Welcome to Off Campus Writers Workshop (OCWW), the oldest continuously running writing workshop in the country. 

Established in 1946, OCWW continues to serve writers of all genres in the greater metropolitan Chicago area. Each Thursday morning between September and May, OCWW speakers address writers on topics ranging from craft to publishing options to the business of writing. Many of our speakers offer professional manuscript critiques for a reasonable fee. Achieve your individual writing goals while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow writers. Join us.

More questions? Email us.

Become a Member
Membership to OCWW is just $35 per year. While you do not need to be a member to attend season programs, OCWW membership offers outstanding privileges.

 

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Become a Speaker

OCWW speakers offer programs and workshops on a wide variety of topics related to writing of all kinds, from craft to markets to publishing. Contact us if you are an expert and would like to present at OCWW. 


Upcoming events

    • September 06, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave.,Winnetka, Il
    Register

    Fred Shafer- The Music of Sentences #1

                If you ask a fiction writer and a musician or a composer of any kind of music to identify the primary element in their work, they will most likely give the same answer: a pleasing and effective sense of rhythm. The late novelist Ursula Le Guin said that “Rhythm is what keeps the song going, the horse galloping, the story moving,” and when Jay-Z describes the flow of a hip-hop song as “a heartbeat or the way you breathe, it can jump, speed up, slow down, stop, or pound right through like a machine,” he could easily be talking about sentences in fiction.

    Comparisons between music and writing will come up often during Fred Shafer’s workshops about the rhythms and structures of sentences on September 6, 13, 20, and 27.  Using examples taken from contemporary fiction, he will show that the discovery of rhythm can be central to the process of finding plot and meaning,

    and he’ll discuss a series of related subjects, including the deep sources of rhythm; points of emphasis in sentences; the interplay that takes place among sentences of different lengths and structures; variations that occur throughout any scene, story, or chapter; the unique value of irregularity and imbalance; and the effort and pleasure that accompany revising for rhythm.

    Fred Shafer is an editor, writer, and teacher of writing.  He was an editor for many years with TriQuarterly, the international literary journal published by Northwestern University, where he also taught fiction writing and literary editing in the School of Professional Studies.  He leads three private workshops in short story and novel writing, from which present and former members have published more than twenty books in the past eight years.  His own essays, reviews, and interviews with writers have appeared in several journals.

    Fred will write comments on fiction manuscripts in all genres, for readers of all ages.  Manuscripts up to 20 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman font may be sent to his home, at 2128 Lincolnwood Drive, Evanston 60201. Allow time for mail delivery. Manuscripts and a check for $3.00 per page must be received by Friday, August 31.  After that date, writers can bring their submissions and checks to the first three meetings at the Winnetka Community House.  He will not accept manuscripts at the final meeting.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00 Program

    • September 06, 2018
    • September 27, 2018
    • 4 sessions
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Avenue., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Fred Shafer-The Music of Sentences 4 Pack 

    2018-2019 Members Only

    If you ask a fiction writer and a musician or a composer of any kind of music to identify the primary element in their work, they will most likely give the same answer: a pleasing and effective sense of rhythm. The late novelist Ursula Le Guin said that “Rhythm is what keeps the song going, the horse galloping, the story moving,” and when Jay-Z describes the flow of a hip-hop song as “a heartbeat or the way you breathe, it can jump, speed up, slow down, stop, or pound right through like a machine,” he could easily be talking about sentences in fiction.

    Comparisons between music and writing will come up often during Fred Shafer’s workshops about the rhythms and structures of sentences on September 6, 13, 20, and 27.  Using examples taken from contemporary fiction, he will show that the discovery of rhythm can be central to the process of finding plot and meaning,

    and he’ll discuss a series of related subjects, including the deep sources of rhythm; points of emphasis in sentences; the interplay that takes place among sentences of different lengths and structures; variations that occur throughout any scene, story, or chapter; the unique value of irregularity and imbalance; and the effort and pleasure that accompany revising for rhythm.

    Fred is an editor, writer, and teacher of writing.  He was an editor for many years with TriQuarterly, the international literary journal published by Northwestern University, where he also taught fiction writing and literary editing in the School of Professional Studies.  He leads three private workshops in short story and novel writing, from which present and former members have published more than twenty books in the past eight years.  His own essays, reviews, and interviews with writers have appeared in several journals.

