Revision-Course-catalog

The Revision Course

with Sonal Champsee


So you wrote a short story. Now what?

How do you take that draft of half-formed ideas and turn it into a well-crafted story? What do you do with feedback from others that’s contradictory and overwhelming? How can you put your voice on a page when you don’t even know what that is?

Revision can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be playful and empowering.

Our revision course, created and taught by Sonal Champsee, will help you find the magic in your own work.




Find the Magic



I am thrilled to offer Sonal Champsee’s course. Sonal is our lead teacher for the Story Intensive, and we've been working together since I started the school.

She’s a gifted writer and a compassionate, clear-eyed teacher, with a deep knowledge of craft and respect for experimentation.  Her generosity and honesty make her a remarkable mentor, especially when you’re going into the uncertain wilderness of revision! 

xo,

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April 3rd to June 7th

– Ten-week course –



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Revision has never been easy for me. It’s still isn’t. I still wonder if I can somehow get away with writing just one draft that’s so good that I never have to revise it, because that would save so much time and writing effort. This never happens.

For some writers, revision sometimes feels really negative, because it feels like a process of fixing everything you failed to do in the first draft. Not fun. But the thing is, all stories need revision. Does that mean every first draft is a failure? Of course not. A first draft is just a beginning, a starting point for the gradually exploring the story deeper and deeper until you’ve figured out what the story is for you, and how to tell it.

For other writers, revision is actually the fun part, and they can play and change things and rewrite forever. These writers haven’t quite figured out what their story is really about yet, or else, aren’t ready to commit to that. Maybe, they haven’t yet considered where their own voice comes into this.

I think what trips a lot of writers up is that they are trying to figure out how to make their stories good. But good is subjective. There are a thousand ways to make a story good. How, instead, do you make your story both good and your unique voice on the page?

Revision

The Details

This is a ten-week course starting at the beginning of April. Class is in session Monday to Wednesday, with a weekly Zoom discussion. Students are expected to conduct some exercises in class and others as homework between sessions. Active, engaged participation is required.

We will focus on short story or short non-fiction narrative. Please no excerpts from longer works unless they can stand entirely alone—while knowledge from this class is applicable to long forms, examining the structure of an excerpt within the context of a longer work is outside the scope.

Students will learn how to give and use feedback better amongst themselves, with guidance and facilitation from the instructor.

This course is for you if:

  • You have a story written but you don’t know what to do with it

  • You’ve taken the Story Intensive or the Story Course and loved freewriting from the heart, but revision seems corrective and maybe a little scary

  • You believe your writing isn’t quite living up to what it could be, but don’t know how to get it there

  • You’re pulled between putting your own voice on the page, and writing things ‘properly’

  • You’ve participated in workshops and writing groups, and have collected a lot of feedback, but still your story doesn’t feel right

You can expect to:

  • Find the heart and soul of your writing, and use knowledge of craft to put that on the page

  • Learn a process for revision that you can use over and over again, and techniques to spot and solve problems in your writing on your own

  • Become a braver, more exploratory writer to find ways to bring out your own voice

  • Understand how to give better feedback and also how to get better feedback from others

  • Write an entirely new revision draft to your story

Course Overview:

    • Week 1: What is revision?
    • Week 2: The Heart: What is your intention?
    • Week 3: The Body: Understanding structure
    • Week 4: The Guts: A radical change
    • Week 5: Workshop Preparation week
    • Week 6: The Brain: A mini-workshop
    • Week 7: Writing Week
    • Week 8: Publishing discussion and Story Review
    • Week 9: Writing Week
    • Week 10: Class Readings and Wrapping Up


You will need:

  • A short story (or memoir) of your own that you want to revise.
  • A published story that you love.
  • A journal for writing exercises and notes.
  • Optional: mass market movie that you love.

Each week, you will work on exercises both in-class and on your own to help you identify your voice in your story, strengthen your understanding of craft and become a braver writer. You’ll join in discussion with the class and examine both your own work and published work to put everything you learn into immediate practice. The course culminates in a structured workshop to help you write a revised version of your story.


Tuition

$1,975 USD
—Space for 6 to 8 students—

April 3 to June 7, 2023

Revision

  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Sonal is a fantastic facilitator who understands the challenges of writing and isn’t afraid to share them with wisdom and humour. When I needed a push, she was there to give it; when I needed support, she provided it. It’s rare to find a teacher who welcomes, even encourages you to try and to not fear making mistakes.”

    Christine-Albert
  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Sonal is a fantastic instructor. She brought exactly the right amount of directness, humor, and compassion. Through her constant, gentle reminders and guidance, I was able to see that one of my biggest writing fears (that of “not getting it right”) is just some sort of overinflated, tired, has-been version of the monster under the bed. She guided me to lean into trusting myself and my own intuition with my writing even more, and in doing so, made writing feel fun and full of possibility again. I feel so, so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with her!”

