Teaching & Speaking
Testimonials from Writers' Workshop & Conference Participants
SUSAN L. GOLDEN, Ph.D., participant in "Memoir Workshop," Summer 2018
"Understated. Nuanced. Deft. Scott Lax personifies the quiet virtues of the region in which he grew up, and to which he has returned to practice his craft and share his wisdom. Reading Lax's novels, one hears echoes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald -- the writing spare and economical.
"Just about the only hot air to be found in the quaint Western Reserve village Scott calls home is in the dozens of balloons launched at the annual Blossom Time celebration in May. Scott's workshops are focused, his coaching unassuming and encouraging. His gentle wit and constructive comments make working with him a pleasure."
PETER HARDIN-LEVINE, participant in "Manuscript Workshop," Summer, 2018
"I attended Scott's Creative Writing Workshop in the summer of 2018, and would highly recommend the workshop, as well as any course Scott teaches. Scott is remarkably knowledgeable and well read. He was wonderful in communicating insights and suggestions in a positive, encouraging way. He succeeded in keeping the class focused, motivated, and comfortable sharing our work, while helping us accept comments and criticism in a positive way. Scott clearly has extensive experience teaching in this area, as well as leading groups in productive sessions.
"Scott concluded this workshop with one-on-one sessions with each participant. That personal time with Scott was enormously helpful. He is generous with his time and a natural teacher. I would encourage any aspiring writer to find a way to spend time with Scott."
CHRISTOPHER BAKER, participant in "Manuscript Workshop," Summer, 2018.
"Scott's class was a great learning experience for me. Scott imparted much of his personal experience that I found very helpful. He kept the group focused, civil, and fun. Learning that he had faced some of problems that I had faced was greatly encouraging. I know the entire group enjoyed the class, because we all remain in touch. Thanks Scott!!!"
TYLER SOMERSHIELD, participant in "The Art of the Short Story," Spring, 2018; "Manuscript Workshop," Summer, 2018
"I attended Scott Lax's short story writing class and subsequent manuscript prep course in summer 2018. One is immediately impressed with Scott's pedigree as an accomplished author, screenplay writer, and instructor. His style and delivery in class do not disappoint.
"He blends effective anecdotes from personal experience, with excellent direction for a novice writer. Scott is very encouraging but dutiful to point out the work, effort, and even disappointment that most will experience in their pursuits. His life time process to become as recognized as he is, is well documented in Scott's relaxed but pointed instruction.
"I am most pleased to have attended his workshops which proved unquestionably to have been time well spent."
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ALETA CONTI, participant in "Manuscript Workshop," Summer, 2018
"I had thought about writing a book for sometime; the concept and introduction were clear, but how to tell the story was very abstract and my project never progressed.
"One day I received an e-mail from Fireside Book Shop introducing a writing workshop with Scott Lax, a local author. As is the premise of my non-fiction writing, people enter your life at a certain intersection to take you in a forward direction. I immediately signed up with an open mind and now a timetable to submit my work.
"Scott is a highly motivating, innovative teacher. What I enjoyed most was the supportive and collegiate nature he fostered in the workshop. Through the other attendees manuscripts, I learned about character development, writing style, showing and not telling. I received many helpful suggestions about my own work. If you are considering taking a workshop with Scott, don't hesitate. Not only will your expectations be met or exceeded, you will have a lot of fun."
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WILLIAM GREENBERG, participant in "The Art of the Personal Essay," Spring, 2018; "Manuscript Workshop," Summer, 2018
"I attended two workshops, practically back to back: the first on the Personal Essay and the second a Manuscript workshop. My goal for the class was to complete some essays that I had been working on. I have written poetry for many years, and know very clearly how to complete my poems, but an effective approach to the essay form was eluding me. I thought the class would help, and it turned out to be the perfect combination. In the first class, I had a chance to produce a work, present it to an audience, and then using their feedback produce a second draft, which in the Manuscript class I was able to present in a fuller and more finished form. The manuscript class included a personal critique from Scott.