    Fred Shafer will write comments on fiction manuscripts in all genres, for readers of all ages.  Manuscripts up to 20 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman font may be sent to his home, at 2128 Lincolnwood Drive, Evanston 60201. Allow time for mail delivery. Manuscripts and a check for $3.00 per page must be received by Friday, August 31.  After that date, writers can bring their submissions and checks to the first three meetings at the Winnetka Community House.  He will not accept manuscripts at the final meeting.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00 Program

    • September 13, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave.,Winnetka, Il
    Register

    Fred Shafer- The Music of Sentences #2

                If you ask a fiction writer and a musician or a composer of any kind of music to identify the primary element in their work, they will most likely give the same answer: a pleasing and effective sense of rhythm. The late novelist Ursula Le Guin said that “Rhythm is what keeps the song going, the horse galloping, the story moving,” and when Jay-Z describes the flow of a hip-hop song as “a heartbeat or the way you breathe, it can jump, speed up, slow down, stop, or pound right through like a machine,” he could easily be talking about sentences in fiction.

    Comparisons between music and writing will come up often during Fred Shafer’s workshops about the rhythms and structures of sentences on September 6, 13, 20, and 27.  Using examples taken from contemporary fiction, he will show that the discovery of rhythm can be central to the process of finding plot and meaning,

    and he’ll discuss a series of related subjects, including the deep sources of rhythm; points of emphasis in sentences; the interplay that takes place among sentences of different lengths and structures; variations that occur throughout any scene, story, or chapter; the unique value of irregularity and imbalance; and the effort and pleasure that accompany revising for rhythm.

    Fred Shafer is an editor, writer, and teacher of writing.  He was an editor for many years with TriQuarterly, the international literary journal published by Northwestern University, where he also taught fiction writing and literary editing in the School of Professional Studies.  He leads three private workshops in short story and novel writing, from which present and former members have published more than twenty books in the past eight years.  His own essays, reviews, and interviews with writers have appeared in several journals.

    Fred will write comments on fiction manuscripts in all genres, for readers of all ages.  Manuscripts up to 20 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman font may be sent to his home, at 2128 Lincolnwood Drive, Evanston 60201. Allow time for mail delivery. Manuscripts and a check for $3.00 per page must be received by Friday, August 31.  After that date, writers can bring their submissions and checks to the first three meetings at the Winnetka Community House.  He will not accept manuscripts at the final meeting.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00 Program

    • September 20, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Fred Shafer- The Music of Sentences #3

                If you ask a fiction writer and a musician or a composer of any kind of music to identify the primary element in their work, they will most likely give the same answer: a pleasing and effective sense of rhythm. The late novelist Ursula Le Guin said that “Rhythm is what keeps the song going, the horse galloping, the story moving,” and when Jay-Z describes the flow of a hip-hop song as “a heartbeat or the way you breathe, it can jump, speed up, slow down, stop, or pound right through like a machine,” he could easily be talking about sentences in fiction.

    Comparisons between music and writing will come up often during Fred Shafer’s workshops about the rhythms and structures of sentences on September 6, 13, 20, and 27.  Using examples taken from contemporary fiction, he will show that the discovery of rhythm can be central to the process of finding plot and meaning,

    and he’ll discuss a series of related subjects, including the deep sources of rhythm; points of emphasis in sentences; the interplay that takes place among sentences of different lengths and structures; variations that occur throughout any scene, story, or chapter; the unique value of irregularity and imbalance; and the effort and pleasure that accompany revising for rhythm.

    Fred Shafer is an editor, writer, and teacher of writing.  He was an editor for many years with TriQuarterly, the international literary journal published by Northwestern University, where he also taught fiction writing and literary editing in the School of Professional Studies.  He leads three private workshops in short story and novel writing, from which present and former members have published more than twenty books in the past eight years.  His own essays, reviews, and interviews with writers have appeared in several journals.

    Fred will write comments on fiction manuscripts in all genres, for readers of all ages.  Manuscripts up to 20 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman font may be sent to his home, at 2128 Lincolnwood Drive, Evanston 60201. Allow time for mail delivery. Manuscripts and a check for $3.00 per page must be received by Friday, August 31.  After that date, writers can bring their submissions and checks to the first three meetings at the Winnetka Community House.  He will not accept manuscripts at the final meeting.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00 Program

    • September 27, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House
    Register

    Fred Shafer- The Music of Sentences #4

                If you ask a fiction writer and a musician or a composer of any kind of music to identify the primary element in their work, they will most likely give the same answer: a pleasing and effective sense of rhythm. The late novelist Ursula Le Guin said that “Rhythm is what keeps the song going, the horse galloping, the story moving,” and when Jay-Z describes the flow of a hip-hop song as “a heartbeat or the way you breathe, it can jump, speed up, slow down, stop, or pound right through like a machine,” he could easily be talking about sentences in fiction.

    Comparisons between music and writing will come up often during Fred Shafer’s workshops about the rhythms and structures of sentences on September 6, 13, 20, and 27.  Using examples taken from contemporary fiction, he will show that the discovery of rhythm can be central to the process of finding plot and meaning,

    and he’ll discuss a series of related subjects, including the deep sources of rhythm; points of emphasis in sentences; the interplay that takes place among sentences of different lengths and structures; variations that occur throughout any scene, story, or chapter; the unique value of irregularity and imbalance; and the effort and pleasure that accompany revising for rhythm.

