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Class Catalog

Browse Summer & Fall Classes!

Hugo House: Your best source for writing classes in Seattle.

For more information on the schedule, scholarships, the various formats of our writing classes, and cancellation policies, check out our About page. Or, go meet our talented instructors.

For help finding classes, contact our registrar or call us at 206.322.7030.

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Fall Registration Dates

All registrations open at 10:30 am

$500+ donor Registration: August 12
Member Registration: August 13
General Registration: August 20


Early Bird Pricing Aug. 12 through Aug. 26:

  • $10 off one-session classes
  • $20 off classes that are two to six sessions
  • $35 off classes that are eight sessions or more

Early bird pricing will automatically apply at checkout. 

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Telling Tough Stories: Writing Illness and Healing

Join us for a writing workshop that addresses the challenges of writing about illness, healing, and caregiving in a culture that prizes novelty and speed. Do you worry you will you bore your readers? Depress them too much? Shock them…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Kathryn Trueblood

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Start Date: 09/22/2019 – 10:00 am
2 seats available

Kathryn Trueblood

Kathryn Trueblood has been awarded the Goldenberg Prize for Fiction and the Red Hen Press Short Story Award. Her books include Take Daily As Needed, The Baby Lottery, and The Sperm Donor’s Daughter. She teaches at Western Washington University.

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Plotting: Soup to Nuts

Intermediate | This class will provide an overview of plotting, beginning with the basic “soup stock” of narrative, using index cards and outlines to work up a story. Then we will learn techniques for troubleshooting and plot-doctoring. Eventually the class…

Course Type: 6 Sessions  |   Instructor: Paul Mullin

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Start Date: 09/23/2019 – 5:00 pm
4 seats available

Paul Mullin

Paul Mullin was recognized by Seattle’s The Stranger with a “Genius Award” for achievement in theatre. His plays have been staged across the United States as well as Canada. His Louis Slotin Sonata won the L. A. Drama Critics Award for Outstanding World Premiere, and was read by invitation before scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory prior to its Off-Broadway run. Most recently a French translation, La Sonate Louis Slotin was produced in Quebec. Mullin’s The Sequence premiered at The Theatre @ Boston Court in Pasadena and The Ten Thousand Things at Washington Ensemble Theatre in Seattle. Both Louis Slotin Sonata and The Sequence, were commissioned by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, in collaboration with Ensemble Studio Theatre. Mullin conceived, co-wrote and co-produced NewsWrights United’s series of Living Newspapers, It’s Not in The P-I: A Living Newspaper About a Dying Newspaper and The New New News which enjoyed tremendous audience and media acclaim.

In addition to work for the stage, Mullin has had several poems published, most recently with the King County Metro’s Poetry on Buses program. He has written several feature film scripts and television documentaries, including Hitting The Ground, an independent feature in which he also starred as an actor. He has also contributed regularly as a writer and actor to Sandbox Radio Live.

His memoir The Starting Gate was published in early 2016.

Born in Baltimore, Paul now makes his home in Seattle with his wife and two sons. He hosts a monthly literary series called Loud Mouth Lit.

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Yearlong in Prose Section II

In weekly meetings over the course of the 2019-2020 academic year, yearlong classes provide dedicated writers with an intensive path toward finishing a draft of a book. Whether you are early in the writing process or already have a rough…

Course Type: Yearlong  |   Instructor: Peter Mountford

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Start Date: 09/25/2019 – 7:10 pm
This class is full

Peter Mountford

Peter Mountford’s novel A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism won a 2012 Washington State Book Award. His second novel, The Dismal Science, was published in February, 2014. A former Hugo House writer in residence, Peter is currently on faculty at Sierra Nevada College's low residency MFA program.

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Say it Loud!

What are your origin stories? What are the textures of your world? Whose voices do you carry? What futures are you reaching for? Who will hold your stories? In this generative workshop, we will play and explore these questions by…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Ching-In Chen

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Start Date: 09/28/2019 – 1:00 pm

Ching-In Chen

Ching-In Chen is author of The Heart's Traffic: a novel in poems (Arktoi/Red Hen Press, 2009), recombinant (Kelsey Street Press, 2017; 2018 Lambda Literary Award Winner for Transgender Poetry); to make black paper sing (speCt! Books, 2019) and Kundiman for Kin :: Information Retrieval for Monsters (forthcoming from Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs). Chen is also co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 2011; AK Press 2016) and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets (Achiote Press, 2009). Born of Chinese immigrants, they have received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Callaloo, Can Serrat, Storyknife and Imagining America and are a member of Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation. A community organizer, they have worked in Asian American communities in San Francisco, Oakland, Riverside and Boston. In Autumn 2019, they will join the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington Bothell as an assistant professor. www.chinginchen.com

