  • ADTP vs. BAWP for writing camp

    (1 reply)

    Hi -- My 11yo son likes to write, mostly creative writing. Has your (current or former) middle schooler gone to the writing class at ATDP or the summer program at the Bay Area Writing Project (or any other summer writing program)? ATDP gets great reviews, but my son thinks it's too much like school. He wants a more relaxed, fun, creative learning environment. He's only done science-related ATDP classes, so it would be good to hear what the writing course is like. There are very few reviews of BAWP -- a couple are very positive and a couple of bad, but none seems to refer to the summer program in Berkeley (this year at the School of the Madeline's.) He's open to working on different genres of writing, but he wants to spend a bulk of the time discussing, learning and practicing creative writing. His goal is to write short stories and eventually a novel. Thanks!

    If you are able to go to San Francisco, I'd recommend 826 Valencia. My daughter took some terrific workshops there, and they are led by writers which is a bit different than a workshops that are taught by teachers from the "everyone is a writer" perspective. My daughter also took a couple writing classes at ADTP and they were more like "classes" so I can see where your son is coming from. She had a better experience with the science and math programs at ADTP which seemed more oriented towards exploration.

    826 Valencia has a branch in downtown Oakland now as well.

  • Writing coach or class for teen poet

    (1 reply)

    my daughter writes poetry and would like to get feedback on it from a professional.  I’d love her to take a class or be in a writing group, but they all conflict with her schedule. Does anyone know of a writer/editor/coach that might work with a teen one on one?

    Hi, that is wonderful that you're encouraging your daughter' s love of poetry. I can recommend Alison Seevak, who teaches poetry in the Albany schools <aseevak [at] gmail.com> and I just met Maw Shein Win, who is the El Cerrito poet laureate and has worked a lot with youth http://el-cerrito.org/966/Poetry-Place

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

Creative writing for homeschooled 10 year old

Jan 2014

My 10 year old homeschooled daughter is 112 pages into her first novel (an elaborate fantasy) and needs someone to act as a mentor to support its completion and revision. I taught middle school English and, frankly, she has gone beyond my expertise. Anyone know of an experienced tutor out there that would enjoy working with a talented young fiction writer? anon


I'm so glad you posted this and want to congratulate you in supporting your daughter in her writing.

As an author, I would not suggest a tutor. Your description sounds more like hiring an editor. An editor can help with re-writes and structure but this is very costly (hundreds of dollars) and is not recommended until the manuscript is completed and the writer had made several passes of editing the manuscript themselves.

I would recommend taking classes in the craft of fiction writing (and fantasy since that is what your daughter is writing) as well as joining writing organizations.

Locally, the Writing Salon (SF and Berkeley) has classes conducted by authors in various genres as well as general fiction writing. Writers taking the classes come from various levels of the writing process. The quality of the classes is excellent and the commitment by the students and teachers is amazing and fosters a nurturing writing environment. I personally have benefited by the expertise of the instructors and highly recommend the Writing Salon.

Additionally, there are various writing organizations (on-line and locally) that provide support, advise as well as craft instruction, some for particular genres and others for all types of writing. I do not write fantasy and thus cannot direct you specifically, but a 'google' search will probably find them. Through these organizations your daughter could find a critique group to also help her in the writing process.

Starting with the Writing Salon and local writing organizations would immediately help your daughter. Writer


Check out what's available at 826valencia.org. Might be a good match for you!


I've been thinking about your post, as a writer, and as the parent of a teen who writes. My daughter also wrote a few novels, and plays during the years from 5th to 9th grade. One of the plays was produced with little adult intervention (probably too little in terms of stress on the children), and it was performed as part of another event, so it had a large audience. In terms of the novels, I had a friend, a YA novelist, read one. She liked the novel and provided few suggestions for revision. However, by the time my daughter was ready to revise she had already changed so much that she couldn't go back to the same project.

What's been most valuable for her is reading as a writer, i.e. discussing techniques, while continuing to write. She's taken classes at 826 Valencia and through ATDP, and the parts of those classes that have been most helpful have been the writing exercises.

