MESSAGE FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS
In addition to teaching at The University of Chicago Graham School and Story Studio Chicago, Sarah works as a creative coach and developmental editor.
Key characteristics of Sarah’s teaching style:
Sarah’s approach is flexible and intuitive. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her teaching style is informed by that foundation - but it is also based on her experience working hands-on with hundreds of writers, and her own experiences finding her voice.
Sarah tailors her teaching to students' individual needs. Some students choose to meet with Sarah weekly, some bi-weekly, monthly or as-needed. Her beginner-level students are working on honing elements of craft such as plot, dialogue, characterization, tone and structure. Her more advanced students are creating novels, memoirs, short story collections and essays.
Sarah is committed to writing as a tool not just for monetary gain but for internal healing. While many of her students have their sights set on publication, she also works with plenty of students who want to process through their feelings and find meaning in their live’s narrative.
Sarah also supports students in their professional writing goals. She nurtures students through the MFA application process, working with them to perfect their portfolios. She currently advises several students as they navigate the process of preparing manuscripts and querying agents. In addition, she consults, provide big picture feedback, and line level edits.
Sarah is an expert in writing for performance. With a background in acting, and as the founder of the Chicago Live Lit Series, Truth or Lie, she is also well-equipped to advise students writing for performance and storytelling.
Sarah is committed to working with young adults. As part of her teaching at Story Studio, Sarah runs an annual Summer Creative Writing Camp for teens and loves working one-on-one with kids to help them tell their stories.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with questions or for references. Sarah is involved and accessible and, through a combination of reading, editing, in person or phone meetings, and ongoing email correspondence, she can tailor a coaching relationship to fit your specific needs.
“Five years ago, I left the practice of law with the dream of becoming an author. I had written before, including a novel that languished on my computer, but I had very little real experience in fiction. I took a class with Sarah at the University of Chicago Writer’s Studio. She was practical and hands-on, orienting me to fiction-writing with ease, tactful feedback, and a true passion rarely seen in teachers. In an industry in which I had had a hard time finding honest advice, I finally had help and guidance! I went on to sign up for Sarah’s one-on-one writing coaching, one of the best decisions of my publishing career. Sarah taught me how to be a better writer and storyteller, on a book, scene, and sentence level by guiding me through amateur pitfalls, developing my skills and imagination, and honing my prose with a precise and practiced eye. I incorporated Sarah’s teachings into my writing, eventually signing with a top agent, Jennifer Weltz of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, before getting my book deal with a top five publishing house. All of this success would not have been possible without Sarah. She is a gem in the publishing industry, a brilliant teacher, editor, and coach. Highly, highly recommend!” -Olesya Salnikova Gilmore, Writer
“Working with Sarah has not only improved my fiction and essay writing, but helped me to commit fully to my writing practice. She is both supportive and honest, and she's repeatedly given me the guidance needed to take pieces from messy first draft to shiny, publishable stories. Can't recommend enough!”
—Sarah Gouda, Deputy Director of Speechwriting at Office of the Vice President of the United States
“I was middle-aged and hadn’t written since high school. I had things to say and wanted to learn to give voice to them. I took Sarah’s Basic Creative Writing Class. After class, I worked with Sarah one-on-one. Within in a year, I was a published—and paid—author. As I said to one of my classmates, Sarah is a low-key genius. She can simplify complex ideas so they seem obvious. In her coaching sessions, I become a better writer, learning what is and isn’t working but also why. When my writing is going well, I can hear her voice in my head: when and how to reveal points to the reader, what’s essential to tell, what isn’t, etc. I want to say also I wrote about suicidal thoughts, with which Sarah dealt with tact and sensitivity, while providing appropriate criticism. She’s also a supporter who tells me when something is worthwhile and encourages me to try to get it published.” —Micheal David Cohen, Chicago Writer