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Featured Online Writing Class On Essay Structure

Essay Structure


START DATE: Monday, March 25, 2024

END DATE: Sunday, April 21, 2024

DURATION:  4 weeks

LOCATION:  Private Website

FEEDBACK:  Weekly instructor feedback and edits with weekly or bi-weekly peer feedback

COURSE DESCRIPTION: You have a story to tell, but what’s the best way to tell it? Should you write about your relationship with your mother in the first person point of view or second? What about tense? Past, present, future? And how about the actual structure and organization of the story? Is a clear chronology of events the best way to write about your life?

In this four-week class, participants will be provided with 2-3 essays to read every week that will get us to explore different narrative structures. We’ll also look at a number of craft techniques such as juxtaposition, narrative time, rhythm, subtext, and metaphor that can all influence the essay in subtle, yet very significant ways. The goal of this workshop is to discover how the way we decide to tell a story is just as important as the story itself.

Throughout the course, participants will take turns giving and receiving feedback on each other’s writing, and each participant will receive line edits on her own writing from the instructor every week. This course is asynchronous and there is no specific meeting time. Members will engage in discussions online through the course’s website. The group will be coordinated through email and a private forum.


Just wanted to drop a note letting you know that an essay I began in Chelsey’s class Not What, But How, titled “Eulogy of a Northern Oak” won second place (and $300!!!) in a prestigious competition sponsored by the N.C. Writer’s Network. As with every assignment she’s given me, she gave great advice that proved the tipping point. ~ Ashley Memory (Previous WOW class participant)

Having Chelsey for a writing teacher happily exceeded my expectations. She a gifted and accomplished writer, fully dedicated to the writing life and to sharing her talent and knowledge with others, and it felt to me she was a much a member of our class as she was the instructor, which allowed me to trust her and take risks with my writing. ~ Patricia Heim

Chelsey’s class has been absolutely amazing. I have produced three refined and excellent pieces--one has already been pubbed by The Nervous Breakdown, and I just got an acceptance from Hippocampus for the second (pub in January)! The third is still out there, submitted to three places. Chelsey provided me excellent edits and emailed back quickly when I had questions. The class was fun, I learned a lot and was inspired to continue writing after it ends using the prompts she gave. She was even generous enough to answer questions I had about MFA programs. I am thankful that I ended up in her class. ~ Sarah W. (Previous WOW class participant)

I have taken two of Chelsey Clammer’s classes and I cannot wait to take my third. She is a very accomplished author and is so generous about sharing her talents with her students. The materials are timely, relevant and inspirational. I have no problems balancing coursework with other commitments; in fact, the work is so much fun that I find myself easily pushing everything else out of the way to write. Thanks to Chelsey and the feedback of classmates, I have several new writing projects that I plan to submit soon for publication! ~ Ashley Memory (Previous WOW class participant)

Chelsey Clammer is one of the best writing teachers I’ve ever had. When I signed up for this course, I had hit a dead period in my writing, when I felt I might not be able to write another essay ever. After 20 years as a publisher of a magazine I founded and years of coming up with a personal essay and a prose poem for the cover every month, I simply hit a wall. I was convinced I’d lost my mojo, but a friend had taken the same class with Chelsey and raved about it. This course was a major breakthrough for me, and I came up with drafts for three essays over the course of the four weeks! Thank you, Chelsey, for helping me find my words and my self-confidence. ~ Nikki Hardin (Previous WOW class participant)

This past August I signed up for Chelsey Clammer’s four-week WOW! course, The Women Writers’ Book Group: Furiously Happy. Not only have I never participated in an online book club or writing class, but I have never tried my hand at flash/short fiction or humorous fiction. But I can read, and thought it would be fun to dissect the book with an instructor and other writers. And laugh a little along the way. I was blown away. Not only was the online class a lot of fun and very informative, but Chelsey’s exceptional insights into the book combined with her weekly exercises and feedback gave me some confidence and inspiration to try my hand at writing humor. She kept the pace and energy level of the class high, not easy to do online. Chelsey also expertly guided me with her edits and encouragement. She suggested I submit a couple of my pieces that came out of her exercises. I was so new to all this, I didn’t even know where to begin to submit. Chelsey walked me through that process, too! I thought you’d like to know that one was published online. I couldn’t have been published without Chelsey and the WOW! classroom. Thank you so much for offering the opportunity to grow as a writer! ~ Kate Bradley-Ferrall (Previous WOW class participant)