In terms of teaching writing to children and adults, I always found that reading good models, actually writing, and seeing what they did well helped students more than the formal revision process that some in K-12 education advocate. Only in the latter part of high school, has she been able to do productive revision. The best revisions have been when she's reimagined a story and written it again from a different character or starting point. My suggestion would be to encourage the writing, and to help your daughter find other young writers to talk to about writing and reading. anon


Summer Creative Writing for College Student

March 2012

My son, a first-year college student, might be interested in a creative writing workshop in the Bay Area when he comes home this summer. He is a serious, motivated student who enjoys writing short fiction. I'm looking for recommendations for a workshop or course he could take with people of a similar age. He doesn't need, or especially want, a college-credit course, but rather some structure, feedback, and camaraderie. Thanks!


I too have a teen interested in a summer creative writing program. I think Dave Eggers has something on Valencia St in SF. If you hear of anything, I would appreciate your passing it on to me too. There has got to be more out there for older teens interested in more advanced creative writing.


Did you check local colleges' and UC Extension class schedules?


Creative writing camp for rising 7th grader?

March 2012

My current 6th grade daughter likes to write and is pretty good at it. I would love to nurture her interest by enrolling her in a fun writing camp this summer. Does anyone know of one geared towards 12 year olds? Alameda mom


My daughter loved the writing course she took on the UC Berkeley campus with the Academic Talent Development Program (ATDP)! The website for the secondary decision course is http://atdp.berkeley.edu/about/sd/catalog/. You can contact me if you have questions for either of us. Brenda


Creative Writing summer camp for 8-year-old boy?

Jan 2012

My 8 year old son, who will be entering 4th grade, has expressed an interest in going to a writing summer camp. I'm looking for a 1 or 2 week camp for summer 2012. He has expressed an interest in being an author and illustrator one day so I wanted to give him an opportunity to explore and work on his creative writing skills (as well as work on his writing skills for 4th grade!). Something in the Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Richmond area would be the most ideal although we would consider Oakland and San Francisco. Thanks for any ideas! Potential Future Author's Mom


Try ATDP for the summer, the program that's run by UC Berkeley's school of education. Google ATDP and it will come up right away. http://atdp.berkeley.edu/

My kids have done the writing courses for years, and the creative writing class in third grade is especially rewarding and valuable. Heather MacLeod is teaching it again, I believe, and she is a wonderful, warm, encouraging, and thoughtful teacher. Both kids have learned so much and love to write!

Good luck - the application process is a bit complicated, and the deadline is in March, so best get started as soon as possible. You won't be sorry, it's been great for our kids. Parent of writers


My daughter attended ATDP the summer after 3rd Grade and took a wonderful writing class for 3 weeks with Heather MacLeod called Author's Corner. Here's the link for ATDP http://atdp.berkeley.edu/about/overview/ The application process is somewhat onerous but my kids have loved EVERY class they have done so far! And Heather is a dynamic and inspiring teacher!

For my daughter the class really put her on the road to considering herself a writer. She is now 10 and is an editor for a kid's magazine called Our Words Magazine ourwordsmagazine.com Maybe your son would like to submit a piece to the next issue, deadline March 1st )

Heather also teaches small writing groups, here is her website http://giftedyoungwriters.wordpress.com Good luck! Kristine


Summer Writing Class for graduating high school senior

May 2011

My daugher, 17, a graduating senior, will off to college in Fall. She wants to imporve her writing skills in summer before attending college. I tried a few places already, bay area writing project, class matters... But they don't take high school graduates. Do any of you know any writing class that fits her age? Thanks! I appreciate any thoughts. Karen


Hi there, you might not realize it, but UC Berkeley Extension offers writing courses and will take recent high school grads. Here's a link to our http://extension.berkeley.edu/subject/write.html UC Berkeley Extension


Earlier Recommendations 


Summer reading/writing camp for 10yo

May 2010

Can anyone suggest a summer program/workshop that focuses on reading and writing? My 10 yr old son needs practice during the summer. Ideally, it should be a part-time program that includes camp in the afternoon. Any suggestions, even an informal (home based) program could work. I'd prefer the Oakland, Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville areas. Richmond mom


Sondra Hall's Berkeley-based creative writing and art summer day camp - Take My Word For It - is perfect for a 10yo writer. Exercises range from shape poems to onomatapoeaic story hooks (campers learn about these topics, and then write original pieces), all in a fun and supportive creative environment. Sondra uses current kids' books in her lesson plans, and has a great fun and funky attitude that engages her students. You can find out more at the website www.takemywordforit.net! Lauren


Summer classes or camp for young writers

April 2010

I'd like to sign my daughter up for a story writing class or short camp this summer. Does anyone know of any good camps or classes for children? My daughter is 9, going in to 4th grade and loves creative writing, so I'd like to feed that a little bit this summer if possible.


