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With few writing programs that cater exclusively to students in high school, Smith’s Creative Writing Workshop allows you to explore your writing in a creative and supportive environment. This program will foster your love of writing in a variety of mediums. All of our classes apply the design model to writing: Rather than trying to craft perfect texts, we teach an open, multidraft process that embraces the unpredictable that occurs when we stop trying to control our writing. So while you will learn how to edit your own and others’ work, our primary goal is for you to learn a powerful, flexible approach that eliminates writer’s block and gives you access to your full creativity.

Program at a Glance

Dates

July 6–19, 2024

Cost

Tuition: $4,745
Deposit: $950
Application Fee: $50

Courses On

Fiction, poetry, science fiction, screenwriting, and more!

Apply Now

Applications for all precollege programs are now open! Assessed on a rolling basis, applicants can submit their materials until May 2024.

A student sitting on a sofa reading a book and laughing with someone off-screen.

Find Your Voice

High school students from around the world gather together to hone their writing skills in a highly creative, but nonjudgmental, environment. There is something empowering about hearing your own lines being read in a supportive way that gives you a chance to let your full voice out. The equation is simple: you, your talent and what you want to write about. The sum total: Magic!

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Program Details

Overview

Instructors are published writers who have been trained in this methodology and who provide a supportive, strengths-based classroom environment. In addition to individual feedback from your instructors, you will also become part of an international writing community, as the program accepts students from all over the world.

In the evenings, students can take part in activities such as open mic night and improv, or attend workshops on publishing, finding an agent and creating an author website.

At the end of the program, you will have the start of an online writing portfolio, an anthology with writing samples from all of the students and professional contacts in the literary world.

Smith Precollege Programs are open to students entering 9th-12th grade in the fall of 2024. Smith is a residential women’s college. Our Precollege Programs offer a Smith experience for high school students. Review our Codes of Conduct for students and parents/guardians to ensure that this program is the right fit for you. College credit is not offered.

Tuition

Tuition: $4,745
Deposit: $950
Application Fee: $50

Deposit due within two weeks of acceptance.

To learn more, see the Apply to Summer Programs webpage.

2024 Schedule

Classes are Monday–Friday. Students will participate in one morning class and one afternoon class.

Morning Sessions

Afternoon Sessions

Writing Fantasy

 

The Edge of Reality

 

Science Fiction

 

Epic Redux

 

iFiction

 

From Pirates to Potter: Creating Historical and Fan Fiction

 

Strange Realms

 

Making Poems

Writing Poems

 

Fundamentals of Screenwriting

 

Playwriting

 

Poetry

 

Screenwriting

 

So You Want to Be a Journalist?

 

Writing Into the Heart

 

Climate Futurism

2024 Courses

Morning Sessions

Students will participate in one of the following morning sessions.

Instructor

Morgan Sheehan Bubla

Course Description

Do you write (or aspire to write) fiction unencumbered by what’s “realistic”? Are you inspired by fairytales, mythology, fantasy, science fiction, ghost stories or dreams? Do your characters sometimes have magical abilities? This workshop is for writers interested in exploring modes of storytelling other than realism while simultaneously learning how to strengthen all of the traditional elements of fiction. The first week, we’ll generate new work in response to a number of imaginative prompts and writing exercises. We’ll also look at short, masterful excerpts from authors who challenge realism, with special attention to the types of fabulist distortions used and the real-world truths they get at. We’ll turn an eye to questions of craft: What makes a compelling plot? How do we create characters so alive we can feel them breathing? How do we build tension from the first lines? The second week, you’ll receive feedback from the group on one story, and we’ll focus on revision and next steps in your writing journey. You’ll leave with lots of new work as well as tools and techniques that will help you continue to write and explore reality-bending stories on your own.

Instructor

Erin Butler

Course Description

Sometimes, we can understand reality better by writing just beyond what is real. In this two-week workshop, we’ll study what it means to write fiction that is rooted in, but not constrained by, reality. During our first week, you will read excerpts by some of the best writers who innovate by writing in the realm of the creepy, the otherworldly, the uncanny, and the psychologically complex. Then, you will generate lots of new work by responding to writing prompts that help you explode and extend what is realistic. During our second week, you will receive feedback on the story you’ve built and provide feedback on your peers’ work. Throughout the course, you’ll be asked to challenge your assumptions, extend your thinking, and consider what you might find beyond the borders of what you know and experience.

