First Thoughts: A Generative Fiction Workshop with Lena Valencia

Thursdays, September 28th-November 2nd

Meeting Time: 7pm-9pm

Location: In-Person at One Story in Gowanus, Brooklyn

Price: $400

Member Price: $350

Waitlist only. Please email to be added.

“First thoughts have tremendous energy,” says Natalie Goldberg in her book Writing  Down the Bones. This generative fiction class will harness that energy through a series of guided exercises, craft lectures, and readings designed to help you create first drafts and build out works in progress. With limited take-home reading and exercises, this class is ideal for writers of all skill levels who have busy schedules and would like to build in some productive writing time.

Sharing exercises out loud is an important part of this class, and  while we will be discussing your in-class writing, all feedback will be limited to positive feedback. The goal of these generative sessions is to get words on the page and to guide writers toward expanding their drafts should they decide to revise them on their own time. You will leave the class with a notebook full of first thoughts and writing prompts to revisit whenever you feel stuck.

This class is designed with fiction writers in mind, but writers of creative nonfiction may also find the exercises useful.

The class will meet in-person in One Story’s office in Gowanus, Brooklyn on Thursday evenings from September 28th–November 2nd. The exact address will be shared before the first meeting.

Please note that while this is technically a workshop since verbal feedback will be given in response to the work students share out loud during our sessions, it won’t be quite as in-depth as in a traditional workshop model where students turn in work in advance of the class meeting and receive written feedback in addition to having their piece discussed in class. 

About Lena Valencia:

Lena Valencia’s fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter, Epiphany, Electric Literature, the anthology Tiny Nightmares, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2019 Elizabeth George Foundation grant and holds an MFA in fiction from The New School. She has taught writing classes at Sackett Street, Catapult, the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center, and One Story. Originally from Los Angeles, she lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is the managing editor and director of educational programming at One Story and the co-host of the reading series Ditmas Lit. Mystery Lights, her debut short story collection, is forthcoming from Tin House Books in summer 2024. For more information please visit

Course Takeaways & Schedule


– Simple prompts that can be used long after the class is complete

– Time to create new work in a supportive, low-pressure environment

– Opportunity to discover and experiment with new forms


The majority of class time will be spent on generative writing exercises: writing, sharing, and discussing them. There will be some time devoted to in-class reading of fiction, creative nonfiction, and craft essays. Most of the reading assigned outside of class time will be optional reading.


Week 1: Welcome & Course Expectations

Week 2: Character

Week 3: Place & Setting

Week 4: Research in Fiction

Week 5: Family Lore

Week 6: Revision

(subject to change)


Our classes are designed to be safe spaces for all who participate. One Story will not tolerate hate speech, bullying, or harassment directed toward instructors or fellow students, and reserves the right to remove participants who engage in such behavior from our classes.

Full refunds are available through September 20th. Partial refunds (50%) are granted if the class is dropped within one week of the class start date (September 21st through 27th). Payment is non-refundable on or after the class’s start date. For questions about the refund policy, or to receive a refund, please contact

We are unable to offer scholarships for this class.

If you have any questions, please contact