'My daughter and her friend went to Take My Word For It camp last summer and enjoyed it. It is for something like 9 to 13 year old girls. There were about five girls in the class. They do art projects for half the day and writing projects for the other half. At the end of two weeks they have a show to show off what they've done. I think the girls were particularly pleased with the wearable art that they made, but I was particularly pleased that they got to do writing in a fun, supportive environment. Bay Area mother Dove


I signed up my nine-year-old daughter for the three-week session of the Bay Area Writing Project at Longfellow middle school. She hasn't done it before, but I've heard good things about it. http://www.bayareawritingproject.org/bawp/ robin


Creative Writing Workshop for Teen Daughter

June 2009

Wondering if anyone might recommend a creative writing workshop this coming summer? Our daughter loves the literary arts, writes short stories and fiction on her own, and is an avid reader. Turns out she has a few unscheduled weeks early in the summer, so a workshop that is one-two weeks in length would be great for her. She'd also be interested in pursuing something like this in the fall, so a recommendation for that would be much appreciated as well. She's just finishing up ninth grade at BIHS. We're in North Berkeley but are mobile. Many thanks


Hi. There's a writer's workshop with Deborah Davis for teens going on in North Berkeley this summer that might be just the ticket! It's from 9 to 12 June 22-26 6th to 9th grade June 29th - july 2 6th to 9th grade July 6 - 10 9th to 12th grade. Contact info: Deborah Davis 510-541-2199 deborah [at] deborahdavisauthor.com http://www.deborahdavisauthor.com Summer Teen Writing Workshops (in Berkeley) Info at http://www.deborahdavisauthor.com I hope that helps! Sara


If you're mobile, you might check out 826 Valencia. Founded by Dave Eggers, this writing studio in San Francisco's Mission District really meets young people where they are and works with them to foster and build on their love of writing. My daughter has told me that she wishes she lived there; she has found a community of peer authors, support and challenge for her work, and a fun, respectful atmosphere. Workshops are free; donations are welcome. www.826valencia.org Author's Mom


Basic writing skills course for unmotivated 14-year-old

June 2008

Looking for summer writing courses in basic writing for 14 year old boy entering highschool in the Fall who doesn't like to write. Many years behind in writing. Needs help on expressing himself in writing and basic writing mechanics. amy


My daughter, a current sophomore at BHS, took the Classroom Matters Summer Writing Course last year and it improved her writing. ks


Summer creative writing class for teens

June 2007

My 15-year old daughter enjoys creative writing, particularly short stories and plays. Does anyone know of a good, enjoyable, creative writing class offered in the Berkeley-Albany area during the summer? Berkeley Mom


Bay Area Writing Project (organized by UC Berkeley) runs a Young Writers Summer Camp every summer. This summer's session starts next Monday, June 25. They are in multiple Bay Area locations. Maria


Teen Writing Class for Summer

April 2007

My Berkeley teen (age 15), who took part in the Bay Area Writing Project a couple of summers ago, is looking for a creative writing class for the summer. I think she wants something fairly challenging. She could take a Berkeley City College class this summer, but the schedule doesn't quite work. She enjoys writing short stories and essays. Any suggestions? sarah


826 Valencia Street has excellent workshops -- they will be doing a one-month high school camp. They treat the students as writers, rather than kids who need to be cajoled into doing something good for them. I wish my daughter was old enough for the camp.

Some colleges have overnight writing programs. I know the University of Iowa does -- you probably could get more info on overnight programs at Poets & Writers. anon


2004 - 2006 Recommendations


Need to brush up on writing and editing skills

April 2004

I want to take a class or seminar to brush up on my writing and editing skills. In my job I proofread materials with lots of syntax and grammar problems and I need more confidence that I am making the correct edits. Has anyone taken or heard of a class that sounds appropriate? Thanks! Elizabeth


UC-Berkeley Extension offers two one-day classes that sound perfect: Grammar Intensives 1 and 2. Jenifer


English 657 at SF State sounds like the class you are looking for.


