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Featured Online Class

Sheila Bender

USING IMAGERY TO SHOW NOT TELL: It’s the Experience Itself that Engages and Convinces  by Sheila Bender

START DATE: This class is currently closed.


DURATION:  6 weeks

LOCATION:  Private Google Group

FEEDBACK:  Detailed Instructor Feedback and Encouraging Peer Workshop

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  How does using images and specific details help you the writer write and your readers stay engaged? We will explore reasons writers skip specifics, what happens to the writing when they do and how to correct that. Each week, participants will write from 500 to 2500-word scenes, essays, even poetry to explore ways to remain specific and allow readers to live the experience the writing offers. Each participant will provide response to classmates and receive response from them and from the instructor.


To help writers
  • locate the use of excess exposition, generalizing and summarizing, which all distance readers and stunt the growth of their writing.
  • employ sense imagery, specific details and quoted speech, no matter the topic or subgenre.

This has been the most wonderful and challenging workshop I’ve ever taken. You introduced me to authors, techniques and mind-blowing assignments. Before this workshop, I would have never thought of writing a memoir in an essay format. You taught me a very powerful lesson of how writing to myself through a historical figure (very mysterious) can heal the spirit within, softly approaching life’s most heart wrenching problems on paper. I can’t wait to sign up for another one of your thought provoking workshops online. ~ Cheryl Kesling

“Writing Short, Writing Deep” called to me. This assignment in particular, to write a flash piece, in this moment, resonated strongly. I received it as an invitation to be still and to let it flow. ... Most of all, I’m very appreciative, Sheila, of the curriculum you designed, the care you took with our writing, and the encouragement and enthusiasm you provided. ~ Joan Weber

I’ve taken several classes with Sheila. Always, she’s provided generous support, great tips for writing skills, and the kind of encouragement that makes me want to write more. I look forward to the process of learning how to write better. I think due to her instruction, I am becoming a better writer. ~ Cassandra Hamilton

Sheila, I will take every possible class you teach that I can get to. Your insight, knowledge, and incredible warmth and encouragement made our class the highlight of all those I’ve ever taken. Can’t thank you enough. ~ Shirley Clukey

Thank you for your amazing insights and knowing just the right way to pluck at my threads to help me to open to the page. That in itself is a very rare and admirable art. ~ Cassandra Hamilton

Sheila, Thank you for another great writing course. I appreciated having the specific instructions each week and reading well-written models on the topic. And thanks for your invaluable feedback. ~ Debra Gilbreath

I have taken several online courses with relatively famous women writers, and you have been the most giving and involved with genuine feedback and follow-through. I thank you for that. I have learned from reading your remarks to others and the assignments have been thought-provoking and challenging—just the right mix for an aspiring writer. ~ Lori Talarico

. . . this has been a very productive class for me. I’ve learned a lot and feel like I have grown a lot in the process. ~ Margaret Riordon

My participation in Sheila’s “Creating the Five-Minute Memoir” class greatly expedited my work on my own memoir. Every single prompt resulted in an essay that I will easily be able to incorporate into my book; moreover, they are also evergreen and can be written from again and again. Sheila’s advice, edits, and coaching not only improved my writing, but also delivered a boost of confidence about the themes in my book. As part of our work together, she brilliantly whip-stitched my inner and outer questions together, a step that will save me untold hours as I go forward. Sheila is unique among teachers in that I believe she cares as much about her students as people as she does about their writing. This is my first class with her, and I know it will be one of many, many more! ~ Ashley Memory

First, I just want to say thank you for this course. I began focusing my time on writing last fall, but found that I needed some guidance. I was looking for a new perspective, a container that would help to create a form for what I was trying to capture. You have introduced some new authors that will help me to move in new directions. ~ Debra Gilbreath

What I am particularly struck by with Sheila is that she presents a great comforting wisdom from her background and experience; yet she also has an enthusiasm for the craft of writing that feels like she just got started yesterday. The enthusiasm is contagious and really inspired me to open up and let my inner critic take a break... it is a great skill and talent to mix nurturing support with honest critical comments. I feel Sheila possesses that type of talent and finesse. ~ Wendy A. Johnson


Week One: Let’s Start with Description
How does using specifics help you the writer write well and your readers stay engaged? We will explore the reasons writers skip specifics, what happens to the writing when they do and how to correct that.