"In the first presentation, I read my manuscript out loud to the group. This allowed me to experience what I had written almost as for the first time. I came up with some very useful new directions as a result of this. Though I've not yet published anything, my years of careful reading and writing made me perhaps less dependent on class opinion than some as I've already sufficient experience to make stylistic decisions on my own. Even so, I found it useful and important to have an audience to present to. As a final note, I also got a good perspective on my ability to critique, and where in the general spectrum my writing skills lie. All in all, it was a great confidence booster, and I would recommend the class unreservedly."
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DAN ANKER, PhD, JD
Associate Dean, CWRU School of Medicine
"During the spring of 2010, I had the pleasure of taking a seminar led by Scott Lax for my personal writing development. Scott allayed this adult but neophyte writer’s anxieties by providing an accepting spirit and a guiding hand. Our group of eight ranged from high school age to retirement age with writing projects as varied as industrial history, gothic horror, Christian themes, and literary fiction. Scott’s “Find, Translate, Shape” writing method spoke to us all. With his good humor and easy manner, Scott instantly created a warm writing community among our group, but make no mistake he also gently criticized, improved, and directed. I have no hesitation in strongly recommending, no matter the stage your writing development or type of project, any writing experience that involves Scott Lax."
MICHAEL FERRARI, two-time student of Scott Lax and the author of BORN TO FLY, winner of the 2007 Delacourt Yearling Award for middle grade fiction. His novel has been critically acclaimed by Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus Review and Booklist:
"Scott Lax is a gifted teacher and writer who manages to bring knowledge and sensitivity to the critiquing process. His insights and commentary foster a nurturing environment within which noticeable creative progress can be and is achieved. The number of returning students who repeat his workshops is a testament to his skill and appeal as both an instructor and purveyor of the written word."
LAKHPREET PREETI GILL, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
"Scott Lax is an exceptional writing teacher, attributed I would say, to his varied life course. His past as a musician and businessman make him entirely accessible in real world terms. You feel a comfort and connection such that opening up about your story is all the more easy. His current post as an accomplished writer, journalist and playwright gives you that equal comfort and connection as you progress through the class and your writing. Scott has volumes of experience for any stage of writing, genre or style. This well-rounded background makes for a personable experience and warm class atmosphere where you are guaranteed to have more than a few key takeaways for your writing piece."
MARK C. BROWN, Ph.D. Chagrin Falls, Ohio
“I had just begun a second nonfiction book when I joined Scott’s writing workshop. The timing turned out to be perfect. Not only were the classes enjoyable and interesting in their own right, they proved an investment with an immediate return in terms of my new work. I found Scott to be informative, authoritative, nurturing, encouraging, and unselfish and open in his approach to teaching. I highly recommend enrolling in his classes.”
JENN MONSTATA and ZOE NEMETH:
"We took this class to jump start our writing process and it was more than we could have ever asked for or expected. Over the course of the six weeks, not only did we gain confidence in our writing, we had the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with various writing styles as well as meet a GREAT group of people. This class is great for all writing levels, and helped us to bring out the creativity that we had inside. Scott took the time to accommodate everyone in the class and gave sincere critiques to each piece submitted. We would recommend this class to anyone with any interest in writing. We can't wait to take the next class."
MILLIE HAYMAN, Solon:
“Scott's workshop was just what I needed to jumpstart my writing again. He is a great teaching coach encouraging the writer to find their own unique voice. His vast knowledge if the written word is impressive and helpful to the aspiring writer. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and highly recommend it to anyone from the beginning writer on up. I learned so much from the class and look forward to taking more workshops from Scott in the future.”
AMY SIMONSON, Solon, Ohio:
“I recently participated in my first writer’s workshop. Fortunately, it was led by Scott Lax. At first I felt anxious about sharing my work with a large group of people, but Scott put me at ease. I didn’t feel judged or criticized—something I think most of us writers fear—and I believe it’s due to Scott’s laid back demeanor and class structure. Scott is an accomplished author who makes time for those of us trying to find our way in the literary world. He is supportive, encouraging and approachable and he found something of value in every piece of writing submitted during the workshop. I left feeling respected as a writer and motivated to complete my novel. If you’re interested in learning more about your writing self and you’d like to add more implements to your ‘writer’s toolbox,’ I’d highly recommend Scott’s workshop. The experience will only enhance your writing and will change you for the better.
