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Literary Arts

The West Side YMCA Writer's Voice is one of New York City's longest-running and well respected writing programs. Writer's Voice continues to nurture writers of introductory and advanced levels in genres such as fiction, non-fiction, memoir, and writing for the stage and screen. Each class provides opportunities for participants to generate new or hone existing material, give and receive constructive feedback, and cultivate new writing peers in supportive, small group environments with highly qualified instructors.
"...pressure-free, creative and challenging atmosphere provided by the teachers." - Writer's Voice student
"...insightful feedback, coaching, generous sharing of resources and nurturing spirit." - Writer's Voice student
In each Writer's Voice class you will experience:
  • An intentionally small class size that nurtures a community of writing peers
  • An atmosphere of lively, supportive discussion
  • Insightful and stimulating feedback
  • Writing activities and readings that nurture individual growth
  • An attentive and accomplished Writer's Voice faculty member

Works in Progress (Intermediate to Advanced | Non-Fiction)

For non-fiction writers (eg. memoir, magazine, and personal essay) interested in working towards some form of publication. Each week participants share and discuss works in progress. The class has a special emphasis on how to use fiction techniques of narration, description, dialogue, and structure to improve each piece. Sessions are seven weeks long and begin on Jan. 10 & Mar. 6. Maximum enrollment is 15 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): Instructor approval required.

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Writing for Children's TV/The "Spec" Script (Stage and Screen)

Children's television writing requires special skill to seamlessly implement educational curriculum while telling an engaging, developmentally-appropriate story. In this class, students will learn how to write a "spec" a script based on an existing show to gain an understanding of the genre as well as have a writing sample necessary for the industry. Maximum enrollment is 10 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): All levels of writers welcome.

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Fiction 101 (All Levels - Fiction)

A great class if want to try writing fiction or you are returning to the genre. Fiction 101 helps you understand and apply the basic elements of good fiction writing (dialogue, character, beginnings and endings) through writing exercises and assignments, peer discussion, and instructor feedback. Maximum enrollment is 12 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): All levels of writers welcome.

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Filling the Well (All Levels - Fiction)

Learn how to feed your writer's imagination and play with words. Weekly writing prompts, assignments, and discussion will invigorate your creativity and ignite your writing process. Maximum enrollment is 10 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): All levels of writers welcome. Session 1 ONLY

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Going Deeper (Intermediate to Advanced - Fiction)

For intermediate to advanced fiction writers working on novels and short stories, looking to hone their craft and address common storytelling problems. Class sessions are devoted to student work. Maximum enrollment is 8 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): Instructor approval required.

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Life Stories (Beginner | Non-Fiction)

Each week provides students the opportunity to generate, share, and get feedback on writing inspired by personal experiences past and present. All levels of writers welcome. Maximum enrollment is 9 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): Instructor approval required

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Memoir and Creative (Advanced | Non-Fiction)

For writers working on personal narrative in any form: memoir, creative non-fiction and personal essay. Through focused critique and discussion, we hone the tools of strong writing: distinctive voice, precise language, resonant imagery, vivid sensory description, dramatic scene and dialogue, and inventive form. Maximum enrollment is 8 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): Instructor approval required.

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Memoir and Creative (Intermediate to Advanced | Non-Fiction)

For writers working on personal narrative in any form: memoir, creative non-fiction and personal essay. Through focused critique and discussion, we hone the tools of strong writing: distinctive voice, precise language, resonant imagery, vivid sensory description, dramatic scene and dialogue, and inventive form. Maximum enrollment is 8 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): Instructor approval required. Session 1: this session is seven weeks and starts January 10.

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Screenwriting/Playwriting (Stage and Screen)

Learn the fundamentals of dramatic writing for both screen and stage with an emphasis on scene-construction, character, dialogue, story structure and revision. Participants will contribute new pages each week and in-class exercises are tailored for both beginners and advanced students with scripts-in-progress. Maximum enrollment is 12 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): All levels of writers welcome.

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Shaping the Stories in Our Lives (Beginner | Non-Fiction)

Every life has stories worth telling. This workshop provides tools to overcome fear of the blank page and writing prompts to jump-start the creative process. Inspired by examples of great writing, participants will hone in on their stories and explore elements of craft. Maximum enrollment is 10 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): Open to writers of all levels.

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Story Study & Fiction (All Levels - Fiction)

In the first four weeks, we study published short stories in order to broaden our sense of what's possible in storytelling. We look at how fiction is shaped and how it achieves its effects. In the second four weeks, student work is workshopped. Pre-registration requirement(s): All levels of writers welcome.

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The Creative Writer (All Levels - Fiction)

Inspire your creative side by learning how to write vivid pieces of fiction with dynamic characters and engaging plots. Readings, short stories, and writing assignments will be the basis for lively peer to peer dialogue and feedback focused on exploring the craft of writing. Maximum enrollment is 10 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): All levels of writers welcome. Sessions 1 & 3 ONLY

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The How and What of Poems (Poetry)

A great entry class for anyone interested in learning how to write poetry. Come develop your poetic skills to write, carefully critique, and enjoy other poets in this introductory workshop. Maximum enrollment is 10 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): All levels of writers welcome.

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The Writer Within: Tapping and Refining Your Narrative Voice (Intermediate to Advanced - Fiction)

A class for writers interested in strengthening the clarity, tone, and color of the narrative voice found in their work. The class cultivates a supportive framework of feedback and dialogue that will inspire your craft and improve your writing. Maximum enrollment is 8 students. Pre-registration requirement(s): Instructor approval required.

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Thought into Poems (Poetry)

Examine how seemingly random thoughts and emotions, phrases that occur to us, and images we perceive, can all be turned into poems. We will critique one another's work in a supportive and reflective manner, and look at instructive models ranging from the use of form in Shakespeare, to imagery in Mary Oliver, to humor in Billy Collins. Pre-registration requirement(s): All levels of writers welcome.

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