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Yale Writers' Workshop 2024 Course Descriptions

On-Campus Workshop June 1 - June 8

In the on-campus Workshop you will participate in workshops, lectures, individual conferences and readings intended to broaden your understanding of the craft of writing. This is an immersive experience on Yale’s lovely New Haven campus. The writing conversations extend from the classroom to the dining hall. Visiting faculty will deliver craft talks to all workshop participants. Because we write to be read, we will have panels of agents and editors to provide insight into the publishing process and the realities of the writer’s life. Writers are invited to participate in open mics and a formal reading of their work. During the session, faculty will hold half-hour, one-to-one meetings with participants. Plus, participate in an experiential writing adventure.

Virtual Workshop June 9 - June 15

The one-week Workshop is intended for writers concentrating on a specific genre. Over seven days, you will meet in a seminar with fellow writers, led by a faculty member established in the field. The seminar will include exercises and readings as well as discussion of student work with eye toward revision. During the week, faculty will hold half-hour, one-to-one meetings with participants. Plus, the one-week workshop includes an agent panel and meetings for writers with completed manuscripts! You are invited to participate in open mics and a formal reading of their work.

Workshops 2023 

  •  Children and Young Adult
  •  Short Story/Novel Excerpt
  •  First Ten Pages
  •  Personal Essay/Memoir
  •  Write Here, Write Now

Alumni Workshop: Work-in-Progress Intensive June 1- June 15

Offered for YWW alumni only, this two-week workshop allows alumni to work with an instructor on a work in progress.

It was really great! Through the daily craft talks, I learned so much about the writing process of writers of all styles and genres. In my workshop with Anne, I had a lot of fun with her writing exercises and prompts. I also really enjoyed getting to know my fellow writers.

The workshop was wonderful and I felt my writing improve immensely over the week. Jotham was a great teacher and his feedback was clear and concise, which made it easy to grow as a writer.

Fiction

Sybil Baker

In addition to workshopping each participant’s story or novel excerpt, we will also have mini-craft sessions, where we work on and discuss issues such as reading like a writer, dialogue, scene building, as well as short story and novel structure and development. We’ll also work on writing exercises and revision strategies to take with you after you leave YWW. Short stories and novel excerpts are welcome.

Jotham Burrello

Read, Workshop, Revise, Repeat. A writer’s workshop is a laboratory to experiment and take risks on the page. In this seminar writers will complete assigned craft exercises and read stories prior to arriving in New Haven. During the first three sessions the group will discuss submitted manuscripts, journal, daydream, and then dedicate time to revision exercises and craft discussions, with a special emphasis on characterization and voice. Writers will leave with a revision strategy for their manuscript, and a toolbox of techniques to help write the next one. Short stories and novel excerpts welcome.

Molly Gaudry

For this workshop, you may submit a wide range of fiction forms—traditional short stories or novel chapters, stories toward a novel-in-stories, interconnected flash fictions, flash fictions that stand alone, even fragmented or braided narratives. Submit a manuscript of up to 4500 words, and plan to read and discuss a variety of published works as models for your own revisions. You will leave our time together eager to get back to work on your own revisions, able to apply knowledge and skills developed at Yale to your future writing projects, and with a clearer understanding of the functional relationship between form and content.

Jennifer Maritza McCauley

In this short story workshop, group members will read contemporary short fiction and craft essays that address memory, point of view, character motivation and plot. They’ll also share their work with peers and learn about revision strategies and new approaches to the short story form. Workshop members will hone their creative voices in a fun, productive and collaborative environment.

Amy Shearn

In this class, we'll study the art and craft of fiction writing by examining published works as well as the writing of students in the class. Every writer in the class will submit a work of 4500 words or less -- a short story or an excerpt of a novel -- and we'll workshop these with an eye towards voice, style, story, character, and the more ineffable qualities that make writing truly great. You'll come away with a clear plan for what comes next for this piece and your writing life in general.

Non-fiction

Mary Collins

Use the power of literary nonfiction to process your life, your ideas, and our changing society. This workshop will highlight fundamental storytelling techniques, the unique challenges you face when writing about yourself (and people you know!) and how to control voice (including humor). We'll workshop your submission but also your revision in a quick-paced, high-energy environment. The course can accommodate students working on book-length memoir or narrative nonfiction as well as those new to the form and experimenting with the art of the essay or short pieces of nonfiction.

Lisa Page

"Journalism is about the facts. Fiction is about the truth." This quote has been attributed to Ernest Hemingway who was both a journalist and a novelist. Creative nonfiction is about the facts AND the truth and this creative nonfiction workshop will focus on craft, language, the essay, memoir, and more, with exercises designed to generate new work.

Intensive

Kirsten Bakis

This unique two-week workshop is designed for writers working on book-length material. The cohort of just eight writers will meet and write together for two weeks. This program is open to YWW alumni only.  In week one, writers will critique 7000 words from their fellow writers’ manuscripts. Exercises and readings will be assigned prior to arrival. Week two will be generative, a mini-retreat if you will, with writers developing new material, and reading back at least 1500 words in session. The cohort will meet virtually to discuss progress, and strategies to completing confident first drafts.

