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Summer Workshops for Young Writers

Part of The Center for Fiction’s KidsWrite programming, our Summer Workshops for Young Writers offer online courses in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction for ages 9-12 and 13-18. The workshops are led by highly qualified writers and educators with many years of classroom teaching experience. Participants will grow as writers in a fun and engaging environment and have the opportunity to share and perform their work online, leaving their workshops with a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment.

Each year The Center for Fiction offers KidsWrite Fellowships for young adults in need of financial assistance. To apply to be a 2021 Summer KidsWrite Fellow, please click here.

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Questions? Contact us!

Session I: July 12-22

Introduction to Writing the Short Story with Elizabeth Wetmore

Ages 13-18

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Introduction to Writing the Short Story with Elizabeth Wetmore

Ages 13-18

Together, we will develop a sense of the short story’s possibilities, from its initial shadowy impulses to its shapelier, more polished outcomes. We also will hone our skills in craft elements such as characterization, tension, point of view, setting and place, voice, and narrative structure, which are integral to deeply resonant literature of all shapes and sizes.

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Stand-Out Stories: Personal Essays for College Applications and Beyond with Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

Ages 13-18

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Stand-Out Stories: Personal Essays for College Applications and Beyond with Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

Ages 13-18

“Show don’t tell” is common advice for fiction writers, but it is key for crafting college essays, too! In this interactive workshop, students will mine their memories for vivid, sensory details that create an emotional connection with the reader.

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Supernatural Summer KidsWriting Workshop with Nancy R. Lambert

Ages 9-12

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Supernatural Summer KidsWriting Workshop with Nancy R. Lambert

Ages 9-12

As we write supernatural short stories, we’ll explore key elements of genre fiction, including character, dialogue, setting, and world building. Each session will include interactive presentations, story prompts, writing sprints, and opportunities to share our creative challenges and triumphs.

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Session II: July 26 - August 5

Creative Nonfiction for Teens with Porochista Khakpour

Ages 13-18

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Creative Nonfiction for Teens with Porochista Khakpour

Ages 13-18

Young adulthood is the ideal time to develop this kind of writing practice! This class is perfect for teens concerned about college or standardized test essays as well as those who simply want to expand their reading and writing life by looking at the diverse range of true stories all around them.

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Technicolor Zip: Literary Maximalism with Katherine Mayfield

Ages 13-18

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Technicolor Zip: Literary Maximalism with Katherine Mayfield

Ages 13-18

The focus of this class is literary maximalism: over-bright language, hallucinatory descriptions, excess movement, and vivid, hyper-sensory scenes. Students will draw, create collages, and participate in daily generative writing exercises to better explore these techniques, and to heighten vivid detail in their own work.

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Poetry Laboratory with Christine Gardiner

Ages 9-12

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Poetry Laboratory with Christine Gardiner

Ages 9-12

This two-week poetry intensive will empower young writers in the development of their craft. Through generative exercises, workshops, and one-on-one sessions, students will draft, revise, and polish a collection of poems.

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Session III: August 9 - August 19

Writing From Time: Documentary Poetry with Cheswayo Mphanza

Ages 13-18

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Writing From Time: Documentary Poetry with Cheswayo Mphanza

Ages 13-18

In this workshop, the aim is to explore how the writing of Documentary Poetry is about being in conversation with history as an act of engaging with the various possibilities tethered to historical events and people. We are going to create our own historical recordings as an interplay between creativity and what we presume to be facts.

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Stand-Out Stories: Personal Essays for College Applications and Beyond with Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

Ages 13-18

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Stand-Out Stories: Personal Essays for College Applications and Beyond with Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

Ages 13-18

“Show don’t tell” is common advice for fiction writers, but it is key for crafting college essays, too! In this interactive workshop, students will mine their memories for vivid, sensory details that create an emotional connection with the reader.

Learn More

Meet the Instructors

  • KJFitzsimmons

    Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

    Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons

    Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons is a writer, educator, and storyteller who lives in Astoria, Queens. Her nonfiction work has appeared in Human Parts, Marie Claire, and Hippocampus magazine, among others. Her most recent play, a superhero comedy, All I Want Is One More Meanwhile… made its Midwest premiere at Otherworld Theatre in Chicago. Combining her love for narrative nonfiction and theater, Kelly Jean created No, YOU Tell It! a storytelling series dedicated to performing true-life tales with a twist. Learn more and listen to the podcast at noyoutellit.com.

