icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Creative Writing Classes

Brian's teaching has been recognized with the Loft Literary Center/Madeline Island School of the Arts Excellence in Teaching Fellowship (based exclusively on student evaluations) and commendations from the Creative Writing Program at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.



Fiction Basics: Five Parts of Story

In this intentionally kind and friendly class for absolute beginners and those in need of a refresher, we will explore the five part of story model for writers who need help with structuring and building momentum in their stories. We'll examine each of the five parts: exposition, rising action, crisis or turning point, falling action, and conclusion. We'll scrutinize a short story to learn how the writer complicates the everyday routine of her characters' lives in subtle and dramatic ways, and how these complications propel the story forward.. Come prepared for user-friendly and low-pressure exercises on each of the five parts. You will leave class with a basic outline for your story or novel idea.


Fiction Basics: Characters & Characterization

For this intentionally kind session for beginners or those in need of a refresher, come prepared to create characters based on people you know (and combinations thereof), as well as characters based on your passion, your interest, your curiosity, and your imagination. We'll practice direct and indirect methods of characterization, and exercises will help you get to know your characters' internal and external lives. Finally, we'll identify significant details to make your characters come alive on the page.


Fiction Basics: Point of View

Point of view (POV) is often a question of camera angle (Wide shots or close-ups?) and access (Can we present the thoughts of one or more characters in addition to what they say and do?). POV is not simply a question of the 1st person (I said) or 3rd person (they said): you'll need to consider issues of reliability, objectivity, distance, and audience. We'll review the different types of POVs and their variations, and exercises will let you experiment with different forms to learn which one is the best POV for the story you want to write.


Fiction Basics: Setting

For this session on setting, keep in mind what Elizabeth Bowen said "Nothing happens nowhere." While many writers shy away from describing their settings, the lack of an atmospheric setting can easily bore and confuse readers. The well-rendered setting can create harmony or conflict, characterize, symbolize, play to or against readers' expectations, and make the familiar unfamiliar or the unfamiliar familiar. We'll review strategies for creating and presenting settings (significant and characterizing details, figurative language) and practice these strategies with writing exercises.


Fiction Basics: Scene, Summary, and Narrative Time

Many writers struggle with how to present the events in their story. Does an event demand a moment-by-moment scene? Should it be summarized? How can we transition between scene and summary and move our characters backward and forward in time? Through exercises and brief readings, we'll experiment with methods to weave together scene and summary, integrate flashbacks, and move through time.


Fiction Basics: Creative Language

Readers love variety, especially at the sentence level. In this fast-paced session for absolute beginners and pros in need of a refresher, we'll explore periodic sentences, fragments, parataxis, parallelism, anaphora, epiphora, assonance, juxtaposition, ambiguity, and more. We'll play with figurative language, and minimalist and maximalist styles. We'll make the abstract concrete through sensory imagery. Come prepared to imitate, generate, and captivate.


Fiction Basics: Revision

Bring your printed manuscript, and pink, and green highlighters for this hands-on revision lab. You'll practice revision methods focused on scene/summary, characterization, arrangement of events, pacing, abstract/concrete language, sensory imagery, and significant details. If you don't bring your manuscript, you won't have much to do at this hands-on session!


Writing the Medical Experience (Full)

To be added to the wait list, click on the CONTACT TAB and send a message stating your interest and availability.


A free, online creative writing class for health care providers, medical students, and patients.


Eight (8) Tuesday Evenings via Zoom

October 1 – November 19, 2024

6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Central Time


Join us (beginners and those in need of a refresher) for an intentionally-friendly and welcoming enrichment class (no grades; optional homework) to learn and practice creative writing skills centered on the medical experience.


First, we'll read poems, short stories, memoir excerpts, and essays by both health care providers treating and patients living with a range of health conditions.


Then we'll discuss and practice craft techniques including figurative language (simile, personification), concrete language (employing the five senses), and basic storytelling structure, be it personal essay, poetry, memoir, or fiction.


Finally, we'll create our own original works-in-progress to share or to keep in private journals.


 Writing the Medical Experience is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. In-kind support provided by the University of Minnesota Medical School Center for the Art of Medicine.


To contract with Brian for creative writing classes, click on the CONTACT TAB to submit your query.