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Featured Online Writing Class

Writing with Transistions: How to Keep Readers Close By Moving Them Through Time and Space

WRITING WITH TRANSITIONS: How to Keep Readers Close While Moving Them Through Time and Space  by Sheila Bender

START DATE: Monday, January 9, 2023

END DATE: Sunday, February 19, 2023

DURATION:  6 weeks

LOCATION:  Private Google Group

FEEDBACK:  Detailed Instructor Feedback and Encouraging Peer Workshop

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  Writers often have trouble leading readers from scene to scene smoothly when it requires a change in time or space, large and small.

This class will concentrate on learning how to make those transitions in ways that do not jar readers but keep them engaged and well-grounded in essays, poems or stories.


  • To help writers find various strategies for avoiding excess exposition and bumpy transitions which slow their readers down.
  • To work on having images in the scenes do the work of transitioning in time and place.
  • To learn to avoid unnecessary impositions by the writer that call the readers’ attention away from scenes to a “hey, I’m writing this” message.

This has been the most wonderful and challenging workshop I’ve ever taken. You introduced me to authors, techniques and mind-blowing assignments. Before this workshop, I would have never thought of writing a memoir in an essay format. You taught me a very powerful lesson of how writing to myself through a historical figure (very mysterious) can heal the spirit within, softly approaching life’s most heart wrenching problems on paper. I can’t wait to sign up for another one of your thought provoking workshops online. ~ Cheryl Kesling

So many things about this class and your methods improved my writing. The reader response approach for feedback you suggest, where we tell the writer what feelings their words evoke in us along with questions that arise, provides a clear framework for critique. Your feedback on my writing not only encouraged me, but also provided specific ways to improve my technique. I was excited to try the prompts, which also gave me a sense of the many different approaches to expression, from writing "in scene" about why I am moved by a vivid memory, to a second-person narration in epistolary form, to prose poetry. I will benefit from your craft expertise and warmth as a teacher for time to come, and will definitely take another of your classes! ~ Marilyn Guggenheim

Thank you for your amazing insights and knowing just the right way to pluck at my threads to help me to open to the page. That in itself is a very rare and admirable art. ~ Cassandra Hamilton

Sheila, Thank you for another great writing course. I appreciated having the specific instructions each week and reading well-written models on the topic. And thanks for your invaluable feedback. ~ Debra Gilbreath

. . . 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

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’ve taken several classes with Sheila. Always, she’s provided generous support, great tips for writing skills, and the kind of encouragement that makes me want to write more. I look forward to the process of learning how to write better. I think due to her instruction, I am becoming a better writer. ~ Cassandra Hamilton

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

First, I just want to say thank you for this course. I began focusing my time on writing last fall, but found that I needed some guidance. I was looking for a new perspective, a container that would help to create a form for what I was trying to capture. You have introduced some new authors that will help me to move in new directions. ~ Debra Gilbreath

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: Getting Started
Participants will read from several published pieces (flash writing, poetry, and excerpts from longer prose) that succeed in their time and place transitions.

Assignment: The instructor will provide reading material both in posted documents and via online links for participants to access at no extra charge. We’ll discuss the authors’ strategies and how they work or do not work well via postings in our private Google Groups classroom. We’ll be looking for what makes them smooth and keeps the reader engaged and grounded in the story/poem/essay as it moves along and what disrupts that. Participants will write a scene inspired by any of the posted writing for response from classmates and the instructor.

Week Two: Using time-order transitions
We’ll “talk” via our private Google Group postings about words that help us make transitions in time without disrupting the reader’s sense of the story. We’ll practice with words that help us move our readers forward and back in time without intruding on the vivid quality of the writing.

Assignment: Participants will write two to four adjoining scenes from an exercise the instructor provides in which the time-order transition words are well employed. Then they’ll write the same scenes in a different time order. 2500 word limit. Classmates and the instructor will respond to the scenes and their reader experience of moving in time.

Week Three: Using Time Stamps
Sometimes the best way of keeping readers grounded and well-situated in a piece of writing is by using “time-stamps.” We’ll explore several published samples (flash, poetry, and excerpts from longer fiction) that use this technique.

Assignment: The instructor will provide exercises from which participants can choose to rewrite portions of older work by introducing time stamps or begin new work that employs a technique for making time transitions. Up to 3500 words.

Week Four: Moving through Small Spaces and Large Ones
Even the smallest of relocations—room to room, indoors to out, patio to backyard, for instance—require that the writer keep the reader from becoming geographically confused. And how do we jump over even larger areas to keep our narratives followable? Whether this is down the block or to a new city or country, from ocean to mountains there are skillful ways of bringing the reader along.

Assignment: The instructor will post published and unpublished writings with and without effective transitions through limited and larger spaces. Participants will discuss how the authors succeed in moving readers seamlessly. She will post two exercises that encourage participants to become adept at moving their readers through scenes that take place inside and outside both large and small spaces.

Week Five: Writing Lyrically Constructed Prose
How do we move through time and space when we are writing the lyric essay or book-length prose that requires we jump over white space without narrative help?

Assignment: The lyric memoir and lyric novels and essays are popular today. This week will feature samples from each of the genres, which participants will discuss. The instructor’s writing exercise will encourage prose or poetry writing or a mixture inspired by the discussed samples.

Week Six: Revision, Revision, Revision
Participants may take any of the pieces they have written and received responses to during the course and post rewrites of that work for more response about how smoothly time and space transitions are employed.

Notes: The instructor will post each of the six 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 and questions within 48 hours so the writer can get started on revising. The class will use a private Google Group, to which the instructor will provide access and help learning the ropes. Please provide a Gmail address for the classroom use.

Sheila Bender

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 newest book, Since Then: Poems and Short Prose will be available in spring 2022. 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 has presented at conferences and writers' centers including 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 the Kahini writing program's writer's workshops and served as a Distinguished Lecturer in Poetry at Seattle University.

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

BUY NOW:  Writing with Transitions, by Sheila Bender (6 weeks, starting January 9, 2023) Limit: 10 students. Early registration is recommended.

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

For Class Session Starting 1/9/2023


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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