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I Would Never Say That?: Getting Real Dialogue Out of Your Characters

Do you dread writing dialogue? Do you want to enjoy it but feel it falls flat on the page? Do you love it in the moment, then worry it isn’t serving the story when you reread it? In this intensive,…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Mira Jacob

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Start Date: 09/28/2019 – 1:00 pm
2 seats available

Mira Jacob

Mira Jacob is the author and illustrator of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. Her critically acclaimed novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick. She teaches at The New School.

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Book Lab

This yearlong mentorship program is for students who have completed a Yearlong Manuscript course or anyone with a complete manuscript ready for extensive feedback. Students will be part of an intimate cohort of fellow writers that work together and one-on-one…

Course Type: Book Lab  |   Instructor: Claire Dederer

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Start Date: 10/01/2019 – 5:00 pm
Registration for this class has not started.

Claire Dederer

Claire Dederer is the author of two critically acclaimed memoirs: Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning and Poser: My Life in Twenty-Three Yoga Poses, which was a New York Times bestseller. Poser has been translated into 11 languages, optioned for television by Warner Bros., and adapted for the stage.

Dederer is at work on Monsters, a nonfiction book investigating good art made by bad people, forthcoming from Knopf. The book is based on her 2017 essay for the Paris Review, “What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?” The essay went globally viral, was a Longform best essay of the year, and has repeatedly been cited as one of the most influential and insightful pieces of writing on the Me Too movement to date.

Dederer is a long-time contributor to The New York Times. Her essays, criticism, and reviews have also appeared in The Paris Review, The Atlantic, The Nation, Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, Real Simple, Entertainment Weekly, New York magazine, Chicago Tribune, Newsday, Slate, Salon, High Country News, and many other publications. Her essays have appeared in numerous anthologies, most recently Labor Day. Dederer began her career as the chief film critic for Seattle Weekly. She has taught at Hugo House and the University of Washington, as well as residencies, workshops, conferences, MFA programs, and universities across the country. She currently teaches at the Pacific University low residency MFA Program.

She is the recipient of a Hedgebrook residency and a Lannan Foundation residency.

Dederer is a fourth-generation Seattle native. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her husband, the writer Bruce Barcott, and their children.

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Online Class | Marketing for Writers

All Levels | Need to increase your visibility as a writer? If you’re not an influencer, it’s time to become one! Learn how to connect with different media outlets (print and digital); the pros and cons of trending online channels;…

Course Type: 6 Sessions  |   Instructor: Rachel Werner

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Start Date: 10/03/2019

Rachel Werner

Rachel Werner is the Content Marketing Specialist for Taliesin Preservation—a National Historic Landmark and the home, studio, school and 800-acre estate of Frank Lloyd Wright. She is also guest faculty at The Highlights Foundation; a 2018 We Need Diverse Books mentorship finalist; and a 2017 World Food Championship judge. Formerly the digital editor at BRAVA (a Wisconsin-based publication created by women for women), she enjoyed overseeing culinary, arts, style and live event coverage while working in the media in addition to contributing print, photography and video content to BLK+GRN, Madison Magazine, Entrepreneurial Chef, Hobby Farms Magazine and Urban Farm. She is equally grateful to have presented this year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Writer's Institute and Write to Publish at Portland State University on digital marketing and social media strategy for writers.

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Narrative Reclamation: Using Stories to Heal

All Levels | This class is dedicated to the role of storytelling in finding relief from distress in life. Students in this course will learn how storytelling can be used for personal and communal reclamation, including the confrontation of historical…

Course Type: 2 Sessions  |   Instructor: Zain Shamoon

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Start Date: 10/05/2019 – 1:00 pm

Zain Shamoon

Dr. Zain Shamoon completed his PhD in Human Development and Family Studies in Fall 2017 at Michigan State University. He also completed a Master's degree in Couple and Family therapy in 2011. He is dedicated to the creation of spaces where people can tell their personal stories on route to their own wellness. In his clinical work, he has served a range of clients, including those wrestling with high anxiety, relational conflict, and severe depression.

In March 2015, he helped launch the Narratives of Pain project, which is a group emotional outlet of personal narrative and catharsis based in Metro Detroit, and now Seattle. Currently, Zain is a professor of Couple and Family Therapy at Antioch University Seattle.

