826 offers free workshops to elementary, middle, and high school students that provide in-depth writing instruction in a variety of areas that schools often cannot include in their curriculum, such as writing college entrance essay writing, cartooning, bookmaking, SAT preparation, writing a play, or starting a ’zine. All workshops are project-based and are taught by experienced, accomplished professionals. Connecting inner-city students with these creative and generous mentors allows students to dream and achieve on a grand scale.

Here’s a sampling of workshops we have offered at our sites:

Writing Horror and Dark Fantasy
Taught by Michael Chabon
Limited to 15 students, ages 15-18

The literature of horror, violence and the grotesque has an honorable and ancient history reaching all the way back to the Bible and beyond, but it’s getting harder for young writers to find a place to learn the demanding craft of writing horror fiction without finding their work censored, banned outright, or even prosecuted as “dangerous.”

The idea of this workshop is to create a space in which writers who feel drawn to writing horror and dark fantasy can follow the impulse to “go dark” without worrying too much about freaking people out or getting into trouble. The emphasis will be firmly on the tradition, from Poe and Lovecraft to modern masters like Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite and Stephen King, and on the craft that writing horror shares with all other genres—on questions of tone, plot, setting, character, language, point of view, etc.

Words in Music: A Lyrics Writing Workshop
Taught by Michael Hearst and Rick Moody
For Students Ages 12-16

Have you ever wondered what it takes to write lyrics to a great song? Regardless of whether you are a virtuoso pianist or hopelessly tone-deaf, with this workshop, author Rick Moody (Demonology/The Black Veil) and musician Michael Hearst (One Ring Zero) join together to help you put your words down on paper and hear how they can come into melodic life.

Comic Book Writing
Taught by Jenny Traig
Limited to 15 students, ages 7-14

826 Valencia’s comic book class continues, with even more boredom-banishing power. Students will learn to write and draw their own comic books and will get their work evaluated by a professional cartoonist. We'll cover the history of the form and the fundamentals of composition and story development. There may be costumes and guest speakers. There will definitely be chewing gum. Fun will be had by all.

Sportswriting: The Life
Taught by Jason Turbow and Sam Silverstein
Limited to 10 students, ages 14-18

Sportswriting is a noble profession, with a long history. It’s also a pretty cool way to make a living. This workshop will address the specifics of how to report and write a sports feature story. It also will depict the life: what sportswriters do, and what kinds of jobs exist for people who want to stay in the game. Class 1: Interviewing, finding an angle, and preparing to put something on the computer screen. Class 2: A visit Pac Bell Park for pre-game interviews, just like the pros do. Class 3: Read, re-write, polish, publish.