We support and educate writers of all kinds. 

Workshops at the Porch are rigorous yet welcoming, encouraging creative expression while sharpening your understanding of craft. Led by instructors with extensive teaching experience, each class focuses on a particular genre, approach, or use of writing, and allows participants to learn from one another in a supportive, friendly atmosphere. 

In our intermediate to advanced workshops and one-day seminars we aim for thorough discussion, feedback, and pedagogy on par with courses offered through degree-earning programs. These Porch workshops are a great choice if you're thinking about applying for an MFA or looking to keep up your writing practice and skills after college or graduate school. But if you're new to writing or just looking for some inspiring practice and play with words on the page, we've got the perfect workshop for you, too.

We'll be adding additional classes as we grow. If there's something you're interested in that's not listed here, please let us know! We also offer personal coaching to help you reach your writing goals; contact us to get that conversation started.

Please note: Our cancellation policies have changed. Please click here to view our updated policies. 

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Gift Certificate for Eight-week Workshop

Gift Certificate for One Day Workshop

For a gift certificate in another amount of your choice, please email us at hello (at) porchtn.org.

**scroll down for remaining summer classes: Simply Magic, Short Story Workshop, and Art of the Query**

 FALL 2017 classes


Foundations of Fiction

This class is designed for writers at all levels who want to sharpen their storytelling skills. We’ll read and discuss published stories, paying close attention to their structure and narrative voice, but the primary focus of the course will be on generating and refining your own work in a supportive environment. There’ll be writing prompts for those who need them, and every student will have an opportunity to share at least one piece with the whole group. 

About the Instructor:  

Maria Browning is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Nashville Scene, Literary Hub, BMI MusicWorld, Still: The Journal, and Guernica. Since 2009, she has been a contributing writer at Chapter 16, a website devoted to covering the literary culture of Tennessee. She attended the Sewanee Writers' Conference and the Moss Fiction Workshop with Richard Bausch. She lives in White Bluff, Tennessee.




Mixed Levels Fiction

Whether you're new to writing or have been at it a while, this eight-week class is designed to sharpen the tools of your fiction-writing craft. In the first four weeks, we’ll focus on elements of fiction writing, including characterization, pacing, point of view, structure, voice, and scene. Students can expect in-class prompts and take-home assignments as well as discussions of published literature. The final four weeks of the course will follow a more traditional workshop model, switching the focus to participant manuscripts, be they short stories or novel excerpts. Ultimately, workshop participants will come away with a heightened understanding of craft, feedback on their own work, and experience in discussing and critiquing others’ work in an encouraging and constructive setting.

About the Instructor: 

Luke Wiget lives in Nashville, Tennessee by way of Brooklyn, New York. He received the 2015 Quiddity Lit Editor’s Prose Prize, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Green Mountains ReviewSmokeLong QuarterlyHobartHeavy Feather ReviewBig Truths, and BOMB, among others. Luke earned an MFA in fiction from The New School, for which he edits and curates AUDIOGRAPH, an audio series documenting readings and conversations hosted by The Writing Program. He also co-curates and hosts drDOCTOR, a reading series and podcast, and writes/hosts YEARBOOK, a column for The Rumpus.



    The First Twenty Pages

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that a good novel in possession of a sluggish beginning will very likely be in want of a reader. Because let’s face it, if the opener doesn’t grab the reader (or agent/publisher) right from the first, the rest of the book, no matter how fantastic, may not get eyes. This novel writing workshop will focus on beginnings. Over the course of eight weeks, we’ll look at the openings of a range of successful novels as well as at the first twenty pages of participants’ novels-in-progress. In the end, students will walk away with both a sharper opening as well as a deeper understanding of the tools authors employ to invite readers inside the pages of their novels.

    About the Instructor:

    Katie McDougall is the cofounder/co-director of The Porch. For her full bio, please see our About Us page. 





    The Personal Essay is Dead. Long Live the Personal Essay!

