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Featured Online Class on Scene Writing

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:  Each week, students of fiction or memoir will complete a scene using an assigned exercise and post it for response from the instructor and classmates. The instructor’s responses, meant for the group to see, will include recommendations on what to do next in further developing the scene or in what the scene might lead to in a future piece of writing. Participants may post one revision of any of the week’s assignments for more response.


To help writers

  • create vivid scenes using images that appeal to all the senses
  • incorporate effective dialog
  • to pay attention to a consistent point of view
  • learn to slow time down to involve readers
  • learn to use description from their characters’ points of view
  • learn to make transitions with multiple kinds of scenes that move their stories forward

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

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

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

I’m still pinching have found you as a teacher is simply a miracle. This is the first time in a while that I can see how to take my writing up another notch. ~ Sher Laughlin

...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

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: Using the Five Senses in Writing Scenes
In writing, we only feel included when our senses are involved. We learn more about ourselves, others, and characters by encountering the way they record surroundings through their senses.

Assignment: The instructor will provide a lesson with prompts to encourage the use of all five senses in writing scenes. Each student will receive her detailed response with suggestions on where to go next with the piece and when the student submits a revision, there will be a detailed response to that, too.

Week Two: Writing and Inserting Effective Dialog
Dialog pushes a story forward, helps create a scene, and helps develop characters. Dialog is essential to many scenes but has to sound real, not written by the writer.

Assignment: The instructor will provide a detailed lesson on developing dialog in a scene and assign participants to use dialog in a scene of their choosing. After receiving response, the participant will revise and post the revision for more response.

Week Three: Making Sure a Scene is Consistent in Point of View
In memoir and fiction, whether the author is writing in a single point of view or multiple points of view, scenes must have a consistent point of view.

Assignment: The instructor will provide a detailed lesson on using point of view and an exercise for deciding on point of view and writing a scene from that point of view. And as before, after receiving response, the participant may post a revision for more response.

Week Four: Slowing Down Psychological Time
When we read we are speeding time up, but when we write, we are slowing it down. This week, the instructor will provide a lesson on why and how we slow time down as writers.

Assignment: Using the work of Los Angeles writer and teacher, Jack Grapes, the instructor will provide exercises for achieving the results a reader requires. After receiving response, participants can revise and post that revision for more response.

Week Five: Use Description from a Speaker or Character’s Point of View
To engage in a piece of writing, readers must learn about an environment through the actions and perceptions of a character or a first person “I.” This means that person must encounter their surroundings.

Assignment: This week the instructor will provide a lesson the way successful authors avoid writing both “stage directions” and uninvolving descriptions but instead introduce readers to what is happening as someone encounters an environment and/or situation.

Week Six: Making Transitions
Making transitions with a mix of long, summary and short scenes that move stories forward.

Assignment: Fiction writer Josip Novakovitch explains kinds of scenes. This week, students will study each kind and write a short story or personal essay that uses at least two of the three kinds as well as the craft skills from exercises over the past five weeks. This final piece of writing may well include scenes written in the preceding weeks.

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 hours so the writer can get started on revising.

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 Writing It Real’s annual conferences, also in the Northwest.

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

BUY NOW:  Go Ahead—Make a Scene: In-depth Techniques for Complete Engagement, by Sheila Bender (6 weeks, starting 11/22/2021) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

This class is now closed. Please check here for our current schedule.

For Class Session Starting 11/22/2021


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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