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Write for Publications and Pay

Introductory | Do you have what it takes to be a freelance writer? We’ll learn about the different types of work that editors want, quick ways to tell if you’ve got a great idea, how to pitch, self-editing tips, and…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Lora Shinn

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Start Date: 10/06/2019 – 10:00 am

Lora Shinn

Professional freelance journalist Lora Shinn has worked as an editor at Alaska Airlines Beyond, and writes for a wide variety of publications, including The Seattle Times, AFAR, Sunset, Redbook, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Poets & Writers.

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Dynamic Settings

All Levels | What would Game of Thrones be without Winterfell? That story can’t be told without vibrant, dynamic, well realized settings. In this one-day intensive, we will discuss strategies for creating dynamic settings in any genre. In-class activities will…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Ruth Joffre

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Start Date: 10/10/2019 – 6:00 pm

Ruth Joffre

Ruth Joffre is the author of the story collection Night Beast (forthcoming Grove Atlantic 2018). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, The Masters Review, Prairie Schooner, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Copper Nickel. Her book reviews have been published in The Rumpus, The Millions, Kenyon Review Online, and Colorado Review. She lives in Seattle.

Teaching Philosophy: I believe every piece of literature is an emotional education. A story like Mavis Gallant's "The Ice Wagon Going Down the Street," for instance, requires us not only to understand the inner workings of its characters' psyches but to become the kind of people who are capable of feeling as they feel and thinking as they think. In this way, we learn to feel sympathy for the socially awkward, love for the romantically jilted, and sorrow for the painfully ambitious. When we can't expand our minds this way, our writing and our reading suffers.

Writers I return to: Alice Munro, Annie Proulx, Mavis Gallant, W. G. Sebald, Elizabeth Strout, Maggie Nelson, Anita Brookner, Penelope Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, Richard Yates, Elizabeth McCracken, and James Baldwin, to name a few.

Favorite writing advice: Hands down, this piece of advice from Benjamin Percy: "Keep hammering."

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The Joy of Syntax

In this hands-on workshop we’ll practice improvisational writing, using the often under-explored resources of syntax to draw our poems and stories into new territories.

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Catherine Barnett

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Start Date: 10/12/2019 – 10:00 am

Catherine Barnett

Catherine Barnett is the author of three collections of poems, Human Hours (a New York Times “Best Poetry of 2018” selection), The Game of Boxes (winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets), and Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced (winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award). Her honors include a Whiting Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She teaches graduate and undergraduate students in the Creative Writing Program at NYU, is a Distinguished Lecturer at Hunter College, and lives in New York City.

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The Self as Character: Writing in First Person

Introductory / Intermediate | First-person point of view remains one of the trickiest strategies for any writer, even though it can be one of the most effective ways of telling a story. This class will discuss first-person point of view…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Nicholas O'Connell

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Start Date: 10/12/2019 – 1:00 pm

Nicholas O'Connell

Nicholas O’Connell, M.F.A, Ph.D., is the author of The Storms of Denali (University of Alaska Press, 2012), On Sacred Ground: The Spirit of Place in Pacific Northwest Literature (University of Washington Press, 2003), At the Field’s End: Interviews with 22 Pacific Northwest Writers (University of Washington Press Press, 1998), Contemporary Ecofiction (Charles Scribner’s, 1996) and Beyond Risk: Conversations with Climbers (Mountaineers, 1993). He has contributed to Newsweek, Gourmet, Saveur, Outside, GO, National Geographic Adventure, Condé Nast Traveler, Food & Wine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sierra, The Wine Spectator, Commonweal, Image and many other places. He is the publisher/editor of The Writer’s Workshop Review and the founder of the online and Seattle-based writing program, www.thewritersworkshop.net.

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Metaphor in Theory and Practice

Introductory / Intermediate | To craft powerful metaphors, writers need a deep understanding of how metaphors work. In this co-taught course, we’ll discuss metaphor theory, asking questions like: How do readers experience metaphor? Is metaphor conceptual or ornamental? What is…

Course Type: 6 Sessions  |   Instructor: Kascha Semonovitch and Roger Gilman

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Start Date: 10/13/2019 – 1:00 pm

Kascha Semonovitch and Roger Gilman

Kascha Semonovitch’s poems and essays have appeared in journals including Quarterly West, The Bellingham Review, Zyzzyva, The Kenyon Review and others, and in the chapbook Genesis by Dancing Girl Press. She has a PhD in philosophy from Boston College, an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College. She has fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and the Ucross Foundation, and her creative nonfiction was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Kascha has edited two collections of philosophical essays on early twentieth century European thought, and published academic essays, mostly recently Attention and Expression in Simone Weil. She has taught philosophy at Boston College, Seattle University, and Hugo House in Seattle. She runs an art gallery in Seattle.

