The Story Intensive

The Story Intensive

August 28 to December 15, 2017
Registration for our Fall 2017 session is now closed. Please sign up below to be notified about the next session.

Are you writing in isolation with needs that aren’t being met? Does it make your resistance flare up even more? Creative writing is deep work, and it takes joyful effort and focus. Many writers resist writing, and especially resist finishing whatever they’re working on. Even if their avoidance causes them pain, writers often still need help getting out of their own way.

The Story Intensive supports those writers who work and learn better with other writers.

Does that sound like you? If so, we made this program for you.

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What is The Story Intensive?

The Story Intensive is a four-month program that provides the scaffolding, feedback, deadlines and accountability that our signature program, The Story Course, can’t offer because it’s self-paced. In The Story Intensive, you’ll be guided and nurtured through The Story Course, lesson by lesson.

Suitable for students in all time zones, The Story Intensive is offered every year in the fall.

The focus is on short fiction, but the techniques you’ll learn will help you write in any genre—and produce work you can be proud of.

The Story Intensive is set up like a semester of a traditional MFA creative writing program (really, it’s that rigorous!), with a devoted teacher and six to eight classmates.

In addition to the seven lessons offered, master classes—interviews and conversations with successful authors such as Margaret Atwood, George Saunders, and Karen Joy Fowler—enrich The Story Intensive program.

If you’re considering The Story Intensive, please devour The Story Course page before you make your decision. Read all of the FAQs. Get a feel for the program because it’s the foundation of The Story Intensive (to which you’ll have lifetime access).

Please note that The Story Intensive will be valuable even if you’ve started (or finished) The Story Course on your own already—or if you decide to take it first. If you already have The Story Course, the cost of it ($275) will be deducted from your tuition for The Story Intensive.

Who is The Story Intensive for?

The Story Intensive is for you if you have a deep desire to write—whether you’re already a competent writer or a beginner—but feel as though there’s a thick glass wall separating you from the creative writing work you need to do.

It’s also for you if you find it hard to write alone. The Story Intensive helps you recognize that your writing is truly important, and it gets you to make your writing a priority. It will push you to finish what you started.

The Story Intensive is especially for you if you are curious, thoughtful, engaged, and—most importantly—generous.

Generosity is an important component of any class. But in a writing class where so much can be at stake, generosity to others—as well as to ourselves—is so important. This is the magic ingredient that will help you get the most out of this online writing experience.

In this video, I talk a bit about why The Story Intensive is so good for beginners:

And here, I explain what more advanced writers have to gain from the program:

"It was perhaps the best course I have ever taken. I’m blown away by it, the timing was totally right for me."

— Susanne Stich

Imagine spending your time eating, sleeping, and breathing short stories for twelve weeks. Experiencing the world as it opens up to you and becomes a bed of exquisite detail that you want to turn into art.

Really, finally focusing on reading, writing, and exploring the depths of your inner wisdom and confidence. Learning how to write your best prose ever.

This is what happens during The Story Intensive.

Posting your assignments on deadline in your classroom will help keep you on track; your teacher and small group of classmates will help motivate you, encourage you, and provide constructive feedback, as well as offer suggestions on how to get past your inner critic, move forward when you’re stuck, gain confidence, and find inspiration.

Your classroom will be a safe place to share your writing, and for your relationship with writing to grow.

You’ll learn how to:

  • write regularly
  • get past lessons you’re stuck on in The Story Course
  • use feedback you’re given
  • be in a community setting with accountability
  • get out of your own way
  • break the habit of procrastinating or prioritizing other tasks above your writing
  • engage your creative flow state
  • be an even better writer
  • finish writing a short story.


You’ll finish the program with:

  • a complete first draft of a short story
  • the techniques and confidence to write a short story (or other creative writing project)
  • a supportive writing community
  • a feeling of transformation.
"I am reminded of what Julia Child said about flipping an omelette–that to have success, you must have the courage of your convictions. I think about that with writing. I now have a big toolkit to help facilitate that. So again, thank you.”

— Barbara Berson

Classes are held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays of each week (with scheduled make up days for Canadian and American holidays) in a private, online classroom led by a teacher who will guide you through The Story Course, give you feedback, and help you discover and deepen your writing practice.

Students are expected to read and comment in the online forum for at least one hour each day for those three class days. The hours are flexible to accommodate different time zones and personal schedules.

