I teach . . . Creative Writing, not because I “know it all” but because 1) I believe it is a responsibility of the thoughtful and well-practiced of ANY endeavor to “pay it forward” and not hoard knowledge, 2)  though it may be self-serving, I experience a deeper awareness and even new insights every time I explain any concepts and 3) it is just plain fun to infect others with my enthusiasm for writing!  There is almost nothing as exciting as seeing or reading the comprehension of a student!

2020 Teaching Schedule

Mar 2-29               Nuances of Dialogue, Savvy Authors

Jun 1-26                Fictional Characterization, NEORWA Chapter

Jul 6-Aug 2           The Business of Writing, Savvy Authors

Nov 2-Dec 4         Evolving Story & Character from Life, Savvy Authors


If you wish to contract Sally for any of the listed offerings either on-site or on-line, please send a message to [email protected].

In the more than 25 years Sally has been teaching both on-site and on-line, she has reached over 5,000 students.  Below is a list of 36 courses that she can present either in multi-sessions over a few weeks on-line or in a 2, 4 or 7 hour on-site lecture format with student packets. Logically, the group fee per student is less.  Anybody wanting private on-line tutoring will be charged $120 payable in advance.  Sally is a professional writer first and a teacher second. 

She also contracts for editing (as her time allows) so you can contact her at [email protected] to discuss her current fee scale. 



Ever wanted to translate an interesting story into a screenplay?  Sally Walker will teach you the essentials of Hollywood-style storytelling, characterization, formatting, novel adaptation, scene and beat construction, dramatic dialogue and bare-bones narrative.  Guidelines to marketing will also be discussed.  Lew Hunter, Chair Emeritus of the UCLA Film Department, former NBC Program Director and Emmy nominee, says “I consider Sally to be Nebraska’s authority on writing screenplays.”   


Novelist-Editor-Screenwriter Sally J. Walker will walk you through an 8-Session course on the fundamentals you need to understand BEFORE you actually tackle a romantic screenplay.  This is not a course on formatting, screenwriting technicalities, fundamental concepts of screenwriting or how to adapt your novel to a screenplay.  This is a course about “how to think” a romantic story in a cinematic structure.  From romance essentials through character casting to plot outline, this experienced screenwriter and screenwriting teacher can explain the mental tools you need to create your own screenplay.


“The more you know, the more you find out you DON’T know” is the adage driving this intense 12 week course taught by working screenwriter Sally J. Walker.  After a succinct review of screenwriting basics, eleven cinematic concept lessons will be examined as exemplified in eleven movie genres.  Some of the concepts are the do’s and don’ts of plotting, scene structure and sequencing, subplot development, characterization for Character Arc and casting, succinct dialogue, and importance of visuals. The essential needs of these genres will be outlined: Mystery, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Comedy, Juvenile, Horror, Romance, Western, Historical, Action-Adventure, and Inspirational. Exercises will motivate students to go beyond formula yet maintain appeal to audience expectations. Registrants will be given the list of 22 recommended films that should be bought or rented to participate completely in the course. Are they absolutely necessary?  No, but you will short-change your education by not analyzing them with the instructor. Exercises and assignments will allow the participants to step-by-step write their own screenplay by the end of the class (if they commit to the schedule).  By the conclusion of the course, participants will also understand the hows and whys of pulling elements from other genres to enrich a story for cross-genre appeal. 


Ever wondered how a cinematic story is supposed to work (and why some don’t)?  Why do some characters stick in your imagination for years? Let a professional screenwriter explain the basic story structure used by every film maker from the silent era through CASABLANCA to George Lucas’s STAR WARS right up to today.  You will then walk through a recent film and NEVER watch another movie the same!  


Do you have a novel you think would adapt well to a screenplay?  Have you ever watched a film version of a favorite book and come away annoyed at the changes and deletions?  This 8-session workshop will teach you the steps of adaptation necessary to transfer one medium into another Sally Walker has learned that landed her several adaptation contracts.  One session will be the analysis of the two successful adaptations that motivated her, THE EAGLE (2010) and THE LUCKY ONE (2011).   


