Imade the Story Intensive for writers who are serious about craft, but not interested in accreditation. Smart, creative people who love to read widely, want to write and publish exciting new work, but who don’t exactly fit in the academic world.
Writers who are usually non-joiners, but still find themselves searching for a community that feels right.
I’m looking for writers who are brave enough to connect to the unknown and who are willing to approach their writing with curiosity and kindness.
“I felt seen. I loved it, every single time, when I got feedback from my group and teachers. It felt amazing to have someone say something positive about my writing. ”
“I am reminded of what Julia Child said about flipping an omelette–that to have success, you must have the courage of your convictions. I think about that with writing. I now have a big toolkit to help facilitate that. So again, thank you.”
“I was blown away by the characters and story I created. If you stick with it and focus on it you will get a lot out of this program.”
Entrepreneur / Coach
“The Story Intensive far exceeded my expectations. This program is brilliant! It’s probably worth 3x as much as I paid for it (or more) and I am so grateful that I could learn as much as I did without having to enroll in an MFA program.”
“For years I read books about writing, took courses, and went to workshops and writing circles. What I learned was that there is no magic key to completing stories or novels. When I took the Story Course and the Story Intensive, it felt like finding the pick to jimmy the lock.”
The Story Intensive is a four-month online writing program that guides writers through my signature program, the Story Course. The focus is on short fiction, but the techniques you’ll learn will help you write in any genre—and produce work you can be proud of. The Story Intensive is set up the way I used to teach it in my living room, with a devoted teacher and six to eight classmates. It provides feedback, deadlines, and accountability.
The Story Intensive rewards you when you make your writing a priority. It helps change your thoughts, so you feel moved to finish what you start.
One of the reasons I started this school was because I loved the intensity of my MFA, but it put me into debt. So I created an affordable program with excellent structure, and infused it with a decidedly non-academic amount of love and mystery.
Our Intensive writers are a diverse group — some are published novelists, some work in communications, some are recovering from English degrees, and some haven’t written creatively for years, or ever before.
This program is robust, and the assignments suitable for both advanced and beginner writers. All writers are welcome.
If you’d like to know more about:
Schedule an information call with Program Director, Ryan Henderson.
In these videos I explain why the Story Intensive works for writers at every level.
“I’ve been a part of writing groups for years. I became good at starting things but not finishing them. The Story Intensive offered a supportive environment and the tools I needed to create a short story. More importantly, it has become a cornerstone in my writing practice and broadened my writing community.”
“This is life-changing stuff. Do it. You owe it to yourself, and to your writing. It’s been almost a year and I still tell everyone about this class . . . My first ever story is coming out in June with Little Fiction | Big Truths! And all because of Sarah’s class!”
“I have nothing but excitement for those students who’ll get to write this fall—you’ll warn them the experience can be life-changing, right?”
Author of Zolitude, longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and finalist for the Governor General's Award for Fiction
“I love the course, love it hugely. I am full of astonishment, gratitude and admiration for you. My mind is a little bit blown.”
Author of The Red Canoe
“I completed the Story Intensive last fall, and I’ve never had a better writing class. It was hard work, but I learned so much. And wrote so much.”
The Story Intensive requires time and commitment. That’s the intense part: it’s not a light and frothy course, and it does matter that you show up in the class from September to December. So one reason I’d advise you to wait until next year is if you are in a lot of transition right now — if you’re moving to a new country, or starting a new family, or if you have fallen ill and won’t have time to dedicate to the course — in that case, I would tell you to wait.
If you don’t have a strong feeling about writing, if you don’t feel a call to be a writer, and if you aren’t even sure that you want to write, then I’d also advise you to wait for a year, and to think about it.
But if your energy and joy are palpable, and you feel excited and a little scared about putting your pen to paper with guidance; if your heart expands when you think about meeting other writers; if you are serious about learning about how to create character and scene and dialogue — then the Story Intensive is for you. This year.
Classes are held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays of each week (with scheduled make up days for Canadian and American holidays) in a private, online classroom led by a teacher who will guide you through the Story Course, give you feedback, and help you discover and deepen your writing practice.
Students are expected to read and comment in the online forum for at least one hour each day for those three class days. The hours are flexible to accommodate different time zones and personal schedules.
You’ll be in a group with up to eight writers who care about writing as much as you do, after all—and you’ll be sharing assignments and insights and stories with these writers.
In addition to your time in the classroom, you’ll need to set aside at least three hours of solo reading and writing time each week.
In addition to the Story Intensive's seven lessons, Master Classes—interviews and conversations with successful authors such as Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, and Ann Patchett—enrich the program and are included with your tuition.
I’m thrilled to welcome Chichi Agorom as our 2020 Master Class author for a special two part session.
Chichi is a trained teacher in the Narrative Tradition, which focuses on the sacred and transformative work of the Enneagram.
In these special sessions, you’ll begin to understand your relationship with writing on a deeper level, and learn how to develop characters with depth and empathy.