Teaching Philosophy: I believe that we learn by reading – whether the work of our classmates, contemporary authors or canonical works. The work of a teacher lies in asking –and re-asking –questions that motivate us to pay attention to these texts. In class, we think together by articulating our interpretations. When we reach a conflict of interpretation – “Oh, I thought Robert Hass was talking about beauty” or “I thought Descartes meant his elbow”– then we inquire into the reasons for the conflict. After such careful reading, we are ready to re-read our own writing. We are better at paying attention to what is happening in syntax and semantics.

As a faculty member at Seattle University for over seven years, I taught the history of philosophy, critical thinking, and ethics. Philosophers pay attention to the history and internal consistency of systems and concepts. This type of paying attention is also invaluable to writers. For example, we might ask whether poet thought through the connections between the terms in a text and the deep history of texts that precede it? Does a fictional or poetic world hold together consistently? I love learning by reading with students.

Roger Gilman has a PhD in Philosophy from The University of Chicago. He taught interdisciplinary courses in the Arts and Sciences at Northeastern University in Chicago. He held positions as department Chair and Dean of the College. He is a former poetry editor of the Chicago Review and has published poems in various magazines, among them Poetry Northwest. He is a winner of the Boynton Prize in poetry and of a National Endowment of the Humanities fellowship. His research concerns theories of metaphoric meaning-making and the role of metaphors in artworks and scientific explanations.

Teaching Philosophy: Good teaching, in my view, requires listening well. I design classes around a question or puzzle. And I start each class session with a question. The question may be one I’ve elicited from the students or one that I think helps unfold the issues presented by the overall course plan. I think all of us are naturally and intensely curious about the world and ourselves. And especially about all the dimensions of our craft that helps define us and gives meaning to our lives. When a student makes a comment and adds to our conversation, I follow up their line of thinking and feeling with questions that I hope help them unfold their own ideas and induces them to compare them with the ideas others have expressed in class. My classes usually deploy a mixture of mini-lectures and group discussion, the use of well-targeted texts and liberal use of the white board. I usually provide short texts of theoretical work and a generous supply of poems to analyze, and hope that these texts inform each other.

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Writing Dialogue

All Levels | From novels to plays and films, dialogue is the backbone of every genre. Students will get hands-on experience playing with different dialogue mechanics and structures while observing the work of great international masters of dialogue, such as…

Course Type: 6 Sessions  |   Instructor: Ana Pastor

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Start Date: 10/15/2019 – 5:00 pm

Ana Pastor

A native of Barcelona, Ana Pastor studied European Theater, Playwriting and Literature. She wrote and directed "El Oyente" (2006), and a free adaptation of a Jean-Paul Sartre play (2010). Her short story "La noche del elefante" received the 2011 Fungible award. She is a translator and a Spanish language teacher, and writing fiction is her passion.

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Writing Between the Lines

All Levels | In this multigenre workshop, participants will engage in a series of exercises designed to expand their repertoire of writing tools. Using prompts and inspirational models, this generative session welcomes those who are working in traditional forms as…

Course Type: 1 Session  |   Instructor: Elizabeth Rosner

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Start Date: 10/16/2019 – 10:00 am

Elizabeth Rosner

Elizabeth Rosner is a bestselling novelist, poet, and essayist living in Berkeley, California. Her first book of non-fiction, Survivor Cefé: the Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory, was published in September 2017. Her third novel, Electric City, published in 2014, was named among the best books of the year by National Public Radio. Her poetry collection, Gravity, was also published in 2014. The Speed of Light Rosner's acclaimed debut novel in 2001, was translated into nine languages. Short-listed for the prestigious Prix Femina, the book won several literary prizes in both the US and Europe, including the Prix France Bleu Gironde; the Great Lakes Colleges Award for New Fiction; and Hadassah Magazine's Ribalow Prize, judged by Elie Wiesel. Blue Nude, her second novel, was selected as one of the best books of 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Rosner’s essays have appeared in the NY Times Magazine, Elle, the Forward, and several anthologies; her poems have been published by Poetry Magazine, Catamaran, Poetry East, Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals. She travels widely to lead intensive writing workshops, to lecture on contemporary literature, and to visit with book groups. Her book reviews appear frequently in the San Francisco Chronicle. Website: www.elizabethrosner.com

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