Writing Classes

Pre-Conference Class: David Corbett - The Character of Crime (Corte Madera)

Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 1:00pm to 3:30pm

Registration: $125 ($90 for Conference participants)

In this pre-conference lecture and workshop, award-winning crime novelist David Corbett will guide students in exploring the key roles that make crime fiction work, with specific focus on the specific demands of the three major subgenres of crime fiction—mystery/detective, crime, and thriller—and an emphasis on maintaining dramatic tension, creating moral complexity, and avoiding cliché.

In particular, students will learn:

  • How to create strong, compelling protagonists who push the action forward and serve the story’s theme—instead of victims of circumstance, intrepid boy scouts, ciphers, stiffs, or sleepwalkers.
  • How to create equally compelling opponents or villains who aren’t just another iteration of Lucifer or the Creature from the Black Lagoon—with the purpose of gaining an understanding that the hero’s only as compelling as his enemy, that evil must be justified to be dramatically interesting, and that there’s “no beast so fierce” as man.
  • How to create secondary characters—from sidekicks to gunsels to femmes fatales to sympathetic heavies—who elicit nuance and subtlety from the main characters, flesh out the values in conflict in the story, create moral complexity through ‘four-corner conflict,” serve the hinge points of the plot, and bring to life the story world.

David Corbett worked as a private investigator for fifteen years before becoming the widely acclaimed author of four novels, with short fiction twice chosen for Best American Mystery Stories. He has taught at the UCLA Extension Writers' Program, 826 Valencia, Chuck Palahniuk's LitReactor, and the San Francisco Writers' Grotto.


51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Pre-Conference Class: D.P. Lyle - Plotting the Perfect Murder (Corte Madera)

Thursday, July 28, 2016 - 1:00pm to 3:30pm

Reigstration: $125 ($90 for Conference participants)
When your character plans and executes “The Perfect Murder,” he always, always makes a mistake or two. These errors ultimately lead your sleuth to the solution. In this session, attendees will plot the perfect murder. They will then “deconstruct” the crime while considering the many variables that make plotting a murder fun for the writer and a disaster for the antagonist. D.P. Lyle, author of Howdunit Forensics and Forensics and Fiction, discusses the perpetrator’s behavior from the social, psychological, forensic, investigative, and motivational points of view.


51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: David Corbett - The Final Polish (Corte Madera)

Sunday, January 29, 2017 - 10:00am

Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017 • 10:00 am - 4:00 pm • $150

You’ve finished and revised your manuscript and believe it’s ready to send it out. But in today’s competitive marketplace, you may get only one chance to impress agents and editors. In this workshop, David Corbett will review your first ten pages and a one-to-two page synopsis to determine: How unique is the voice? How compelling are the story questions? How engaging are the main characters? How high are the stakes? (Manuscripts and synopses must be submitted by January 22nd.)

David Corbett is the award-winning author of The Art of Character and five novels, including The Mercy of the Night and Blood of Paradise.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Jan Johnson - Fiction and Narrative Non-Fiction Writing Workshop

Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 4:00pm

Six Sundays: April 17 - May 22 • 4:00 - 6:00 pm • $495

This group will help you jump start a new project or move forward and/or revive a project you’re in the midst of.  Each week we’ll devote a portion of the time to discussing generative assignments (given the week before) that play (work) with such things as: place/setting; dialogue do’s and say what’s; character building; back story and narrative arc; (un)believable narrators. I will provide a written critique of each (maximum) three-page assignment. The second half of each meeting will be devoted to discussing participants’ works-in-progress. (We’ll do this writing school style, with participants providing copies either physically or digitally [preferred] to others the week prior.) Each participant will get at least two pieces discussed by the group. In the first session we’ll set ground rules for discussion so that writers’ get the maximum benefit out of their feedback.

Jan Johnson Drantell (aka Jan Johnson) is a publisher and editor with more than 40 years’ experience editing non-fiction and fiction books. She headed up the editorial departments at Winston-Seabury Press, HarperOne, and Tuttle Publishing. She is co-founder and was publisher at RedWheel/Weiser. She is the author of A Music I No Longer Heard: The Early Death of a Parent with Leslie Simon and of Healing Hearts: Meditations on Living with Divorce.

Members of Path to Publishing recieve a 10% Discount - please call (415) 927-0960 x1 

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Lael Gold - Night Muse: Deep Dreaming for Writers (Corte Madera)

Saturday, June 25, 2016 - 10:00am

Sat., June 25 • 10:00 am - 4:00 pm • $140

Nighttime dreams, with their richly suggestive combinations and marvelously apt, nonlinear associations, re-form patterns and perceptions brilliantly, with unaccountable wit. In this lively, experimental dream and writing workshop, we will connect with our dreams and we will write. We will take fascinating journeys to the interior, bringing back, as much as possible, just the riches our art and our lives require. (Please bring notes on at least one dream.)  You can find a fuller description of the class on Lael's website.