In this hands-on course you will move from film structure to screenplay format, from cinematic characterizations to actually writing succinct snippets of dialogue that propel a story.  You will learn how to identify the parts of a scene then actually write one.  The course will end on the how-to’s of writing a one sentence Log Line and a one-page synopsis. In eight sessions (or one day on-site) you will glimpse and dabble in the fundamentals.   


Every storytelling/screenwriting guru has their own outline of how Beginning-Middle-Ending unfolds, naming necessary beats/events and identifying when they should happen.  The 16 lessons of this four week course will walk through the comparison-contrast of two: Blake Snyder and Christopher Vogler.  Who do you think will dominate enough to work for you in YOUR process?



From a passionate and multi-published poet you will learn how to free your soul to the sound of your own language through the fundamentals of poetics.  The jargon of poetry will become your tools for identifying exactly what you want to say when molding word sounds to touch your listener’s soul.  And you will learn to become your own best critic without destroying your creativity.  Whether you are a beginner or a totally objective, journalistic-type fiction writer, this is a course that will open your mind to new concepts of how to get the most impact with the least amount of vivid imagery. 



Examine your storytelling process from start to finish.  Whether you are a total “newbie” or an author of 30 novels, you can find tricks and processes that will challenge and freshen your productivity.  No one wants to be a forgettable copycat.  A change of approach to every aspect of your fiction writing may just be the spark you need at this moment in time.  Take the journey will multi-published Sally Walker in ten steps to creating a novel.


In a fast-paced, condensed style, this 8-session workshop will move through the fundamentals needed to plan and begin the novel writing process.  From a foundation of concept and purpose to succinct research methods to skeletal plotting via the paradigm to character profiling and dialogue exercises, the motivated writer will learn how to clarify a concept into vivid characters and enticing plot events.    


Every writer needs to study a variety of writing disciplines to evolve their work into the best it can be. Each form has a lesson to teach, from the vivid imagery of poetry to nonfiction’s required precision to the short story’s focus on a single-event in a complex life. Screenwriting can teach a fiction writer the value of tight narrative, carefully orchestrated plotting and multi-layered, crisp dialogue while focusing on story and character through visual imagery. You will be delighted to find this eight-lesson introductory course can “enlarge your territory” and take your storytelling skills to heights you never imagined.  


Your life is a rich resource for story and character, no matter your age.  This course will take you on the adventure of identifying unique and emotionally charged ideas from many different areas of your life, such as family, friends, acquaintances, media, work, the past and even books and movies. Exercises and discussions/feedback will motivate you to “What if” countless story possibilities to create fiction others will want to read.   


Learn the building blocks of fictional storytelling through brief lecture then writing exercises.  In this workshop you will practice how to plan story and prevent pitfalls, one page at a time.  You will discover the magic of successfully juggling main plot and subplot, Point of View, and the crisp pacing demanded in today’s fiction market.  You learn the “how to” of analyzing and achieving “Scene-and-Sequel.” 


Humans exist in varying states of anxiety allowing for survival.  This writing workshop of lecture and writing exercises will teach you how to identify stress and coping mechanisms in fictional characters that will create a marketable short story, novel or screenplay.  From envisioning those dynamic, vivid characters to screwing up a “normal day,” your imagination will be challenged to create material to enthrall your target audience.  


Mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, horror, action-adventure, inspirational, historical . . . any genre of fiction begins with the expectations of the readership.  This innovative workshop will examine genre criteria and teach you how to mix and match your characters and plots for cross-genre sales.  Let a multi-published author motivate you to move from simple storytelling to mainstream appeal to literary quality. (Note:  Can be presented focusing only on specific Genres as needed.) 


Riveting stories create an emotional response in the reader.  And there is no time of year with more potential of evocative material than the end-of-year holidays.  This workshop will challenge you to evolve ideas “ripped from your own life.” From the mundane to the bizarre, you will learn how to document memorable experience and “what if” your fiction for either a poignant or hilarious effect.    


Join Sally Walker in an intense 2-hour adventure that will open your mind and spirit to some concepts of creative writing WITH the Holy Spirit. You will discover a spirituality within that you never knew existed. Session one will introduce some fundamental writing concepts and challenge you to apply them to writing a personal prayer.  Session Two will introduce you to sharing for feedback that will free you to go out and continue the revitalizing process.  


