As of now, all of my fiction-writing classes are being held online using Zoom.
I am based in Los Angeles, but am happy to say that my classes have writers from all over the world.
Feel welcome to contact me with questions.
With warm regards,
I teach six-week fiction-writing workshops. Students of all experience levels are welcome. Class size is limited to ten.
In these workshops, we discuss each other’s short stories or novel excerpts of up to 20 pages, with the goal of helping each writer identify and build on the strengths of his/her story.
From the first class meeting, we discuss how fiction works. What makes for a good opening? How does a writer put a story into motion?
Then, as the class goes on, we workshop each other’s fiction. We take a craft-based approach, asking such questions as: In what ways does this work of fiction engage and move us? Does the work have a recognizable structure that serves the writer’s artistic aims? Do the events that make up the plot connect to create meaning? Do we have a strong sense of who the characters are? Is setting used effectively? Does the language capture our imagination? What is the work really about? Class discussion will be frank, focused, and supportive. Throughout the six weeks, you will read and discuss published stories and also do writing exercises, designed to sharpen your fiction writing skills and generate new work. By the end of the course, you will go home not only with fresh ideas for revision but with what could be the beginnings of new stories.
August 21 – September 25, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. PT Location: Online
Text: The Best American Short Stories 2020
“I think this would be a life-changing experience for a student writer.”
–Michael Silverblatt, host of KCRW’s Bookworm
TWO-MONTH ADVANCED WORKSHOPS
These workshops are designed for committed and experienced fiction writers who are seeking support with longer-term projects (story collections, novels, etc.) and the writing life. Class size is limited to ten.
The workshop will be run much like a six-week workshop but with 15 hours of class instruction instead of 12. Class will meet every other week for three hours. During this course, each student will workshop fiction up to 30 pages. Students will do at-home writing exercises, which we will share and discuss. We will also closely study selections of published fiction.
The caliber of instruction will be that of a course in an MFA program.
June 12 – August 7, every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT Location: Online
Text: A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
October 9 – December 4, every other Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. PT Location: Online
According to the article, “15 Top Writing Classes in Los Angeles,” by Katrina Kwan of Writing Tips Oasis, my fiction-writing workshops are among the best in L.A.
I teach exciting, one-day, total-immersion fiction writing classes on a range of topics. The classes are generative—meaning all day you’ll be learning new things and creating new work. Classes are six hours long, which includes a one-hour break for lunch. Students of all experience levels are welcome.
(1) Creating Compelling Characters
How do you create a character? And more to the point, how do you create a character who is so interesting that a reader will want to spend an entire story or novel with him? In this class, we will examine how to create complex and even irresistible characters. We will spend part of our time discussing how to invent characters in the first place—how, from the get-go, to make them as credible and distinct as we can. But most of our time will be spent doing exercises that help you explore the many facets of your characters, which is to say, what makes them absorbing and fully human. You will get to know your characters within a range of physical settings, time periods, and dramatic situations. You will gain insight into what motivates your characters and in what ways your characters are capable of change. Along the way, you will discover many of your strengths as an imaginative writer as well as some of your blind spots. By the end of the day, you will better appreciate the dimensions (and mysteries) of your characters as well as have a fresh understanding of how those characters can be woven into stories.
(2) Starting New Stories
Stuck getting started on a new work of fiction? Where do the ideas, the characters, the sentences come from? In this class, we are going to explore different approaches for how to start a new story. The goal of the class is for you to begin at least eight new stories over the course of a day, so that by the time you go home, you will have at least eight new and exciting fictional projects to pursue.
During this class, you will write the opening pages of many kinds of stories. One story might be autobiographical; another might be invented entirely from scratch. In one story you might inhabit the consciousness of a character your own age; in another, you might write from the point of view of someone who died before you were born. I might have you write an opening from the vantage point of a character who is quite different from you in certain ways and quite similar in others. In all, the class will be fun, challenging, illuminating, and productive—and you will go home with plenty to show for it. Indeed, by the end of the day, you will be on your way to having a number of new fictional adventures.
Saturday, July 31 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. Location: Online (2)
Saturday, August 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. Location: Online (1)
Cancellation policy: My classes are refundable until 10 days before the class is held.
What Students are Saying
“I recently finished a writing class with Jonathan, and it’s the best writing class I’ve ever taken. Jonathan is thoughtful, insightful, and cares deeply about his students, their work, and setting their imaginations free. He is supportive and his classes attract talented writers, so you end up being surrounded by and getting feedback from not only Jonathan but a group of gifted writers. The class was an inspiring treat, and I look forward to being in class with Jonathan again.”
–Faiza Ambah, Spring 2019 student
“This is the best writing class in Los Angeles. Having taken literally a hundred writing classes over the years, all across the country, I can assure you that only a handful are any good. Getting a spot in Jonathan’s fiction writing workshop is like getting to attend an elite graduate-level class with the best of the best. It’s like having the Iowa Writers’ Workshop come to you. Jonathan’s rare, thoughtful approach and innate brilliance will change you as a writer. Already I have had a short story turned into a draft of a novel and another short story published. Jonathan has helped me move my work to the next level.”
