Award-winning author Sonia Levitin will teach creative writing class through Zoom
What: Creative Writing with Sonia Levitin
When: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursdays from June 18 to Aug. 6
Award-winning writer Sonia Levitin, author of more than 40 novels, is thrilled to share her love of the craft in an eight-week Zoom class on creative writing that starts June 18.
The class is facilitated by Temple Har Shalom, and prospective attendees can register online. The cost is a suggested donation of $180 that will benefit the various COVID-19 programs that Jewish Family Service offers to the community.
The class is open to any level of writer and any style of writing, and Levitin, a part-time Parkite and summer congregant of Temple Har Shalom, asks students to email a half-page proposal of the project they will bring to the class to email@example.com. In addition to their own projects, students will also work on some in-class writing exercises.
“I will take pretty much anything,” she said. “In my career, I’ve written for newspapers and magazines, and have written editorials, fiction and short stories. And for the past 10 years, I’ve written for the theater.”
Levitin taught a similar class in 2017 at Temple Har Shalom, but this year marks Levitin’s first time she will teach online.
“I have different options regarding how I will teach the class, and they all depend on how many students sign up,” she said. “It will be very different from a round-table discussion that we would normally do live.”
If the class size ranges between six to eight writers, Levitin, who taught creative writing in the UCLA Extension program for 40 years, will ask the students to submit copies of their manuscripts to their classmates.
“That way, we will all read each others’ works,” she said. “And when it comes time to critique the writing, we will have someone volunteer to present the commentary on the submitted manuscripts.”
If more than 12 sign up, Levitin may break the class up into smaller groups and have the writers share their manuscripts within their group.
“That way the group can present one or two critiques at a time to the whole class, and if one of the manuscripts sounds interesting to someone in another group, they can ask to read it,” she said.
Levitin will give a short lecture at the beginning of each session, and will address different aspects of writing.
“I always give a lesson on how to critique during the first session, because that’s what we’ll be doing throughout the classes,” she said. “I want people to be comfortable with how they are being critiqued, and I want people to be comfortable giving constructive criticism.”
Critiques are just comments, and rejection is a big part of the publishing world, according to Levitin.
“What I’ve learned is if publishers reject what I write, I don’t ask why and just go on to the next publisher,” she said. “I’ve known many talented people who don’t write because rejection is hard on them. But it’s part of the process, and you just have to carry on.”
Another concept Levitin will touch on is called “show don’t tell.”
“I don’t want the writer to tell me a character has blonde hair and blue eyes,” she said. “I want them to show me through descriptions and actions.”
Levitin will use the sessions to inspire the writers to emotionally invest in their compositions.
“It’s about diving deeper into the story or what they are writing, and to become vulnerable,” she said.
Levitin will also encourage students to break out different ideas that come up in the manuscripts.
“I love to have them dwell on something that strikes a chord with their fellow writers,” she said. “I may suggest that they write something more in depth about that particular section.”
Levitin said encouraging the class to delve into their writing is akin to giving them permission to break down barriers that have prevented them from doing so in the first place.
“I always emphasize that what they create is theirs, and theirs alone, whether it’s a story, essay or poem,” she said. “And only they have the power to write in the way they want to do it.”
Levitin developed a love for writing when she was 6 ,after her family escaped to New York from Nazi Germany during World War II.
“My teacher at the time told me I could go to a library to check out some books for free,” she said. “So every two weeks, I would walk five blocks to the library and would check out an average of 10 books at a time. And that’s what got me into writing.”
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