    Fred Shafer is an editor, writer, and teacher of writing.  He was an editor for many years with TriQuarterly, the international literary journal published by Northwestern University, where he also taught fiction writing and literary editing in the School of Professional Studies.  He leads three private workshops in short story and novel writing, from which present and former members have published more than twenty books in the past eight years.  His own essays, reviews, and interviews with writers have appeared in several journals.

    Fred will write comments on fiction manuscripts in all genres, for readers of all ages.  Manuscripts up to 20 pages, double spaced, Times New Roman font may be sent to his home, at 2128 Lincolnwood Drive, Evanston 60201. Allow time for mail delivery. Manuscripts and a check for $3.00 per page must be received by Friday, August 31.  After that date, writers can bring their submissions and checks to the first three meetings at the Winnetka Community House.  He will not accept manuscripts at the final meeting.

    9:00-9:30 Socializing

    9:30-12:00 Program

    • October 04, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    You see the same stranger twice in two days. A friend calls, wanting to talk about doppelgängers and a movie she just saw. Another calls, to tell you they are having twins. You are waiting for a bus and two arrive. The orange you’re eating has another, smaller orange growing inside it. For a moment, everything feels connected. 

    As people and as readers, we look naturally for patterns, for sense-making, for correlations. We network, and move within networks, every day. But when it comes to writing, we so often reach for conventional linear and causal structures, shaping stories to fit the form and not the other way around. Why not honor the strange, sublime resonance of life by using phrases and sounds, gestures and habits, imagery and sequence, in order to create a meaningful super-structure? We’ll work with these possibilities, and find the generative gifts of making associations, while examining published texts, and completing writing exercises. Writers of all genres are welcome. 

    Amanda Goldblatt’s writing can lately be found at FenceThe Southern ReviewNOON and elsewhere. She is a 2018 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellow, and teaches creative writing at Northeastern Illinois University and StoryStudio Chicago. More information is available at amandagoldblatt.com

    9-9:30 Socializing 9:30-12 Program 



    • October 11, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House - 620 Lincoln, Winnetka, IL
    Register

    This session will focus on resistance/ protest writing, and is open to writers of all genres. Hannah Gamble will provide reading materials for inspiration and guidance, including Dr. Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," June Jordan's "Poem About My Rights," Nikki Giovanni's poem "For Saundra," and Carolyn Forche's poem "The Colonel." This workshop will include discussion and in-class writing, with an opportunity to share.

    Hannah Gamble is a poet, essayist, editor, and educator. Her first book, Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast, won the National Poetry Series in 2011. In 2014 she received a Ruth Lilly/ Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg fellowship from The Poetry Foundation. You can find her writing on the Poetry Foundation website, and in magazines such as The Believer, jubilat, Fanzine, and the American Poetry Review. 

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • October 18, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House , 620 Lincoln, Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Many books fail despite great beginning and closing chapters because the story sags in the middle. Editor and author supreme Kelly McNees lays out a strategy for making your middle chapters sizzle with conflict and tension through the use of better plot structure, subplots, and employing the "journey" concept for storytelling.

    Kelly O'Connor McNees began her editorial career at Harper Collins and the University of Michigan Press. She launched Word Bird Editorial Services in 2008, and has helped writers of all stripes—including a CIA agent, a musician, a New York City bartender, a newspaper columnist, a dentist, an organic farmer, an art house cinema owner, and many, many others—improve their writing and pursue their publication goals. Kelly is the author of Undiscovered Country (coming in 2018), The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, In Need of a Good Wife, and The Island of Doves. She is passionate about coaching writers and troubleshooting manuscripts to help them succeed. 

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • October 25, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    For better or for worse, movies affect the way we read and write fiction.  Many writers approach their work with a cinematographer’s eye and a screenwriter’s heart, but even for those who rarely watch movies and have no desire to write or see their work adapted for the screen, the language of cinema has already spent over a century seeping into the ways we tell stories on the page.  A lot can be said about how it has degraded the art of fiction, but how has it also enhanced and expanded the art?  What cinematic impulses do we knowingly and unknowingly bring to our work, and how might we learn from and take advantage of those impulses, the bad as well as the good?  In this talk, we’ll consider all these questions, including the most important one of all: what can literature do that cinema cannot? 

    Vu Tran's first novel, Dragonfish, was a NY Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of the Year.  His short fiction has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Best American Mystery Stories, Best of Fence, and other publications.  He is the winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award and an NEA Fellowship, and has also been a fellow at Bread Loaf, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the MacDowell Colony. Born in Vietnam and raised in Oklahoma, Vu received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his PhD from the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a criticism columnist for the Virginia Quarterly Review and is currently an Assistant Professor of Practice in English & Creative Writing at the University of Chicago.