ANY story can have romantic elements but the specialized genre of romance demands the evolution of pull-push attraction-awareness all the way to commitment.  Every person is on this earthly realm because of generations of relationships, so all can relate.  Sally Walker’s 12-session course will teach you how to meld those two concepts into the heightened dramatic context that incorporates unique characters, any story circumstance, and easily manipulated romantic elements—physical and emotional. You will learn the difference between a love story and a romance and between “sweet” romance and deliberate erotica. Sally also walks through the analysis of some of the genre’s best sellers to identify why they worked so well.  Whether you are looking for genre-specific guidelines or how to create cross-genre appeal, the perspectives of this course will grow your writing arsenal.  



Learning how to birth and flesh out truly fascinating characters.  From the principles of mythic storytelling and archetypes to the casting of genre novels, you will learn to write character history, dialogue, even body language that contributes to great storytelling.  


This workshop will examine all the facets of characters a writer can delve into in fiction, including .  psyche, personality types, anxiety coping mechanisms, life stages, character history, speech patterns, pacing of character revelation in plot events.  Participants are asked to bring examples of problems they are encountering in their own work, as well as samples of characterizations they truly admire for group analysis.   


This is an intensive workshop for writers who want to build on fundamental knowledge and hone their characterization skills. Each session will be divided into lecture on an aspect of fictional characterization, writing exercises based on the lecture principles then prompted discussion and feedback. Topics to be covered are 1) influence of backstory, 2) distinctive dialogue 3) using body language, 4) interaction with friends & foes, 5) internalization awareness, 6) problem-solving habits, and 7) growth vs. deterioration. 


Whether in prose or dramatic mediums, characters need to speak in a succinct, entertaining manner that moves the story forward. Inner character motivation and personality can be revealed through what is spoken and how.  This workshop will cover diction & syntax, concepts of multi-layered meaning, the difference between speech patterns of male-female speakers, influence of age-education-culture, how to control lecturing and argument orchestration.



Take this class from Sally if you want to learn how to plan the events of a story or massage the kinks out of a work-in-progress.  You will learn how idea, purpose, and characters create “What-if” lists.  Research, time line, subplots, suspense, pacing, problem-solving and fine art vs. commercial fiction will all be covered.  


In this class you will be challenged to walk through the plotting of a story.  Topics include: Clarifying the stimulating idea, identifying essentials of beginning, middle and ending, and how to make “What if” lists.  Using logic to your advantage you will get to insert characters into anxiety-causing moments caused by real life or historical events.  In the end you will learn what is dramatic and what is not.  Are you a storyteller? 


The Frenchman Polti analyzed the works of ancient Greece and Shakespeare then compiled a comprehensive list of 36 dramatic situations.  His theory proved “There are no new stories.”  The reference is to the basic dramatic situations of the human experience repeated down through the ages. And yet the reading public and Hollywood hunger for fresh new stories.  Or do they?  This workshop takes the writer through all 36 of Polti’s situations and explains how to apply, twist and spark every story and its characters into unpredictable freshness. You will also discover how to slant genre expectations and forge your own pathway to new storytelling heights.       



Learn the simple record keeping and professional business strategies any writer can utilize to translate a writing hobby into a writing business.  Whether part-time or or career-minded, every writer needs time-management skills, legal awareness and insights of IRS expectations to be identified as a professional. Sally Walker will share knowledge learned over 25 years experience as a multi-published author, professional editor and screenwriter.


Writing becomes a priority when a writer moves from dabbling as a hobbyist to the serious pursuit of a career with a list of credits. If that is your desire this course will walk you through the steps of self-examination to goal setting then task identification to time management. You will learn how to weave your creative writing into an already busy life style by manipulating increments of time into blocks of creativity with a few simple focus techniques.  Leave frustration behind as you turn possibility into reality.


Ignite your creativity by brainstorming a concept then learning how to evolve it into a nonfiction magazine article, a poem, a short story and a short screenplay. In this high-energy course, you will learn the succinct principles of each medium, do application exercises and discuss marketing possibilities.  Discover if you are a writer or work yourself out of a creative rut with multi-published author and professional editor Sally Walker.   


