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An Intimate Four-Month Creative Writing Program

created by







For People Who Aren’t Like Other Writers

EnroLlment for the fall 2019 semester is now open!
Do you already have a notebook filled with scenes and characters, but don’t know how to turn that into a finished piece?
Do you want to meet other writers you can trust?

The Story Intensive is for you if you have a deep desire to write, but feel as though there’s a thick glass wall separating you from your vibrant, creative flow state. It’s also for you if you find it hard to write alone.

This program is suitable for both advanced and beginner writers.

The Story Intensive rewards you when you make your writing a priority. It helps change your thoughts, so you begin to feel moved to finish what you start.

If any of this sounds like you — please keep reading.

  • “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

  • “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

  • “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.”


The Classroom

Look inside

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.

What is the Story Intensive?

The Story Intensive is a four-month online writing program that guides and nurtures 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.

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 made the Story Intensive for writers like me: 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.

One of the reasons I started this school was because I loved the intensity of my MFA, but it put me into debt that took years to pay off. So I created an affordable program with excellent structure, and infused it with a decidedly non-academic amount of love and mystery.

If this sounds right for you, welcome.

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.

Beginner? Advanced?

In these videos I explain why the Story Intensive is good 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 •

The Story Intensive runs from
September – December 2019


Early Bird Tuition:

One payment of $1,575 USD

Two payments of $787.50 USD
(your first payment is processed now, and the second on June 1, 2019)

Or: put down a nonrefundable deposit of $250 USD and we will contact you to set up a custom payment plan.

All early bird writers will receive a special one-hour live intention setting call with me. This will be a group call for all early registrants, similar to the mentorship calls I have with my teachers each year. I want to help you plan and prepare, to psychologically get your intentions in line and start thinking about what it’s going to be like for you and your writing life in the fall.
* 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.)

Early bird pricing ends April 1, 2019.




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.

  • “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

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.

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


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), and will be published in 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.

Photo: Inspiration comes from love—our 2017 teacher retreat.




The Teachers

I mentor 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 2019 semester (subject to change):

Caroline Donahue

Caroline Donahue is a coach for writers and the host of the Secret Library Podcast. She has worked with books for over 10 years and has served as a copywriter, editor, and proofreader at various stages in her career, although fiction is her passion. She’s completed NaNoWriMo about five times and is an alum of the Story Course and the Story Intensive. She hangs out at carolinedonahue.com.


Christina Cha

Christina Cha lives and writes her fiction in San Francisco. Currently, she earns her living as a copy editor and a writing coach. Two of her favourite reading experiences: The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles (Julie Andrews) in 1981 and Teaching A Stone to Talk in 2009 (Annie Dillard). She aspires to catch the *something* she felt from those stories and give something like it back.


Erin Robinsong

Erin Robinsong is a writer, interdisciplinary artist, and editor. Her debut collection of poems, Rag Cosmology was released with Book Thug in Spring 2017. Her work can be found in Tag: Canadian Poets at PlayThe Capilano Review, and The Goose. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph, and has also taught writing at Humber College and the Toronto Public Library.


Kristin Offiler

Kristin Offiler completed her MFA in Creative Writing at Lesley University in 2011, and went on to work as a freelance writer and then in communications for a top internet company. In 2017, she shifted her focus to writing full time. She recently completed her first novel (which began as a prompt in the Story Course) and is currently seeking a home for it, while also working on a second book and short stories. 


Lana Pesch

Lana’s debut story collection, Moving Parts, was published in 2015 and shortlisted for the 2016 ReLit Awards. She has written and produced plays for stage, radio and film. She was longlisted for the 2014 CBC Short Story Prize and won the Random House of Canada Creative Writing Award at the University of Toronto in 2012. She lives in Toronto and is a freelance video producer, director, and story editor.


Mary Nicholson

Mary Nicholson writes and workshops her work regularly with a dedicated group of five women, all alumni of the Story Course. After travelling, study, and working in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Ottawa, Toronto, and the south of France, Mary has returned to her Prince Edward Island, where she was born, raised, and attended L.M. Montgomery elementary school, home of the famed author of Anne of Green Gables.


Nicole Baute

Nicole Baute’s writing has appeared in Joylandthe Feathertale Review, and in several newspapers including the Toronto Star, where she used to be a reporter. She’s the co-creator and editor of a collection of women’s writing called EAT IT, and works as a writing coach and editor. Nicole grew up on a farm in Canada and currently lives in Delhi, India, where there’s no shortage of things to write about.


