It’s that time of year again in Southern California! Jacaranda blossoms! Wonderful warm—but not searing hot—weather with the occasional cool breeze! Sandals! For many of us, springtime is the reason we live in Los Angeles. The fires haven’t started yet, there’s no holiday pressure, and it’s just warm enough to break out our massive stockpile of summer clothes, but not so hot that we can’t sleep.

In addition to the glorious weather and fabulous clothes, it’s also a time for new beginnings. Babies seem to be everywhere—be they human, canine, or feline (at my house we’re hoping to adopt a kitty this week!), yoga and spinning classes are packed with people getting into bikini shape, and, despite the recession, students are returning to higher education in hordes.

Things are no different at the Writers’ Program where, in addition to a new baby and a new staff member (and don’t forget my new kitten!), we have a great selection of new courses and instructors joining us this season. Whether you’re embarking on a career as a mystery writer, finishing up your chick lit novel, or trying to get your screenplay into selling shape, we’ve got something for you.

Classes begin as early as late March, with instructors like veteran poet and teacher Suzanne Lummis. Suzanne, who has been with the Writers’ Program since 1994, will be teaching a new course, Poetry and the Art of Craft: Intermediate Workshop. If you’re looking to take an advanced poetry course and don’t quite feel ready, or just want to take your work to the next level, consider enrolling in Suzanne’s intermediate class now.

We’ll also be offering several new courses for screenwriters. Story analyst and screenwriter Anton Mueller, who has read and evaluated over 500 books and scripts for DreamWorks SKG, is teaching Setups, Payoffs, McGuffins, and Red Herrings: Techniques to Impress the Studio Analyst (you gotta love the red herrings!). This class will help you take your script from “not bad” to “holy cow, the mother is also the sister!” If you’re more LA Story than Chinatown, new instructor Ed Driscoll, who has written for Whose Line is it Anyway, Dennis Miller Live, and Billy Crystal’s Oscar performances (remember those clips where Billy shows up in Titanic and Silence of the Lambs?), will be teaching Comedy Writing for All Mediums. Learn how to find the funny and apply it to sitcoms, shows, sketches, feature films, or live stage shows.

For all of the Eastsiders out there, we’ll be offering a new class at our Figueroa Courtyard location in Downtown LA just for you. Developed by Jerrilyn Farmer, Creating the 21st Century Detective will help you shape your protagonist into the next Sookie Stackhouse. You’ll be in good hands with Jerrilyn, who has published nine mystery novels, including last year’s Murder at the Academy Awards.

But wait, you say. I don’t live in sunny SoCal. I am, in fact, still bogged down in several inches of snow, and you’re rubbing it in my face. Don’t think we’ve forgotten about you! Our instructors are also spread out over the country and the world. For the first time ever, Caroline Leavitt, author of nine novels and book columnist for the Boston Globe, will be offering her Novel Writing Mentorship Program. Three students will work one-on-one with Caroline and workshop with each other, with the goal of completing or rewriting their novel. If you’re not ready to tackle a novel, or prefer shorter format work, new instructor Tantra Bensko will teach Writing Experimental Fiction. In this class, you will learn to break the rules of mainstream writing while moving your work towards publication in experimental magazines.

And of course, what quarter would be complete without a class about blogging? Join Linda Marsa on May 8th for her lecture Writing in the Internet Age: The Future of Publishing and how to Capitalize on the Digital Revolution. She’ll provide tips for connecting with readers and promoting your work online, developing an online identity, and using social media. This one day onsite course will take you from novice to nerd in no time.

So, what are you waiting for? Whether you’re just getting started or trying to finish up, the Writers’ Program has something to help you make this season the most productive and creative ever. Our advisors are here to answer any questions you may have, and you can enroll in classes 24 hours a day at We look forward to seeing you this spring!


Katy Flaherty is the Program Representative for Creative Writing (Onsite) and Screenwriting (Online). Write to her at

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