    A recent New Yorker headline may have proclaimed the personal essay "boom" over, but we know better. Alive and thriving, the essay form can encompass storytelling, reflection, argument, lyricism, humor, reportage—you name it. In this class we’ll think about the essay as endlessly flexible vessel for our stories and voices, exploring the work of diverse contemporary essayists as models and considering the wide-ranging desires and demands of the marketplace (what does one do with a given essay? Where might it find its readers?). With the help of generative exercises, we’ll draft new work and share it in a supportive atmosphere. Our goal will be to relax into the process, expand understanding of what a personal essay can be, and hone our skills as we write and provide feedback to other writers. Students will receive written feedback from the instructor on drafts. 


    About the Instructor:

    Susannah Felts is the cofounder/co-director of The Porch. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in StorySouth, Oxford American, Literary Hub, Longreads, The Sun, Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and other publications. She's the author of a novel, This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record (Featherproof Books), and a contributing writer for Chapter 16, Humanities Tennessee's site for literary culture. For her full bio, please see our About Us page.  



    Healing Through Writing

    In writing about pain, trauma, and loss, we often gain insight and perspective into our experiences. Through this writing, we also open to the door to creating works of art that exist outside of ourselves. In the first weeks, we will focus on the process of writing, exploring approaches such as free writing, mindful and sensory writing, and fictionalization, while generating new material in class and at home. In the second half of the workshop, students will share a work in progress for discussion and feedback from the class and instructor. Throughout, we will study other writers who have written through and about their personal experiences of trauma and hardship, such as Joy Castro, Roxane Gay, Justin Torres, and Leslie Jamison. We will read fiction, memoir, essay, and poetry, and students are welcome to experiment with genre in their own work. The class is open to all, regardless of writing experience.


    About the Instructor: 

    Anna Silverstein was born in Boston and moved to Nashville four years ago. She has an MFA from Vanderbilt University, and was the 2015-16 Creative Writing Fellow at the Curb Center. Previous classes with the Porch include Writing as Resistance, Healing through Writing and creative writing workshops for immigrants and refugees. She is also a teaching artist for Southern Word and works on two Nashville organic farms. Her fiction appears or is forthcoming in Salt Hill, Afro-Hispanic Review, New Delta Review, Gravel, and Overtime.



    Afoot & Lighthearted: Writing on the Trail at Radnor Lake

    Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,

    Healthy, free, the world before me,

    The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

    —Walt Whitman, 1856

    For decades, Walt Whitman’s lines have taught that when we go afoot, we are invited to be light-hearted, curious, and optimistic. The open road, trail, or sidewalk invites freedom. Spending too much time indoors, he knew, can lead us to feel paralyzed by too much information. This class imports Whitman’s advice to writers of our time, coaxing us to stop scrolling aimlessly through the news or social media and to spend time afoot on the trail, in a world that is wondrous, mysterious, and worthy of our time, attention, and affection. Over three Saturday mornings, we’ll use walking as a tool to revive creativity and refresh the imagination. The theme of each class will be “a sense of place,” “attention,” and “exploration.” Please bring a journal, pens/pencils (including colored pencils if you’d like), comfortable shoes, and a water bottle.

    • Instructor: Bonnie Smith Whitehouse
    • Length of workshop: 3 weeks
    • Date: Saturdays, October 14, 21, and 28
    • Time: 7 - 8:30 a.m.
    • Cost: $103 members; $115 non-members
    • Location: Radnor Lake (you will receive specific directions regarding meeting place prior to first class)

    About the Instructor:

    Bonnie Smith Whitehouse, Ph.D., is Professor of English at Belmont University. She specializes in the flourishing field of writing studies and is dedicated to producing written work that brings academic findings to a curious general readership. For twenty years, she has taught writing to undergraduate and graduate students, and for over six years, she has taught an innovative, experimental learning community on walking and writing. When Tennessee’s spring wildflowers are at their peak, she has led retreats integrating writing and hiking. Her forthcoming book Afoot: Groundwork for Creative Walkers is an interactive journal that teaches readers how to harness the power of walking to cultivate and nourish attention, inspiration, and determination, as well as combat distraction, anxiety, and the dreaded creative block. Bonnie seeks to help others cultivate creativity, well-being, and peace through by prompting them to engage thoughtfully and contemplatively with the natural world.