Assignment: The week’s assignment will be based on responses to works the instructor will post that skirt specifics and responses to works that utilize specifics to create experience on the page. Each participant will post a descriptive essay or short fiction of their own and receive response from the instructor and participants.

Week Two: Using Imagery Effectively in Narrative
How do specifics move the story along from scene to scene and how do specifics create the emotion in a piece of writing?

Assignment: We will explore ways to tighten writing by relying on specific images and keep from reminding readers that it is the author’s story and help them immerse themselves in the story as if it were theirs. Using models, participants will each post a narrative piece of their own this week and receive response from the instructor and participants.

Week Three: Using Imagery Effectively in the Letter Form
Too often we think the recipient already knows what is in our heads and too often we tell the recipient what they would already know. How can using specific details that appeal to the senses and provide information help us around these writing obstacles when we write letters to be read by many?

Assignment: Working from models and a posted discussion of them, each participant will post their own letter form writing and receive response from the instructor and participants.

Week Four: Using Imagery Effectively in Argument/Persuasion
We tend to think that arguments have to use a lot of generalizations and summarizing to sound persuasive. Really, the opposite is true and writing with specifics helps us get a clearer idea about our point of view and why we want others to consider it.

Assignment: Working from models and a posted discussion of them, each participant will post their own letter form writing and receive response from the instructor and participants.

Week Five:  Don’t Push Poetry Off to the Side. Reading Poems Helps Prose Writers
What is it about poetry that allows people to sigh their appreciation without their heads analyzing?

Assignment: Stay in practice using specifics by exploring how poems and lyric prose work—Imagery, imagery, imagery. Compression, compression, compression. Working from models and our discussion of them, each participant will post a poem or lyric prose piece of their own and a plan for keeping poetry in their reading-for-inspiration file. Discussion and responses will be posted as well.

Week Six: Revision, Revision, Revision
Participants may take any of the pieces they have written and received responses to during the course and post rewrites of that work that demonstrate skills gained in the course.

Materials needed:  The instructor will post each of the 6 weeks’ lessons with exercises and models at the opening of each week so students can work on generating that writing on their own time, at their own speed during the week. She will respond to posted work within 24 - 48 hours so the writer can get started on revising. Revisions can be posted at any time during our six weeks together. Please provide a Gmail address for the classroom use.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:  Sheila Bender, founder of, is the author of many books on writing, including the popular Writing Personal Essays: Shaping and Sharing Your Life Experience and Creative Writing DeMystified. Her memoir is entitled A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief. Her book of poems is Behind Us the Way Grows Wider. She has been updating previously published books. Two of them are now available in print and digitally on Amazon and through bookstores: Writing in a Convertible with the Top Down, co-authored with Christi Killien Glover, and Sorrow’s Words: Writing Exercises to Heal Grief. As a writer, teacher and editor, she believes that writing so others understand our hearts and minds helps us understand ourselves, heal grief and sadness and grow. She is a frequent presenter at conferences and writers’ centers such as Centrum Foundation’s summer Port Townsend Writer’s Conference, the Whidbey Island’s writer’s conference workshops, the Writer’s Workshoppe in Port Townsend, WA, and the Kahini writing program’s writer’s workshops.

COST:  $210. The class will use a Google Groups format, to which the instructor will provide access and help learning the ropes.

BUY NOW:  Using Imagery to Show Not Tell, by Sheila Bender (6 weeks, starting 1/11/2021) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is full. Please check here for our current schedule.

For Class Session Starting 1/11/2021


Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor.

Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:

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