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Speakeasy Workshop: This Will Be Character-Building

Join Rebecca Makkai for an intimate workshop designed to help you write an original short story or the first chapter of a novel or memoir — or to continue work on one in progress. In each session, Rebecca will teach a different aspect of writing craft: backstory, motivation, dialogue, and character evolution. This event has four sessions.

E. M. Forster wrote that “incident springs out of character, and having occurred it alters that character.” How do we create characters who will both cause interesting things to happen and be changed by their world? How do we get a whole lifetime across without an awkward backstory dump? What differences should we consider when crafting characters for novels versus short stories? How can a memoirist get real-life characters onto the page?

This workshop is designed to help participants write an original short story or the first chapter of a novel or memoir — or to continue work on one in progress. Participants will work on their projects outside of the workshop sessions.

In each session, Rebecca will teach a different aspect of writing craft. (In our four sessions, we’ll focus on backstory, motivation, dialogue, and character evolution.) There will be discussion of what we’re writing and what we’re reading, but sessions will primarily focus on Rebecca’s craft lessons. Because you won’t be workshopping each other, this class will be a friendly and challenging learning environment for writers at all levels of education and experience.

?After the fourth session, participants will submit their projects (no more than 12 pages) to Rebecca, and she will provide feedback to each person in the form of a marked-up manuscript and a brief feedback letter.

Mondays: April 5 – April 26, 2021
5pm PT / 8pm ET – 90 min
Limited to 15 participants
$500.00 for all four sessions

Code of Conduct

We look forward to building an inclusive, supportive community of writers during our workshop and will not tolerate racist, sexist, or homophobic views. By signing up for this workshop, you’re agreeing to uphold these norms. Though we don’t expect this to happen, if someone violates these norms, they will be removed from the workshop without a refund.

Written feedback from Rebecca is contingent on the writing sample you submit being coherent. You don’t need to be an experienced (or published!) writer by any means, nor do you need to have perfect command of all aspects of English grammar, but your writing should be comprehensible.

on April 5 2021· Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Unabridged Bookstore Presents: Zak Salih’s Virtual Tour for “LET’S GET BACK TO THE PARTY” in conversation with Rebecca Makkai

It is 2015, weeks after the Supreme Court marriage equality ruling, and all Sebastian Mote wants is to settle down. A high school art history teacher, newly single and desperately lonely, he envies his queer students their freedom to live openly the youth he lost to fear and shame.

When he runs into his childhood friend Oscar Burnham at a wedding in Washington, D.C., he can’t help but see it as a second chance. Now thirty-five, the men haven’t seen each other in more than a decade. But Oscar has no interest in their shared history, nor in the sense of be­longing Sebastian craves. Instead, he’s outraged by what he sees as the death of gay culture: bars overrun with bachelorette parties, friends cou­pling off and having babies. For Oscar, confor­mity isn’t peace, it’s surrender.

While Oscar and Sebastian struggle to find their place in a rapidly changing world, each is drawn into a cross-generational friendship that treads the line between envy and obsession: Se­bastian with one of his students, Oscar with an older icon of the AIDS era. And as they collide again and again, both men must reckon not just with one another but with themselves.

Zak Salih lives in Washington, D.C. His writing has appeared in Crazyhorse, the Chattahoochee Review, the Millions, the Rumpus, and other publications. This is his first novel.

Rebecca Makkai will be joining Zak Salih to celebrate the release of Let’s Get Back To The Party.

To participate in this virtual event, sign up here. To purchase Let’s Get Back to the Party, begin an order here.

on March 4 2021· Tagged: , , , , ,

PEN Out Loud: Brandon Hobson with Rebecca Makkai

Flash sale until January 27! Use the code WINTERPOL for 50 percent off General Admission tickets.
The first 350 Admission With Book tickets will include a bookplate.

National Book Award finalist Brandon Hobson joins PEN Out Loud to celebrate his latest novel, The Removed. Weaving together multiple first-person narrators and Cherokee folklore, the novel tells the story of a Cherokee family 15 years after an unjust police shooting of one of the family’s three children. Hobson will be joined in conversation with Pulitzer Prize finalist Rebecca Makkai to discuss the novel and its “meditation on family, grief, home, and the power of stories on both a personal and ancestral level.”

This digital event will start at 8pm ET / 5pm PT.

Presented in collaboration with Strand Book Store and Scripps Presents.

Strand Book Store logoScripps Presents logo

ASL interpretive services are provided by ProBono ASL.


PEN Out Loud focuses on amplifying diverse voices and convening vital conversations with authors, poets, journalists, artists, and activists.

This winter, these conversations shift our focus inward, providing a necessary pause to examine who we once were, who we are now, and who we’d like to become. Following a fraught year in which we were challenged to reckon with our past, confront our present, and reimagine our future, we turn to literature to engage our minds and reconnect with ourselves—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Each event this season explores the core of our humanity, generously interrogating our understanding of—and capacity to experience—passion and desire, grief and resilience, nourishment and love, reflection and hope.

$20 General Admission*
* Admission with books, signed books, and bookplates available at additional cost.

on February 16 2021· Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

Virtual Book Launch Party: THE TALENTED MISS FARWELL by Emily Gray Tedrowe (Presented by Women & Children First)

Join Women & Children First for the virtual launch party for The Talented Miss Farwell by Emily Gray Tedrowe. For this event, Emily will be in conversation with Rebecca Makkai. This event will be streamed on Women & Children First’s Crowdcast channel.

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on September 29 2020· Tagged: , , , , ,

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