Tin House

Craft Intensives

Now Accepting Applications!




Oct. 23rd, 2016: Setting the Clock: Manipulating Past, Present, and Pace in Fiction, with PAMELA ERENS

Nov. 6th, 2016: Eternal Structure of the Spotless Story, with MARIE-HELENE BERTINO

Nov. 13th, 2016: Literary Swagger: On Crafting Unforgettable Characters, with NAOMI JACKSON

Nov. 20th, 2016: Rebuilding the World—On the Page, with LEIGH NEWMAN


Craft Intensives

The Tin House Summer Workshop is known for its lectures: brilliant, practical craft talks that hone our writerly chops and make us hungry to work. In this same spirit, Tin House’s Brooklyn outpost launched the Tin House Craft Intensives, a series of afternoon classes focused on facets of craft and led by Tin House editors and writers. Less lecture and more laboratory, the Intensives combine close reading, discussion, and writing exercises to study what makes writing work when it works. Plus, stay after the class for a look around the office a Q & A with a Tin House editor. Join us!



The Craft Intensives are held in the Brooklyn Tin House offices in Gowanus neighborhood. These classes are intended for experienced students and admissions are competitive; you will be asked to provide a short bio and writing sample by way of application. Each class is capped at seven students. The cost of each Intensive is $125, and includes a subscription to Tin House (or a renewal, for current subscribers). Final deadline is Oct. 3rd, 2016.

Questions? Please contact Emma Komlos-Hrobsky at emma@tinhouse.com.




Sunday, October 23rd, 2016, 2:00-5:00
Setting the Clock: Manipulating Past, Present, and Pace in Fiction, with PAMELA ERENS

Often when we write fiction we proceed as if there is a primary story that takes place in “the present” which may then be interrupted with a limited number of flashbacks to give necessary background information. In fact, the best story writers employ more various and surprising manipulations of past and present (and sometimes future), but they do this so subtly that we don’t notice all the shifts. A few variations: toggling unpredictably between many different time frames; dipping into the past for a mere (but essential) sentence fragment; spending more time in the past than the present (not a no-no, contrary to popular belief).

We’ll take a close look at examples of gorgeous time-shifting in three masterful short stories, with the aim of becoming aware of the many possibilities for monkeying with time in our own writing. Might one of your why-isn’t-this-working stories blossom with a different approach to its time register? Please bring in a finished or well-along story that is bedeviling you, that seems to resist your revisions. You’ll be taking a fresh look at it and also we’ll generate something new in class.

Texts: “Work,” by Denis Johnson; “Devotion,” by Adam Haslett; and “Window,” by Deborah Eisenberg. *You will be asked to please read these stories in advance.* (They will be emailed to you when you enroll.) Don’t analyze anything about them, just enjoy them and jot a couple of notes about the effect they had on you.


Sunday, November 6th, 2016, 2:00-5:00
Eternal Structure of the Spotless Story, with MARIE-HELENE BERTINO

Though we make countless subconscious decisions when writing fiction, one of the biggest is often left unexamined: structure and how it affects information dispersal. Do we begin at the beginning or the end or in the middle, and how does each choice affect story? When we shuffle scenes, we shuffle time, so what is collapsed time, implied time, and summarized time, and how can we use each to exemplary results? We’ll study how these ideas work in the Charlie Kaufman/ Michel Gondry film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and how they can help while writing fiction. As this class is being taught by a fabulist, we’ll also talk rule breaking. Class will include takeaway writing prompts culled from these lessons so students leave with a clear and immediate idea of how to implement these ideas in their own work. Handouts provided in class. Optional pre-requisite: viewing Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.


Sunday, November 13th, 2016, 2:00-5:00
Literary Swagger: On Crafting Unforgettable Characters, with NAOMI JACKSON

Of the many choices that novelists must make on their veritable drives in the dark, one is how to develop characters that live on in readers’ hearts and minds well after they turn to the last page. Join author Naomi Jackson for an afternoon intensive on crafting well-developed characters, including choosing between different points of view with an eye to what best serves each character and work of fiction. This generative workshop will include a brief lecture interspersed with close readings and in-class writing exercises. Together, we will explore common obstacles to writing believable characters, and leave armed with new writing and ideas.

Texts: Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John, Junot Diaz’s Drown, Paule Marshall’s Brown Girl, Brownstones


Sunday, November 20th, 2016, 2:00-5:00
Rebuilding the World—On the Page, with LEIGH NEWMAN 

Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, at some point you’re going to have to write about the physical world in which your characters live. That world may be a wilderness or suburban, small town or cityscape. That world has weather, sunset, plants, wind, animals,smells, tastes—and in a compelling story, how these are built up on the page can be just as powerful as the plot or characters. We’ll look at 10 or 15 specific craft techniques, using at examples from writers like Claire Vaye Watkins, Charles D’Ambrosio, Katie Kitamura, John Cheever and even Julia Child. Then we’ll work on two writing exercises: one in the class room and one, of course, outside.


PAMELA ERENS’s second novel, The Virgins, was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and was named a Best Book of 2013 by The New Yorker, The New Republic, Library Journal, and Salon. The novel was a finalist for the John Gardner Book Award for the best book of fiction published in 2013. Pamela’s debut novel, The Understory, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in publications such as Virginia Quarterly Review, Elle, Vogue, The New York Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The Millions. Her third novel, Eleven Hours, published in May 2016.

MARIE-HELENE BERTINO is the author of the novel 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas and the story collection Safe as Houses. Awards include the O. Henry Prize, The Pushcart Prize, and The Iowa Award for Short Fiction. She teaches at NYU and in the low-residency MFA program at IAIA (Institute of American Indian Arts) in Santa Fe, and lives in Brooklyn, where she is an Editor-at-Large for Catapult Magazine. For more information, please visit: www.mariehelenebertino.com.

NAOMI JACKSON is the author of The Star Side of Bird Hill, which won Late Night Library’s Debut-litzer Prize, was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, longlisted for the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and named an Honor Book for Fiction by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Jackson studied fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She traveled to South Africa on a Fulbright scholarship, where she received an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. She is the recipient of residencies and fellowships from Bread Loaf, MacDowell Colony, Hedgebrook, the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House, and Camargo Foundation. Jackson will be Visiting Writer at Amherst College beginning in fall 2016.

LEIGH NEWMAN’s memoir about Alaska, Still Points North (Dial Press), was a finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle John Leonard Prize. Her fiction, essays and book reviews have appeared in One StoryTin House, The New York TimesFiction, New York TyrantVogue, O The Oprah Magazine, Bookforum, and others. She has received fellowships from Breadloaf and the Corporation of Yaddo. She currently serves as Books Editor of Oprah.com and editor-at-large at Catapult Publishing. She teaches at the M.F.A. program at Sarah Lawrence College.