    6-6:30 Socializing 

    6:30-8:30 Program


    • November 01, 2018
    • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    • The Mallinckrodt Community Center - Senior Center 1041A Ridge Road Wilmette, Illinois 60091 (parking on left side of building)
    Register

    DePaul University Creative Writing Professor, Rebecca Johns will dive deep into the craft of three-act structure--including the inciting incident, point of attack, midpoint, crisis, climax and wrap up--from beginning to end, using the novella "Morpho Eugenia" by A.S. Byatt as an example.

    Rebecca Johns's first novel, ICEBERGS, was a finalist for the 2007 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for first fiction and a recipient of a Michener-Copernicus fellowship. Her second, THE COUNTESS--a fictionalization of the life of Elizabeth Bathory--was a Target Discovery pick and published in ten languages. 

    Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, StoryQuarterly, the Mississippi Review, the Harvard Review, Printer's Row Journal, the Chicago Tribune, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Ladies' Home Journal, Self, and Seventeen, among others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the Missouri School of Journalism, she is the director of the MA in Writing and Publishing Program at DePaul University in Chicago.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • November 08, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Music relies on resonant sound and harmonics to elevate an ordinary tune into something that raises the hairs on the back of your neck, but how can writing tap into that same numinous space? A discussion about losing oneself inside the world of fiction, unleashing your subconscious mind, and ringing bells that can't be heard by a listening ear.

    Goldie Goldbloom was awarded a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Brown Foundation-Dora Maar Fellowship. Her most recent novel is Gwen and she has a new publication, "Tandem Ride" in Ploughshares out this summer. Her novel, The Paperbark Shoe, won the AWP Novel Award and several other awards.

     Goldie Goldbloom's collection of short fiction, You Lose These, includes the title story that appeared in the queer anthology, Keep Your Wives Away from Them. Her writing has appeared in The Kenyon Review, NPR, Narrative Magazine, Prairie Schooner and StoryQuarterly, amongst others. She is an internationally recognized speaker, and was invited to lecture at the Assises Internationales du Roman in Lyon, France, in the same year that she was recognized for her excellence in teaching by way of Northwestern University's Honor Roll. In 2014, she won Hunger Mountain's Non-Fiction Prize. Goldbloom is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program in North Carolina. Visit her website at www.goldiegoldbloom.com.

    Goldie will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines.

    9-9:30 Socializing 9:30-12 Program


    • November 15, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House., 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Revision should go much deeper than just polishing up our prose and correcting typos. In this session, we'll approach our manuscripts in ways that take us out of our comfort zones and discuss ways to energize our drafts and unlock their mysteries. We'll be looking for ways to catapult ourselves out of our common writing ruts. This will entail looking at different craft elements like structure, POV, setting, voice and character and applying them to our own work in ways that might completely change the nature of our stories. Do you always write in first person? Then we're going to look at how switching to 3rd is more than just a "find and replace" function. Struggling with a secondary character of a different gender? Let's take a scene from the story and write it from his or her headspace and see where that takes us. Does a story fizzle out at the end? We'll look at the building blocks of plot to see where our pain points might be.

    This isn't a class where we'll take a decent first draft and tweak a few things to come away with a polished final draft. Instead, it's a class where we'll take a draft we're lukewarm about and break it wide open to try to find the hidden gems that will make the story sparkle. Please bring a short story or chapter, or writing sample to use for writing exercises.

    Steve Trumpeter's fiction has appeared in Sycamore Review, Salamander, American Fiction, Hobart, Chicago Quarterly Review and others. He earned a degree in Fiction Writing from Northwestern University. When not toiling away at his own short stories or novel, he teaches at StoryStudio Chicago and hosts Fictlicious, a popular live lit show in Chicago.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program


    • November 29, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Sex is a messy business, and writing about it can be even messier! What words do we use, what words don't we use? How much should we expose? Should we tease? Go all the way? And what will our mothers (husbands, daughters, wives, partners, children, bosses, employees, pastors) think? 

    This workshop will explore ways to get it on...the page, that is. Literary models and writing activities will make us laugh a little, blush a little, and be willing to write a lot.

    Booklist calls Patricia Ann McNair “an irresistible personal essayist of refreshing candor, vibrant openheartedness, rueful humor, and unassuming wisdom.” Her essay collection, And These Are the Good Times, was named as a finalist for the Montaigne Medal, as one of the most thought-provoking books of 2017. Her short story collection, The Temple of Air, received the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award, Southern Illinois University’s Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award, and the Society of Midland Authors Finalist Award. Her work is published widely, in journals,  

     magazines, anthologies, and textbooks on writing. She has received numerous Illinois Arts Council Awards and teaches in the English and Creative Writing Department Graduate and Undergraduate Programs at Columbia College Chicago where she received the Excellence in Teaching Award and was nominated for the Carnegie Foundation’s US Professor of the Year Award. In her past lives, she sold pots and pans door to door, tended bar, managed a gas station, breaded mushrooms, taught aerobics and worked on the trading floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program


    • December 06, 2018
    • 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register

    Screenwriter Mary Ruth Clark, co-writer of Meet the Parents and script doctor to many, leads a workshop for screenwriters, novelists and memoirists on the art and craft of writing cinematic scenes. Scenes are comprised of what an audience will see and what it will hear. Learning how to tell a story in this external reality is the screenwriter's most basic craft—and it can dramatically improve the page-turning qualities of a novel or memoir, too. 

