The Writer’s Voice

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COMMUNITY ARTS HOME >Visual Arts | Theater Arts | The Writer's Voice | Dance | Arts Camp | Conversations On The Arts | Meet Our Instructors | Contact Us | The Marjorie S. Deane Little Theater


Founded in 1981, the West Side YMCA Writer’s Voice is one of New York City’s longest-running and well respected creative writing programs. Each class offers writers a great opportunity to generate new or hone existing material with the support of our faculty and writing peers.
"At the Writer’s Voice you have access to some of the most outstanding and inspiring teachers who will fuel your imagination, spark your creativity, and challenge you to be better."– Juliann Garey, author of Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See
"...insightful feedback, coaching, generous sharing of resources and nurturing spirit." - Writer’s Voice student

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The Heart of the Matter: Creating Emotion in Fiction and Memoir | Saturday, September 29, 2018 1-3 PM
Making the reader feel is one of the most important goals of creative writing.  But there aren’t cheap shortcuts and creating emotion on the page is an artful enterprise.  In this seminar, I’ll discuss the importance of risking sentimentality to get at sentiment.  Some methods we’ll look at include surprise, restraint, opposing forces, and the use of concrete, resonate detail.  The seminar will include a talk, discussion, and an exercise on emotional mastery.
Beth Ann Bauman | Fees $100 Members; $125 Non-Members

For people who have lived and worked and want to write about their childhood as well as their more recent past. Whether you are a published writer or last wrote in a childhood diary, you are welcome in this class. Mark Twain said, “The difference between the almost right word & the right word is the difference between  lightning and lightning bug.” Finding the right word is the goal of this workshop. Suggested weekly assignments will be given to help trigger memories. Along with weekly writing in class, everyone can bring in 2 pages to be critiqued each week by classmates and teacher. The teacher will also take home weekly work, which will be read and returned the following week.

Patty Dann
Tuesdays or Thursdays 10:00 AM-12:00 PM

SESSIONS 185 & 186 | 8 weeks; starts 9/4, 9/6, 10/30, 11/1
Fees: $288 Members; $456 Non-Members

Take the plunge into the refreshing waters of memoir writing. Dip your toes, paddle in the shallows, observe the ripples on the surface, and dive into the depths. As we share and discuss short pieces, we'll explore elements of craft, tackle obstacles to creativity, and inspire one another. Whether a novice or experienced writer, you’ll enjoy the company of fellow swimmers, and emerge renewed.

Mindy Lewis
Tuesdays 6:45-8:45
SESSION 184 | 4 weeks, 7/10- 7/31
Fees: $144 Members; $228 Non-Members

Every life has stories worth writing. This class provides tools to overcome fear of the blank page and writing prompts to jump-start the creative process. Inspired by collaborative discussion and examples of great writing, participants will hone in on their stories and explore elements of craft. No pre-registration requirement: Open to writers of all levels.

Mindy Lewis
Tuesdays 1:30-3:30 PM
SESSION 185 | 7 weeks, 9/4-10/16 (option: no class 9/18; last class 10/23, TBD)
Fees: $252 Members; $399 Non-Members

Whether you’re a new, continuing, or returning writer, take the plunge into memoir writing! This workshop will provide a supportive and stimulating springboard for shaping the raw material of your life into short pieces worth sharing. Together we'll explore elements of craft, experiment with form, tackle obstacles to creativity, and inspire one another.

Mindy Lewis
Tuesdays 6:45-8:45 PM
SESSION 185 | 7 weeks; 9/4-10/23 (no class 9/18)
Fees: $252 Members; $399 Non-Members

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Already working on a memoir, creative nonfiction, and/or a personal essay? This class will help take your writing to the next step by addressing issues of voice, style, structure, pacing, dramatic arc, and thematic focus. Each student will submit new or revised writing for critique, with the option of also working on query letters, book proposals, and chapter outlines. Pre-registration requirement: Instructor approval.

Mindy Lewis
Wednesdays 6:45-8:45 PM

SESSION 184 | 4 weeks, 7/11-8/1 (limited to 8)
Fees: $144 Members; $228 Non-Members
SESSION 185-6 | 15 weeks, 9/5-12/19 (9/19 class meets Thursday 9/20; no class 11/21) (limited to 10)
Fees: $540 Members; $855 Non-Members

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This workshop covers fundamentals of the craft of Dramatic Writing including; writing dramatic scenes, story structure, character, dialogue and revision. The instructor creates a supportive and participatory workshop environment. Students bring in new pages of their script-in progress on a weekly or biweekly basis and hears their material read out loud. In class writing exercised tailored to individual needs help students who do not yet have a script in progress. All levels are welcome.  For more info, contact:

