Colgate Writers' Conference - Workshops Skip Navigation

Colgate Writers' Conference - Workshops

Capping our poetry and short fiction workshops at ten participants and our novel and creative nonfiction workshops at five participants ensures ample time to explore everyone's work in depth.
Conference attendees in discussion during a workshop in the Persson bridge
Class time is devoted to discussion and critiques of the participants' work as well as guidance from the instructor. There is also time outside the classroom for participants to meet one-on-one with their instructors for private consultation and analysis of their work.

We recommend that participants in all workshops complete at least the first full draft of their manuscripts well prior to the conference, or by May 1. Everything that you submit is read by the instructor, who provides extensive one-on-one consultation over the course of the week. Below you will find the expectations of each workshop leader.

Jennifer Brice workshop for summer writer's.Creative Nonfiction Intensive with Jennifer Brice

A nurturing, rigorous workshop open to writers with a complete or nearly complete draft. The idea is to meet each manuscript wherever it's at and help the writer take it to the next level.

Ideally, everyone should come to the conference having read everyone's manuscript with care. Detailed written comments aren't necessary; constructive contributions are. Individual conferences will be scheduled in addition to the workshop.

Depending on time, we may read outside work and generate new writing.

Novel Intensive with Brock Clarke

This workshop will focus on writing and revising a novel, with an eye toward pacing, structure, logic, theme, voice, plot, characterization--everything, in other words. Workshop members are asked to submit whatever they've finished, whether it's a full draft or a representative excerpt or something in between, just as long as the submission is substantial enough to enable your readers to give you what you need. Speaking of that: workshop members will be asked to do a good bit of reading in preparation for the conference. I encourage everyone to line-edit brief passages in each other's work, but I will definitely expect everyone to be able to talk, in detail, about each other's fiction during workshop, and also to provide a detailed letter to the writer offering praise, encouragement, gentle (but specific) criticism, and ideas for revision. I will write each of you a long letter, and will line-edit a substantial, representative section of each of your manuscripts. Each participant will get his or her own workshop session, and I will meet with you outside of workshop as well. Finally, I will bring in examples of fiction and non-fiction that will help you with writing and revising your novels.

Novel Intensive with Brian Hall

This workshop is an opportunity to have an novel manuscript read by the instructor and your fellow attendees (partial manuscripts are also welcome: recommended minimum of 50 pages).

With five participants, each possibly bringing a full novel, attendees must be ready to do a lot of reading in preparation for the conference. Line editing of each other's work is not necessary, but everyone should come prepared to comment in detail on each submission during the morning session, and provide each other with written comments of a general (or specific, of course, if you want) nature on their work.

We will workshop one manuscript each morning. I will meet one-on-one in the afternoon with the writer whose work was discussed in the morning. I will provide detailed feedback on the entire manuscript, and will line-edit about 50 pages, to give an idea of textual issues that might pertain to the whole. Although a lot of preparation is required, the week is worth it.

Poetry with Peter Balakian

We will be focused on your poems for an intensive week. The workshop is grounded in an atmosphere of trust and intellectual honesty. You will bring poems you've submitted or newly written poems to the workshop, and we will, as a group, read them with great care and rigor and discuss how to push them further and discuss how the poem can realize its materials in the fullest possible ways. Poets will be asked to read their work aloud in class. The workshop is predicated on the belief in the ancient and contemporary value of the lyric poem as a continual landmark in human consciousness and thought and form of language. You should read each other's submissions before we convene our first workshop. At our first meeting I will hand out a small sheaf of poems (mostly by 20th century poets) and we may refer to them during the week. My hope is that each poet will leave the workshop energized and writing with new intensity and at new levels.

Short Fiction with Greg Ames

This is a supportive and intensive fiction workshop. We read and discuss each other’s stories and generate new writing in class. After your story is discussed in the workshop, I will meet with you in an hour-long private tutorial to discuss specific elements of your writing. This is my favorite part of each day.

In her essay “The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” Flannery O’Connor describes the habit of art as “a certain quality or virtue of the mind,” a form of curiosity about the world and a devotion to seeing and feeling. I’m not saying that this workshop can provide that, but my hope is that you’ll consider this week an opportunity to take artistic chances that might prove fulfilling. I look forward to meeting you.

Writers' Retreat

In addition to the workshop experience, there are increasingly participants who attend for the week simply to engage in a Writers’ Retreat. During such a retreat, one refrains from joining a workshop, but rather participates in whatever portions of the conference one finds interesting: craft and shop talks by professional editors and agents; evening readings; readings of one’s own work to other participants; socializing and sharing.

Perhaps you have earned yourself a retreat of this nature?