Sidura Ludwig

Sidura Ludwig is a fiction writer living in Thornhill, ON. Her novel, Holding My Breath was published in Canada, the US, and the UK. She was shortlisted for the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, and her novel was a finalist for the CBC Cross Country Bookshelf in 2011. Her work has appeared on CBC Radio, and in several newspapers, magazines, and anthologies.


Sonal Champsee

Sonal Champsee's work appears in Friend. Follow. Text, Hippocampus MagazineRicepaperLiterary Mama, and The New Quarterly. Her play, Everything But The Paper, was produced in Seattle in 2014. She serves on the board for PRISM International, and teaches creative writing for PEN’s Prison Writer Program. Sonal is completing an MFA in Creative Writing at UBC and lives in Toronto.


Suzannah Windsor

Suzannah Windsor’s writing has appeared in GeistPrairie FireThe Writer MagazineSou’westerGristNot Somewhere Else but Here: A Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place, and others. She is the managing editor of literary journal Compose and is working on a novel and a collection of short stories. She is a dual citizen of Canada and Australia and currently lives in Northwestern Ontario with her husband and four children.


Tara Bragg

When she is not revelling in the joy of first drafts, or trying to avoid second ones, Tara Bragg works as a Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist and spends time with her family of two small people, one big one, and one medium-sized dog in Toronto.

  • “I think every writer—whether they’re an aspiring writer or a published author—would benefit tremendously from this course.”

  • “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.”

  • “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.”

    Journalist / Writer

“That you’re so bound up about writing tells me that writing is what you’re here to do. And when people are here to do that, they almost always tell us something we need to hear.”

— Cheryl Strayed, as Dear Sugar

Master Classes

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.

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Margaret Atwood

In this MasterClass, Margaret Atwood is surprisingly candid about what it takes to dive into writing something of length, and she gives practical advice on how it is different than writing something shorter. She talks about story structure, story beginnings, the flow state, and how you can over-engineer a story.


Francesca Lia Block

In this conversation, Francesca Lia Block talks about writing your story with passion, not fear; the economy (and the publishing industry); and the relationship that writing has with magic. She also advises emerging writers about something she learned the hard way in her own career.

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Karen Joy Fowler

In this conversation, Karen Joy Fowler discusses the challenge of making and protecting time for writing, her thoughts on genre fiction, and shares a major pitfall that she had while writing her third novel. Then she walks us through how she got out of it.

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Samantha Haywood

Samantha Haywood provides her Strategy for the Best Submission Letter Ever: an honest guide to writing a query letter to a literary agent. For whenever you’re ready for it. From my agent to you, with love.

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Peter Levitt

In this talk, Peter Levitt discusses the mystery of the writing process, how writers can use language to translate (and transmit) emotional truth, the creative state of mind, and how to say what must be said. This conversation took place outdoors, at his home on Salt Spring Island.

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Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki, in her signature grounded, caring, clear-eyed style, talks to us about her Zen practice and how it connects to her writing. She tells us how she challenged herself to write magic. She lets us in on how she wrote A Tale for the Time Being – and the long, circuitous and uncertain path she was on while writing it.

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Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is rational, humorous and forthcoming. In this conversation she tells us how what she reads as an author is different from what she reads as the owner of a book store, how Buddhism helps alleviate her writing angst, and gives permission to write from any point of view, providing you do it well. She also explains how a friend forced her to change the ending of A State of Wonder.

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Frances Phillips

In this lecture, Finding Flow and Cheating Chaos, Frances Phillips explains how to develop and use habits to reinforce the flow state more often in your writing life.

Acknowledgment for the ideas in her article:
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s research on Flow and Charles Duhigg’s work on Habit.

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Eden Robinson

Haisla/Heiltsuk novelist Eden Robinson is the author of Monkey Beach, which won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Her most recent novel Son of a Trickster was also shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The author lives in Kitimat, BC.


George Saunders

In this conversation, George Saunders talks about winning your reader over with the force of your personality, how to use restrictions in your writing practice, how dreams may relate to stories, writing to charm or seduce, what is meant by “deep entertainment”, what FIRPO really means – and much, much more.

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Neil Smith

In this video, I talk to Neil Smith, author of “Isolettes” (one of the pieces of short fiction we study in the program). We discuss the transition from short fiction to novel writing, making false starts, taking wrong turns, backtracking, and one very important thing to know about all these pitfalls.


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 September 3rd, 2019, you will receive a 100% refund. However, if you register and withdraw from the Story Intensive before June 15th, 2019 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 early bird $300 nonrefundable deposit and flexible payment plan, the policy above still applies, except the nonrefundable $300.

  • “Now... I feel like I’m a writer. I can tell people I’m a writer. I understand what it means to be a writer. I just wrote the best story I’ve ever written in my life!”

  • “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.”

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