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Virtual Event Virtual Event

MASTERCLASS | Brave Words: Sentence, Scene and Story Craft from Shakespeare

June 29 @ 12:00 pm - June 30 @ 3:00 pm EDT

Virtual Event Virtual Event

  $225 (early bird) | $250 | Fiction, Nonfiction & Playwrights

LIVE ON ZOOM |June 29th and 30th, 12-3 pm Eastern 

“I’ll call for pen and ink and write my mind.” – Henry VI, part one 

We know and love the plays. We remember the painful process of thumping out iambic pentameter on our desks while someone mispronounced the words in freshman English. But Shakespeare has so much more to teach us as writers.

Long before The Summer I Turned Pretty, Succession and Saw, William Shakespeare wrote hilarious rom-coms, families backstabbing as they schemed for power, and slasher-worthy violence. His plays feature powerful female characters, tension-filled scenes, and guilt-conjured ghosts (just like memoir!). The Bard’s twisty plots, often “ripped from the headlines” of his time, or retellings, use humor, innuendo, and direct address to the audience as co-conspirators to generate the kind of engagement we all want from readers. What we now consider “classic” and “sophisticated” was driven almost entirely by the need to sell tickets and please patrons—writing for a lively, consumer-driven medium. This incredible blend of vivid language, compelling hooks, and above all, captivating story, is what every writer needs in their own work.

Join classically-trained actor and former professional director for the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Allison K Williams, for two afternoons of exploring traditional writing techniques that are still startlingly relevant—and will cast new light and spark new life in your own prose. 

Includes writing exercises throughout, to try out new methods.

No previous familiarity with Shakespeare is needed to enjoy this workshop (but you’ll also get a list of great movie versions and modern retellings for further exploration and fun!)

We’ll explore:
  • Thesis/Antithesis (“to be or not to be”) and how arguing deeply with oneself drives personal and character narrative.
  • Theme and Motif: how to establish a key concept driving your story and show it through images, actions, settings, and dialogue.
  • Simile and Metaphor, Allusion and Imagery—which one to use, when, and why? How the best figures of speech have double meanings for the reader, working both within the story and within the reader’s world.
  • Make the problem worse! How character drives of passion and foible increase reader engagement through tension and produce exciting conflict
  • The Right Word in the Right Place to discover the power and beauty of your own voice on the page.
  • The Speed of Thought—how punctuation shows emotion and heightens your sentences, from lowly comma to the excitable em dash.
  • How to create action (with minimal stage directions), emotions (with minimal telling), and relationships by showing through dialogue.
  • Rhythm—the heartbeat of your story in scene breaks, sentences, and structure.
  • Magic and Ghosts: how the moment of “perhaps” brings hope and the power of compulsion drives despair.
  • Bringing YOU to the page and how reader awareness of your current situation heightens the drama of the past (with an intriguing example from an unusual production of Titus Andronicus)
  • How actors approach scripts and the tools that writers can use for tone, meaning, and intention.
  • Shakespeare as the ultimate “show and tell”– how word patterns, alliteration, and rhythm combine to make the reader feel.
This course is ideal for…
  • Novelists and memoirists eager to deepen their craft and ready for a challenge.
  • Shakespeare-lovers who can’t get enough.
  • Shakespeare-haters who want to know what all the fuss is about.
  • Writers who know their work gets better when they practice specific techniques.
  • Wordsmiths who want a refresher and new exploration of figures of speech, line rhythm and how words, punctuation and sentence structures create deeper meaning.
  • Creative writing students and graduates of MFA programs who want to expand their writing craft with conscious practice.
  • Developmental editors who want to grow their knowledge of sentence-craft and words-as-words and better communicate that knowledge to their author clients.
  • Memoirists and novelists who want their scenes to open with metaphorical trumpets and close with the feeling of a thunderclap.
  • Writers of all kinds who want to spend an afternoon with fellow word-lovers, writing joyfully into new ideas.

Closed captioning is available. ✔

Think you might miss part of the class? No worries, replays will be available.


Allison K Williams

ALLISON K WILLIAMS holds an MFA in Playwriting from Western Michigan and a BA in Directing from Eckerd College. A classically-trained actor, she’s appeared in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Puck), Love’s Labours Lost (Lady Katherine), and twice in Macbeth (title role & witch/murderer). Direction/fight choreography includes Macbeth for the International Thespian Festival, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Jenison Theatre and Dubai’s Shakespeare Under the Stars; A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Harrison Arts Center and Rollins College; and Romeo and Juliet for Jenison Theatre. She’s also the playwright of Postcards from Shakespeare, Mmmbeth, Hamlette and Drop Dead Juliet! (one of Dramatics Magazine’s Top Ten Most Performed Plays in American High Schools 2006-2010)

As Social Media Editor for the literary magazine Brevity, Allison inspires thousands of writers with weekly blogs on craft and the writing life. She leads the Rebirth Your Book writing retreats and co-produces CRAFT TALKS with Sharla Yates. Her favorite Shakespeare is Titus Andronicus, and boy, does she have a story about it for you.



We understand that life can get in the way of your plans. We want you to be able to get the most out of your course, and our refund policy is designed to balance your need for flexibility with our deadlines and obligations to our teachers.

Before the first class, you may request a refund (less a $25 processing fee).

Please keep in mind that no refunds or credits will be issued after class begins.

Questions? Please email


Zoom Meeting


Allison K Williams
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