    In this workshop, Mary Ruth Clark discusses the craft of screenwriting, then analyses the cinematic potential of member-submitted, 1-2 page scenes.

    Mary Ruth Clarke co-wrote and starred in the original “Meet the Parents” and co-adapted it into the blockbuster version, starring Robert De Niro. Her screenplay “Chimney Rock” is under option, and she has been a script doctor for many screenplays, including “A Guy Thing” and “Desperation Boulevard.”

    She teaches screenwriting and writing for television at Chicago Dramatists, where she is a resident playwright. She is also a regular guest lecturer at the Chicago Screenwriter’s Network monthly meet up.  Her plays have been produced by The Agape Actors Co-op in Austin, Texas, the Beacon Theater in Philadelphia, the Provision Theater in Chicago and Meta Theater in Los Angeles. She is a member of the Writer’s Guide of America East and the Dramatists Guild.

    6-6:30 Socializing 6:30-08:30 Program
    • December 13, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

     

    In fiction, character is indelibly tied to the story.  As one deepens and develops, so does the other.  In this session, we’ll move past the basics of fictional characters into further investigations of how to best create compelling and original people in your pages.  We’ll focus on such questions as: How can we use dialogue as an essential tool for revealing character?  How do conflict and change in the story’s plot push characters toward memorable actions and decisions?  What’s the best way to write a character who is a lot like you?  What about one who is not?  In this discussion, I’ll offer strategies for taking your characters to the next level of believable complexity.  We’ll read some short excerpts and try a few written exercises, so bring a paper and pen (or a computer).

    Emily Gray Tedrowe is the author of the novels COMMUTERS, BLUE STARS, and the forthcoming THE PRICE OF ART.  She has received awards from the Sewanee Writers' Conference, the Ragdale Foundation, VCCA, and the Illinois Arts Council.  Her short fiction has appeared in the Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Journal as well as in Fifty-Two Stories, Other Voices, Crab Orchard Review, and other journals.  Her book reviews regularly appear in USA Today.  Originally from New York City, Tedrowe now lives in Chicago where she teaches English and creative writing at DePaul University. Photo credit to Marion Ettlinger

    Emily will accept up to 5 manuscripts for critique on a first come first chosen basis. Please see manuscript guidelines. 

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • December 20, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Jane Hertenstein leads us in a special Flash Fiction and Memoir workshop and contest. We'll get a flash course in writing flash, then Jane will turn us loose to write 500 words or less, fiction or memoir, on something related to holiday experiences. A week later, member participants are invited to submit their final drafts to Jane, who will select up to three entries to feature in the OCWW newsletter.

    Jane Hertenstein is the author of over 80 published stories both macro and micro: fiction, creative non-fiction, and blurred genre. In addition she has published a YA novel, Beyond Paradise and a non-fiction project, Orphan Girl: The Memoir of a Chicago Bag Lady, which garnered national reviews. Jane is the recipient of a grant from the Illinois Arts Council. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Hunger Mountain, Rosebud, Word Riot, Flashquake, Fiction Fix, Frostwriting, and several themed anthologies. Her latest book is Cloud of Witnesses from Golden Alley Press. She teaches a workshop on Flash Memoir and can be found blogging at http://memoirouswrite.blogspot.com/

     9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • December 27, 2018
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Humor is a quality all too frequently absent from even the best writing, as if “funny” and “deep” are mutually exclusive. In this single-session workshop led by Rebekah Frumkin (THE COMEDOWN), we will learn how to cast off our notions of literary propriety and make our readers laugh.

    We will familiarize ourselves with various techniques of humor writing, including parody, farce, hyperbole, incongruity, irony, and puns. We will learn how writers have used gallows humor to face hopeless situations and political humor to face election results. You have a chance to experiment in a writing exercise and with will leave with some funny words of your own, a better understanding of what makes readers chuckle, and a goofy grin plastered across your face.

    Rebekah Frumkin is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Louisiana State University, where she teaches fiction writing to grads and undergrads. Her fiction, nonfiction, and journalism have appeared or are forthcoming in Granta, Pacific Standard, McSweeney’s, Catapult, and the Best American Nonrequired Reading, among other publications. Her well-reviewed debut novel, The Comedown, was published by Henry Holt in April 2018. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and an MSJ from the Medill School of Journalism. She is the recipient of the Richard E. Guthrie Memorial Grant and the Meta Rosenberg Fellowship for her fiction.