HENRY "WOODY" NEEDHAM, SPARTANBURG, SC 2007
“My meeting of Scott Lax was a sheer accident, one that needed to happen. During 2007 and in my 75th year, I finally decided to learn how to write and enrolled in Wildacres, a wonderful weeklong summer workshop in North Carolina for writers who want to be authors. Scott was my instructor and he had to wrestle with ten students whose only commonalities were the English language and a wannabee desire to be published.
“The sum of this excellent experience was a salient epiphany which brought me through the lifetime night of literary darkness into the light of understanding who I was, as author, and who I was not—that I was not the story, not even the subject of the story but rather the caring, nurturing, objective person who creates characters who, in their turn, actively struggle through a theme’s plotted events to resolve the conflict that afflicts them with dramatic effect. In so doing, they reveal the story told.
“’SMDTM,’ Scott scribbled on the blackboard. As though transformed by time into a soft drumbeat, “Show me, Woody; don’t tell me” still rumbles in my ears. Another tidy piece of advice rings as true in my mind today as a fresh shout of artistic warning: “Thou shall not use an exclamation point more than twice in an entire novel.
“Wow! That’s my witness to the Scott Lax ability to subtly inspire, which is far more than teaching a subject. Though separated by a thousand miles and three years, he continues to guide me—and I ain’t re-writing my story, neither!”
DEBBIE LAMBROSE, (evaluation 33.5 out of 35):
“Scott’s mastery of the subject and his ability to teach is rivaled only in his compassion and understanding of his student’s needs. Great class! His empathy as an instructor is a great thing. I’ve had unapproachable instructors before. I really looked forward to classes and am sorry they’re over.”
ALLISON REKER (evaluation 35 out of 35)
“The course was wonderful! Enjoyable, informative and motivational. I want to go back over my finished work with a new eye now. I feel that my writing has improved because of this class. I only wish that it could have been longer.”
ANDREW GARLISI, Feb. 2009 (evaluation 35 out of 35
“Can’t wait for the next advanced fiction course!”
PAIGE PRATT (evaluation 35 out of 35)
“Scott created a very supportive environment, which allowed participants to take risks in sharing their writing. He gave specific feedback to everyone.”
ANGELA NESTOR (evaluation 35 out of 35)
“I felt very comfortable. The class exceeded my expectations. I would like to take another workshop with Scott I enjoyed this one and got a lot out of it.”
BILL DIESING, Feb.2009 (evaluation 35 out of 35)
"The seminar/ class was more than I expected. Never having attempted to write before, I had no preconceived notions. The positive comments and suggestions helped give me confidence to at least try my hand at writing. The group approach was fun and informal. I hope to continue if Scott puts a sequel class together."
MIKE KRIEGER, Streetsboro, OH
"I’ve taken several writing classes in the northeast Ohio area. I found Scott’s class to be the most helpful class to improve the quality of my writing. Scott’s flawless approach makes this class unbeatable. He knows how to bring out the best in all his students. I kid you not, when I make this analogy. Having Scott on your side is like having Michael Jordon on your team. He brings out the best you have to offer. As an example, in one of the first classes he asked us, “Do you have any specific trouble areas in your writing that you would like me to address?” Even if you don’t know what weaknesses or strengths your writing possesses, Scott will find both and help to correct, improve, or acknowledge those areas. He does it in a way that inspires confidence and a hunger to put pen to paper. If you are serious about writing, take Scott’s class, you will be very glad that you did."
