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Winter Quarter

Winter Registration Opens Nov 29
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CW 20 — Lessons in Conflict: Creating Drama on the Page

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Saturday and Sunday
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 2 days
Date(s): Mar 5—Mar 6
Time: 10:00 am—12:30 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Feb 26
Unit: 0
Grade Restriction: NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Tuition: $240
Instructor(s): Ellen Sussman
Limit: 21
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
Saturday and Sunday
10:00 am—12:30 pm (PT)
Mar 5—Mar 6
2 days
Refund Date
Feb 26
0 Unit
Grade Restriction
NGR only; no credit/letter grade
Ellen Sussman
Registration opens Nov 29, 8:30 am (PT)
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Most novels and short stories begin with conflict: someone wants something and they can’t get it. Whether they want eternal love or Olympic gold, their journey is fueled by their desire and then impacted by the obstacles that get in their way. Conflict, the essence of drama, draws readers into the story and keeps them turning pages. And yet, many of us have learned (or struggle to learn) to avoid conflict in life! How then do we, as writers, turn around and create drama on the page? If we are socialized not to “make a scene,” how do we do just that? In this course, we will focus on the ways in which we can generate conflict in our stories. Once we’ve found that juicy material, how do we intensify the conflict and keep our readers interested? We will examine internal and external conflict in character, the subtleties of conflict in dialogue, and the acting out of conflict in scene-making. And we will look at plot as the tool with which conflict builds until it reaches its climax. At the end of this course, students will have new skills that will enable them to “go big or go home.” They will know how to make their stories both more dramatic and more substantial, and they’ll embrace conflict as the driving force of a story.


Ellen Sussman is the author of four novels: A Wedding in Provence, The Paradise Guest House, French Lessons, and On a Night Like This. She is also the editor of two anthologies, Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex and Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. She has taught at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Rutgers.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.