Sergio Troncoso

Our Work-in-Progress Intensive Workshop will focus on a detailed review of fiction and nonfiction manuscripts that are part of book-length work, including novel and memoir chapters, short stories and essays, and other fictional and nonfictional narratives. Writers will receive practical critiques to create tailored strategies for rewriting and restructuring their work. The class will work collaboratively on exercises to sharpen writing skills as well to create new work. We will examine what makes a great sentence and paragraph, and consider narrative voice, narrative suspense, and metaphor. As homework, we will also be reading accomplished writers to study their craft. Our goals? Dedicate ourselves to creating a community in the service of the writing craft, while all workshop members receive the individual time and focus necessary to take their writing to the next level.

Write Here, Write Now

Patricia Ann McNair

Whether you are new to the writing workshop experience or are coming back to it after time away, the process-based activities in this course will help you identify and discover the stories you have to tell and to write. If you are eager to make new work or to reinvigorate on-going or left-behind projects, this workshop is for you. Drawing from memory, imagination, and observation, you will discover your unique material and a variety of ways of telling, structure, and form. And you will write! From autobiographical pieces to imagined new worlds, these explorations will feed the muse. Workshop members will receive an assignment to complete and email to instructor before the workshop begins. Time on campus will primarily be spent creating. You will write new pages and develop strategies to keep going. There will be NO critique of peers' work prior to arrival, although we will share new work for directed peer response. Open to all levels.

Children and Young Adult

Sarah Darer Littman

"Any book that can help you survive the slings and arrows of adolescence is a book to love for life.” Libba Bray.

In a supportive environment, you’ll be asked to get in touch with your inner adolescent. We’ll discuss Dr. Rudine Syms Bishop’s concept of providing young people with "Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Glass Doors”  and explore how structure, voice, point of view, pacing, and most importantly, authenticity combine to hook the reader. Participants in past workshops have continued to work together as critique groups, providing an ongoing source of feedback and encouragement.

First Ten Pages: Fiction and Memoir

LaTanya McQueen

The first five to ten pages of a novel or memoir often determine whether an agent, editor, or reader wants to see more of your work. Whether you are just beginning a project or revising the manuscript for the fifth time, chances are your first ten pages could still use revision and feedback at the sentence and content level. In addition to getting feedback on your own work, we will look at openings of published novels and memoirs, and discuss what makes those openings work. Both genres share many successful craft fundamentals. We will also spend time in class sessions discussing and applying revision strategies for the beginning of your work.

Personal Essay / Memoir

Mishka Shubaly

We understand fiction to be made-up and nonfiction to be true. But any linear narrative is a human construction, as life explodes constantly in all directions. Any first person narrative is a distorted, imperfect retelling from one limited perspective. To make it more confusing, Grace Paley's fiction and Lucia Berlin's autofiction overflow with truth while Mary Karr's and Harry Crews' memoirs seem too wild or too evocative to be true. Where's the line? How much can we get away with? How can anyone tell “true” stories? This workshop will locate the emotional heart of your narrative, then identify and amplify the truth that spills from it. We’ll be aided in our quest by readings across genre, songs, jokes, and other real-life texts.

Short Stories / Novel Excerpts

Louis Bayard

I sometimes liken the writer’s workshop process to poking your head under the hood of the car (something I would be helpless at doing in the real world) and getting the engine to run. The engine in this analogy is the story, and the mission is to make the story hum and sing. That's my way of saying I'm not an academic or a theorist, but I'm ready to roll up my sleeves if you are.

Christina Chiu

Every writer knows a story needs a beginning, middle, and end—what we refer to as the ARC of the narrative. But what does that mean when it comes to your particular story and how do you build that arc? We will discuss character and how to use different elements of fiction (dialogue, point of view, setting, etc) to construct scenes that build upon each other, propel the narrative forward, and finally land at what feels like an inevitable and resonant ending. In this online class, you will share chapters or stories in progress to be critiqued in workshop. You will also hone your intuition and learn to trust your writer-editor self in the revision process.

Ethan Rutherford

“The two things I want are interesting language and genuine feeling.” Amy HempelIn

This workshop, open to all forms of fiction, our questions will be: what makes this piece successful?  What makes it interesting / compelling / unique?  What choices is the author making, and to what effect?  We’ll focus on style and structure, look closely at the way language is mobilized, how characters are created, how voice is deployed. Generative writing exercises and revision strategies will be incorporated in every session. The point here is to not only get you writing, but to help you become a better, more thoughtful reader of your own work.

Write Here, Write Now

Emily Barton

This generative course will help you jumpstart your writing through a series of low-stakes and playful writing exercises. These encourage your imagination, fine-tune your observational skills, give you puzzles to solve through writing, and offer opportunities to try new forms. The goal is to help you stretch your voice and the ways you tell stories, as well as to offer possibilities for inspiration and exploration. We will not submit and read work in advance, or give or receive critique. Instead, we’ll focuses on writing together, building a creative community, and sharing the results of exercises. Participants will become adept at asking each other the kinds of “Yes! And . . .” questions that can help a creative project get rolling. This class is equally suitable for beginning and experienced writers, and for those working in fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid forms.