PATRICIA A. BOHNERT, Sagamore Hills, OH
“I was apprehensive. I had never attended a writing class before but I met Scott Lax at a local writer’s conference. That brief meeting encouraged me to sign up for his class. I hoped to gain insight into the world of writing, pick up a few techniques and see if my manuscripts (and I) could stand up to criticism. If he had started out at the first class to teach us just an established method of writing, an idea that was successful for another writer, I learned much more. I learned how to listen and hear the distinctiveness of other author’s voices. I learned that writing could be a business. I learned why he is so successful. Scott Lax cared about every piece of writing we submitted.”
LESLIE WAKE, writer and musician, author of "The Beat Goes On," an essay in the new book, "Letters to My Mother: Tributes to the Women Who Give Us Life and Love"
"Scott is inviting, articulate, inspirational, and supportive. His class helps you think about specific creative problems. He not only helps you with discovering your own voice, but he helps you experiment with structure and revision. His class stimulates your imagination and increases your technical know-how. If you are curious about writing, or intimidated by a blank piece of paper, this class can serve as your scaffold."
BILL BUCKHOLTZ, Mayfield Village, Ohio.
"I’ve taken four of Scott’s classes in fiction and nonfiction, and he’s given me a lot of help, motivation, encouragement and direction. He has a gift – he knows writing, but more importantly, he knows people: that's the gift. He made each of us feel special and unique, as well as making writing magical and real at the same time. He allowed me to be myself, whoever that is, but now I am writing!”
POLLY HANDY, Providence, R.I.
"As a newcomer to the area, I was interested in trying something new and meeting people, so I took 'The World of Fiction.' Originally I was unsure of myself and my writing abilities but was quickly put at ease by Scott's very supportive and encouraging approach. Scott is the antithesis of the lofty snobbish writer. His innate creative talents are readily apparent, and he shares them willingly, yet he is very approachable. His constructive criticism is offered non-judgmentally and he is able to push his students to dig a little deeper creatively. He deftly brought us together as a group. Our last class was an incredible culmination of the six-week course. As we all read our final pieces, we were amazed and impressed with how far we had come in a very short time. Scott's gentle leadership facilitated that growth. It was a terrific opportunity for self-expression and self-discovery.
CHARLOTTE HARRIS, Newbury, OH
"Scott's class is the perfect format for people like myself, who have always wanted to write but haven't had the confidence. The classroom setting is casual with open discussion about the impact of each individuals work with emphasis on personal revelation. Scott's encouraging feedback spotlights your hidden strengths and nurtures your personal style so with each class your creative output is heightened. He makes it his goal to help you find your own voice. Scott's accomplishments as an author and playwright make him a rare treat to have within our reach as an instructor."
TODD PALMER, Bainbridge Twp., Ohio
"I was very pleased with Scott Lax's class "The World of the Novel." As a lawyer, I spend a lot of time writing, but I've never considered myself a writer. I have no experience writing any sort of fiction and am not a reader of fiction. I can't identify why the course offering in the Fairmount catalog caught my eye, but it did, and I'm glad for that.”
KIM WOOD, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
"As a fiction novice, I found Scott to be the ideal teacher. He is very approachable, without pretense, and does a great job creating an atmosphere in which there are no dumb questions.
“The class revolves around a series of very attainable writing projects -- short assignments that can be done in an hour or less -- which are then shared with the class. Scott delivers praise and criticism in just the right measure, and his criticism is truly constructive, designed to help you do better the next time, and not designed to show off how great he is or how much he knows. The feedback from other students -- and the opportunity to hear and review their work -- is also a valuable part of the class. Scott fostered a sense that we were all on a shared journey, with each of us (including him) there to help the others. Scott supplements that group learning and discussion process with lecture on the craft of writing fiction, but without taking too much time on technical elements which could, in themselves, be the subject of an entire class.
"In short, I found the class very worthwhile. Perhaps most importantly, at least for me as a novice, I not only gained the sense that ‘I can do this,’ but also a sense of 'I want to do this.'" - "I didn’t know if I would benefit from Scott Lax’s 'World of the Novel' or not, having never taken a fiction-writing class before. To my surprise and delight, I found myself looking forward to each class and eager to tackle the assignments.
