Writing Fiction

8-Week Fiction Writing Course – Delivered Right to Your Inbox

Learn to write fiction

Enroll in this 8-Week Fiction Writing Course to have lessons, assignments, and inspiration delivered right to your inbox.

About: Get the tools you need to turn your ideas into stories! In this 8-week email course, you’ll learn how to write short stories using the fundamental building blocks of fiction. This class was designed by New York Times bestselling author, veteran writing teacher, and small press publisher Michelle Richmond.

It’s all about craft: Discover the secret structure that will help you shape any story. Learn how to create complex characters, write a suspenseful plot, choose the best point of view for your story, get your characters talking, pace your story with the right balance of scene and summary, and more.

Outcome: By the end of the class, you will have written and revised at least two short stories or novel chapters, and you will have a strong understanding of narrative craft.

Structure: Every week, you’ll get new video and written lessons and a related assignment to help you put your new knowledge into practice. During the first week, you’ll write your first story, based on the 5-part structure you’ll learn in the first module. After that, each week will lead you deeper into the writing of your story or novel.*

Dates: This course begins the moment you enroll and lasts for eight weeks. As soon as you enroll, you’ll receive a welcome email and your first module, delivered right to your inbox. There’s no signing in; the class comes to you.

There’s an app for that! The free, easy-to-use gumroad app allows you to view the lessons on your tablet or phone, but you an also view them online or download the lessons as a PDF.

If you’ve always wanted to write fiction but don’t know where to begin, this course is for you. Taught by a New York Times bestselling author with more than a decade of experience teaching creative writing at the university level, WRITING FICTION provides a great foundation for anyone interested in writing and publishing short stories or novels.

Please note that this is not a workshop course. If you would like to receive feedback on your assignments, you can purchase the Critique Add-On at any time.



CNET begins publishing fiction : Technically Literate and my story, The Last Taco Truck in Silicon Valley

CNET kicked off its brand new fiction series this month with my short story, The Last Taco Truck in Silicon Valley. The CNET fiction series is edited and curated by Janis Cooke Newman (author most recently of A Master Plan for Rescue). CNET’s fiction series features stories about tech, beautifully illustrated and animated (Roman Murdov illustrated The Last Taco Truck, with animations by Justin Herman). At the bottom of the story, you’ll find a video: CNET News Editor-in-Chief Connie Guglielmo and I visited a taco truck near the CNET headquarters, where we talked about Silicon Valley culture, women in tech, and, of course, how to order a taco.

About the story, The Last Taco Truck in Silicon Valley:

An Evangelista—i.e. the Chief Evangelist for a heritage hoodie startup in Silicon Valley—is held hostage in a taco truck. Meanwhile, a guy from Portland with too many debts, is posing as El Taco Hombre. Add the mantra of all marketing—There’s social proof, there’s authority, and there’s scarcity, and the greatest of these is scarcity—to spice things up. Mix it all together, and what you have is a story that sends up everything we in the tech and hipster haven of the Bay Area hold near and dear. Plus the unforgettable hashtag #FrancoNeedsATaco

Technically Literate and “The Last Taco Truck in Silicon Valley” was covered in The New York Times, Publishing Perspectives, the San Francisco Chronicle, Tech News Daily, Chowhound, and elsewhere. As a writer, it’s exciting to see such a respected icon of the tech publishing world reaching out to find and promote literature. To me, it feels like a natural partnership. Tech is so deeply a part of the way we write, and even more a part of the way we reach readers, and I believe CNET, which gets 30 million visitors per month, will bring short fiction to an entirely new readership.

In her foreword to Technically Literate, Newman talks about how the series came to be, and the intersection between art and tech–both in our lives and in the microcosm of San Francisco.

When CNET first approached me with the idea that would become Technically Literate, it seemed like a collision of worlds, until I considered the geography of my day. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to equally vibrant, equally innovative, technology and literary communities. And in the way they share the topography of the city, they also share a world of common touch points.