–Arabella Field, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, and Summer 2020 student
“Jonathan is a kind teacher, generous with his time, honest, inspiring, and insightful. So yes, I really liked his class! I had never been in this type of workshop before and really appreciated learning how to carefully critique others’ work as well as listen and learn from others’ critiques of my own. I will take another class with him as soon as time permits and have warmly recommended him to my friends.”
–Mary Blodgett, Winter 2018 student
“After a decade of writer’s block, I enrolled in Jonathan’s online workshop. Jonathan creates a supportive and thoughtful environment for the study of craft. He encouraged me to take risks as a writer and think deeply about stories in ways that I could never have imagined. His classes are truly life-altering. I have established a consistent writing practice, improved my skills, and met some fantastic classmates, whose feedback has been superb. I also re-established who I want to be in the world: a writer. With Jonathan’s guidance, I applied to a number of top-notch MFA programs, and I’m thrilled that I’ll be attending Warren Wilson in the spring. I couldn’t have done it without him.”
–Jaime Goodrich, Spring 2020, Summer 2020, and Fall 2020 student
“A couple months ago, I decided to get back into fiction writing after a 15-year hiatus. I searched online and came across Jonathan’s website. He seemed to offer more than other writing businesses, so I signed up for his six-week workshop, and I’m happy to say that my instincts were right. I feel both lucky and grateful to have been in Jonathan’s class. He didn’t waste time with lectures. He used his expertise to guide us as we spent our time reading and critiquing each other’s work, discussing the book he had us read, and doing challenging writing exercises that helped us become more flexible and bold in our writing. And the group of writers was so talented! I’m already thinking about coming back to workshop my future stories. If you’re looking for an intensive small group workshop with a teacher who gives you 100% of his time and effort to help you make strides in your work, then you’ll need to take Jonathan Blum’s class.”
–Kimberley Woo, Spring 2019 student
“Jonathan’s workshops are welcoming and serious, nurturing and instructive. His classes are on par with any MFA program, and I highly recommend them for any writer curious about the craft of fiction.”
–Kali Veach, Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 student
“I picked up a flyer to Jonathan’s workshop on a whim. I was interested in fiction writing, but had no idea where to start. Having almost no fiction writing experience, I was initially intimidated by the quality of writers attending and the work they produced. However, despite my lack of experience, I never felt out of place or in over my head. Instead, I found encouragement and support from Jonathan and the other attendees. I began the workshop having written almost nothing, and left with a story that I am proud to put my name on and eager to take his workshop the next time it was offered.”
–Todd Sheridan, Winter 2019 and Spring 2019 student
“Jonathan’s workshop was a game-changer for me. I had long been rejecting the techniques and habits of Screenwriting 101, and his class presented me with a more honest, organic approach to storytelling. He had plenty of expert knowledge to share with us week to week, but the core of his class was in guiding each of us to find our own way as writers. It was incredibly empowering, and I only wish I’d found him sooner.”
–Brian Tran, Fall 2015 student
“I enjoyed the workshop immensely! I was new to fiction writing, and the course provided sumptuous opportunities to learn. I am now more focused as a storyteller, and I can engage readers on a deeper level. Moreover, it was wonderful to be part of a group of writers who are excited about their own projects and about exchanging ideas productively. I highly recommend this class to anyone who is curious about writing because you will be pleasantly surprised where the course might take you creatively!”
–Ying Lau, Fall 2019 student
“I had a fantastic experience in Jonathan Blum’s class. I appreciated his focus on the craft of writing and his de-emphasis on writing for publication — it really helps strip away a lot of the fear and doubt around writing. He facilitates excellent discussions. Assignments are stimulating and engaging, and Jonathan strikes a nice balance in class between instruction and workshopping our stories. This workshop is a great way to enhance your creative writing foundation, refresh old dreams, or just get a taste for how it’s done. I look forward to taking another workshop with Jonathan next year!”
–Caroline Weiss, Fall 2016 and Winter 2019 student
“Jonathan Blum is an amazing instructor. He really knows his stuff. I am always looking to enhance my education, but I also took the class for fun. I was a first-timer — never had I written any fiction. I genuinely enjoyed every class session. Writing is an art form and I am a much better artist because of this class and Jonathan Blum.”
–Heidy Garcia, Fall 2016 student
“Jonathan Blum has a rigorous mind and a generous heart. I have taken many, many fiction writing classes and can honestly say that he is one of the best instructors I’ve had. His knowledge of craft runs deep, and he’s clearly thought a lot about how to share that knowledge most effectively with students. He is honest yet supportive. He helped me become a better reader, critic, and writer. I highly recommend his class.”
