The Story Intensive

The Story Intensive

August 27 to December 14, 2018
Registration for the fall semester is closed.
If you’d still like to join us this semester, please email [email protected] and we’ll let you know if you can still get in.

This is the creative writing program I wanted to take when I was an emerging author — but I couldn’t find it anywhere.

I made the Story Intensive for writers like me: serious about craft, but not interested in accreditation.* Smart, creative people who love to read widely, want to write and publish exciting new work, but who don’t exactly fit in the academic world. Writers who are usually non-joiners, but still find themselves searching for a community that feels right.

If any of that sounds like you — please keep reading.

The Story Intensive is an unusual writing program because it brings a philosophy of kindness and trust into a serious curriculum. If you want to finish what you start and learn how to bring joy into your creative process, this might be the writing program you’ve been looking for.

Are you ready for an immersive writing program that will take you further than you can go on your own?

I’m looking for writers who are brave enough to connect to the unknown and who are willing to approach their writing with curiosity and kindness.

Sign up to be the first to know when registration reopens in spring 2019:


*One of the reasons I started this school was because I loved the intensity of my MFA, but it put me into debt that took years to pay off. So I created an affordable program with excellent structure, and infused it with a decidedly non-academic amount of love and mystery.

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What is The Story Intensive?

The Story Intensive is a four-month program that provides the 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 the way I used to teach it in my living room, 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?

Our Intensive writers are a diverse group — some are published novelists, some work in communications, and some haven’t written creatively for years, or ever before.

The Story Intensive is for you if you have a deep desire to write, but feel as though there’s a thick glass wall separating you from your vibrant, creative flow state.

It’s also for you if you find it hard to write alone. The Story Intensive helps you feel that your writing is truly important, and rewards you when make your writing a priority. It helps change your thoughts, so you begin to feel moved to finish what you started, with more ease and love.

The Story Intensive is for you if you are curious about mystery, willing to suspend judgment, 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.

The course is robust, and the assignments suitable for both advanced and beginner writers. All writers are welcome.

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

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Imagine immersing yourself in creative writing for twelve weeks. Your senses will become heightened as you disconnect from digital overwhelm and become more present in your scenes. You’ll experience everything differently as your daily world opens up and becomes a bed of details that you want to turn into art.

Focus on reading, writing, and exploring the depths of your inner wisdom and confidence. Learn how to write your best prose ever.

This is what happens during The Story Intensive.

Posting your assignments on deadline keeps you on track; your teacher and classmates will 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.

In the Story Intensive, you’re in a small class, not a big forum with hundreds of other people. You are expected to complete all of the readings and assignments, and you will give and receive thoughtful feedback every week.

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

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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 27 to 29 | Welcome & Introductions
  • September 4 to 6 | Lesson One
  • September 10 to 12 | Lesson Two
  • September 17 to 19 and 24 to 26 | Lesson Three
  • October 1 to 3 and 9 to 11 | Lesson Four
  • October 15 to 17 and 22 to 24 | Lesson Five
  • October 29 to 31 and November 5 to 7 | Lesson Six
  • November 12 to 14 and 19 to 21 | Lesson Seven
  • November 26 to December 2 | Writing Week
  • December 3 to 9 | Critique Week
  • December 10 to 14 | Final Week & Wrap-up

The Teachers

I mentor every teacher and work with them closely throughout the semester. These writers know The Story Course intimately; I invited them to teach because I’ve seen their dedication to their own writing practice, and felt the magic they bring into a digital space. All of our teachers are exceptionally compassionate and intelligent people, and I’m proud to work with them.

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.

I am pleased to introduce the teachers for the Fall 2018 semester:
Please note that the final confirmed list of teachers may change slightly.

I place specific writers and teachers together based on writing genres, personalities, and intentions. Some classes are full of beginner writers who don’t intend to publish their work — they are here because they want to understand craft better. Some classes are peppered with MFA grads who are “recovering” from their degrees — talented writers who have been numbed by criticism and competition, who want to find the joy in their craft again. Some classes are put together because the writers are more experienced, and told me they want to finish something fantastic and publish it.

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.

Our 2018 Master Class Author is Eden Robinson!

Haisla/Heiltsuk novelist Eden Robinson is the author of a collection of short stories written called Traplines, which won the Winifred Holtby Prize in the UK. Her novel Monkey Beach won the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Her most recent novel Son of a Trickster was also shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The next novel in the trilogy, Trickster Drift, will be published in October 2018.

Our growing list of Master Class guest authors also includes:

  • Margaret Atwood
  • Francesca Lia Block
  • Karen Joy Fowler
  • Samantha Haywood
  • Peter Levitt
  • Ruth Ozeki
  • Ann Patchett
  • 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

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A beautiful environment makes all the difference when you’re doing creative work. So we’ve designed the lessons section 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:

  • 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 $1,575 USD, including 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 $1,300 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

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FAQs About The Story Intensive

I’m brand new to your 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). 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 will have a new master class 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, 2018, 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 3rd, 2018, 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

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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.