What’s literature got to do with tech? Guglielmo told Alexandra Alter of The New York Times

“We hope it will help us expand our brand,” Connie Guglielmo, CNET News’s editor in chief, said of the series. “If you don’t experiment, you stay in place, and that’s kind of counter to the culture here.”

The next three stories for the series will be by Anthony Mara, Cristina Garcia, and Nayomi Numaweera.

A Review of the New Thriller Baggage, by S.G. Redling

Baggage, by S.G. Redling, is an edge-of-the-seat thriller about a young woman haunted by her violent past. Anna Ray works in the student advocacy office of a small liberal arts college in Western Virginia. Her mother incessantly sends her letters from prison, where she is incarcerated for the murder of Anna’s father. A year ago, Anna’s husband committed suicide. When a professor who has been courting Anna is murdered in a particularly gruesome way on anniversary of her husband’s and father’s deaths, the reader and Anna are both left to wonder who has come back for vengeance, and why. Is Anna herself to blame? Her controlling but supportive cousin? Redoing had me until the end, when the resolution veered away from a deeper exploration of character, toward horror-film shock value. I’ll be interested to see what Redling writes next.

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My Interview with Elizabeth Strout, & her new book My Name Is Lucy Barton

Elizabeth Strout Interview

Following the publication of Olive Kittredge, I sat down with Elizabeth Strout at the JCC in San Francisco to interview her. I found Strout to be kind and very funny, generous with her stories, and a bit shy. She spoke of growing up in the end of a dirt road, and of her mother’s desire to be a writer. Her mother, a high school writing teacher, bought her notebooks and encouraged her to write everything down. “She’s the whole reason I’m here,” Strout said. The notebooks have not survived, as “we were not a sentimental family.” She also discusses the stage fright she felt when Amy and Isabelle was published, a stage fright she has since gotten over, and the difference between being a writer and an author.

When My Name Is Lucy Barton was published, I was surprised to find the voice of the narrator so different from the voice of Olive Kittredge and so similar to the voice of Strout, the author. I read the book in a single day, carried along by the unflinching way the narrator addresses her childhood, her marriage, and her life as a writer.

My Name is Lucy Barton, by Elizabeth Strout

If you loved Olive Kittredge, read this. If you hated Olive Kittredge, read this. What this slim novel, My Name is Lucy Barton, shares with Strout’s blockbuster bestseller is an intense examination of the life of one woman. What differs is the tenderness of the voice. If Olive Kittredge is all (or most) hard edges, Lucy Barton is fragile, a woman capable of great love and even greater forgiveness. This is a story of mothers and daughters. It takes place almost entirely in the Manhattan hospital where Lucy is convalescing. Her mother, whom she hasn’t seen in many years, comes at the behest of Lucy’s absent husband to sit at her bedside. Over the course of their guarded conversations, made up of unanswered questions and rapidly told stories, we learn about Lucy’s childhood–made difficult both by poverty and by her parents’ great shortcomings. The mother who has never said “I love you,” and still can’t, who once locked the young Lucy in a truck for infractions real or imagined, who failed to keep her daughter safe or warm or clean or even properly fed, is seen here in her deep vulnerability and in her guarded love for the child she can’t understand.

In the second half of the novel, Barton tells of her accidental encounter in a Manhattan clothing store with a writer named Sarah Payne. Years later, Lucy takes a writing class with Sarah, who tells her that she must be fearless, that she must be honest and write her one story without the fear of hurting anyone. This novel feels like that story.

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Listen to my 2010 interview with Elizabeth Strout, following the publication of Olive Kittredge.

Coffee instead of tea, please!

 Fika: The Art of The Swedish Coffee Break, with Recipes for Pastries, Breads, and Other Treats, by Anna Brones, Johanna Kindvall (Ten Speed Press)

A sweet, inspiring guide not just to baking, but to the concept of the Swedish Coffee Break. This is tea-time for coffee lovers, a compendium of recipes combined with meditations on the art and essence of fika. The traditional recipes aren’t for the impatient, though. These require time, love, and care…which is what fika is all about.

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