The discussions in The Story Intensive classroom can be electric and unexpected.

You’ll be in a group with up to eight writers who care about writing as much as you do, after all—and you’ll be sharing assignments and insights and stories with these writers.

In addition to your time in the classroom, you’ll need to set aside at least three hours of solo reading and writing time each week.


  • August 28 to September 1 | Welcome & Introductions
  • September 5 to 7 | Lesson One
  • September 11 to 13 | Lesson Two
  • September 18 to 20 and 25 to 27 | Lesson Three
  • October 2 to 4 and 10 to 12 | Lesson Four
  • October 16 to 18 and 23 to 25 | Lesson Five
  • October 30 to November 1 and 6 to 8 | Lesson Six
  • November 13 to 15 and 20 to 22 | Lesson Seven
  • November 27 to December 3 | Writing Week
  • December 4 to 10 | Critique Week
  • December 11 to 15 | Final Week & Wrap-up

The Teachers

I mentor every teacher and work with them closely throughout the semester. I selected these exceptional writers to guide The Story Intensive because of their expertise in The Story Course, as well as their significant dedication to their own writing practice. Also, because of their exceptional compassion and intelligence.

In this video, I tell you a little bit more about why our teachers are so special:

When you enroll in The Story Intensive, you’ll fill out a short questionnaire about your writing life. Your answers will help me choose the right teacher for you, and will help me place you in a class of like-minded writers.

You may indicate a teacher preference when you enroll if you like. (But this is optional—you can trust me to put you in a great class!)

You’ll also see and hear me on recordings that are part of The Story Course lessons that you’ll be guided through, and I’ll be with you for three live Q & A calls during the program.

The Master Classes & Guest Authors

Every year, a new author comes to The Story Intensive to talk to students about the writing life. I ask guest authors specifically about what pitfalls they’ve faced, and how they got out of them, so you can learn from their experiences. You’ll learn how authors—like Margaret Atwood and George Saunders—have achieved their dreams, where they’ve struggled, and exactly what they’ve learned from the process.

We are so pleased to announced that our Master Class author for this year is Ann Patchett!

Ann Patchett is the author of seven novels — The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth — and has written three books of nonfiction: Truth & Beauty, What Now?, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. She has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including England’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award. Her books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

Our growing list of Master Class guest authors also includes:

  • Margaret Atwood
  • Francesca Lia Block
  • Karen Joy Fowler
  • Samantha Haywood
  • Peter Levitt
  • Ruth Ozeki
  • Frances Phillips
  • George Saunders
  • Neil Smith

Take a peek at some of the wisdom shared by our Master Class authors in this video:

These Master Classes are exclusive to The Story Intensive and only available to its students.

"The Story Intensive far exceeded my expectations. This program is brilliant! It’s probably worth 3x as much as I paid for it (or more) and I am so grateful that I could learn as much as I did without having to enroll in an MFA program."

— Anne Heaton

Abeautiful environment makes all the difference when you’re doing creative work. So we’ve designed the lessons section—which lives in a secure area of the Sarah Selecky Writing School website—for usability, comfort, and elegance. An ugly website is not inspiring! All of the audio and video has been produced for a feeling of warmth, grace, and intimacy.

Once again, you’ll get:

  • lifetime access to The Story Course
  • small classes and discussion groups, with a maximum of 8 students
  • a private online classroom and a devoted teacher
  • guidance and in-depth feedback on all of your creative writing assignments
  • live Q & A calls with me
  • critique & commentary for your final short story draft
  • Master Classes with special guest authors.


The entire program costs $1,775 USD (during late registration), including lifetime access to The Story Course.

However, if you already have The Story Course, the cost of it ($275 USD) will be deducted from your tuition for The Story Intensive, which means it will cost $1,500 USD. Once your payment is processed, you will be asked to fill in a short questionnaire — your answers will help us place you in the right class, with the right teacher.

We also have a payment plan!

"The Story Intensive has changed my writing in such a positive way, I have taken more risks than I ever have before, and I have much more confidence in my abilities than I used to."

— Dorryce Smelts

FAQs About The Story Intensive

I’m brand new to Sarah Selecky Writing School. I’m a beginner. How do I know if I’m ready for The Story Intensive? It sounds… intense.

