Master Class Retreat Series

Master Classes combine Hedgebrook's retreat experience with the unique opportunity to be in residence and study with a celebrated teacher on beautiful Whidbey Island.


Creative writing workshops in a diversity of formats and genres are offered to women writers at all levels of experience. Participation in each class is limited to 6-8 writers, to ensure individual attention, and create an intimate, supportive writing community.


Master Class experience: We offer a variety of classes to suit writers at different levels of experience and phases in the writing process. Some are generative, designed to inspire new projects or breakthroughs in your process, while others focus on craft or developing a project already underway. Over the course of the week, teachers give generously of their time: leading a series of writing workshops, talks on craft and constructive group feedback sessions, meeting one-on-one with each writer, and sharing evening meals with the group. Writers also enjoy time in retreat to write and rejuvenate. 

Retreat experience: Each writer is housed in her own handcrafted cottage in the woods. Delicious meals are prepared by Hedgebrook's chefs, featuring produce harvested from our organic garden. Our land features beautiful wooded walking trails, ponds and meadows teeming with wildlife, nearby Double Bluff beach, and breathtaking views across Puget Sound, with Mount Rainier in the distance. While the setting is rural, nearby towns offer shops and amenities.

Please note: Each Master Class has a priority deadline listed below, and classes often fill with a wait list. Applications are reviewed by Hedgebrook staff and teachers on a rolling basis, so we strongly recommend interested writers apply by or before the priority deadline.


If you have questions about whether a specific Master Class is appropriate for you or your project, or any other question about the Series, please be in touch with us at 360-321-4786.


>> Click here to read about our accommodations.



2014 Master Classes



Wrestling with the Problem Child

Karen Joy Fowler

Dates: June 16-23, 2014
Every work of fiction has its 'problem child'the section or issue that you just can't figure out or make work. It's easy to get stuck, or try and ignore it all together. But sometimes, digging in will unlock new ideas that deepen your story and round out your characters. This class is for fiction writers with projects already underway. We will be looking at a piece of your own work10 to 25 pages wortheither your opening or a section that is causing you particular problems. Although we will address the usual suspectsplot, structure, prose, character, setting, etc.--the class will be designed around the specific  issues each writer in the class is currently facing. To this end, it will be most helpful if you come with a clear sense of what your personal goals for the week are. The daily schedule will include talks and workshop, as well as time to write. 

Karen Joy Fowler has had her share of "problem children" to contend with in her work, and she's discovered that wrestling with them has been rewarding and fruitful. A prolific cross-genre writer, Karen has produced beloved works of fiction and science fiction; most recently the stunning We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves released in 2013 and hailed by Barbara Kingsolver as "...a novel so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get..." Previous works include Sarah Canary, Sister Noon and The Jane Austen Book Club, and several short story collections, including What I Didn't See. Learn more at

Priority deadline: May 12, 2014

Fee: $2400 (Covers lodging, meals and workshops; all taxes included. A portion is tax-deductible, and payment plans are possible. Please note that we are unable to offer financial aid or scholarships for this program, since it provides a vitally needed earned income stream for Hedgebrook.) 



The Story Beneath Your Story

Hope Edelman

Dates: October 27-November 3, 2014


Creative nonfiction writers face two essential tasks: First, to tell the story of action, and second, to tell the story of change and growth over time. That second story is the one that conveys the author’s larger message, elevating her experiences from the unique and personal to the universal and shared. It reveals what your narrative is really about. But how do we extract that deeper message from a story? How might we articulate it to readers in a meaningful way? And how can we expect to achieve this, if we haven’t yet discerned what that larger message is?

As Vivian Gornick has emphasized, what happened to an author is not what matters. What matters is what the author makes of those experiences. This class will help you figure out what you make of your own story, and then give you tools for sharing these insights with readers. Together, we’ll identify the underlying themes and archetypes of your nonfiction narrative.  We’ll also explore how to create passages of reflection and analysis that will resonate deeply with readers. Come to this workshop with pages you’ve already polished, or first-draft work, or a story you’d like to begin. Plan to share what you write during the week, and to give to other students as much as you’ll receive in return.

Hope Edelman is the author of six nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, and The Possibility of Everything. Her books have been published in 17 countries and 11 languages and have almost a million copies in print. Her most recent book, the bestselling Along the Way, is a collaboration with the actors and filmmakers Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez about their 50-year father-son relationship.

An expert in the field of early mother loss and mother-daughter relationships, Hope speaks at venues and conferences all over the world and has appeared frequently on television, including Today, Good Morning America, CNN, KTLA, CBC, and Good Morning Australia. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour, Child, Self, Real Simple, and Writer’s Digest and she is sought after as a personal essayist whose work has appeared in many anthologies.

The recipient of a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a master’s degree in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa, Hope is a member of Northwestern’s Council of 100, a group of 100 notable women alumni that mentors female students and recent graduates. She was recently inducted into the Medill School of Journalism’s Hall of Achievement, an honor reserved for fewer than 1 percent of the school’s graduates. Equally committed to helping motherless families and emerging young writers, she has been a board member of PEN USA, Motherless Daughters Inc., and Motherless Daughters of Orange County, as well as an Advisory Board member at Mommy’s Light.

Hope lives in Topanga Canyon, California, with her husband and two daughters. She teaches writing at Antioch University-LA year round, and at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival every July.


Priority deadline: September 15, 2014

Fee: $2400 (Covers lodging, meals and workshops; all taxes included. A portion is tax-deductible, and payment plans are possible. Please note that we are unable to offer financial aid or scholarships for this program, since it provides a vitally needed earned income stream for Hedgebrook.) 


 Application coming soon!


Our six hand-crafted cottages–Oak, Fir, Owl, Cedar, Willow and Waterfall–were designed by architect Chuck Dougherty, who worked with the Amish in Pennsylvania. While all the cottages have a similar design, they are built of a variety of woods and have unique color schemes and furnishings. Stained glass windows, pottery sinks, and other features were designed and crafted by local artisans. 



Each cottage has an upstairs sleeping loft with a hand built double bed, lamps, rocking chair, chest of drawers, and a small closet. With advance notice, it is possible to accommodate a bed downstairs for those who don't feel they can climb the ship ladder to the loft. The main floor has a work area with ample desk space, a sitting area with window seat looking out into the woods, and a comfortable, overstuffed armchair. Bookshelves have space for the writer’s personal library, as well as a cottage journal in which each resident is invited to make entries during her stay. With entries dating from Hedgebrook’s genesis in 1988, the journals are the cottage’s living legacy–and a way for writers to connect with those who have come before, and those will come after her stay. 

A small half-bathroom and a fully equipped efficiency kitchen finish out the main floor. All cottages have electricity and are heated primarily by wood stoves. Writers share a centrally located bathhouse equipped with two showers, old-fashioned bathtub, two sinks, drawers for each cottage, heated floors and a washer/dryer. 

The historic Farmhouse is the center of the Hedgebrook community, where residents gather for dinner at a table overlooking Deer Lagoon and Puget Sound. All meals are prepared by Hedgebrook’s chefs, using organic food from our garden and local farmers. The Farmhouse living room, with a library full of Hedgebrook writers books, serves as a gathering place for residents to converse and share their work.