    Self-Publishing Series: What You Need to Know Before You DIY

    Sessions on prepping your book for publication, mastering the print-on-demand platforms, and publicity. Full details coming soon! Take any of the individual 2-hour sessions or all three. Click "REGISTER FOR THIS SESSION" to purchase a single session, or scroll down to bulleted info to register for all three. 

    Session One: Preparing Your Book

    Prepping your book for self-publishing may seem daunting, but these surefire steps will help you nail the process. In this two-hour session (with tutorials), we’ll talk about the importance of book editing and how to navigate the workflow, book cover resources, do’s and don'ts, interior formatting tips and tricks, file output and upload requirements, and how to set up your ISBN numbers properly. REGISTER FOR THIS CLASS ONLY: $35 members; $40 non-members

    Session Two: Mastering the Platform

    In this session, we'll answer specific questions about using the IngramSpark platform to publish your book. Topics covered will include setting discounts & return status; utilizing all Global Distribution service options available on the IngramSpark platform; importance of establishing a direct relationship with ones’ readership base; DIY vs. Assisted Services; how books flow through wholesale distribution channels; how to properly approach and work with independent bookstores; and the importance of driving your readerships to Indie bookstores to purchase your titles. This session will include Q&A opportunities throughout. REGISTER FOR THIS CLASS ONLY: $35 members; $40 non-members

    Session Three: Publicity 101

    One of the greatest mistakes authors make is not considering how they will spread the word about their book after they are finished writing it. With more than 3 million books being published each year in the US alone, make sure that your book stands out and gets noticed by readers. Learn what’s involved in making a plan. Lesson one - the earlier the better. REGISTER FOR THIS CLASS ONLY: $35 members; $40 non-members

    About the Instructors:

    Jen Chesak, an East Nashville-based writer and editor, operates an independent publishing and editing company, Wandering in the Words Press. Jennifer earned her Master of Science in Journalism from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and has had a storied career as a freelance adventure, travel, and fitness writer for publications like Runner's World, Women's Running and Field & Stream online to name a few. She serves as a mentor for Middle Tennessee State University's certificate in writing program, MTSU Write, and is currently working on a fiction novel set in her native state of North Dakota. Jennifer mulls over plot lines and character traits while training for her next marathon or working in her garden. Find her writing and editing tips at http://wanderinginthewordspress.com.

    Josh Floyd is a Key Account Sales Manager at IngramSpark. He promotes the growth, sales, and brand of the IngramSpark platform by providing education, information, and best practices for Ingram’s Publish-on-Demand services. Josh has been with Ingram for over 5 years first working as a Publisher Representative, then as an Ingram Independent Bookstore Representative, and is now with IngramSpark as Key Account Sales Manager.




    Kendall Hinote: Kendall’s ability to make connections between authors, their books and untapped audiences earned her a reputation as an out of the box thinker. Putting an author’s book personally into the hands of thought leaders is a distinction of her work. Kendall specializes in client relations and campaigns that are author and issue centric leading her to work with traditionally published and award-winning authors on national campaigns as well as self-published authors aiming to cultivate niche audiences. Kendall is an ambassador for authors and their causes and is regarded by clients as a trusted and strategic advisor. She brings to every project insight she gained from her time in journalism, communications, public relations, politics, community development, fundraising, non-profit seeding, education, editing, creativity coaching, literary services, workshop presentation and group facilitation prior to her work in literary publicity.