  • ChristineGardiner_3_LR - Christine Gardiner

    Christine Gardiner

    Christine Gardiner

    Christine Gardiner is the author of the blog Pet Murmur, the poetry collection My Sister’s Father, and The Birdhouse—a novel in process. She taught writing, literature, and poetics at the undergraduate and graduate levels for over a decade, and now helps young writers find their voice, develop their craft, and imagine the possibilities of storytelling in a new age.

  • porochista khakpour

    Porochista Khakpour

    Porochista Khakpour

    Porochista Khakpour’s debut novel Sons and Other Flammable Objects was a New York Times Editor’s Choice, one of the Chicago Tribune’s Fall’s Best, and the 2007 California Book Award winner in the “First Fiction” category. Her second novel The Last Illusion was a 2014 “Best Book of the Year” according to NPR, Kirkus, Buzzfeed, Popmatters, Electric Literature, and many more.  Her third book Sick: A Memoir was a Best Book of 2018 according to Time magazine, Real Simple, Entropy, Mental Floss, Bitch Media, Autostraddle, the Paris Review, LitHub, and more. Among her many fellowships is a National Endowment for the Arts award. Her nonfiction has appeared in many sections of the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Elle, Slate, Salon, and Bookforum, among many others. Her next book will be a collection of those essays, Brown Album (Vintage, May 2020). She has taught creative writing and literature at Johns Hopkins, Wesleyan, Columbia, Bucknell, Bard, Sarah Lawrence College, and many other universities around the country. She lives in New York City.

  • Lambert_Author Photo mono - Nancy Lambert

    Nancy R. Lambert

    Nancy R. Lambert

    Nancy R. Lambert (she/her) is a speculative fiction author from New York City who has written and ghostwritten more than 40 books for young readers. As N.R. Lambert, her short fiction appears in Don’t Turn Out the Lights: A Tribute to Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, PseudoPod, and Lovecraft Mythos. She’s also written for Entertainment Weekly, TIME, and LIFE. She was a 2019 U.S. National Park Service Artist-in-Residence at Fire Island National Seashore. In addition to her work as a pop culture author and freelance copywriter, she volunteers with Read Ahead and 826NYC. To learn more, visit NancyRLambert.com.

  • Katherine Mayfield_headshot - Katherine Augusta Mayfield

    Katherine Mayfield

    Katherine Mayfield

    Katherine Mayfield’s work has been published in No Tokens and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and she is the recipient of residencies and fellowships from The Center for Fiction, The Vermont Studio Center, The New York Summer Writers Workshop, Rufus Stone, and Gullkistan. She received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and teaches creative writing and composition at Hunter and York Colleges.

  • 7A7521 - CHESWAYO MPHANZA

    Cheswayo Mphanza

    Cheswayo Mphanza

    Cheswayo Mphanza was born in Lusaka, Zambia and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His work has been featured in the New England Review, the Paris Review, Hampden-Sydney Review, Lolwe, Birdfeast, and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Hurston/Wright Foundation, Callaloo, Cave Canem, and Columbia University. A finalist for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize, a recipient of the 2017 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, and winner of the 2020 Boston Review Annual Poetry Contest, his debut collection The Rinehart Frames (University of Nebraska Press), is the winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. He earned his MFA from Rutgers-Newark.

  • IMG-5529 - Elizabeth Wetmore

    Elizabeth Wetmore

    Elizabeth Wetmore

    Before devoting herself to writing, Elizabeth variously tended bar, taught English, drove a cab, edited psychology dissertations, and painted silos and cooling towers at a petrochemical plant. For a time, she lived in a one-room cabin in the woods outside of Flagstaff, Arizona while she worked as a classical music announcer. A native of West Texas, she is most at home in the desert, near the sea, or on the side of a mountain. She lives in Chicago but dreams of being bicoastal (Lake Michigan and Lake Travis).

    She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Illinois Arts Council. Her debut novel, Valentine, was published in March 2020 and has since been published, or is forthcoming, in Spain, Italy, France, UK, Germany, South Korea, Israel, and Netherlands.