Writers Workshops

July 25-August 1, 2016

Writers Workshops in Fiction, Nonfiction and Memoir

These workshops assist serious writers by exploring the art and craft as well as the business of writing. The week offers daily morning workshops, craft lectures, panel discussions on editing and publishing, staff readings, and brief individual conferences. The morning workshops are led by staff writer-teachers, editors, or agents. There are separate morning workshops for Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction/Memoir. In addition to their workshop manuscripts, participants may have a second manuscript read by a staff member who meets with them in individual conferences. Nonfiction or memoir submissions should be in a narrative form. Travel, self-help, how-to, and scholarly works will not be considered.

  • Participants’ manuscripts are critiqued in daily morning workshops
  • Afternoon & evening craft talks, panels on craft, staff readings, panel discussions on editing & publishing
  • Individual one-on-one conferences
  • Readings by prominent staff writers and special guests
  • Special “The Art of Revision” workshop led by Mark Childress
  • Special Afternoon Prose-to-Film Adaptation Workshop led by Craig Bolotin
  • Open Workshop led by Sands Hall
  • Naturalist-Guided Hike
  • Admissions are based on the merit of submitted manuscripts alone
  • Financial Aid Available
  • 124 writers attend

Tuition is $1,100, which includes six evening meals. Financial aid is available. Admissions are based on submitted manuscripts. Please Note: Tuition does not include housing costs*. Housing and Meals. See Fees & Deadlines, below.

Deadline: April 12, 2016  (Apply before 11:59 pm PST)

We make no admissions decisions before all the submissions have been read and evaluated. The Application Form link is at the bottom of the page. Please make sure to read all the information here before applying.

Writers Workshops Teaching Staff

Fiction & Nonfiction Authors

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  • Lisa Alvarez
  • Thomas Barbash
  • Craig Bolotin
  • Sarah Shun-lien Bynum
  • Ron Carlson
  • Mark Childress
  • Sands Hall
    Sands Hall
  • Dana Johnson
  • Louis B. Jones
  • Edie Meidav
  • Joanne Meschery
  • Victoria Patterson
  • Kirstin Valdez Quade
  • Jason Roberts
  • Natalie Serber
  • Julia Flynn Siler
  • Dava Sobel
  • Gregory Spatz
  • Elizabeth Tallent
  • Héctor Tobar
  • Jane Vandenburgh
  • Mary Volmer
  • Al Young
    Al Young

Literary Agents & Editors

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  • Reagan Arthur
  • Noah Ballard
  • Michael V. Carlisle
  • Erika Goldman
  • Joy Harris
  • Joy Johannessen
  • Calvert D. Morgan
  • BJ Robbins
  • Jack Shoemaker
  • Andrew Tonkovich
  • Oscar Villalon

Special Guests

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  • Jane Ciabattari
  • Anne Lamott
  • Michelle Latiolais
  • Jordan Fisher Smith
  • Matt Sumell
  • Amy Tan

Daily Schedule

Morning workshops meet daily from 9-12. Each workshop consists of roughly a dozen participants and has a different workshop leader each day. In each session, the group discusses two, sometimes three, participant manuscripts. During the course of the week, one manuscript by each participant is critiqued. Participants are asked to arrive with copies of the manuscript they would like treated in workshop. Our directors will assign each participant to the most appropriate staff workshop leader.

Afternoon and evening schedules are quite full, with optional lectures, panel discussions, staff readings, and other presentations. Participants need to set aside time for the reading and evaluation of workshop manuscripts.

Individual Conferences

Each participant is assigned a brief one-on-one conference with a staff member appropriate to his or her manuscript. These conferences are scheduled at the mutual convenience of the participant and the assigned staff member and usually run no longer than twenty minutes. In most cases, the manuscript to be discussed will be the one submitted with the application.

Other Opportunities:

The Art of Revision
A special afternoon workshops led by Mark Childress

Childress_Mark_Portrait_BWNovelist MARK CHILDRESS will lead “The Art of Revision” workshop which will meet three days during the week, between 3 and 5 pm, by application only.  Participants will submit a story or chapter of which they have written one complete draft that is ready for revision — no first-drafts-in-progress, please.  The aim of the workshop will be not to give each writer a systematic evaluation of the manuscript, as in the morning workshops, but to use examples from the works in progress and classic literature to illustrate techniques a writer can use to move the work from first draft to finished manuscript.  Each day of the workshop will address a different facet of the job:  Story, Character, and Language.  Participants will receive the workshop manuscripts in advance, and will be expected to read and mark the manuscripts before arriving at Squaw Valley.  Please indicate your interest in the application form.  This workshop is limited to between six and 12 participants, and is available only to those enrolled in the full Writers Workshop week. Workshop fee: $165.

Adaptation: From Story to Screen
A special afternoon class, led by Craig Bolotin

Bolotin_CraigScreenwriter, CRAIG BOLOTIN will teach a class, “Adaptation: From Story to Screen,” (six hour-and-a–half sessions.) The class will teach a practical approach to adapting a novel into a screenplay. There will be an overview of the fundamentals of screenwriting as well as an analysis of the specific skills for a successful adaptation. We will examine a handful of adaptations, comparing and contrasting the films with the original material. Indicate your interest in the application form. This class is limited to 15 participants. $200 fee.

Craig Bolotin is a screenwriter and film director. He has written and rewritten numerous screenplays for such directors as Ridley Scott, Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Apted. His feature film credits include That NightLight It Up and Black Rain. He has adapted the work of several novelists including Alice McDermott, John Updike and Hilary Mantel, and has taught at the American Film Institute and the Sundance Screenwriters  Lab.