    Julie Schoerke: A public relations expert with 30 years experience, Julie specializes in developing winning book publicity campaigns for authors and publishers. But it’s her infectious smile, always-positive attitude and die-hard support that welcomes authors into the JKS family. Her hallmark is creative campaigns that fit the lifestyle of the author. She’s been on the forefront of industry trends, being among the first to work with book bloggers, to produce and creatively distribute book trailers, and to secure book sale numbers reporting for indie authors to hit bestseller lists. And, in bucking trends, she reinvented the book tour to be more author-friendly. Julie is frequently interviewed on radio, literary blogs and asked to speak before audiences of all sizes. Most recently invited by The University of Chicago, Sarah Lawrence College, Decatur Book Festival, and James River Writing Conference among others throughout the United States, her advice and ideas for promoting books are endless, current and inventive.



    Raising the Stakes!

    What is the one thing your protagonist must accomplish? What happens if they fail? Why should the audience care?

    These are some of the hard questions this course will have students ask of their own work. Taking a macro-level approach to story, it will guide students in fine-tuning the key narrative components that grip audiences and keep them coming back for more. Universal components useful to all writers across the genre spectrum, from literary to popular fiction.

    This four-week course will include lecture, group discussion, and in-class readings. Students will complete conceptually-oriented, take-home writing challenges, examining and tweaking their stories from a big-picture perspective. Weekly progress on these exercises will be shared with the class for constructive feedback. 

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    What Poetry Can Teach Prose

    Samuel Taylor Coleridge once said that “prose = words in their best order; poetry = the best words in the best order.” In this two-hour class, we’ll explore what prose writers in all genres can learn from the economy, intensity, subtlety, and precision of poetry. We’ll look at the importance of rhythm in crafting elegant, readable prose, and there’ll be some in-class exercises designed to sharpen your eye and ear for effective sentences. We’ll also discuss how the hypnotic power of poetry can help any writer tap into creative material.

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    About the Instructor:

    Maria Browning is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Nashville Scene, Literary Hub, BMI MusicWorld, Still: The Journal, and Guernica. Since 2009, she has been a contributing writer at Chapter 16, a website devoted to covering the literary culture of Tennessee. She lives in White Bluff, Tennessee. 



    VISITING AUTHOR SERIES: Make Me a Hummingbird: Salvos into the World of Micro-Memoirs

    In today’s increasingly heterogeneous landscape, cross-genre works that blend inheritances from multiple literary parents have a new urgency and popularity. Combining the extreme brevity of poetry yet hewing to the truth-telling of creative nonfiction, micro-memoirs allow us to consider questions of genre while delighting in a form that, like a hummingbird, stuns with its speed and ingenuity.  Mississippi Poet Laureate Beth Ann Fennelly will share strategies that inform her forthcoming book, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs (W. W. Norton, fall 2017) and prompt students to leave with a micro-memoir of their own.


    About the Instructor: 

    Beth Ann Fennelly, Poet Laureate of Mississippi, teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil.  Fennelly has published three poetry books with W. W. Norton:Open HouseTender Hooks, and Unmentionables, and a book of nonfiction, Great with Child.  The Tilted World, a novel she co-authored with her husband, Tom Franklin, was published by Harper Collins.  Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs will be published by Norton in fall ‘17. Fennelly and Franklin live in Oxford with their three children.



    VISITING AUTHOR SERIES: We All Write Sentences

    This workshop, taught by poet and Oxford American Senior Editor Rebecca Gayle Howell, invites both poets and prose writers to consider more closely the power of pushing out the boundaries of the English sentence. Reading, across genres, sentences written by masters of the ecstatic—James Agee, Gwendolyn Brooks, Cormac McCarthy, Emily Dickinson, Ross Gay, Melville, Gerald Stern, C.K. Williams, Joy Williams—we will combine linguistic and creative craft study for the sake of better serving the imagination, the music. 