–Rachel Vogel, Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 student
“I took Jonathan’s course on point of view. Throughout the workshop, I was struck by Jonathan’s ability to conduct an insightful and meaningful discussion about each student’s work. His workshop is a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere in which everyone felt safe to take risks and speak their minds. I left the workshop with a more thorough understanding of my strengths and weaknesses as a writer. Most importantly, I left feeling thrilled that there was such a passionate, diverse group of writers in Los Angeles.”
–Daniel Spielberger, Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 student
“I was hesitant and nervous to take the class, having never taken a writing workshop before, but I’m real glad I did. I read some amazing fiction, got back into a habit of writing creatively through weekly exercises, and for the first time, had people read and respond to my work. That was an incredible experience that I feel like you can only get at a workshop. Jonathan did a terrific job pointing out our strengths and aspects of our writing that we could improve upon. I really appreciated his and my classmates’ candor in discussing our pieces. I feel like my enjoyment of writing has been restored having taken the class. I highly recommend it.”
–Daniel Bang, Fall 2017 student
“I would absolutely recommend Jonathan’s class to anyone who’s interested in fiction writing. The close reads and feedback from Jonathan and the class have helped push my story to the next level and have given me new confidence in my writing. I also appreciated Jonathan’s workshop structure and loved our weekly discussions on fiction and craft.”
–Savanna Parra, Fall 2017. Fall 2018, and Fall 2019 student
“Jonathan’s fiction workshop is a must if you’re looking for intelligent, concise, and useful feedback on your work. He creates a safe environment that’s about the work, both through his own approach and the readings and exercises he brings to the group. His personal feedback, given his own workshop history, was detailed and applicable. Simply, my work got better.”
–Michael Apstein, Winter 2016 student
BRITTANY BALLARD won the Denver Write Club’s monthly competitive reading series with her short story, “Chopin.” Her work of creative nonfiction “Things I Haven’t Told You” was published by Suspect Press. She was in my Fall 2015 and Winter 2016 workshops.
BREANNA CHIA conducted an interview with me that appears in Angels Flight – literary west. She published an essay, “The Act of Seeing,” in Blog//The Los Angeles Review of Books. She was in my Fall 2017 and Winter 2020 workshops.
WILLIAM DEVERELL, who has taken seven of my workshops, most recently in Winter 2020, has a short story, “Driftwood,” in The Cost of Paper, Volume 5. His short story, “Arraigned,” appears in Angels Flight – literary west. He was awarded a California Writing Residency in Lake Arrowhead by the 1888 Center + Yefe Nof. He published his short story, “Evangel,” in Exposition Review, Volume 1. “Evangel” was nominated for the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers.
JOSHUA ELIAS, who was in my Fall 2016 and Fall 2017 workshops, was selected by The New Short Fiction Series for its 14th Annual Emerging Voices Group Show in North Hollywood.
ARABELLA FIELD has a micro-story, “Breakfast Blend,” on The Rose City Sisters. She has taken five of my workshops.
JAIME GOODRICH was admitted to the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College in fiction. She has been in my Spring 2020, Summer 2020, and Fall 2020 workshops.
LINDA JASSIM’s stories, “L.A. Story: The New Neighbors” and “The Crossing,” have been published on Hamline Lit Link. Linda read “The Crossing” as part of the Drunken Masters series at The Escondite in DTLA. She attended the Writer’s Hotel writers conference in New York City. Her story “The Wall” was published on VietnamWarPoetry.com. Linda has been in seven of my workshops.
MAJELLA PINTO will be attending the Antioch University low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing. She was in my Fall 2020 workshop.
MAGGIE SMITH, who was in my Summer 2017 workshop, has had her first short story published. “The Devil You Know” appears in the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers 2017 Anthology: False Faces.
DANIEL SPIELBERGER got into the MFA program in Creative Writing at CalArts. While there, he will also take Critical Studies courses. Daniel was in my Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 workshops.
BRIAN TRAN got into the MFA program in fiction writing at Washington University in St. Louis. He will receive a fellowship that covers the cost of tuition and provides a $23,000 annual stipend. Brian attended the Tin House Summer Workshop in Portland, Oregon. He was in my Fall 2015 workshop.
RACHEL VOGEL’s story “Visitors” won the 2019 Halifax Ranch Fiction Prize from American Short Fiction and was published in that magazine. The judge was Rebecca Makkai. Rachel has a story, “Skinny,” in the Harvard Review. Rachel was in my Fall 2018 and Winter 2019 workshops.
MAGGIE WELSH has a micro-story, “The Conference,” on The Rose City Sisters. She has taken four of my workshops.
I read fiction manuscripts, from short stories to novels. I am thorough about it too.
I will closely read your work, send you a detailed written response, and talk with you on the phone about the work.
The fee is 5 cents/word with a minimum charge of $200.
Let me know if I can help.