    She has taught fiction writing at the University of Iowa and currently teaches creative writing at Open Books in Chicago. She also works as a freelance reporter for the Social Justice News Nexus and In These Times

     9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • January 03, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    In this two workshop series, members will receive instruction on writing collaborative fiction and an OCWW member cohort will be led through the process of creating a cohort-sourced novel by an award-winning author and celebrated instructor.

    Workshop #1: Explaining and Starting the Process

     Jay Rehak takes participants through the step-by- step process of creating and publishing collaborative fiction, then organizes and begins the process for the OCWW members signing on to write their own section of a cohort-written novel.

    This session is appropriate for anyone interested in collaborative fiction. Toward the end of the session members will have the option to continue on with the project. (Workshop #2, on pulling together and publishing cohort-written fiction will be on April 18, 2019)

    Workshop #2 of award-winning author and celebrated teacher Jay Rehak's instruction on episodic story telling, reviews and sews the OCWW cohort writing project together and discusses the joys & implications of shared publication.

    This session will be of interest to anyone wanting to learn about pulling the pieces of a cohort-written novel together, and the process of self-publishing this type of project. Everyone in the cohort is expected to attend.

    Jay Rehak has been a writing teacher for 32 years; he is the author of 27 produced short plays and has co-written 13 novels with his students and friends. Honored as the 2014 Chicago Public Schools Tech Innovator of the year, Jay has spoken at numerous educational conferences around the country; his TedX Northwestern talk, “How to Teach Empathy through Collaborative Writing” is available on YouTube. In 2013, Mr. Rehak created and co-authored the award winning 30 Days to Empathy, the world’s first high school class sourced novel.  Subsequently, Jay collaborated with his students, writing and publishing Someone Else’s Shoes, The Absolutely Awesome Adventures of Internet Ed, and The Long, Strange Trip of Augie Stone. Additionally, his non-fiction work, How to Write a Class-Sourced Novel has been used by teachers around the world to create their own collaborative novels. He is currently working on Sideline Ink, the second book of his middle grade novel series, which helps promote financial and social emotional literacy.  All of Jay’s works are available on Amazon at  http://bit.ly/jaycrehak. Jay is married to award winning children’s singer, Susan Salidor and he has three children, Hope, Hannah and Ali. Additional biographical information can be found at www.sidelineinkpublishing.com.

     9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • January 10, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    In this fun, optimistic, interactive workshop, we will explore 21 expected and unexpected strategies, tools and avenues to publish writing. Writers will explore a wide spectrum of places to submit work, how to set submissions up for success and how to query and pitch like a pro. This workshop is applicable to short and long form, fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry, and supports writers of all experience levels.

    Sara Connell is a Chicago based writer. She has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The View and NPR. She received the Judith Dawn Memorial Grant for fiction and has presented at Northwestern University, Printer's Row Literary Festival, Chicago Writers Association, Chicago Women in Publishing and teaches at Story Studio Chicago. Her writing has appeared in: the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, TriQuarterly, and Mindful Metropolis. Her first book Bringing In Finn was nominated for ELLE magazine Book of the Year.

    No manuscripts

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    • January 17, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Whether you've written 100 short stories or none, you'll benefit from this workshop on the structure, essential elements, how to make them your own, why they are important, where to send your work, and the research that goes into that, and more!

    Richard Thomas is the author of three novels, three short story collections, a novella and more than100 short stories. He has won contests at ChiZine and One Buck Horror, and has received five Pushcart Prize nominations to date. He is also the editor of four anthologies: Exigencies (Shirley Jackson finalist) and The New Black (Dark House Press), The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (Black Lawrence Press) and Burnt Tongues (Medallion Press) with Chuck Palahniuk (finalist for the Bram Stoker Award). In his spare time he is a columnist at LitReactor and Editor-in-Chief at Dark House Press. He has taught at LitReactor, the University of Iowa, StoryStudio Chicago, and in Transylvania. Richard's novels include Disintegration and Breaker (Random House Alibi), and Transubstantiate (Otherworld Publications).

    No manuscripts

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    • January 24, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Stuart Dybek says endings, like other elements of the storytelling craft, starts with strategy. In this program, we look at the closure strategies and innovations of the writers who shaped the modern story, including Poe, Chekov, Joyce, Wolff and Hemingway.

    Stuart Dybek's The Start of Something: Selected Stories by Stuart Dybek was published by Jonathan Cape/Vintage in 2016, and two new collections of fiction, Ecstatic Cahoots and Paper Lantern, were published simultaneously by FSG in June 2014. Dybek’s previous books of fiction are Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, The Coast of Chicago, and I Sailed with Magellan. He has also published two volumes of poetry, Brass Knuckles and Streets In Their Own Ink. His work is widely anthologized and appears in publications such as The New Yorker, Harpers, The Atlantic, Tin House, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Dybek is the recipient of many literary awards including the PEN/Bernard Malamud Prize for “distinguished achievement in the short story”, a Lannan Award, the Academy Institute Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Harold Washington Literary Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and four O’Henry Prizes. 

