Summer 2020 Courses

Registration will open on April 20 for our Summer 2020 courses! Check out our course descriptions below. **Please note that all classes will be offered online.**

5-Week Classes

Lang 371: Snapshots of the Past: A Memoir Workshop

**Class Full**

Instructor: Audra Coleman
Meets Tuesday evenings, 6:00-8:30: June 9, 16, 23, 30, July 7.

It can be daunting to set out to write our personal or family histories. Where do you start? Where do you end? How do you tie it all together? This course is designed to take the pressure off! We can begin here– with the moments, memories and fragments. In the vein of Lois Lowry’s memoir Looking Back, we will infuse family photographs with the personal meaning each image holds. The goal is to narrow our focus, to find and develop the particulars in order to best capture the humorous or heartbreaking stories that they embody. Through outside readings, in class writing exercises and light assigned work, we will explore how dialogue, setting, description and voice can make both our photos and stories come to life. By the end of the five weeks, writers should have a small portfolio of memories that can stand on their own or serve as a springboard to those longer pieces we have yet to write. Required text: Looking Back by Lois Lowry

Audra Coleman’s work in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction has appeared recently or is forthcoming in WNC Woman, Good Mother Project, Mothers Always Write, 3288 Review, Kestrel, Palaver, Quail Bell Magazine, Great Smokies Review, Five on the Fifth, Into the Void, Star 82 Review, Typehouse Literary Magazine, Penn Review, Corvus Review, Mojave River Press, Hoot and Pretty Owl Poetry. She graduated from UNC Asheville’s Master of Liberal Arts and Science Program with a concentration in creative
writing and was recently named named the winner of the 2018 Confluence Award for Excellence in Creative Writing awarded by the Association of Graduate Liberal Studies Programs. She currently teaches creative non-fiction courses for the Great Smokies Writing Program.


Lang 371: Take Five: A Fiction Workshop

**Class Full**

Instructor: Marjorie Klein
Meets Wednesday evenings, 6:00-8:30: June 10, 17, 24, July 1, 8.

Each of the five sessions of this workshop will focus on a different element of fiction, with free-writing prompts and exercises designed to illuminate a particular aspect of craft: Places Everyone! (setting); Of Memory and Madeleines (sensory detail); Kodak Moment (character); Yakety Yak (voice and dialogue); and Breaking News (plot). After each prompt session, we will share the resulting bursts of free-writing with the class. This raw material may provide future inspiration for a short story, or it could be woven into a
work in progress. Fiction from published authors relevant to each week’s topic will be emailed and briefly discussed in class.

Marjorie Klein’s first novel, Test Pattern (Wm. Morrow Publishers, 2000;
HarperCollins/Perennial 2001, now an e-book) was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection. Her narrative nonfiction has appeared in various publications, including twenty years of freelance work for Tropic, the Miami Herald’s former Sunday magazine. Recipient of a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, she served as a preliminary judge for the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts for thirteen years and is a member of the Flatiron Writers group in Asheville. She has taught at the
University of Miami, Florida International University, Warren Wilson College, the University of North Carolina Asheville’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and the Great Smokies Writing Program.


Lang 371: Introduction to Feature Writing Workshop

Instructor: Mark MacNamara
Meets Monday evenings, 6:00-8:30 pm: June 8, 15, 22, 29, July 6.

Features are largely the province of magazines and newspaper style sections, most famously the style section of the Washington Post in the 1970s.  Early masters of the form include Mailer, Capote, Sontag, Lillian Ross and Gay Talese, who helped kickstart “literary journalism.” More recently you think of Annie Lowry and Masha Gessen. The form extends
from essays to obits, to hybrids of every kind. And of course the genre has been adapted to the digital world. This course explores how to tell an engaging nonfiction story, along with the mechanicals: how to find sources and interview them; how to organize material; how to write a compelling lede and nut graph; how to create a mystery to draw the reader through a
narrative; and most important how to develop an abstraction, a larger meaning that answers the question, why should I have read this?  Students are required—unless impractical—to finish the course with a pitch letter and a 1,200-word piece ready for market, preferably online. The premises of this course are that you write what you read and, as any storyteller knows, you show don’t tell.

Mark MacNamara has written for such publications as Nautilus, Salon, The Stanford Social Innovation Review, and Vanity Fair. For the last nine years, he’s been a senior writer with San Francisco Classical Voice ( Many of his pieces also appear in MacNamara has won awards in both fiction and nonfiction, including first place in the Greater Bay Area Journalism Awards presented by the San Francisco Press
Club. He began his career as a writer studying with the great short story writer, Peter Taylor, at the University of Virginia. His website is


Lang 371: Summer Writing Workout

Instructor: Heather Newton
Meets Thursday evenings, 6:00-8:30 pm: June 11, 18, 25, July 2, 9.

Do you long to write, but just can’t seem to work it into your life? Do your writing resolutions last about as long as your New Year’s resolutions to go to the gym? Whip your atrophied writing muscles into shape this summer with this class for beginning or experienced fiction and creative nonfiction writers. We’ll do lots of writing in class and focus on practical ways to make writing an integral part of your life—whatever it takes to get words on the page.

Unlike a workshop/critique class that focuses on revising work that you have already polished, our goal for the five weeks will be to generate new work and get the creative juices flowing. You may later wish to develop some of the short pieces you create into longer pieces in a class with a workshop format. Think of our class as five mini writing retreats to get you inspired.

Heather Newton’s novel Under The Mercy Trees (HarperCollins 2011) won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, was chosen by the Women’s National Book Association as a Great Group Reads Selection and named an “Okra Pick” by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Her short story collection McMullen Circle is forthcoming from Regal House as finalist for the W.S. Porter Prize. Her short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Drum, Carolina Table, 27 Views of Asheville, and elsewhere. She is Program Manager for the Flatiron Writers Room.


The Great Smokies Writing Program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes taught by professional writers, and to giving voice to local and regional writers through Writers at Home, its free reading series. The Great Smokies Writing Program wishes to thank Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café for its support of Writers at Home.