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6-Week Online Fiction Workshop: The Wildness & Carefulness of Writing a Novel

In order to create a new universe—i.e., a novel—a writer needs a sense of recklessness, boldness, imagination and wildness. But in order to tame this universe, to sharpen its logics, and to make enough sense out of its rhythms to tell a compelling story, a writer needs discipline, methodology, grit and carefulness.

In this workshop for writers at any level, we will create a creative, joyful, and curious miniature community, and together will explore the contradictory and complementary ideas of wildness and carefulness in novel writing, through select readings by Lore Segal, James Baldwin, Mary Oliver, Kathleen Collins, Rachel Cusk, Ocean Vuong, and more; generative writing exercises; craft discussions on elements including the choreography of a scene and dialogue writing, constructive workshops and more. Participants in this workshop will gain access to both artistic inspiration and practical tools as they set out to create—or to delve deeper into—the universes of their first (or next) novels.

This class will meet over our video chat platform. You will need to use Google Chrome to join your class meetings.


- Instructor and peer feedback on two fiction submissions (novel chapters or short stories)

- One 1-on-1 conference via Skype or phone with instructor to get more personalized and direct feedback about your work.

- Artistic inspiration and familiarity with the work of modern masters of fiction (and a few poets as well)

- Practical tools for accessing and harnessing wildness and carefulness while working on your next novel


- Students should expect to put in approximately 2-3 hours of reading a week: 1-2 class readings, generally, a craft essay and a piece of fiction (either a short story or a novel excerpt) and sometimes a poem, as well, and 2-3 fiction submissions for workshop each week.

- The workshop submissions should be no longer than 10 pages, double spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman. 


Week 1: Welcome, introductions, establishing reading and writing goals, community expectations, and workshop and submission schedules.

Week 2: On reading voraciously and closely - falling and spotlights / Workshop 1

Week 3: On writing wildly and recklessly - strangeness and surprise / Workshop 2

Week 4: On carefulness in fiction writing - research and responsibility / Workshop 3

Week 5: On editing unsentimentally - the burden and beauty of revision / Workshop 4

Week 6: Tying it all together - where do we go from here? / Workshop 5 

Moriel Rothman-Zecher

Moriel Rothman-Zecher is the author of the novel Sadness Is a White Bird, which was a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35’ Honor, and a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, among other honors. Moriel is the recipient of a 2020 MacDowell Fellowship in Literature, and his work has been published in BarrelhouseThe Common, The New York Times, The Paris Review’s Daily,  ZYZZYVA,  and elsewhere. He lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with his family. His second novel, Before All the World, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux on October 11, 2022.  Read more at 


“While offering an unusually political coming-of-age novel, Rothman-Zecher frames the conflict in human terms. Passionate, topical, and thoughtful, this heartbreaking tale is vital reading for anyone who cares about the future of this part of the world.”

Library Journal starred review

''Moriel Rothman-Zecher is a piercing observer and a relentless interrogator who peels back layers of pain to lay bare the difficult truths of his homeland, and the heavy price paid by those for whom love trumps hatred.”

Geraldine Brooks author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel MARCH

“Rarely does one come across a debut novel as artistically accomplished, politically unsettling, and emotionally unflinching as Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s SADNESS IS A WHITE BIRD."

Ranen Omer-Sherman Jewish Book Council

“Moriel Rothman-Zecher is not only a brilliant writer, he’s the finest editor I have had the privilege of working with. His ability to tease out the heart of a piece of fiction or nonfiction is matched by his compassion and generosity of spirit. He’s simply wonderful.”

Ayelet Waldman author of A REALLY GOOD DAY and BAD MOTHER

“Moriel taught a series of creative writing workshops for a group of students in a music dialogue program I facilitated. Moriel was an amazing addition to our program--he really energized our students, taught new skills, and helped them explore new ways of creative expression. I noticed the way that Moriel would gently encourage students, helping each one to feel seen and taken seriously--and I was amazed at how comfortable some of the quieter students were to share their work with the group. We also laughed a lot--the mix of humor, clarity, and depth opened up new pathways for learning and connecting as individuals and as a group.”

Noa Yammer Program Director of Heartbeat: Amplifying Youth Voices

“I loved Moriel's workshops. Moriel is someone who knows how to break down artistic concepts into digestible pieces anyone can understand and can bring out creativity in the shyest of participants. The workshop impacted me deeply.”

Coren Feldman former workshop participant

"Moriel is a great teacher and he brought such a nice energy into that room. I feel like I have a whole new perspective on my work and on working in general. I'm so glad I was able to be a part of this workshop."

Jana Banin former workshop participant