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Close Reading for Writers: Improve Your Writing from the Word Up, 6-Week Zoom Class, Starts February 7th, 2022
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Close Reading for Writers: Improve Your Writing from the Word Up, 6-Week Zoom Class, Starts February 7th, 2022

Unit price per

Begins Monday, February 7th, 2022

Class will meet weekly on Monday nights via Zoom, 7PM - 9PM EST

Open to All writers!

Any questions about this class? Use the Chat Button (lower left) to talk with us.

Taught by Lisa Levy, a contributing editor to Literary Hub and a founding editor of Crime Reads, this class is all about reading and writing.

In an ideal world, we would have the leisure to read whatever we want. We could wander from a chilly Scandinavian thriller to an account of how economic policy reflects and reinforces racism in America to a cutting British satire—no one does cutting satire like the British—to a true crime book written about a string of murders in contemporary Tokyo. Then, perhaps, a dip into a meticulously researched and reported account of the opioid crisis; a memoir about an enchanted Hollywood childhood; or an exploration of Celine Dion and style; or some hardboiled noir and #ownvoices romance novels. Are you tired yet?

These are real books, but you could just as easily choose your own reading adventure. What do you like—or love—to read? Why? What draws you into a piece of writing, and what keeps you flipping pages? It’s essential to answer these questions as you to learn to read like a writer.

How do writers read? Writers look at readings like mechanics look at engines, or butchers look at a side of beef. They want to figure out how something works, so they take it apart. As writers, we don’t need knife skills or a license to operate heavy machinery. We will use words to break down the ideas in our readings, and we will discuss the process of how writing is made at the word, sentence, paragraph, and form levels. Reading this way will teach you how to be a better reader. And this wholistic approach to reading will also make you a shrewder editor of your own work and a better critic of others’.

Each week is organized around an issue in constructing a text. Readings will include work by Hilton Als, Lydia Davis, Janet Malcolm, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Zadie Smith, and Maggie Nelson. Though our emphasis is on reading, writing is one of the ways we can understand how a piece works. In that spirit you will submit short pieces which your classmates will critique.


"I came into my three-month mentorship program with Lisa with very tactical expectations, and left with so much more as a writer. I had three essays I wanted to work on, and I hoped that Lisa could help me prepare them for submission. Not only did Lisa provide me with guidance and edits on those pieces, but she helped me become a better and more serious writer, in multiple ways. She helped me build a rich and regular writing practice, she guided me through the ups and downs of writing, she made excellent and inspirational book recommendations that nourish my writing life, she helped me set ambitious and attainable goals as a writer, and she exposed me to resources, templates, and strategies for the publishing side of things. I got so much out of our time together, and would highly recommend Lisa to anyone looking for guidance, excellent edits, accountability, and someone who will support you as a whole writer." -Julie L.

“Lisa Levy was one of my first freelance editors. She's sharp, savvy, and easy to work with, an editor who can help you shape your writing and guide you through the ins and outs of the publishing world.” -Steph Cha, author of Your House Will Pay, editor of Best American Mystery Stories

"Working with Lisa Levy is rewarding and inspiring. She keeps me focused, productive, and up-to-date on the latest publications in my areas of expertise. I recommend her without qualification as a mentor and writing coach." -Amy Stambach (author of Faith in Schools and Lessons from Mount Kilimanjaro)

“Lisa Levy is one of our foremost critics and writers about the culture. She has a nose for the latest trends and when I read her stuff I always come away impressed by her street smarts.” -Adrian McKinty, author of The Chain and the Sean Duffy series

"I really loved the course. You get out of it what you put in. My instructor, Lisa, required a lot of readings, and you obviously don't have to do them, but the whole point of doing one of these is to learn by doing the work. If you don't shortchange yourself, these can really be a great avenue to get feedback on your writing. 10/10 would do again." -Dustin H.

“I’ve worked with many editors and Lisa is up there with the best. Her feedback helped me finally see how to fix an essay I've been wrestling with for over a year. My future work will also be stronger because of how she highlighted some of my writing "bad habits," along with strengths I hadn't noticed before. Her editing style is clear, straightforward without being abrupt, and always productive. My biggest takeaway from the experience is that Lisa genuinely loves reading and working out the puzzle of making work the best it can be on its own terms.” —Sara B.

"Lisa is really very good at pop culture. And she's wonderful at pushing you in a good direction without really telling you where to go. A gentle nudge that gets you thinking, basically, and then you're off to the races. I would highly recommend this class if you have any interest at all in pop culture writing." -Rachel H.

“Nothing gets by Lisa. She is precise in her naming of voice, style, and literary device etc.; she inspires me to be just as careful/open-eyed in my close reading and critique. At the same time, she is a generous conversationalist. Lisa buoys all student-perspectives, and invites nuance in the interpretation of readings--even those she's taught for years. It is clear that Lisa lives what she teaches. A book/author recommendation to help mentor your personal writing-passions and pitfalls is always on the tip of her tongue--just ask! She is committed to helping her students pursue a sophisticated reading and writing life--one in which we observe the world critically, make original connections, and hone our distinct voice. Lisa is a swift, clever editor of works-in-progress. She helped me re-see my essay draft on both the macro level of narrative structure/organization, and on the micro-level of sentence configuration. She will help you 'Kill Your Darlings' without killing your self-esteem/ in the most freeing of ways. Lisa is a generous communicator outside class hours (book recommendations, personal writing advice, tech-support, etc).” —Martha K.


This class meets weekly via Zoom and also uses our online classroom Wet Ink. Lisa will get you all the details after you enroll. Come prepared for a super fun class with live interaction on Zoom each week and plenty of writing, reading, and talking!

You can pay for the course in full or use Shop Pay or Affirm to pay over time with equal Monthly Payments. Both options are available at checkout.
  • Instructor: Lisa Levy

  • Class size limited to 12 writers

  • Class Starts February 7th, 2022

  • Course is fully ONLINE.

Instructor Lisa Levy is a writer, essayist, and critic. Her work has appeared in many publications, including the New Republic, the LARB, the Believer, the Millions, the Rumpus, TLS, the CBC, and Lit Hub, where she is a contributing editor. She is also a columnist and contributing editor to Crime Reads. She has an essay in the collection Talking About Pauline Kael and one in the forthcoming anthology Dating & Sex: The Theory of Mutual Self-Destruction. She is pursuing an MFA in nonfiction writing at Goucher College and working on a collection of linked essays about chronic illness and cultural ideas about life narrative, progressive time, and futurity, as well as a critical study about women and crime fiction. Aside from reading, writing, and squeezing in some reality TV, Lisa collects all sort of things: MOD dresses, varieties of Cadbury Dairy Milk bars, etiquette books, dated essay anthologies, Lilli Ann coats, and old copies of the Partisan Review. She posts a dress of the day on social media; Instagrams her night reading; eats her chocolate and loves her coats (none of which are really warm enough for Canada). Lisa moved from New York City to Toronto in the summer of 2019. She lives with her husband and their Basset hound, Daisy, in the Leslieville neighborhood in Toronto. She considers herself an amateur Canadian. Read her work here.

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