Beginning Creative Writing class

April 2004

Any recommendations for a beginning creative writing course? Thanks. Jennifer


UC Extension is a great source for beginning creative writing classes. Particularly good are classes by Susan Ito -- she teaches ''Fiction from life experience.'' She is a very enthusiastic, encouraging, and knowledgeable instructor. I've seen her able to teach to all levels of the classroom and really cares about the craft of writing.


if you don't mind travelling to san francisco, i highly recommend the writing salon, in bernal heights. they offer small, well organized, friendly, supportive classes in a range of different areas. check out their website. http://www.writingsalons.com/ evelyn


My name is Barbara Joan Tiger Bass, mfa. I am a creative writing teacher. I look forward to speaking with you: 510-336-0050 barbara joan tiger bass btigerbass AT aol.com


Hi-- I'd highly recommend the creative writing classes taught by Charlotte Cook. She teaches both at Piedmont Adult School http://www.piedmontadultschool.org and through the City of Lafayette Department of Recreation http://www.lovelafayette.com, as well as in private sessions. I've found the classes to be really friendly to writers of all skill levels, and her tips and suggestions have greatly improved my writing. Good luck! Jennifer


Check out the creative writing classes offered through UC Extension! They have a wide array of classes for all levels.


Writing Class for 8 yr. Old

March 2004

Hi, I am looking for a develompental writing class (2wks) for my 8 yr. old daughter for this summer. She is not fond of writing, but has the appropriate tools. If you know of a good inspirational writing class in Albany, El Cerrito, or Berkeley, I would appreciate your recommendation. Thank you!


Here are some folks who have offered writing programs in the past.

  Bay Center Associates  848-6868 Educational Services Associates 873-0801 New Learning Clinic 643-8727 ( the LANGUAGE! program)  

S Aurilio


Child/Parent Writing Workshops for 10-year-old

Jan 2004

My 10 year old daughter loves to write, and so do I. I've heard in the past of child/parent writing workshops, over a weekend or in the form of a weeklong summer camp, but I can't seem to find information on anything like this. There are all sorts of programs that are just for kids, or just for adults, but nothing parents and kids can do together. Suggestions welcome! Patty


In response to the mom looking for a parent/child writing workshop for her ten year old daughter -- I run a drop-in poetry writing workshop on the second Wednesday of each month at the Albany Public Library. It's open to adults and children aged 8 and up. It's a wonderful mix of people -- fourth graders, a few people in their 80s and everyone in between! We get a lot of parent/child pairs and siblings. There is something very powerful about people of all ages sharing their writing. And no experience is necessary -- just enthusiasm! The Albany Public Library is located at 1247 Marin Avenue. The workshop is free. Our next meeting dates are February 11, March 10, April 14, May 12, June 9. For more info contact the library at 510-526-3720. Alison


I'm planning to lead one this summer. At the workshop there will be exercises that both parents and kids can do, some shared writing games, and some time for each partner to write alone. Let me know what times would work for you. I'll put a more formal announcement out at the end of April/the beginning of May. I also write with my daughter, so if you want to get together informally to write before the summer send me an email. cdorf


2003 & Earlier


Books about Composition & Writing

April 2003

My husband lately became very much involved in writing. He writes mostly short stories, but now is thinking about writing a novel. I wanted to give him as a gift some books on composition and writing. I would really appreciate recommendation on the books to buy. Thank you very much. Natasha


Some of my favorites:

 ''On Writing Well'' William Zinser
''Bird by Bird'' Annie Lamott
''The Art of Fiction'' by John Gardner 
Any of the ''Best American'' short story or essay compilations
A subscription to the New Yorker, Granta and The Sun would also be a useful gift for a writer.
And tell him to check out McSweeney's whenever he finds it. Enjoy! Julie T.

I joined a writing group (which I strongly recommend) last year and was getting pretty negative feedback on the initial drafts of my first attempt at writing a novel so decided I really needed to improve my writing skills.

Here are some books I found really helpful:

(1) ''Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself into Print'' by Renni Browne, with Dave King -After reading this one and applying some of the concepts, I started getting rave reviews on my manuscripts.