    About the Instructor:

    Native to Kentucky, Rebecca Gayle Howell is a senior editor for the Oxford American. Her debut poetry collection, Render /An Apocalypse, was a finalist for ForeWord's Book of the Year and was praised widely, most notably in a cover review by David L. Ulin for the Los Angeles Times, who called the collection "remarkable." Howell is also the translator of Amal al-Jubouri's verse memoir of the Iraq War, Hagar Before the Occupation/Hagar After the Occupation. A Library Journal Best Book of Poetry for 2011, Hagar received critical acclaim throughout the U.S., the Middle East, and India and was shortlisted for Three Percent's Best Translated Book Award. Among Howell's honors are fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Carson McCullers Center, as well as a Pushcart Prize. Howell's latest book, American Purgatory, was selected by Don Share for The Sexton Prize; London's Eyewear Publishing released the book to both the United Kingdom and the United States in early 2017.



    Diving into the Wreck: Mindfulness and Creative Writing

    Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.” The relationship between mindfulness and writing is bi-directional; writing exercises can cultivate mindfulness and presence, and mindfulness techniques can be used to support a writing practice by developing helpful mental habits, overcoming writers’ block, encouraging creativity, and facilitating fruitful self-discovery.

    In this one-day workshop, we will discuss ways in which mindfulness principles can be brought to bear on each stage of the writing process—drafting, revising, editing, and even proofreading. The bulk of the workshop will be dedicated to experimenting with mindfulness practices that facilitate self-discovery and creativity. We’ll bring mindfulness practices to bear on Adrienne Rich’s poem “Diving Into the Wreck” and Hélène Cixous’ concept of “the three steps on the ladder of writing,” and take a deep dive into our own inner worlds to discover how courageously befriending ourselves and cultivating a state of awareness can transform our relationship to the writing process and to our own creativity.


    About the Instructor: 

    Melissa Jean is an Assistant Professor in the Mindfulness Studies masters’ program at Lesley University, where she also works as an Interdisciplinary Studies facilitator for Creative Writing MFA students. She teaches courses in academic writing, creative writing, and research methods. She received an MFA in Fiction Writing from Lesley, and a PhD in Human Dimensions of Ecosystem Science and Management from Utah State University. Her writing has appeared in The Colorado Review and a variety of online journals, including most recently Junoesq and Causeway Lit.



    Writing for All: Honoring the Process

    “A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them.”—William Stafford

    In this hands-on workshop, we’ll focus on writing as process, not product. We won’t worry about split infinitives or conflicting points of view or whether our work is publishable. Using prompts and exercises, we’ll foster creativity, not critique. You won’t be told how you “should” write, and you won’t be accused of having an unreliable narrator. Instead, your own words will be respected and valued just as they are on the page. In addition, readings and resources for developing your writing further will be provided. Writers of all skill—and confidence—levels are welcome. If you want to write, you can. Come see how.

    About the Instructor:

    Amy Lyles Wilson believes it is the sharing of our stories that saves us. Toward that end, she founded Pilgrim Writers to help people tell the stories they need to tell. A native of Mississippi who calls Nashville home, Amy Lyles works as a writer, editor, and teacher. She is a certified Amherst Writers and Artists workshop facilitator, and has thirty years of professional experience in the world of words. She has been published in a variety of magazines and has co-authored or contributed to nine books. Her essay “The Guts to Keep Going” was featured on National Public Radio. Amy Lyles has taught writing and served as the writer-in-residence at the Earlham School of Religion, and led workshops across the South, as well as at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. She holds degrees in English, journalism, and theology. www.amylyleswilson.com.



    Make it Quick: Very Short Stories

    Often described as "flash" fiction or creative nonfiction, very short stories are works of terrific economy, precision, and compression. They're a great way to try out new ideas, focus on certain elements of literary craft, or employ a device or borrowed form that might not be sustainable in a longer piece. In short (yep, you see what I did there), they offer rich terrain for writers and readers alike. We'll look at several examples of flash fiction and nonfiction, and we'll practice writing a few "short-shorts" of our own through guided in-class exercises. You'll come away with an expanded view of the landscape of flash fiction, a fresh look at literary technique in action, and seeds for stories of your own—flash or otherwise.  