Instructor

James L. Cambias

Course Description

We live in a science fiction world, where billionaires build rocket ships and a new virus threatens civilization. The dreams and nightmares of science fiction writers are mundane reality, and nobody dismisses the genre as “Buck Rogers stuff” any longer. Realistic Unreality is a workshop for aspiring writers of science fiction and fantasy. We will focus on how to make stories which are good as fantastic fiction and good as literature. During the first week, students create stories, helped and inspired by writing prompts and readings from some of the field’s masters. Brief lectures address the fundamentals of character, plot, world building and voice. In the second week, the class will jointly critique stories and get practical advice on submitting stories, publishing and the business of writing.

Instructor

Jordana Frankel

Course Description

Get inspired by the timeless allure of mythology, the fantastical nature of fairy tales, and the tragic undoings of our favorite epic heroes. In this two-week workshop, we'll explore how contemporary screenplays, poems, and novels remix our favorite stories throughout history to bring modern audiences new insight. We will read from Madeline Miller's bestselling novels, examine how the Charmed reboot reinterprets Medusa, and explore myth-inspired poetry by Sylvia Plath, Nikita Gill, and Louise Gluck, among others. Then, we will attempt to understand the universal and thematic enchantment audiences seem to have with certain stories and characters. During the first week, you will take inspiration from a number of different epics until you find either a story you'd like to retell or a tale that personally resonates. You may mine from the daily drama that unfolds in the current world, dig up the messy, beautiful stuff of your life, or reimagine a journey taken by a mythic character. You will then reflect on these characters and stories through a modern lens through various prompts and exercises. This is your week for inspiration, trial, and error. In the second week, you will deepen your understanding of your chosen narrative and, through constructive group feedback, mold it into an inspiring poem, story, or essay that deftly utilizes those universal themes discussed in the first week. Expect deep connection to the mythic foundations of yesteryear and, most importantly, an ultimate recognition that your life, from the mundane to the heart-wrenching to extraordinary, is also the stuff of myth.

Instructor

Jennifer Jacobson

Course Description

In this two-week session, we will write and revise our stories in a supportive community. The first week is designed to tap the muse and inspire new work through a series of writing exercises in-class and around Northampton. We will read short published work to deepen our understanding of scene, point of view, character, setting and dialogue. In week two, we will focus on revision. Through group discussions and an individual instructor conference, we will consider the strengths and weaknesses of the work we produce and identify revision strategies. Students will leave this course with lots of ways to generate new writing as well as tactics to move their work to the next level.

Instructor

Bailly Morse

Course Description

For centuries, authors strove to answer the question: what was life like in the past? From The Iliad to Ivanhoe, to Shanghai Girls to The Underground Railroad, writers breathe life into decades past and find new and groundbreaking ways to bring history to life for their readers. So what does historical fiction have to do with fan fiction? These genres have more similarities than you might think. Both create new stories from previously established people, events, and worlds. Both expand beyond what we have known to create new and exciting narratives. And both shed light on what might have been, if only we allow ourselves to wonder “what if?”

In this intensive course, we will explore key craft elements that apply to both historical fiction and fan fiction. We’ll discuss characterization, dialogue, setting, and the three-act structure, so that you can hone your ability to create a compelling story. Additionally, you will learn about research methods and resources that will guide you as you write. See why historical fiction still fascinates us and why fan fiction might just be the future of diverse and accessible stories.

In our first week, students will explore world-building in these respective genres by reviewing examples and utilizing unique writing prompts to generate their own new material. In our second week, students will have the opportunity to have their stories peer-reviewed and to receive constructive feedback that they can use to improve their work. Students will leave the class with a better understanding of craft elements and how to apply it to future writing, and with a first draft to inspire them to keep going!