    His work has appeared in Best American Poetry and in Best American Fiction. In 2007, he was awarded both a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Rea Award for the Short Story. He is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

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    • January 31, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    You want to write about a moment from your past, but you worry about what your real life characters, your readers, and your inner critic will say. How can you write the truth when there's so much at stake? In this workshop, led by memoirist and personal essayist, Nadine Kenney Johnstone, you will learn why it’s crucial for writers to speak their truth in their writing. In this session, you will read published examples of truthful writing and learn how to write about yourself and your characters in a way that it is both fair and honest.

    Nadine Kenney Johnstone is the author of the memoir, Of This Much I'm Sure, which was named Book of the Year by the Chicago Writers Association. Her infertility story has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Today’s Parent, MindBodyGreen, Metro, and Chicago Health Magazine, among others. She teaches at Loyola University and received her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago. Her other work has been featured in various magazines and anthologies, including Chicago Magazine, PANK, and The Magic of Memoir. Nadine is a writing coach who presents at conferences internationally. She lives near Chicago with her family. Follow her at nadinekenneyjohnstone.com.

    Nadine will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see Manuscript Guidelines on our website.


    9-9:30 Socializing 

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    • February 07, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    In real life, we’re polite, repetitive, and a lot of what we say is unnecessary filler. Which means that the more “realistic” our dialogue, the less it serves our fiction. 

    How do we break our own learned conversational habits to craft dialogue that not only convinces but also moves the story forward and oozes subtext? In this craft class, we will look at examples from some of the masters of dialogue, and discuss what makes them work. We’ll also discuss craft details such as pacing, avoiding awkward speech tags, and maintaining longer speeches (monologues) – as well as the larger issue of giving each character a distinct and consistent voice. 

    Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the highly acclaimed novel, The Great Believers, the story collection, Music for Wartime, as well as the novels The Hundred-Year House (a BookPage “Best Book” of 2014 and winner of the Chicago Writers Association Award) and The Borrower (a Booklist Top Ten Debut). Her short fiction was featured in The Best American Short Stories anthology in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and appears regularly in publications such as Harper’s, Tin House and Ploughshares, and on public radio’s This American Life and Selected Shorts. The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, Rebecca has taught at the Tin House Writers' Conference, Northwestern University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

    No manuscripts

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    • February 14, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Conquer your public speaking fears and polish your presentation skills with John S. Green as he shares strategies and tips for a successful book reading. You will learn how to prepare your materials and yourself to focus on the heart of what you are reading. John will explain, then demonstrate his techniques and give feedback to attendees who volunteer to read a short excerpt. Please come prepared with something to read if you wish to take a turn at the podium.

    John S. Green is an award-winning writer. His play, The Liquid Moon, won Chicago’s Jeff and After Dark Awards and was nominated for the Pulitzer. He won the Guild Complex: Leon Forrest Prose Award for his short story, The Me Zone, and a Chicago Jeff Award for Best Actor in Of Mice and Men.  

    No manuscripts

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    • February 21, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register
    Join New York Times bestselling author Jay Bonansinga for a fun, informative, rousing session on the evolution of storytelling techniques.  Learn the inside scoop on selling your manuscript in this post-literate world of kindles and kooks!

    In the world of fiction, Jay Bonansinga has established himself as a fixture in the genres of horror and suspense.  He is the New York Times bestselling author of THE WALKING DEAD novels (four volumes in collaboration with the creator of the franchise, Robert Kirkman, and four volumes as solo author).  He is also the author of fourteen original novels, including the Bram Stoker finalist THE BLACK MARIAH (1994), the International Thriller Writers Award finalist SHATTERED (2007), the acclaimed YA horror novel, LUCID (2015), and Jay’s latest horror opus, SELF STORAGE (2016).  Jay’s work has been translated into sixteen languages, and he has been called “one of the most imaginative writers of thrillers” by the CHICAGO TRIBUNE.


    No manuscripts

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    • February 28, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    From Rick Bass’s lyrical descriptions of ice in “The Hermit’s Tale” to uncanny fertility dolls in Lesley Nneka Arimah’s “Who Will Greet You at Home,” images, when done well and consciously shaped into a pattern, can make a story unforgettable and mysterious. In this prose session, we'll explore the mechanics behind the magic, including how to use images to structure your narrative, to transition in time and space, and to modulate setting, pace, and voice. We’ll study the works of several image-driven stories. We'll also write our own pieces, attempting to pull something altogether unexpected from our magician’s hats.