    About the Instructor: 

    Susannah Felts is the cofounder/co-director of The Porch. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in StorySouth, Oxford American, Literary Hub, Longreads, The Sun, Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and other publications. She's the author of a novel, This Will Go Down on Your Permanent Record (Featherproof Books), and a contributing writer for Chapter 16, Humanities Tennessee's site for literary culture. For her full bio, please see our About Us page.



    Narrative Distance

    What makes a narrative feel emotionally distant? What makes it claustrophobic? How can you move fluidly between different characters’ perspectives? How can you zoom in and out of varying depths of a character’s consciousness? How does the approach to narrative distance change when writing in first or in third person? Writing is a skilled craft like any other, and learning the tools of your craft will give you greater dexterity and range in your work. This one-day craft intensive will focus on narrative distance: what it is and how to manipulate it effectively. This is a skills-based class, where you’ll learn the concepts and then immediately apply them in structured in-class writing prompts. You’ll leave class with a firm grasp of the concepts, new tools for editing and revision, and with some writing starts that may become the seeds for longer pieces.

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    About the Instructor:

    Anna Silverstein was born in Boston and moved to Nashville four years ago. She has an MFA from Vanderbilt University, and was the 2015-16 Creative Writing Fellow at the Curb Center. Previous classes with the Porch include Writing as Resistance, Healing through Writing and creative writing workshops for immigrants and refugees. She is also a teaching artist for Southern Word and works on two Nashville organic farms. Her fiction appears or is forthcoming in Salt Hill, Afro-Hispanic Review, New Delta Review, Gravel, and Overtime.



    Complex Characters: Writing Against Gender Type

    Literary fiction has no shortage of stereotypes of women, femme, and nonbinary characters, especially as they intersect with race, sexual orientation, class, and disability. This workshop is for any writer who is tired of seeing these same tired tropes and wants to create nuanced characters with agency, strength, and vitality, as well as vulnerability and depth of emotion. We’ll explore the complexities and challenges of writing against gender types and norms, questions of audience, and that old haunt of creative writing workshops: “likeability.” During this workshop, we’ll read story and novel excerpts, generate new writing in response to prompts, and have time for discussion and sharing work. 

    About the Instructor:

    Anna Silverstein was born in Boston and moved to Nashville four years ago. She has an MFA from Vanderbilt University, and was the 2015-16 Creative Writing Fellow at the Curb Center. Previous classes with the Porch include Writing as Resistance, Healing through Writing and creative writing workshops for immigrants and refugees. She is also a teaching artist for Southern Word and works on two Nashville organic farms. Her fiction appears or is forthcoming in Salt Hill, Afro-Hispanic Review, New Delta Review, Gravel, and Overtime.



    What We Talk About When We Talk About Style

    The goal of this afternoon workshop for writers of both fiction and nonfiction is to unpack the concept of style in writing. Participants will engage in a sort of literary treasure hunt of examining, defining, and imitating a variety of styles from within the literary canon, and then ultimately consider ways to sharpen, polish, and push the boundaries of our own styles. 

    • Instructor: Katie McDougall
    • Length of workshop: 3 hours
    • Date: Saturday, October 21
    • Time: 2 - 5 p.m. 
    • Cost: $50 members; $55 non-members
    • Location: Refinery Nashville

    Katie McDougall is the cofounder/co-director of The Porch. For her full bio, please see our About Us page. 










    (in chronological order)

    The Compelling Narrator

    What makes a narrative voice irresistible? What makes a reader feel that she doesn’t even care what the plot is—she’ll listen to whatever this narrator has to say, for as many pages as she gets?

    In this one-day workshop, we’ll be diving into the first-person narrative voice, how it seduces, how it compels, how it presents its reality, and from where it draws urgency. We’ll look at the openings of stories and novels with strong narrators, from authors Elizabeth Strout, Roxane Gay, Ottessa Moshfegh, Kazuo Ishiguro, and Marilynne Robinson. We’ll discuss different types of first-person narrators—retrospective, unreliable, sympathetic and not—and how to employ them to best effect.

