Sarah Van Arsdale has an uncanny ability to illuminate craft issues in exciting, accessible ways. When she talks about setting, for example, it’s literally possible to picture new ways to incorporate this element into our stories. When she discusses point of view, the camera lens zooms in and pans out. Character development and I interrogate my protagonist in deeper ways. I am always awed by the breadth and scope of her literary knowledge. No matter the subject, she always has a perfect quote or example to illustrate.
She is insightful, incisive, and supportive, addressing all levels of a manuscript, from overall structure and thematic content down to word choice and syntax and everything in between. I delight, too, in her ability to discuss both product and process. She is a whiz at the mechanics of good writing while also honoring the mysterious art.
Even when a writer is struggling, Sarah offers no prescriptive or rote answers; instead she helps the writer realize their own vision for a piece. She can read in a text the author’s latent intention – even if it’s so latent the writer can’t quite name it herself yet! In a way, she helps decipher what’s on the page already and push writers to the next level.
---Sion Dayson, prize-winning author of As a River
Sarah Van Arsdale is amazingly thoughtful, supportive, and rigorous. My writing improved immensely under her expert eye, and no matter how vulnerable I felt about the work I shared with her, I always knew she was on my side.
---Gabriella Souza, writer and editor, winner of the 2020 San Miguel Writers' Conference Writing Contest
Sarah Van Arsdale is that remarkable person who teaches fiction as well as she writes it. From the start of my time as her student, I knew I was in capable hands—she is a role model as an author, a tactful critic as a teacher, and a skilled mentor for those of us starting out and daring to navigate the stormy seas of publishing today.
---John Treat, author of First Consonants, forthcoming from Jaded Ibis Press