    Rachel Swearingen’s stories have appeared in VICEThe Missouri Review, Kenyon Review, Agni, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere. Her work has garnered several awards, including the 2015 Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, a 2013 MacDowell Colony fellowship, a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute and lives in Chicago.

    No manuscripts


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    • March 07, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    When people are struggling to write short fiction, the problem usually begins with the idea. It often leads to a story that is too long, really the beginning of a novel, or is so simplistic that it is dull. In this workshop, we'll walk through how to create and structure a short story idea.

    Mary Robinette Kowal is the author of The Glamourist Histories series, Ghost Talkers, and the Lady Astronaut duology. She’s a member of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses and has received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, three Hugo awards, and the RT Reviews award for Best Fantasy Novel. Her stories appear in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor (SAG/AFTRA), recording fiction for authors including Seanan McGuire, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit maryrobinettekowal.com

    No manuscripts

    9-9:30 Socializing 

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    • March 14, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    Storytelling revolves around characters and the things they must overcome—conflict. When novels fail to find a publisher, it's often because they don't have enough conflict. In this session, editor/author Kelly McNees outlines different sources of conflict and how to use them to make your story more scintillating, from first page to last.

    Kelly O'Connor McNees began her editorial career at Harper Collins and the University of Michigan Press. She launched Word Bird Editorial Services in 2008, and has helped writers of all stripes—including a CIA agent, a musician, a New York City bartender, a newspaper columnist, a dentist, an organic farmer, an art house cinema owner, and many, many others—improve their writing and pursue their publication goals. Kelly is the author of Undiscovered Country (coming in 2018), The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, In Need of a Good Wife, and The Island of Doves. She is passionate about coaching writers and troubleshooting manuscripts to help them succeed. 

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • March 21, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register


    Agents Abby Saul (adult fiction) and Tina Schwartz (YA, children's literature, non-fiction) reprise last year's rousing session on finding and working with an agent. Their presentation will include an emphasis on Q & A, and a review of member-submitted critiques and first pages of manuscripts. Abby will critique query letters and Tina will critique manuscript first ten pages (see website for submitting and fee details).

    Agent Abby Saul founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing at John Wiley & Sons, Sourcebooks, and Browne & Miller Literary Associates. She’s worked with and edited bestselling and award-winning authors as well as major brands. Abby also has helped to establish ebook standards, led company-wide forums to explore new digital possibilities for books, and created and managed numerous digital initiatives.

            As an agent, Abby is looking for great and engrossing adult commercial and literary fiction. A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Abby spends her weekends—when she’s not reading—cooking and hiking with her husband. 

    Tina P. Schwartz is a writer of ten traditionally published books. She is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor's degree in Marketing Communication with an Advertising emphasis. After spending many years in advertising, Schwartz gave up a career in media sales to pursue her true passion of selling manuscripts when she opened The Purcell Agency, LLC in July of 2012. She enjoys spending time with family, playing games and sports. She is a huge movie lover and a self-proclaimed tomboy. You can find out more about her at www.tinaPschwartz.com or www.ThePurcellAgency.com. 

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • March 28, 2019
    • 9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka IL
    Register

    As writers, we’re always told to keep our eye on the arc of our story, making sure it rises and rises until we get to the climax and then, whoosh, back down the hill we go toward our stunning, unexpected-yet-right ending. Most of the time, during the writing, it feels like we’re rising and rising and rising and rising and, oh, c’mon, we’re still rising, I’m running out of momentum here, story, and this hill is going to kill both of us, I just want to get to the whoosh! already… Well, what if you did get to maybe not the whoosh but a whoosh, a little bit of downward slope that let you regain your momentum to get up the next stretch? What if instead of one, long arc upward toward the climax, you instead laid in little plateaus where you could catch your breath and muster your strength? And what if these little plateaus let you make the most out of the important moments of your story? Pretty great, right? Well, that’s what we’ll be talking about: taking a page from the best of television (and a number of novels and stories), we’ll look at “episodic” structures that build one main arc out of a bunch of little arcs, discuss what these structures give us as writers, and even how to start building them into your existing work (it’s easier than you might think).

    Eric Rampson is a Chicago-based writer who spent almost 20 years studying, performing, and teaching improv comedy before getting his MFA in Fiction from The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. His fiction has been published in Change Seven Magazine, The Matador Review, Typishly, Metonym, The Gateway Review, Leaf~Land Journal, and Broad River Review. His novel-in-stories Always Already and story collection Hazards are currently looking for good homes while he works on his new novel.

    Eric will accept manuscripts for critique. Please see manuscript guidelines on our website.

    9-9:30 Socializing 

    9:30-12 Program 



    • April 04, 2019
    • 6:30 AM - 8:30 PM
    • Winnetka Community House, 620 Lincoln Ave., Winnetka, IL
    Register