    Through a series of guided prompts, students will create and write from the perspective of different voices and narrators. We’ll have time to share in-class writing for on-the-spot instructor and student feedback.

    This class is open to students of all experience levels and writing backgrounds.



    Memory, Mapping, and Meaning

    What do we discover about our memories when we dig for information about where they happened? What impact do changing landscape and history have on how we write about memories? This craft course is a kind of archaeological excavation of our most poignant images of our homelands. It explores the nature of episodic memory and offers writers tools with which to build upon and deepen fleeting snapshots of experience in pursuit of greater meaning.

    We’ll mine place-based memory—memory rooted strongly in its location in place and time—layering what we remember through writing prompts, research, and theory. We’ll see that documenting change over time can lend itself to critical analysis of economics, environmental change, class, conflict, and more. As we uncover information about our place-based memories, we’ll explore opportunities to add elements of critical analysis to memoir.

    Angela Palm is the author of Riverine: A Memoir from Anywhere but Here, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. The book was a Kirkus Best Book of 2016, was selected by Oprah.com as a Powerful Memoir by Powerful Women, and was an Indie Next pick. Palm was a Bread Loaf Writers' Conference fellow in narrative nonfiction and has taught creative writing at Champlain College, New England Young Writers' Conference, The Writers' Barn, The Renegade Writers' Collective. and elsewhere. Her writing has appeared in Creative Nonfiction, Ecotone, Passages North, At Length Magazine, Entropy, Brevity, DIAGRAM, Essay Daily, Paper Darts, apt, SmokeLong Quarterly, Hippocampus Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, Little Fiction, Big Truths, Sundog Lit, and elsewhere. Palm works as an editor and lives in Vermont.


    Foundations of Creative Nonfiction

    The difference between a mildly interesting story and one that goes deep into a reader’s heart and mind is largely a matter of craft. Even the most compelling real-life material won’t grab an audience if it isn’t shaped and presented with skill. In this class, we’ll survey the major forms of creative nonfiction, including memoir, narrative reportage, and the essay, and we’ll take a close look at story structure and voice. The primary emphasis of the class, however, will be on helping you generate and refine your own work. Whether you are just beginning to explore your material or already have a book manuscript in progress, this course will provide you with guidance, encouragement, and detailed feedback. We’ll discuss the ethics of nonfiction writing and strategies for getting published, and every student will have an opportunity to workshop at least one piece with the entire class. 

    Maria Browning is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Nashville Scene, Literary Hub, BMI MusicWorld, Still: The Journal, and Guernica. Since 2009, she has been a contributing writer at Chapter 16, a website devoted to covering the literary culture of Tennessee. She lives in White Bluff, Tennessee. 








    Simply Magic

    The moment a narrative parts from the familiar laws of reality is certainly a magic one. When done masterfully, an author's use of magic can sweep the reader up in a torrent of powerful emotions: wonder, horror, excitement, dissonance. But just as easily, the reader could refuse to suspend her disbelief and give up on the story altogether.

    This four-week course will study widely varied approaches and examples of magic from masters across the genre spectrum, from the literary (Magic Realism, Slipstream, and the Weird) to the popular (Fantasy and Urban Fantasy), from novel to short story. Writers discussed include Marquez, Kafka, Kelly Link, George Saunders, Neil Gaiman, Ursula LeGuin, and others. 

    The course will also include in-class writing exercises, sharing and commenting on student works-in-progress, and group discussion of various topics related to the dangers, strengths and strategies of using magic in fiction. 

    • Instructor: Keith Potempa
    • Length of workshop: 4 weeks
    • Date:  Thursdays, July 20, 27 and August 3, 10
    • Time: 7 - 9 p.m.
    • Cost: $138 members; $153 non-members
    • About the Instructor:

    Keith R. Potempa holds an M.F.A. in Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine's Stonecoast Program. He has completed three novels to date in the genres of literary, young adult, and fantasy. He is currently seeking representation. He also serves as a teaching artist in Watkins College's Community Education program. 