Writing professionally in the 21st century demands a writer be willing to learn, practice and market in a variety of arenas.  Learn how one idea can provide the springboard for a fictional story, a factual article or a multi-layered poem as it is examined from a variety of perspectives.  This workshop will discuss the expectations of various writing disciplines, the importance of focus, goal-setting and techniques in time management to allow for the learning curve, practice, brainstorming and marketing.  


Fiction is the telling of lies so credibly that the reader vicariously lives the story with the characters.  To be believed, a fiction writer has to sound authentic whether depicting period, place, people or circumstance.  One vague or inaccurate detail questioned by a reader cannot will shatter the illusion.  Let Sally Walker walk you through a succinct, time-saving research process that will allow you to come off like an expert!  


Plot events, characters and the solutions to problems with either lurk within the vast arena of research. Like the chicken-and-egg conundrum, you can learn how plotting and characterization can pin-point research needs, just as research can ignite your imagination melding research and creativity into one concept.  This 8-sesssion course will take you on a journey of problem-solving AND discovery.  


Titling a work is like naming a child because it acknowledges the unique dignity of that being to both the creator and the world. “Untitled” hints of disrespect and confusion.  Learn how to proudly give an identity to your creative work through five simple analytical steps then learn WHY you need a title for the world to latch onto your work in this workshop!  


This eight-session workshop will walk you through the most common grammar problems encountered by professional book editors, including passive vs. active writing, appropriate use of adjectives and adverbs, use of commas, variation of sentence structure, transitions between scenes, and shifting point-of-view.  How to develop your own “voice” will be discussed.  You will have exercises to immediately apply concepts and learn to use an assessment tool used by book editors.  


New writers worry about getting the first draft done while experienced writers want to know how to make the most of their precious writing time.  Both have mental habits that need to be overcome. Let this Editorial Director of a small publishing company with 25+ years of experience explain an 8-Step Process that can organize and retrain any writer to save both effort and time from the very beginning.


Do you have an outline or a short story you want to take to a novel?  Learn the four steps of how expansion is achieved through careful development of selected areas, NOT through simply inserting extraneous images, sentences and scenes.  Or do you have a spewed novel or short story that needs to be pared down to meet an agent, an editor or a contest’s guidelines?  Learn the four steps of how and where to cut away the extraneous material to create the cleanest, most evocative copy you can.      

IGNITE YOUR FICTION (with the Elements of Prose)

This innovative workshop will have attendees examining and WRITING succinct, vivid examples of Exposition, Description, Narration/Summary, and Action-Dialogue.  Each of these “Elements of Prose” will be dissected for what is essential for today’s sophisticated readers and the highly competitive fiction market.  The concept of pacing in character and plot will be stressed as well as development of the writer’s own “voice.” 


Literary devices allow fiction writers to manipulate language in a convincing manner that guides the reader. They cannot be blatant but must weave a flawless storytelling. This eight-part course succinctly examines the techniques of 1) General tools such as symbolism, allegory & analogy, exposition, description, prologue and epilogue, 2) Characterizing tools as action (body language), internalization, dialogue, and exaggeration vs. understatement,  3) Plotting tools such as suspense, foreshadowing, pacing, scene-sequel, goal-motivation-reaction, and 4) Language tools such as subjective vs. objective style, imagery, simile, metaphor, irony, and juxtaposition.  


Not a writer alive likes to summarize their novel or screenplay, YET a synopsis is vital to marketing.  Agents, editors, producers are all too busy to turn each page of your masterpiece, unless your synopsis so intrigues them they can’t help but read your material!  This workshop will teach you how to build one that will suck them in and hold their wandering attention. March through the seven steps of “Synopsis Thinking” and learn to master what everyone else hates! 


Now that you have the rough draft of a novel done, how do you polish it into the diamond a publisher will want?   In this course you will dissect and rewrite, rethink and create, analyze and critique according to what a working editor expects.  You must have available TWO COPIES of your novel’s first three chapters, five different colored hi-lighters, a red pencil, and your burning desire to write the best story you can!  The final session will be practice in writing a succinct synopsis. You will also have an opportunity to pitch your novel to Sally, the Editorial Director for a small publishing house, The Fiction Works (Incorporated in Alaska).  On-site will be 1:1 interviews whereas on-line will be practice writing a query letter.