I’m pleased to introduce the teachers for the Fall 2020 semester (subject to change):
(Click on the link below to find out more about them)
Sarah Selecky's breakout debut collection, This Cake Is for the Party, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, and was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her new novel, Radiant Shimmering Light, was published in Canada in May 2018 (HarperCollins Canada), Australia and New Zealand in August 2018 (Text), the U.K. in November 2018 (Text), and the U.S. in December 2018 (Bloomsbury). It has been optioned for TV by Muse Entertainment, with plans to create a premium one-hour series.
Sarah Selecky Writing School is an online creative writing school that approaches writing as an art, and also as a contemplative practice. We believe that skill comes from study, that inspiration comes from love, and that both are necessary.
The school started in 2011 with one downloadable course called Story Is a State of Mind, which has now evolved into a larger community—Sarah Selecky Writing School. That first program is now called the Story Course. Writers can advance their study by taking two more writing programs that are guided by that same foundation course: the Story Intensive and the Story Workshop.
Photo: Inspiration comes from love—our 2017 teacher retreat.
AS SEEN IN
“It gives you everything you need in a short fiction class! I especially appreciated the kindness and generosity with which this course is taught. It instills confidence and allows us to believe in our writerly selves.”
“This was my second time doing the Intensive. I started it feeling dehydrated, so thirsty to get back into my writing, but I wasn't doing it. I was only *thinking* about writing. The Intensive got me right back into writing, and I was re-hydrated immediately and full of creative juice for three months straight! So grateful for the Intensive to provide this online opportunity. You get to work from home but you feel like you're in a real life writing class. It's SO WORTH it.”
“The Story Intensive gave me the tools to become a better writer through learning craft, but just as importantly, how to learn to trust the writing process, tools to take with me and continue to hone. The supportive classroom environment was inspiring, and one of many invaluable resources to build confidence and joy in writing.”
“The Story Intensive has changed my writing in such a positive way, I have taken more risks than I ever have before, and I have much more confidence in my abilities than I used to.”
“Although I’ve done many intense weeklong writing workshops with Giller and Booker nominated authors, my experience in last fall’s Story Intensive was one of the best writing courses I’ve taken.”
It is intense! But it’s not inappropriate for beginners who are ready to commit to writing. You do not have to be familiar with the Story Course to register for the Story Intensive. In fact, the Story Intensive would be a beautiful way to introduce yourself to the Story Course: you’ll have a teacher guiding you through every lesson, and a dedicated class to support your practice. Read about the Story Course carefully before you decide if this is right for you; if the Story Course feels right, the Story Intensive will deepen your experience.
The Story Intensive emphasizes short story writing and reading. The curriculum is based entirely on the Story Course. But the course is designed to help all writers, including novelists, develop their writing practice by changing their writing habits (and their minds). Both of these programs will teach you how to write with immediacy, mindfulness, specificity, and integrity. You will learn how to be present as you write. You’re going to learn how to transfer an experience to a reader—and this is important for writers working in all genres.
The Master Classes are made for graduates of the Story Intensive, and will only be available to them for the foreseeable future.
Intensive graduates are welcome to take the Story Intensive again. The curriculum is the same as last year, but we will have a new master class this year. And of course the live calls and personalized feedback during the semester will help you finish a brand new story, using the scaffolding and practice you know and love already.
Each week of the Story Intensive is the equivalent of a three-hour class, but this class time is stretched over three days to accommodate different schedules and time zones. Give yourself at least an hour a day, for three days—sometime during Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday—to login to discuss the readings and lessons and to read and give feedback on other people’s assignments. The flexible part: you can login whenever you can fit an hour of focused discussion into those days. All students do not have to meet online at the same time for class discussion.
If you must withdraw from the Intensive, you may transfer your spot at no cost. If you are able to fill your space with another person by August 29th, 2020, you will receive a 100% refund. If you register and withdraw from the Story Intensive before June 15th, 2020, without transferring your tuition, you are eligible to receive a 50% refund of what you have paid so far. After June 15th, there are no refunds, even if you cannot attend the class. If you can’t fill your space by then and would like to defer your tuition fee to another year, we will do our best to make that happen. Please know that we can’t guarantee the Intensive will be offered every year.
If you registered with the $300 nonrefundable deposit and flexible payment plan, the policy above still applies, except the nonrefundable $300.
“This was my third return to the Story Intensive, this time as an aspiring novelist. I'd already learned so much from this school, and wanted to touch base with the lessons that had given me the confidence to begin writing in the first place. It did the trick: I'm excited to get back to the manuscript and tell this longer story.”
“There is something to be said about actually *doing* something. That's the key to this course — the doing. Going through the actual process, you learn what works and what doesn't for you. And the irony of the course is, I'm still learning from it, after it's done!”
“I’ve been through a writing program at a University, taken other writing courses, online and off, and never have I been able to engage authentically in the 'creative journey' as I did in this course. I feel I can write fiction now, and have arranged my life toward that end.”
“The Story Intensive convinced me to want to write and gave me the confidence to keep trying. I found the material fresh, engaging and cleverly selected and was guided through it intelligently, innovatively, and with compassion and encouragement.”
“[I’m] writing fiction again thanks to the Story Intensive.”
Join our School Community on Instagram