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TESS courses and syllabi are tailored to each year’s cohort. In 2023, we followed the structure below, which may be amended for 2024. Each day included at least one guest discussing an aspect of writing, from craft to publishing. Days ran from 9am-5pm, with a literary event one evening during the week, hosted by our bookstore partner Twenty Stories.

Monday: Beginnings

Why do we write? Who are we writing for? What is a narrative, and why is it important? And how do you get started—from practical issues to methods of bringing readers into your work with an opening page that makes them want to keep reading.

Tuesday: Living Beings

Today through Thursday we talk about the stuff in the middle of most long pieces of writing: people, places, ideas, things, and beings other than people. First up is how to write characters. Are you a character? How can you find people to animate your narrative? What tools—interviews, archives, experience—bring a person on the page to life?

Wednesday: Places & Ideas

Where does your work exist? Are there particular places that are key to the argument, mood, or context of your writing? Is the place a character? What is a scene, and where does it happen? How do you write about things that can seem abstract—capitalism, say, or modernism—in ways that make them part of your narrative?

Thursday: Non-living beings

How do you bring entities beyond the living into your narrative—from processes like erosion or an element like copper? How do you express technical information within a narrative, and make it compelling to readers?

Friday: Endings

How do you know when to end your story? Today we talk about writing endings, and what comes after—including guest talks from publishers & agents.