Instructor

Alex Terrell

Course Description

Weird worlds, peculiar places and eerie environments! That’s where we’ll find ourselves in this two-week workshop. We will explore what it means for something to be weird, mythical and magical. We will create and destroy worlds. We will become cruel gods and puppeteers pitting our characters against mythical creatures, disastrous events and maybe even apocalypses. This workshop is for writers who enjoy fiction with fantasy elements, so bring your heroines, your monsters, your ghouls, your ghostbusters, your stranger things and creatures that may live in the Upside-Down. The first week, we will engage in imaginative writing prompts, world-building exercises and generate new material as we work to create a shared knowledge of common craft elements such as writing compelling characters, choosing the right setting and story structure. The second week, we will workshop each other’s stories, provide constructive feedback and apply the tools we learned in week one to help strengthen each other’s work. You’ll leave the workshop feeling energized to tell the stories you’ve always wanted to tell!

Instructor

Chris Ayala

Course Description

In our workshop, we’ll approach writing as a playful endeavor, exploring epistolary poetry (poems as letters), ecopoetry (poems as activism for the environment), ekphrastic poetry (poetic responses to visual art), some fun new poetic forms, writing inside and outside in inspiring places, and writing in collaboration with each other. We’ll cultivate our imaginations while experimenting with our own writing and responding to the work of others. In the poems we create in workshop, and in the poems that we read and listen to together, we’ll investigate and appreciate originality, heart, music, the use of beautiful, interesting language, and the ways in which poems can represent us and take a stand for the things we hold dear and the things we want to change.

Afternoon Sessions

Students will participate in one of the following afternoon sessions.

Instructor

Sara Eddy

Course Description

Is a song lyric a poem? Is a grocery list? Could you make a poem in the form of a grocery list?  What makes a “good” poem vs. a “bad” poem? Does poetry have rules? What happens if a writer breaks those rules? We will ask these questions and more while exploring both traditional and non-traditional poetic forms and examining how poetic elements combine to create successful poetry. We will experiment through our own writing generated and shared in class. We will also analyze published poetry to understand how meaning is shaped.

Instructor

Afreen Seher Gandhi

Course Description

This course provides a basic and introductory exploration of screenwriting as a vehicle for drama development, cinematic presentation and storytelling. Students will apply their skills in the development of improvised scene work. The course will culminate with a finished working draft of either a short film or a lengthier complete scene sequence, which will then be presented through a dramatic narration and/or staged presentation. The final working draft of the script will have a complete beginning, middle and end. This course examines scenes and short films from across the world giving insight into the various different tools which can be used to create subtext in narrative. You will learn about basic screenwriting terminology, the qualities a screenwriter must have, how to format your screenplay through a screenwriting software, the difference between plot and story, creating characters and building an intriguing narrative for your initial story idea employing dialogue, action and characters.

Instructor

Phil O’Donoghue

Course Description

In playwriting, students will have the opportunity to write and develop their own, original scripts. Starting with writing prompts, students will learn how playwrights nurture their own ideas into fully realized theatrical experiences. Students will have the opportunity to see and read scenes from famous plays, and then take their own ideas and out them into action. We will constantly stress that theatre is to be seen, and thus, students will integrate all facets of theatre—acting, lighting, set design, and costume design- into their scripts. All scripts will be read, discussed, reworked and performed. The goal is to have our students not only develop an appreciation of dialogue, but also to leave the workshop with a script they further develop and perform.

Instructor

Jonathan Ruseski

Course Description

What does poetry look like in the year 2023? Why do we write it? Who are we writing for? What is it ‘about’? This workshop will approach these questions by exploring Emily Dickinson’s idea of the ‘Flood Subject,’ that one idea you always return to, as a means for developing a coherent body of poetic work. We will discover and explore our own Flood Subjects as a way to engage with important questions about identity, citizenship, history, origin, family, gender, sexuality, the body, love, loss, grief, joy and all the other conditions that affect our relationship to the larger world around us. We will experiment with imagery, narrative and editing techniques; and collaboratively support each to arrive at our own understanding of craft, voice and form. We will work together to take a deeper look at the complexity of poetry, not as a puzzle to be solved, but as an exciting venue to expand our capacity for language and ideas.

