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A Bespoke Four-Month Creative Writing Program

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Enrollment for the fall 2020 semester IS NOW open

For Writers Who Are Ready For Change


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.

If any of this sounds like you — please keep reading.
  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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. ”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

    Literary Agent

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”


  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

What is the Story Intensive?

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.

Who is the Story Intensive for?

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.

The Intensive is for you if…
  • you have a longing to write, but you don't know exactly how to start.
  • you already have a notebook filled with scenes and characters, but don’t know how to turn that into a finished piece.
  • you want to meet other writers you can trust.
  • you think your creativity might do well with positive reinforcement (even if you've never experienced that before).
  • you like to know the people in your class are counting on you to show up — in other words, accountability works for you.

This program is robust, and the assignments suitable for both advanced and beginner writers. All writers are welcome.

The Story Intensive runs from
August 24 – December 11, 2020

* $1,775 USD *

INCLUDES STORY INTENSIVE PREP COURSE & lifetime access to the story course



Late registration closes August 1, 2020

Payment Plans Available:

  • Two payments of $900 USD (your first payment is processed now, and the second one month later).
  • Or: put down a nonrefundable deposit of $300 USD and we will contact you to set up a custom payment plan.
* includes Lifetime access to The Story Course *
(If you are a Story Course graduate, you receive a $275 discount on the Story Intensive. Please log in to the Story Course online classroom and visit the "Help" section to find your discount code.) 

Canadian writers: you may be eligible for a Canada Council for the Arts grant to help offset the cost of the Intensive. Please visit the Canada Council website for more information.

Questions about the Intensive?

If you’d like to know more about:

  • Flexible payment plans
  • Online classrooms and technology (especially if you’re new to e-learning)
  • Schedules and dates
  • What makes the Intensive different from other writing programs

Schedule an information call with Program Director, Ryan Henderson. 

Ryan Henderson 2.jpg

Is the Story Intensive for me?

In these videos I explain why the Story Intensive works for writers at every level.



You’ll learn how to:

• write regularly •
• get past lessons you’re stuck on in the Story Course •
• use feedback you’re given •
• be in a community setting with accountability •
• get out of your own way •
• break the habit of procrastinating or prioritizing other tasks above your writing •
• engage your creative flow state •
• be an even better writer •

You’ll finish the program with:

• a complete first draft of a short story •
• the techniques and confidence to keep writing •
• a supportive writing community •
• a feeling of transformation •

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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!”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

Who is the Story Intensive not for?

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.

The Details

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.

The discussions in the Story Intensive classroom can be electric and unexpected.

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.

The Classroom

To help you imagine how it would feel to do the Story Intensive, we made a brief video that takes you inside the classroom. Watch now to take a look behind the login, to see what it looks like as a participant.


Master Classes

This year's master class author is chichi agorom 

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.

Al_hat-225x300square.jpgI’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.

Margaret Atwood

Francesca Lia Block

Karen Joy Fowler

Samantha Haywood

Peter Levitt

Ruth Ozeki

Ann Patchett

Frances Phillips

Eden Robinson

George Saunders

Neil Smith

Alan Watt

Curious about the differences between
the Story Course and the Story Intensive?
HERE's A handy chart to help you compare the two programs


The Teachers

Imentor every teacher and work with them closely throughout the semester. All of our teachers are exceptionally compassionate and intelligent people, and I’m proud to work with them.


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)


Candice May

Caroline Donahue

Christina Cha

Darrel McLeod

Hilary Fair

Jen Manuel

Kristin Offiler

Lindsey Smith

Sidura Ludwig

Sonal Champsee

Susan Carpenter

About Sarah

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.

About Sarah Selecky Writing School

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.

SSWSTeachers_sm_cropped.jpgPhoto: Inspiration comes from love—our 2017 teacher retreat.



  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”


  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

“And this is what stories do: They let us know that no matter how different and unique we are and how isolated we may feel, someone else has been there, someone else has survived, and someone else has made it out.”

— Janet Mock


You’re here. You’re ready.

This is significant.

(Deep breath.)




Frequently Asked Questions


I’m brand new to your school. I’m a beginner. How do I know if I’m ready for the Story Intensive? It sounds… intense.

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.

I’m working on a novel; I don’t write short stories. Is the Story Intensive right for me?

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.

Can I take any of the Master Classes without registering for the Story Intensive?

The Master Classes are made for graduates of the Story Intensive, and will only be available to them for the foreseeable future.

I’m a graduate from last year—is the Story Intensive different this year?

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.

When do I have to be in class? Are the meetings at set times? How does this flexible schedule work, exactly?

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.

What is your refund policy?

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.

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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!”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “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.”

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “[I’m] writing fiction again thanks to the Story Intensive.”

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