(2) ''Stein on Writing'' and ''How to Grow a Novel'' by Sol Stein -This guy is an author and an editor and really knows his stuff.

Hope that helps! --An aspiring novelist


For the writer: if your husband doesn't already have Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, that can't be beat. Christine


How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James Frey is a terrific book. I have just been using it while working on a novel and have found it to be enormously helpful, despite its cheesy title. I hear that Self Editing for Fiction Writers is also a terrific book. It is on my list, but I haven't gotten it yet. Get That Novel Started and Keep Going Til You Finish didn't help me very much, except for its advice that you should write 10 minutes every day (at least), so, skip that one, I'd say (unless your husband is full of mental blocks that keep him from writing, then it might be useful).... susan


There are dozens of books about writing, written from many different perspectives. Let me give you some titles that I have used myself, and also have given as reading to my students (I've taught creative writing in Spanish at UCB). Take a look at them in any bookshop and pick the one that might better suit your husband's needs.
-John Gardner. The Art of Fiction. This is a very professional, serious book about writing techniques and philosophies. The author is extremely opinionated and it always created controversy in the classroom, but students found it very useful and thought provoking. It has interesting exercises at the end.
-Ursula K. Le Guin. Steering the Craft. It is structured in small chapters, each about one aspect of writing (point of view, repetition, etcetera), and includes very precise examples and exercises. It is ideal to use as a practicing tool or even as a springboard for a writing group.
Natalie Goldberg. Writing Down the Bones. A completely different perspective. It's a very personal book. The author practices Zen and uses the same approach to writing: be present in the writing moment with total abandon, use free hand writing, use journals, etcetera. It's very inspirational, more at a gut level than a technical level.

These books might be a good place to start. Good luck! Isidra


You might check out two titles by Chalie Baxter, ''Burning Down the House,'' and ''Bringing the Devil to his Knees.'' The first is a collection of essays all written by Baxter about the art and craft of writing fiction. It's terrific--fun to read, illuminating and inspiring. Just reading it makes you want to sit down and write. The second is a collection of essays by a number of fine fiction writers who teach in the Warren Wilson MFA Program, and will include essays by Andrea Barrett, Richard Russo, and plenty of others. I have not read this book, but I have heard many of the talks that gave rise to the essays, and have no doubt the collection is a good one. You can find both books on Amazon. Carolyn


Advanced writing & composition for 6th grader

Feb. 2002

I am looking for recommendations on a summer course/camp for my sixth grader that would cover advanced (as opposed to remedial) writing and composition. Any advice welcome. Mary


Re. the request for a summer writing program for advanced (not remedial) studies: Call the Graduate School of Education for a brochure on the Academic Talent Development Program. Don't delay, the application deadline for new students is February 28. Mark


More summer writing classes

March 2001

In response to the request for information about a writing camp, my daughter (age 11 or 12 at the time) was in a program sponsored by the Bay Area Writing Project that she absolutely loved.

The Young Writers Camp is for kids entering 4th - 8th grades. Check them out at: http://www-gse.berkeley.edu/outreach/bawp/bawp.html

The information there now is for Summer 2000, but it will give you an idea of what they offer.

Jeffrey


My daughter took a summer creative writing course from Becky (darn, can't remember her last name but everyone goes on first names there anyway) an English teacher at East Bay School for the Arts Middle School. (548-4837). She is fabulous and I don't think it matters if you're not a student there as she teaches it out for her home. G.


March 2000

The Bay Area Writing Program for students will be at

  Jefferson Elementary School 1400 Ada Street June 26-July 14th Mon-Fri, 9:00 a.m.-noon Entering Grades 4-8 (fall 2000) 

Its phone number at Cal is 642-0971. My son (after fifth and six grades) was in the project for two years and loved every minute. -- Susan


Re writing camps, have heard good things about Young Writers' Program sponsored by UC Berkeley Graduate School of Ed. It's for kids who are good writers and who are interested in writing. Grades 4-8. Also, try Young Writers summer class (Grades 3-5) at the Athenian School in Danville (beautiful campus, small private school). Transportation by bus is included in camp fees- they have pickups in Lafayette and other sites. www.athenian.org or call 925 362-7214. -- Diane