Four Elements of Writing

Some of writing is learning how to do it; much of it is learning what not to do. This course will explore elements of both as they relate to the mechanics of the sentence, the blight of cliché,  the uses of metaphor, and the consummation of style. 


The Sentence

“To persever in obstinate condolment is a course of impious stubbornness” is, more or less, the same as saying: “Stop whining and get over it.” The former is Shakespeare; the latter is what most of us would say. The difference between them is a matter of mechanics. This class will explore these mechanics – propositions, clauses, modifications – and situate them as the fundamental levers of composition.



Cliché is the ultimate enemy of us all – of clarity, of effectiveness, of originality, of style, and of much else. Learn to identify and to best this pernicious scourge that stalks the discourse and haunts our thoughts. Remember: it never, ever rains cats and dogs. (Except when it does.)



No concept, no word, exists alone. They all operate in relation to each other and metaphor is the blood of this dynamic symbiosis. Always in motion, metaphor is simultaneously a sum and an aggregate of innumerable parts. The sinew of cognition. The elixir of composition. This class will illuminate the symbolic topography upon which all creation rises.



“Most thinkers write badly because they communicate to us not only their thoughts, but also the thinking of their thoughts.” Nietzsche said this, and he was correct. Style obtains when we relinquish our hesitations and presuppositions and write as we truly are. Style is the elusive sine qua non that cannot be taught, but which can be learned. What, precisely, does this mean? –asks the wordsmith. The writer in each of us answers: come and see.

Thursdays :: May 23rd - June 13th :: 7 - 8:30

4 sessions :: $100

This course is taught by Ryan Block.

To register for the Four Elements of Writing

please email or call us

About this teaching artist:

Ryan Block is the executive director of The Republic of Letters. He has an MFA in Creative Fiction from The New School in New York and a BA in Politics, Law, and Society from Simon's Rock College of Bard. 

The Republic of Letters NFP

RoL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization

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Geneva, Illinois 60134