    Short Story Workshop

    Stories want readers. This class is designed for the writer who has a completed draft of a short story and is ready for useful feedback. All participants will be expected not only to submit a story but also to read and respond to the work of their fellow classmates, an exercise that invariably sharpens one’s instincts as a writer. The four-week workshop will be facilitated in the spirit of encouragement, rigor, community, and conversation.

    • Instructor: Katie McDougall
    • Length of workshop: 4 weeks
    • Date:  Mondays, August 7 - 28
    • Time: 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
    • Cost: $138 members; $153 non-members
    • About the Instructor: Please see our About Us page for Katie's bio. 






    Storyteller: The Craft of Writing for the Stage

    The act of storytelling builds community. From local Nashville shows such as That Time of the Month and TenxNine to nationally recognized storytelling outlets like The Moth and Risk!, the popularity of sharing our true stories grows.  This workshop is open to writers of all levels who are ready to tap into that storytelling community by bringing their own stories from the page to the stage. After using prompts to develop a true personal essay, we will delve into the art and craft of live storytelling by analyzing structure, voice, and theme. Participants will have the chance to see a story from initial conception to final performance, with critique and editing along the way.

    After the final session, all participants will perform on stage in front of an audience of invitees.  

    • Instructors: Amanda Bloomer and Autumn Jones
    • Length of workshop: 4 weeks + reading event
    • Dates: Wednesdays,  July 12, 19, 26, and August 2 (and reading event date TBD)
    • Time: 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
    • Cost: $205 Members; $225 Non-Members
    • Location: Refinery Nashville

    About the Instructors:

    Amanda Bloomer co-produces and contributes to That Time of the Month, an award-winning storytelling show in Nashville.  She has appeared on various storytelling stages, and her essays appear in the Nashville SceneMcSweeney's, and elsewhere. In addition to writing and storytelling, Amanda has taught English, Etymology, and Mythology.  

    Autumn Jones is a freelance writer whose work appears on Romper, Scary Mommy, Livability, Parenting Squad, and Mamalode. In 2016, she received Honorable Mention from the Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition in the category of Personal Essay. Autumn is a co-producer of That Time of The Month and leads workshops on various personal growth topics.


    Your query letter is your introduction, your first impression. But before an agent can fall in love with your writing, they must first fall in love with your query. It’s only a page, but it’s your most important page during this stage of the process. What makes some queries successful, while others immediately get a form rejection? In this workshop, literary agent Annie Hwang will show you how agents go through their queries and how they make decisions based on the many query letters they receive. This session will cover query do’s and don’ts and participants will have the opportunity to workshop their query letters.


    - How to open and close your query letter

    - How to distill your book into a logline

    - How to spark and keep an agent’s interest

    - How to follow query etiquette guidelines

    - How to avoid common pitfalls writers make when querying

    • Instructor: Annie Hwang of Folio Literary Management
    • Length of workshop: Two hours
    • Date: Sunday,  August 27th
    • Time: 4 p.m. - 6 p.m.
    • Cost: SOLD OUT. To join a waitlist, please email hello@porchtn.org.
    • Location:Refinery Nashville

    About the Instructor: Annie Hwang is a literary agent at Folio Literary Management where she represents a range of adult fiction and select nonfiction. She is actively building her list and gravitates toward high-concept literary fiction featuring diverse characters and authentic voices; rich historical fiction where the setting takes on a life of its own; literary thrillers with dark psychological grit; and nuanced speculative/science-fiction that questions what it means to be human in the age of technology. Underrepresented voices occupy a special place in her heart and she is particularly drawn to braided narratives, complex characters, and layered plots. A California native and former journalist, Annie is constantly on the hunt for gifted storytelling that stretches its genre to new heights.