It is intense! But it’s not inappropriate for beginners who are ready to commit to writing. You do not have to be familiar with The Story Course to register for The Story Intensive. In fact, The Story Intensive would be a beautiful way to introduce yourself to The Story Course: you’ll have a teacher guiding you through every lesson, and a dedicated class to support your practice. Read about The Story Course carefully before you decide if this is right for you; if The Story Course feels right, The Story Intensive will deepen your experience.

I’m working on a novel; I don’t write short stories. Is the Story Intensive right for me?

The Story Intensive emphasizes short story writing and reading. The curriculum is based entirely on The Story Course. But the course is designed to help all writers, including novelists, develop their writing practice by changing their writing habits (and their minds). I’m a short story writer, and I am especially passionate about reading, writing and teaching short fiction. I created The Story Course with that focus, it’s true. But both of these programs will teach you how to write with immediacy, mindfulness, specificity, and integrity. You will learn how to be present as you write. You’re going to learn how to transfer an experience to a reader—and this is important for writers working in all genres.

Can I take any of the Master Classes without registering for The Story Intensive?

The Master Classes are made for graduates of The Story Intensive, and will only be available to them for the foreseeable future.

I’m a graduate from last year—is The Story Intensive different this year?

Intensive graduates are welcome to take The Story Intensive again. The curriculum is the same as last year, but we have new master classes this year. And of course the live calls and personalized feedback during the semester will help you finish a brand new story, using the scaffolding and practice you know and love already.

When do I have to be in class? Are the meetings at set times? How does this flexible schedule work, exactly?

Each week of The Story Intensive is the equivalent of a three-hour class, but this class time is stretched over three days to accommodate different schedules and time zones. Give yourself at least an hour a day, for three days—sometime during Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday—to login to discuss the readings and lessons and to read and give feedback on other people’s assignments. The flexible part: you can login whenever you can fit an hour of focused discussion into those days. All students do not have to meet online at the same time for class discussion. When considering this course and your availability, add homework and writing time to your schedule as well. Allow for at least three hours of solo writing and reading each week. This work happens outside the class window, whenever it works for you. The live calls with me are scheduled at three different times to allow students from different time zones to have access to the call. While these will be happening at set times, they’ll also be recorded. So if you are unable to attend, you can participate by sending your questions in advance and downloading the recorded call at a later time.

What is your refund policy?

If you register and withdraw from The Story Intensive before August 15th, 2017, you are eligible to receive a 50% refund. After August 15th, there are no refunds, even if you cannot attend the class. However, if you are able to fill your space with another person by September 4th, 2017, you will receive a 100% refund. If you can’t fill your space by then and would like to defer your tuition fee to another year, we will do our best to make that happen. Please know that we can’t guarantee the Intensive will be offered every year.

Still have a question? Email us at: [email protected].
Or get in touch with us through our Facebook page.

What People Are Saying About The Story Intensive

"Now ... I feel like I’m a writer. I can tell people I’m a writer. I understand what it means to be a writer. I just wrote the best story I’ve ever written in my life!"

– Laurie McCulloch

"I love the course, love it hugely. I am full of astonishment, gratitude and admiration for you. My mind is a little bit blown."

– Leslie Davidson

"I think every writer—whether they’re an aspiring writer or a published author—would benefit tremendously from this course."

– Maureen Lee

"I have nothing but excitement for those students who’ll get to write this fall—you’ll warn them the experience can be life-changing, right?"

– Paige Cooper

"If you are brave enough to sign up, diligent enough to do the work and participate fully, then you get more than what you paid for. You will learn how to write in a unique almost effortless way within just three short months."

– Dawn Brown

"I tell everyone I know how great this class is. I feel like it’s put me years ahead of where I was alone."

– Tanya Ward

"I felt contained yet free. This is a first. I’ve been through a writing program at a University, taken other writing courses, online and off, and never have I been able to engage authentically in the 'creative journey' as I did in this course. I feel I can write fiction now, and have arranged my life toward that end."

– Joan Fiset

See more praise for The Story Intensive

Making time for The Story Intensive

The number one thing that I am asked about is how to carve out time in the day to focus on one’s writing.

I created a 30-minute video with you in mind: a writer who wants to get serious about The Story Intensive, but isn't sure how they will make the time. My video will train you to create solid boundaries around your writing time. I have collected all my thoughts on the subject, and share the techniques and tools that I use.

Watch now:

If you are already a Sarah Selecky Writing School Student, you may access the video by logging into your account and clicking on the "Resources" icon.

If you are not yet a student, you may sign up to access the video on my Free Resources page.