Instructor

Wade Wofford

Course Description

Consider a strange form of writing...where the words on the page are but the first step to an end product that is not based in words at all! The screenwriter uses words to illicit images, thus guiding readers to "make a mind movie" (and hopefully an *actual* movie in the future).  In this course, we will study the three-act structure of film as a medium, then use our understanding of that structure to craft screenplays of our own.  We will explore the use of tone, character voice, dialogue and action as vehicles to drive our scripts. By the end of the class, each student will have created a concept, written an outline for a full feature, and penned three sequences from that film (one from each act). 

Instructor

Mary Carey

Course Description

We’re all reporters now, even if we just post on social media. But if we really want to uphold journalistic tradition, we aim to share information in a way that engages readers and helps them make informed decisions in our democracy. We may give a voice to the voiceless, hold authorities accountable, and deepen our readers' understanding of the communities they live or participate in. Or maybe we just want to lighten up people's lives and inspire them with thoughtful or entertaining writing. Together, we'll learn to use the journalism formula proven to engage readers and the standard Associated Press Style for punctuation, abbreviations, numbers, dates and other information. We'll learn how to interview, asking thoughtful, probing questions, identifying key details and finding "quoteworthy" quotations that must always be 100 percent accurate. First, we’ll interview and write about each other and guest speakers. Then, we’ll venture into our geographical "beat" of Northampton to visit City Hall, the courts and cover an event. We'll also learn how to "pitch" one of our stories or an opinion piece to an editor at one or more publications.

Instructor

Ani Tuzman

Course Description

What if your writing could lead you deeper into knowing of who you are, what you really feel and value—and even into healing stresses in your life, so that you could show up as yourself more fully and freely? We can write our way through the relentless chatter of the mind to the knowing of our heart. While all this may sound super serious—in actuality there is little as truly joyous and fulfilling as the self-awareness and discovery that can come from this kind of writing.  

In the safe and lively space of this workshop, you will be offered a variety of writing sparks daily to ignite your imagination and writing.  You will also be free to ignore the sparks and instead to write into whatever is calling to you, be that a question or issue you wish to explore, or a memory, conversation, or event you choose to unpack in the glorious space that writing can offer.   All forms of writing will be welcome, including letters, poems, fiction, journaling, and what former students of mine dubbed “rants”, i.e. going off any topic at all.  We will have the option to share what we have written and respond to each other—also from the heart, which just means genuinely.  A bonus of writing authentically like this: it can strengthen the quality of the other writing you do.

Instructor

Ethan Myers

Course Description

Enough sad polar bears! Enough oil-slicked sea birds. Enough blistering post-apocalyptic scenes of wildfires incinerating forests and homes.  

There’s a place for showcasing the horrors of a changing climate. That place isn’t this class. Instead, we will draw inspiration from forward-looking, love-preaching, justice-oriented thinkers, activists, and changemakers like Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, adrienne maree brown, and Leah Penniman to imagine what if? What if in this moment of violence, we imagine peace? What if, amidst racial strife, we imagine equality? What if we imagine healthy, vibrant communities? What if we imagine coming together to deal with the raging effects of climate change? 

In addition to our readings, we will spend time outside, we’ll compose poems, lyrical essays, and autobiographical stories that center our experiences in nature, and that imagine vibrant futures.

Instructors

Christopher Ayala

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Erin Butler

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Erin Butler

James L. Cambias

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Mary Carey

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Mary Carey

Sara Eddy

Jacobson Center

Assistant Director of the Jacobson Center; Writing Enriched Curriculum Specialist

Sara Eddy

Jordana Frankel

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Jennifer Jacobson

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Jennifer Jacobson

Bailly Morse

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Ethan Myers

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Ethan Myers

Phil O’Donoghue

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Jonathan Ruseski

Jacobson Center

Writing Instructor & Technology Specialist; Lecturer in English Language & Literature

Alex Terrell

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Ani Tuzman

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

Ani Tuzman

Wade Wofford

Creative Writing Workshop

Summer Precollege Programs Creative Writing Instructor

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