    Diane-Douiyssi-1
  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “I was very lucky to have landed in Sonal’s class at this stage in my writing. She has a depth of learning and experience that gives her advice great authority. I like her brevity: there’s little fluff in her feedback, although there’s plenty of welcome, leavening humor in her teaching style. I took more than the usual amount of notes in Sonal’s class, and I have a list of recommended craft books to dig into. I highly recommend Sonal as a teacher.”

    Maureen-Henderson
  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Sonal was generous with her time, positive with feedback, and fun to interact with on the forum. She shared some of her experiences as a writer, and was always encouraging.”

    Julie-Gabrielli
  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Sonal was engaging, supportive, and incredibly knowledgeable. She was there when we needed her, but she also let us explore and make our own mistakes and revelations. Her additional readings and discussions added to my experience with the class and helped provide another layer to the material. She exceeded my expectations. I didn’t feel that she was just teaching the material — she was adding her own input and experience as well. She was also very responsive to questions and logistical issues that cropped up along the way. Plus, she has a warm presence in the group that made everyone feel at ease.”

    Anne-Cook-English
  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “This was an excellent class. Sonal taught us to use our intuition while working within a framework. I’ve always been daunted by revision, but now as long as I know what my intention is, I feel confident I can work out the kinks in my stories.

    Sonal is an amazing teacher. She is approachable and answered all our questions with patience, kindness, and humour.”

    CW
  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Sonal's teaching style is very practical, direct yet warm, and earthy. She teaches you to dig in to your work, mess it up, and learn a lot in the process without overthinking using a few simple but very effective tools. Extremely useful if, like me, you are blocked and overwhelmed when it comes to revising your stories. Thank you, Sonal!”

    Emily-Hass-Ryan
  • Sarah Selecky Writing School

    “Sonal's intelligent, clear-eyed guidance through the Revision Course helped me see my story in a fresh new light.”

    Teri-Bicknell-1
The Revision Course

How do you turn your first draft into a well-crafted story? What do you do with overwhelming and contradictory feedback? How can you use your voice, when you don’t know what that is? Created and led by Sonal Champsee, this program teaches you how to strengthen your understanding of craft, become a braver writer, and write a new version of your story.

Revise your short story. Registration now open. Course runs July 11 to Sept 30, 2022.
*

“Sonal’s class helped to take the fear out of revision, while at the same time providing useful tools to assess my work.

Sonal was a joy to learn with. Her easy going and self-reflective style, completely free of ego, made me able to be more open about my own work.”

The Revision Course

How do you turn your first draft into a well-crafted story? What do you do with overwhelming and contradictory feedback? How can you use your voice, when you don’t know what that is? Created and led by Sonal Champsee, this program teaches you how to strengthen your understanding of craft, become a braver writer, and write a new version of your story.

Revise your short story. Registration now open. Course runs July 11 to Sept 30, 2022.
*

“Before Sonal’s course, I had an uneasy relationship with revision. I would workshop my short stories, get some feedback and then feel stuck — what should I do next? Sonal’s Revision Course helped guide me through those next steps by helping me find my intention with my stories and amplify them. I have a better handle on structure and can better understand which feedback helps me revise my work and which doesn’t. I’d highly recommend this course to any writer struggling to revise their work in a meaningful way.”

The Revision Course

How do you turn your first draft into a well-crafted story? What do you do with overwhelming and contradictory feedback? How can you use your voice, when you don’t know what that is? Created and led by Sonal Champsee, this program teaches you how to strengthen your understanding of craft, become a braver writer, and write a new version of your story.

Revise your short story. Registration now open. Course runs July 11 to Sept 30, 2022.
*

“Sonal’s feedback was incredible. She is so insightful — can cut right through a sentence or a story and really see what is happening with it. I feel like I learned so much from her and have become a much more confident writer thanks to her. Sonal’s clear advice and mentorship helped me gain the confidence to, finally, call myself a writer.”

Revision

FAQs

Who is this course for?

Graduates of the Story Intensive, or who have completed the Story Course, who have a short story or short piece of narrative non-fiction that they don’t know what to do with. Maybe you’ve received some feedback that you have no idea what to do with. Maybe you’ve had no feedback and are lost about what to do next. Maybe you’ve changed a few things and still feel like you have no idea what you’re doing with the story.

What’s this course about?

Teaching revision is tricky. What I didn’t want to do was teach a formula—because there is no single formula. Every story, every writer, has its own unique path to its final form, and that path is not usually a straight line. There might be a lot of common things to look at during revision, but the best stories are the ones that are a true expression of the writer’s heart and soul on the page, and there isn’t a single formula for that.

Instead, I want to teach you a mindset for revision. In addition to the lessons and exercises, you will have small group coaching calls with me, to talk through the revision process, discuss craft, and help you figure out a new way to think about revision.

Is this a workshop?

No. But we will have a mini workshop where you will be paired up with 1-2 other writers for a deeper, more focused conversation on your story, and what to do with it next.

A traditional writing workshop involves a group of 6-12 writers, who read one writer’s story a week and then give their feedback. Through this process, the writer typically doesn’t speak, or at least, doesn’t speak until the very end.

