This is a course with one simple aim:

To help fiction writers use their power as storytellers to support a more just and verdant world.

I know you feel it, every time you turn on the news, and every time you tune into your newsfeed—

The rage. The grief.

The sense of helplessness, when another woman comes forward with accounts of sexual harassment.

When another Black American is shot down by the police.

When another transgender person is brutally murdered.

When another species is pushed to the brink of extinction.

As a fiction writer, it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of injustice.

Easy to feel like your art doesn’t make a difference one way or another.

I used to feel that way too.

But then it occurred to me how many different novels had been banned in different times and places.

Novels like:

  • Isabelle Allende’s The House of the Spirits, banned in Pinochet’s Chile;
  • Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, which earned him a death sentence via a fatwa from the Ayatollah Khomeini;
  • and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was not only banned behind the Iron Curtain but dangerous (according to Czesław Miłosz) to even own.

Currently, we’re seeing efforts to ban novels like Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X, on the part of those who seek to deny the truths of racism.

If fiction doesn’t make a difference in the world, then what are all these people so afraid of?

I think they’re afraid of what Ursula K. Le Guin was talking about in her 2015 National Book Award acceptance speech:

“Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.”

The truth is, as storytellers, we actually have a great deal of power.

So this is my invitation to you here, today: to accept that power, and the radical possibility that it represents.

What difference could your story make, if you took that power seriously?
Register for Story Medicine, and find out

   "If you are a writer with a sincere desire to weave social justice issues and diverse characters into your fiction,  this course is highly recommended!"

- D.L. Diener

“I thought the course was just terrific-- light-your-work-on-fire inspiring!”

--J. Langdon

If You're reading this...

…chances are, you’ve been compelled to take a stand in your work—but something might be holding you back.

Maybe a story has come to you that really matters, but you're worried about whether it’s really your story to tell.

Maybe you’re working on a novel that grapples with issues of injustice, but you're worried about truly doing justice to it.

Maybe you’ve diversified the cast in your novel because you know that representation matters, but as you’re headed into the pitch process, you’re wondering whether you need a sensitivity reader—or two, or four.

If so, you’re in the right place.

I designed Story Medicine to give writers like you the clarity, confidence, and craft it takes to take a stand in their work, artfully and effectively, and to go forth into the world with it without fear—not years from now, but now.

Now Imagine...

Imagine how it feels to hold that book in your hands—your book, the one that takes a stand on the issues that matter most to you, in a way you’re truly proud of.

Imagine how it feels to have your novel be part of the emerging conversation on those issues in the media, in book groups, and in schools.

Imagine how it feels to receive letters from readers saying how much your work has meant to them, how much it made them feel seen and heard.

I know what that feels like too. Because that was how I felt when I published my first novel, Hot Season.

And let me tell you, it feels amazing.

Your journey toward that breakthrough begins when you register for Story Medicine, today.

“An invaluable how-to guide on conveying authentic emotion in fiction.”

- A.S. Gunn

“Getting all the feels from this Story Medicine course. I’m so glad to have found it!”

--E. Rice

About the course

Story Medicine: Better Stories for a Better World draws upon my background as an award-winning author of socially engaged fiction, and as a certified book coach and editor specializing in the same.

It also features in-depth interviews with four powerhouse authors and experts whose work truly exemplifies what it means to use storytelling as a force for change.

In this self-paced online course, you will learn:

  • How to write characters of races, cultures, and sexual orientations other than your own without falling into stereotypes, unconscious bias, and cultural appropriation
  • How to write about injustice, violence, and trauma without simplifying or glorifying it
  • How to engage with the issues that matter most to you in your work without coming across as preachy or didactic
  • How to engage with those issues by sharing the truths of your own life

In the process, you will gain:

  • More emotional power in your fiction
  • Stronger, more complex characters
  • Stronger, more affecting scenes
  • Clarity on why your story matters
  • Clarity on how to pitch your novel, in a publishing landscape increasingly focused on social impact

"I registered for Story Medicine and I'm LOVING IT!!! In fact, I submitted a short story for an anthology. The story is very strong because of your course. I'm proud of it and hope it gets accepted."

-K.A. Phillips

“I am finding myself bringing to light beliefs that I have about the world that I've never been able to express. You’re allowing me to see that that's exactly what I need to write about. That there are others who may see themselves in my work and be acknowledged. That my book may free them to go off and change the world in ways that I could not.”

- T. Thayer

Frequently Asked Questions

About Your Instructor

An American of Indo-Guyanese descent, Susan DeFreitas is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won a Gold IPPY Award, and the editor of Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin, a finalist for the Foreword INDIES. Her work has been featured in the Writer’s Chronicle, LitHub, Story, Daily Science Fiction, Portland Monthly, and High Desert Journal, among other journals and anthologies. An independent editor and book coach, she specializes in helping writers from historically marginalized backgrounds, and those writing socially engaged fiction, break through into publishing. She divides her time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Portland, Oregon.

Featured in Story Medicine

Reema Zaman is an award-winning writer, speaker, actress, screenwriter, and author of the critically acclaimed memoir, I Am Yours, and the forthcoming dystopian novel, Paramita. I Am Yours has been adopted into the curriculum of several high schools through an Innovation Grant from the Oregon Department of Education, and is being adapted into a movie. The New York Times states that "Zaman writes beautifully of the pain and frustration of being a woman in a man's world, an immigrant in a world suspicious of outsiders." Reema’s work has appeared in Vogue, Ms. Magazine, The Guardian, Salon, and other leading outlets. She was the 2018 Oregon Literary Arts’ Writer of Color Fellow and is currently partnering with the International Rescue Committee and Girls Inc. to serve crucial causes and empower the next generation of leaders.

Aya de León is the author of the Justice Hustlers series, which includes Side Chick Nation, winner of an International Latino Book Award. In 2020, Kensington published her first standalone novel, A Spy in the Struggle, about FBI infiltration of an African American eco-racial justice organization. Also in 2020, Aya published her first children’s chapter book, Equality Girls and the Purple Reflecto-Ray, about a girl who uses her superpowers to confront the president’s sexism. She directs the Poetry for the People program in the African American Studies Department at UC Berkeley, teaching poetry and spoken word. In 2021, she was a visiting professor in the graduate creative writing program at the University of San Francisco.

Jennie Nash is the author of ten books in three genres, including Blueprint for a Book: Build Your Novel From the Inside Out and The Writer's Guide to Agony and Defeat: The 43 Worst Moments in the Writing Life and How to Get Over Them. As a book coach, she has coached a wide range of writers through to publication, including KJ Dell’Antonia, author of The New York Times bestselling novel, The Chicken Sisters, and Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story and Story Genius. Jennie is the founder and CEO of Author Accelerator, a company that trains and certifies book coaches.

Lidia Yuknavitch is the national bestselling author of the novels The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children, winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award's Ken Kesey Award for Fiction as well as the Reader's Choice Award, the novel Dora: A Headcase, and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories Of Violence (Routledge). Her widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water was a finalist for a PEN Center USA award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award and the Oregon Book Award Reader's Choice. The Misfit's Manifesto, a book based on her recent TED Talk, was published by TED Books. Her latest collection of fiction, Verge, was published by Riverhead Books in 2020. She founded the Corporeal Writing Center in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches both in person and online. She received her doctorate in Literature from the University of Oregon.

“Thank you so much for this course! I got so much out of it.”

- B. Necessary


There will always be a reason to put off working on your novel, but the time for action is now.

I’m calling on you to believe in your work, and to believe in the difference it could make in the world, by registering for Story Medicine, and joining the Story Medicine Community, today.