Open WorkshopSands Hall
A special afternoon workshops led by Sands Hall

Several afternoons during the week, SANDS HALL leads the Open Workshop, which provides another opportunity for participants to share their writing with their conference peers. Work is read aloud and discussed in a spontaneous and productive format. No additional fee.

Nature Walk led by resident naturalist Will Richardson

naturalist will richardson

Naturalist WILL RICHARDSON will lead an informative hike up Shirley Canyon on Friday afternoon. This is an opportunity to learn from a professional naturalist about the biology of this valley. This hike is suitable for almost all fitness levels and is free of charge.

Will Richardson has been birding and conducting field research in the Sierra Nevada since 1994, including several seasons working for PRBO Conservation Science in the Mono Basin and elsewhere in the Eastern Sierra. Richardson received his PhD in Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation Biology from the University of Nevada, Reno, studying bird communities in Sierra Nevada aspen habitats. He resides in Truckee and now focuses most of his attention on the natural history of the Lake Tahoe region. He is currently authoring a status and distribution guide for the birds of the Lake Tahoe basin, and is co-founder and Co-Executive Director of a fledgling research, education, and outreach organization: the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science.

Published Alumni Reading Series

Each summer, recently published alumni are invited to return to Squaw Valley to read from their books and talk about their journey from unpublished writers to published authors.

2016 Alumni Readers

The Community of Writers is delighted to celebrate the success of these writers and to present them to the participants, staff, and the public.

View as a List

  • Stephanie Kegan
  • Nayomi Munaweera
  • Marian Palaia
  • Juan Alvarado Valdivia
  • Heather Young

Alumni who have been part of this reading series include Anita Amirrezvani, Eddy Ancinas, Ramona Ausubel, David Bajo, Aimee Bender, David Corbett, Charmaine Craig, Frances Dinkelspiel, Heather Donahue, Cai Emmons, Alex Espinoza, Joshua Ferris, Amy Franklin-Willis, Jamie Ford, Vicki Forman, Alison Singh Gee, Tanya Egan Gibson, Alan Grostephan, Glen David Gold, Judith Hendricks, Susan Henderson, Sara J. Henry, Rhoda Huffey, Michael Jaime-Becerra, Alma Katsu, Krys Lee, Paulette Livers, Regina Louise, Michael David Lukas, Peyton Marshall, Marisa Matarazzo, Mark Maynard, Christina Meldrum, Janis Cooke Newman, Jessica O’Dwyer, Aline Ohanesian, Victoria Patterson, Ismet Prcic, Frederick Reiken, Andrew Roe, Robin Romm, Elizabeth Rosner, Adrienne Sharp, Alice Sebold, Julia Flynn Siler, Jordan Fisher Smith, Scott Sparling, Ellen Sussman, Lisa Tucker, Brenda Rickman Vantrease, Mary Volmer, Dora Calott Wang, M.D., Andrew Winer, Alia Yunis, and Désirée Zamorano among others.

Fees & Deadlines

Program DatesJune 18 - 25, 2016July 25 - August 1, 2016
Deadline to ApplyApril 8, 2016
(Extended from April 5)
April 12, 2016
(before midnight PST)
Application Fee$35 $40
Acceptance NotificationOn or before May 5, 2016
(Extended from May 1)
On or before May 20, 2016
DepositA deposit of $700 will be due upon acceptance.A deposit of $700 will be due upon acceptance.
HousingNot included in tuition. See Housing & Meals.Not included in tuition. See Housing & Meals.
Housing & Tuition BalanceDue on or before June 6, 2016Due on or before July 7, 2016
Registration/First Day of ConferenceJune 18, 2016July 25, 2016
Program Website
Make sure to read all information before applying
Poetry WebsiteWriters Workshops Website
ReturneesReturning Poetry Lottery Information & Application-Fiction Participants may attend 2 out of 3 years.

-Nonfiction Participants must take two sessions off before reapplying.

Application GuidelinesPrint Poetry Application GuidelinesPrint Writers Workshop Applications Guidelines
Financial Aid & ScholarshipsView Financial Aid InformationView Financial Aid Information
Application FormApply Now (Poetry)Apply Now (Writers Workshops)

Application Guidelines

  • Past Writers Workshop participants:
    —Fiction Participants: If you attended the last two years do not apply this year. (I.e. attendance is allowed 2 out of every 3 years.)
    —Nonfiction Participants:  If you attended last year please do not apply this year. (I.e. attendance is allowed after you have taken a year off.
  • Deadline for receipt of application/submission: before Midnight, April 12, 2016 PST
  • Applicants, including past participants, should submit a sample of their best, unpublished prose.
  • Writing sample submission ms. may consist of a story (or stories), essay(s) or chapter(s). Book chapters should be accompanied by a one-page synopsis of the whole book’s plot. (Add to the end of ms.) Submission ms. (excluding synopsis) must be less than 5,000 words.
  • Submission ms. must be typed, double-spaced and 12 pt., with your name in the upper right-hand corner of each page. Attach a digital file (PDF or Word.doc) of your submission ms. to the online application form. Digital files will be deleted after workshops.
  • Request participation in the Mark Childress’s “The Art of Revision” workshop in the online application form, if desired.
  • Request participation in the Special Adaptation Class in the online application form, if desired.
  • If applying in more than one category, please send separate applications and submissions, including application fees.
  • Those who require financial aid to attend should request it in the application form. Please see our Financial Aid page for more information.
  • A $40 reading fee will be due with submission, payable by check or credit card. Checks payable to Community of Writers.

    Mail to: Community of Writers – WW
    PO Box 1416
    Nevada City, CA 95959

  • Once you complete the online form, you will receive an email confirmation.
  • Notification of acceptance by May 20.

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