Charlie Schulman
Mondays or Tuesdays 6:45 - 8:45 PM
SESSIONS 185 | 8 weeks, starts 9/10
Fees: $288 Members; $456 Non-Members
SESSION 186 | 7 weeks, starts 10/29
Fees: $252 Members; $399 Non-Members

Register For Classes


Humor is a skill that can come in mighty handy – especially since we’re all gonna die. Whether you’re trying to punch up your online dating profile, become an amusing public speaker, write that memoir, craft essays, find success as a stand-up comedian so you can have an excuse to drink all the time (or sleep around), or publish the next (and first ever) Pulitzer Prize winning comic novel, this class is most definitely for you. Class will cover the different types of humor such as irony, sarcasm, satire and parody. Discussions about joke-writing, wordplay, incongruity, exaggeration and reversal will be illustrated with video clips of stand-up comics performing. Exercises and games will be used to enhance natural comic abilities. Fun assignments will help students learn techniques to add humor to their writing. Students will share their work in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. Free extra bonus included if you sign up now -- or at the last minute: it promises to be a lot of fun. 

Topics Will Include: 

  • Take My One-Liner, Please
  • Exaggeration: More Important Than Life Itself
  • Understatement: We’ll Get To This If We Have Time
  • Observations about Observational Comedy
  • Irony – Not That It Matters
  • Sarcasm – Not That You Care
  • Satire in the Age of Fake News
  • Parody – The Best Way to Steal Material Without Getting Sued
  • Develop Your Comedy Persona (Can also be used for your online dating profile)
  • Free Association… Priceless
  • How to Play with Your Words and Not Your Food

Stephanie Lehmann
Thursdays 6-8 PM
SESSIONS 184 & 185 | 8 weeks, starts 7/5, 9/6
Fees: $288 Members; $456 Non-Members
SESSION 186 | 7 weeks, starts 11/1
Fees: $252 Members; $399 Non-Members


In this class, beginning and intermediate-level fiction students work toward building short stories and novel chapters and learning the elements of craft. Whether you are a new beginner or want to sharpen up your basic writing technique, this is the class for you. Student work is discussed in a warm atmosphere. Limited to 8.

Beth Ann Bauman
Wednesdays 1-3 PM
SESSION 185 & 186 | 6 weeks; 9/12 - 10/24, 10/31-12/12 (No Class 9/19, 11/21)
 8 max
Fees: $216 Members; $342 Non-Members

In this class, we look at an assortment of genres — fairy tales, fantasy, ghost stories, and other speculative fictions.  Readings and exercises are assigned, and in the final weeks student works-in-progress is workshopped. Class limited to 10.

Beth Ann Bauman
Tuesday 6:45-8:45 PM
| 10 weeks; 9/25-11/27
Fees: $360 Members; $570 Non-Members

This is the perfect class for fiction writers who want to be writing but aren't, or those who feel stuck on a current project.  This is a generating class in which students write new material or advance pre-existing short stories or novel chapters.   The class provides weekly deadlines, through fun and challenging prompts, that serve as pricks to the imagination to get you off and racing.  Each class session is reserved for workshopping student work.  The class works well for both beginning and more experienced writers who want to increase their creative output.  Limited to 10.

Tuesdays 6:45-8:45
SESSION 184 | 4 weeks; 7/10-8/7 (No Class 7/24)
Fees: $144 Members; $228 Non-Members

Writing sample (up to 8 pages of fiction) and permission of instructor required. In this class, students working on novels and short stories learn to improve craft, deepen fiction, and identify and tackle common storytelling problems. Students must have work ready to present. 6 students max.

Beth Ann Bauman
Wednesdays 6:45-8:45 PM
SESSION 184 | 4 weeks; 7/11-8/8 (No Class 7/25) 8 max
Fees: $144 Members; $228 Non-Members
SESSION 185 & 186 | 6 weeks; 9/12-10/24, 10/31-12/12 (No Class 9/19, 11/21) 6 max
Fees: $216 Members; $342 Non-Members

Everyone has a story to tell. Whether you’re a skilled practitioner polishing a piece or a beginner learning the craft, this workshop has something for you. Often, there isn't a big difference between fiction and nonfiction, and both formats are welcome here. Many writers begin with incidents that they remember, or situations that are happening now, and shape that material into stories. We will focus on elements of "creative" prose writing—plot, character, setting, voice, and beginnings and endings—through weekly prompts and detailed critiques.  Exercises and works in progress will be reviewed in class in a friendly supportive atmosphere. Revisions of works in progress will be considered, as well. Often, work begun as an exercise grows into a longer piece after the class meeting. Each writer will receive one-to-one attention. The workshop is open to everyone.

Thaddeus Rutkowski
Mondays 6:30-8:30 PM
SESSIONS 184 | 8 weeks, starts 7/9
Fees: $288 Members; $456 Non-Members

Register For Classes