Craft Your Story: Short Fiction and Memoir Live Workshops

with Margo Perin

craft your story

Come as you are! In this weekly Zoom workshop series, you’ll get tailored, personal advice and support for your fiction or nonfiction storytelling from award-winning instructor Margo Perin.

You will explore the fertile material that springs from your imagination, and learn how to transform it into short-form fiction and memoir. Along the way, you will become aware of the current strengths of your writing, and receive concrete suggestions on further crafting your work toward publication. You will also explore, in depth, your own unique creative process to guide you to a profound understanding of what constitutes compelling “story,” whatever its form.

We will work through weekly instruction, in-class and at-home writing assignments, and instructor feedback on your work. This course is student-centered: writing assignments will be tailored to you, individually based on your own interests and needs as a writer. Please bring to each session the questions and concerns emerging from your own writing.

Topics of Discussion

The eight weekly sessions will include explorations of the following topics:

  • How is your story(ies) best told: fiction or memoir?
  • Creative Process: an exploration of different techniques and strategies to be who you are in your writing.
  • Voice: What is your narrative “personality”? What makes your writing most authentic to your own individual sensibility and aesthetic?
  • Point of view: Is it I or You or She, He, They, or We?
  • Walking the Tightrope: How to balance imagery and exposition.
  • Character: How to develop an awareness and seamlessly portray the breadth and depth of your character(s).
  • Talk or Not: How to develop an inner ear to what works regarding dialogue.
  • The Where and When: An exploration of how time and place provide context, reflection and “grounding.”
  • Fast, Slow or In-Between: How to speed up, slow down, and mirror “real” time.
  • Doors and Windows: Techniques for your most kapow! beginnings and endings.

Learning Objectives for Students

In this course, you will:

  • Gain understanding and familiarity with the storytelling process in fiction and memoir writing.
  • Develop an authentic, individual voice (or voices).
  • Play with short-form fiction and memoir to “find your story glory.”
  • Assert your own individual skills and talents as a writer, as opposed to trying to reach a mythical “right” way to tell a story.
  • Become aware of and practice techniques and strategies that help you create your best work.
  • Become attuned to your literary intuition, and develop tools to become your own best editor.
  • Create a body of work, or further develop works-in-process.

Weekly Workshop Schedule

We will meet on Wednesdays from 4-6 P.M. Pacific Time.

5 minutes: Check-in/grounding written activity.

45 minutes: Weekly lecture and discussion, with reading recommendations.

15 minutes: Writing session from prompt, and private chat with instructor as needed/requested.

45 minutes: Share writing (either from in-class writing session or from the prior week’s writing assignment); instructor feedback, with suggestions for further development and reading recommendations.

10 minutes: Tailored writing assignments given for the coming week.

Course type:

Student Feedback for Margo Perin:

Margo is a fantastic teacher!  She gave so much attention to every single piece of writing including all the critiques.  I was extremely satisfied with the class content. I was sorry to see the workshop come to an end. I would absolutely recommend it. Madlyn Springston

This was an excellent class and one that gave me a weekly opportunity to flesh out ideas and get real-time responses. Margo is knowledgeable and compassionate, with a keen eye for strengths and areas of growth. Tom Lorio

Margo was attentive and understanding as an instructor. She provided useful critiques and wise guidance. She was also kind in giving criticism, a skill not mastered by all instructors. All the lessons were adequately described and the lecture notes and supplemental readings were very detailed and clear. The assignments were challenging and interesting... I would and I have recommended your classes to many friends... Your attention to and care for your students is admirable. I am very happy to have found your website. Sia Corrina Durocher

Margo had great feedback, and all her responses to students' writing were thorough, positive, and extremely helpful. She was encouraging and kind during all interactions, and all her comments were very meaningful. Rebecca Schechter

I found Margo to be highly sensitive to our abilities, both in terms of our gifts as well as challenges as writers.  I really appreciated her attention to subtle but powerful details.  Her suggestion of what seemed like a simple one-word change were profound and helped me see my writing process in new, advanced ways. Terilee Wunderman

I was very happy with the class content. Margo gave truly helpful comments and was extremely supportive.I would and have extolled this program to many people. I got exactly what I'd hoped for, and I think it's a really high-quality operation. Molly Cheek

Margo is an excellent teacher, great critiques, motivational and sincere in her feedback. I found this class a perfect fit for me to assist me with my short story writing. The assignments were spot on, the plot, point of view and scene building assignments were eye opening to me. Also, the online classroom was great. I will take another class.  Mike Karpinski

[Margo] has a way of bringing out the best in each of the writers. She always provided constructive feedback. I looked forward to hearing what she had to say and learned a lot from her feedback, not just for me but for everyone. I thought the class lectures and assignments really helped me think about what I wanted to say and how I should say it. They were the right mix of challenging but not overwhelming. I am impressed the course offerings provided by I am currently taking another class and plan to take others.  Abigail Aguirre

Margo Perin


Margo Perin’s publications include The Opposite of Hollywood, Only the Dead Can Kill: Stories from JailPlexiglass, and How I Learned to Cook & Other Writings on Complex Mother-Daughter Relationships. She is the poet of San Francisco’s permanent memorial Spiral of Gratitude. A nominee for the Pushcart Prize, she has been featured in numerous national and international media, including Heyday/PEN’s Fightin’ WordsThe San Francisco Chronicle Sunday MagazineO, The Oprah Magazine, Mexico’s El Petit Journal, Holland’s PsycologieKRON 4 TVNPR’s Talk of the Nation, and KALW, KPFA, and WAMC. Her passions are teaching and writing, especially memoir and autobiographical fiction and poetry. She has taught for more than thirty years, including M.F.A. and M.A. Creative Writing at USF and New College, at UC Berkeley Extension, California Poets in the Schools, and in the U.K., Mexico, and Italy. She is pleased to be back at after a hiatus when she focused on teaching personal narrative to adults and youth incarcerated in California jails and prisons. Please visit her at and see her work at–poetry.html, and view her interview on autobiographical writing.