"Scott quickly established a rapport with the class, creating a supportive, collegial environment conducive to creative wing-walking. He offered encouragement, practical tips, and a simple but vital foundation in the essentials of quality fiction writing. I now approach my writing with a deeper insight into how to shape my own amorphous notions into resonant fiction.
"Scott’s conviction that words matter is both infectious and inspiring. I took something valuable from each class and each assignment. And it has definitely improved my fiction writing."
HEATHER HALL, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
"Scott Lax's Creative Writing Workshop was inspiring and thought provoking. Not only did it encourage me to start writing regularly for the first time in years, but it also motivated me to start working towards my M.A. in Creative Writing."
IRENE J. DOOLEY, Cleveland, Ohio
"Scott Lax shares his experiences and skills in a creative writing workshop that inspires original thinking and self-expression. He knows that creative writing is less a skill that is taught, but rather, it's a vision that is shaped, crafted, and honed. With his natural conversational style, he creates a comfortable environment in which imagination flows. He shares tips, tools, and references that enlighten writers of every level and genre – from novices, such as myself—to previously published writers of all ages. He encourages dialogue that produces an imaginative environment in which ideas are exchanged freely. After attending his class, I gained the confidence that led to writing my first published feature story in Cleveland Magazine and subsequent freelance assignments. If you aspire to write professionally, or you simply want to tap into your creativity with the written word, Mr. Lax will help map your course as you navigate the world of story-telling."
BILLY NARDI, Cleveland, Ohio
"Finding this workshop will ignite your writing life. Put yourself in my shoes: After learning the rules of fiction and brilliance of expressing what's in my heart, I am ready to take writing to another level. I look at where I was before entering Scott's workshop and where I landed. It's definitely more than worth it, no question. "
HALLIE BETH DURCHSLAG, Willoughby Hills, Ohio
"Scott Lax is clearly devoted to the craft of writing, and this devotion shines in the classroom. Each student, regardless of previous writing experience, is treated with the utmost seriousness and respect, which is most likely the reason every member of the class can and does learn from one another. During workshop sessions, Scott use's his own experience and examples from the multitude of literary sources he brings to each class to make teaching points apropos to each and every one of his students, no matter whose piece is being showcased. I took a course with Scott just as I was beginning to contemplate taking my writing more seriously. His confidence in me, his confidence in everyone in that class, was contagious. It was his confidence in me that first gave me confidence in myself."
BRUCE CORSON, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
"Scott Lax taught us to 'write for smart people.' What great advice-save words, paper and ink, cut to the bone, and make your writing even better. It's no coincidence that, in a parallel life, Scott is a drummer. Drummers hear the rhythm, create the beat and lead the music. Scott's writing, and the writing he teaches, creates a natural rhythm, a voice reflecting the music of life, of reality. Whatever your experience, you'll come out of Scott's course a better writer."
MARK DOERR, Moreland Hills, Ohio
"I am so pleased I decided to participate in the Scott Lax Writing Workshop. Writing is truly an emotional and personal experience, and Scott did a remarkable job of teaching and guiding each of us as we strived to discover our unique writing voice. Whether you are a published writer or a curious novice, I would highly recommend this course to anyone who is serious about exploring the world of creative writing and editing."
“Kudos to Scott Lax for providing a supportive, helpful environment for beginning as well as highly accomplished writers! Scott framed all classes with focused topics, and set the tone for friendly, constructive feedback. In our workshop, we had diverse projects and voices, and Scott managed to create an open and comfortable environment for all participants. A useful, and most enjoyable experience!”
SHEL MARIE SMITH, South Russell, Ohio
"There wasn't a moment when I didn't want to pay attention in Scott's workshop. It was fun, and it was a class I really understood. It gave me a chance to express my creativity (I've done creative writing all my life), and I was able to hear what others thought of my writing. The class was also nice and laid back, but I also learned a lot. I'd like to take more classes like it, or even take this one again."