At its best, a workshop is an exciting, invigorating conversation about your work and how to make it better, but at its worst, it’s an avalanche of conflicting opinions about everything that is wrong with your story, from people who may or may not get your story. That can be overwhelming, and leave you more lost than when you started. 

And sometimes, it’s a lot of silence. When writers don’t know how to give good feedback that takes your intentions for the story into consideration, the result is a lot of nothing. Or, a lot of compliments, which are nice to hear, but don’t get you anywhere.

Our work with revision is going to help you give better feedback, and also help you get the most from other people’s feedback. 

 

I don’t know much about craft, will I be lost?

Writers can spend lifetimes learning about craft. There’s always more to explore. As Hemingway (terrible guy, great quotes) said, “We are all apprentices in a craft that has no masters.”

Truthfully, you don’t need to know everything about craft to write a well-crafted story. There are some basics that are necessary. But for the rest, when your story starts pushing up against the boundaries of your own understanding of craft, that’s the time to start exploring more craft.

That said, we’re still going to spend time learning about writing craft, particularly structure, but if you’ve taken the Story Course or the Story Intensive, you know enough to get started.

 

Story structure sounds like a formula, why are we learning it?

Structure can seem like a lot of rules, and the danger of structure is that it can leave you feeling like your story must conform to a particular shape, no matter how ill-fitting. But structure is important—we need to understand how the bones fit together before we can figure out if our story is a human or a giraffe or a dinosaur.

We’re going to learn about structure in a way that frees us from having to follow the rules, but also helps us understand what those rules are and how they work, and how to make them work for us.

I’m working on a novel, will the revision course help me?

A novel? Excellent! But unfortunately, to look at the structure of an excerpt without looking at the larger structure of the novel is a bit unfair to the novel. For this course, we need standalone narratives—short stories, memoirs, etc.

Everything we do in this class is applicable to revising a novel, but if you want more help with novel revision specifically, talk to Heidi. She’s terrific.

When are the Zoom meetings? Do they start on the first Monday?

On the first day, the online classroom will open. This is where you will look at the lessons, guide you through revision exercises, learn about and post homework assignments, and most importantly, participate in the online discussion forum—much like the Story Intensive.

When class begins, Sonal will reach out to you to settle on some times for weekly Zoom meetings, based on everyone’s availability. This is where we will talk through the lesson, answer questions, and discuss writing and craft in general.

If you are unable to attend the Zoom meeting, it will be recorded and posted for you to view, and you can post your additional thoughts and questions on the discussion forum.

 


The Revision Course

How do you turn your first draft into a well-crafted story? What do you do with overwhelming and contradictory feedback? How can you use your voice, when you don’t know what that is? Created and led by Sonal Champsee, this program teaches you how to strengthen your understanding of craft, become a braver writer, and write a new version of your story.

Revise your short story. Registration now open. Course runs July 11 to Sept 30, 2022.
*

Nancy-Sulaiman 2

“Before the class, revision made me feel confusion, uncertainty, and disorientation. After the class, I still felt those things, haha! BUT, I was able to look at those feelings as a normal part of the process. If I was feeling those things, then I was on the right track, even. I thought I would get tools or steps on how to revise. And, the course does do that but more importantly, it gave me a radical new view of what revision is and what it can do for my story.

Sonal is generous with her wisdom and knowledge. I also felt empowered by her acknowledgement of writing in a society that is still predominantly patriarchal and white. It reminded me that my words, published or not, matter.”

The Revision Course

How do you turn your first draft into a well-crafted story? What do you do with overwhelming and contradictory feedback? How can you use your voice, when you don’t know what that is? Created and led by Sonal Champsee, this program teaches you how to strengthen your understanding of craft, become a braver writer, and write a new version of your story.

Revise your short story. Registration now open. Course runs July 11 to Sept 30, 2022.
*

Revision

“If you struggle with revising your work, take the leap into six weeks of learning why you (and most writers) have a difficult time revising, editing and sticking at it through to a final version. Under Sonal's guidance, I began to think differently about the process of revision … Revision is challenging? Yes. Exciting? DEFINITELY!

Sonal is an excellent guide for any writer learning the art of revision. Her style is calm, friendly, with a sense of humour. Her personal experiences within her own university degrees, writing practice, taking and teaching workshops plus sharing her drafts of published works were relayed to course participants in a way that helped me to see the relevance of what we were trying to accomplish in the course. Her style kept me feeling that I was in a safe and caring environment, and as a result, she created a cohesive class feeling that I appreciated very much.”

Revision

About Sonal Champsee:

Sonal Champsee’s short fiction and essays have been published in anthologies and magazines such as The New Quarterly, Ricepaper, and Today’s Parent. Her novel-in-progress, Everyone Can’t Be Wrong, was shortlisted for the 2022 HarperCollins/UBC Prize for Best New Fiction. She writes the advice column Writer Therapy on Substack, has had a play produced in Seattle, and is currently the lead instructor for the Sarah Selecky’s Writing School. Sonal lives in Toronto and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC.

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