In May, I took Chelsey Clammer’s course on writing memoir based on the empathic writings of Leslie Jamison. Discussion and analysis of Jamison’s essays, formed the backdrop for our approaches to our essays. I worried; I’d been writing only poetry for the past five years. Would I have enough ideas and skills to shape a coherent essay for feedback from the mentor and classmates? Ms. Clammer taught me that, whether published or not, all of my writings are important. She showed me how rewarding it is to investigate a portion of one’s life and share it with an audience. I discovered I could write about a tiny segment of my past. The resultant essay gave information and a degree of entertainment to my readers. Two of the essays completed during the four-week course are now under consideration by editors: one at an essay contest at Under the Gum Tree and the other at Mom Egg Review. ~ Carole Mertz

Working with Chelsey I feel I’m in a rich partnership that as much about preparing essay drafts for publication as it is about growth, discovery, and the joy that comes from telling the stories that matter to me. ~ Kineret Yardena


Week 1: Discovering Structure

Traditional, linear, lyric, segmented, braided, hermit crab and circling back. These are just a few examples of the different types of structure an essay can take. This week we will explore examples of different types of essays and will begin to write our own stories in innovative ways.

Assignment: Read the assigned essays, and complete at least one of the writing exercises on your own. Post your response to one of the discussion questions online. Email the instructor your writing-in-progress for the week (1000-word limit). Comment on your peers’ essays as assigned.

Week 2: So What’s Your Point of View?

The point of view that you choose to use will influence how the reader experiences and connects with your story. POV can help to create the emotional tone of your writing, as well as its energy and pace. Playing around with different POVs can bring a new feel to your essay—and can even enhance its meaning! We’ll play around with POV to discover which perspective does the most justice to the story you have to tell.

Assignment: Read the assigned essays, and complete at least one of the writing exercises on your own. Post your response to one of the discussion questions online. Email the instructor your writing-in-progress for the week (1000-word limit). Comment on your peers’ essays as assigned.

Week 3: Hear the Voice and Feel the Rhythm

If people only read things because of what happens in a piece of writing, then poetry wouldn’t exist. We all love a good story, but what makes an author’s writing have a huge impact on us, is when we can feel the story. So what makes us feel? This week we’ll look at how we can draw the reader into our writing with tone of our narrative voice and the overall rhythm—the mood and melody that strikes up an emotional response.

Assignment: Read the assigned essays, and complete at least one of the writing exercises on your own. Post your response to one of the discussion questions online. Email the instructor your writing-in-progress for the week (1000-word limit). Comment on your peers’ essays as assigned.

Week 4: Two Meanings of “Seeing”

For this final week, we will be focusing on two types “seeing”:

  1. Exploring what an essay actually looks like on the page (i.e., what the reader actually sees)
  2. Discovering journals to submit your writing to (i.e., seeing yourself in print!)

We’ll take a good look at how authors can have fun with the visual look of their work in order to create a stronger impact on the reader and we’ll finish the class with finding the best journals to submit your writing to.

Assignment: Read the assigned essays, and complete at least one of the writing exercises on your own. Post your response to one of the discussion questions online. Email the instructor your writing-in-progress for the week (1000-word limit). Comment on your peers’ essays as assigned.

Materials needed: None. The instructor will provide the participants with all of the reading materials.

Chelsey ClammerABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR: Chelsey Clammer is the award-winning author of the essay collections Human Heartbeat Detected (Red Hen Press, 2022; finalist for the Memoir Magazine Book Awards 2023), Circadian (Red Hen Press, 2017; winner, Red Hen Press Nonfiction Manuscript Award), and BodyHome (Hopewell Publications, 2015). Her work has appeared in Salon, The Rumpus, Brevity, and McSweeney’s, among many others. She was the Fall 2019 Jack Kerouac Writer-In-Residence through the Kerouac Project. Chelsey teaches online writing classes with WOW! Women On Writing and is a freelance editor. Visit her website at:


COST:  $180, which includes weekly assignments and individual feedback from the instructor. You will also be invited to a private group for student interaction and discussion.

BUY NOW: Not Why But How: Improving Essays with a Focus on Craft with Chelsey Clammer (4 weeks, starting 3/25/2024) Limit: 12 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is closed. Please check out our current classroom schedule here.

For Class Session Starting 3/25/2024


Notes:  Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. Just before class begins, she will e-mail you with instructions on how to get started.

Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:

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