"Night Muse is a fabulous class that helped motivate me to get back to my memoir.  I would highly recommend that others take it. Lael is really an amazing teacher." --Monica Haywood, Berkeley, CA

Lael Gold, Ph.D., the founder of Productive Slumber, provides individual guidance and group programs to writers and other clients worldwide. A former Mellon Fellow and award-winning writer and educator, Lael created and taught literature, film, and writing courses for over eight years at U.C. Berkeley. She delights in assisting others in deepening their connection with the smartest, most loving part of themselves. Humor and play are hallmarks of her work.


51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Jeanne Foster - Writing Poetry (Corte Madera)

Saturday, February 25, 2017 - 10:00am

Sat., February 25, 2017 • 10:00am - 4:00pm • $130

The question is not “How to write” but “How to try to say what you really mean.”  In this course we will be writing and revising our own poems with an emphasis on saying “what you really mean.” There will be in-class exercises, time for writing in private, analysis of texts by established writers, and roundtable discussion of our own work in an honest and respectful atmosphere.  The focus is on enabling each of us to fulfill our unique potential for writing poetry.

Both new poets and those with prior experience are welcome. 

Please bring a copy of one of your poems to show to the group.

Jeanne Foster is Professor of Creative Writing at Saint Mary’s College.  Her books include A Blessing of Safe Travel, A Music of Grace: the Sacred in Contemporary American Poetry, Appetite: Food as Metaphor, and her most recent collection, Goodbye, Silver Sister.


51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Andrea Alban - Writer's Tribe Spring Semester (Corte Madera)

Sunday, April 10, 2016 - 4:00pm

4 Sundays: April 10, 24, May 15, & 22 • 4:00 - 6:30 pm • $200

Class Full

Polish your manuscript in a safe space built on respect, clarity and honesty. The focus is on rendering quintessential characters, vivid settings, page-turning plots, and snappy dialog.

*Prerequisite: Must have written a picture book or first 25 pages of a novel to submit over course of 4 sessions.*

Andrea Alban guides the group through a powerful revision process. Writers cultivate self-editing mastery. The group is highly interactive. The mission of this workshop is to inspire and deepen craft. Each member receives a Manuscript Feedback Form featuring revision strategies and literary vocabulary.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Leslie Keenan - Is There a Book in You (Corte Madera)

Saturday, April 30, 2016 - 10:00am

Saturday April 30 • 10:00am - 4:00pm • $105

Leslie Keenan teaches techniques for gaining confidence as a writer and developing a clear sense of what your project is about. She provides advice on the best way to get each project published, gives names of agents, editors, publishers and printers and provides a whole range of help. This is the perfect opportunity to get started on your book. Keenan has been in publishing for over 20 years as an editor, agent, publisher, writer and teacher.

A student recently wrote, "Leslie is inspiring, compassionate and has a natural gift for creating a safe place for a writer. She's a living life preserver. I've taken several classes at BP and this is the best!"


51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Leslie Keenan - Complete Your Book This Year (Corte Madera)

Saturday, June 11, 2016 - 1:00pm

Saturday, June 11 • 1:00 - 3:00pm • $50

Do you have a manuscript you’ve been working on, and you are ready for a deeper commitment? Is it time to get it done, for real? In this class you will learn how to create a flexible, working time plan to complete your book this year. Based on Leslie Keenan’s work with time management and with writers, she skillfully gives you all the tools you need to set up your plan without squelching your creativity in the process.

“Your help was really valuable since it stopped me from feeling utterly overwhelmed... I knew how to make a plan, and that's what made the difference.”- Eve Pell, author, Love, Again.

You can’t plan creativity, you can only allow it, but you can create a framework in which it will thrive.

Leslie Keenan is an experienced writing instructor. One published student says, “If it weren’t for Leslie Keenan’s courses at Book Passage, I would never have written a word of fiction.”

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925

Class: Laura Deutsch - Personal Essay & Memoir (Corte Madera)

Saturday, April 9, 2016 - 1:00pm

Saturday, April 9 • 1:00 – 4:00 pm • $85

Using your life as the source for personal essays, stories and memoir, you’ll learn techniques to access and shape your material and approach it from new angles. This workshop includes instruction, in-class writing, and feedback.  

Laura Deutsch leads writing retreats from CA to Italy and has taught at UC Berkeley, SFSU and Dominican. Her writing has appeared in MORE magazine, the LA Times and elsewhere. She helps writers and others create meaningful legacies in their lives.

51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925


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