Writing Contest Workshop
Writing Contest Workshop
This year’s Scholastic Writing Workshops will provide students with everything they need to complete a polished piece of fiction to submit to the Scholastic Awards. These pieces could also be used for other journal or contest submissions. Modelled on Ivy League graduate-level writing workshops, these classes are suitable for both beginners and those with existing writing practices. In six of our ten classes, we’ll focus on craft, exploring the chosen genre and the writing process through weekly readings, writing exercises, and discussions. In the remaining four classes, students will participate in workshops, helping others improve their writing and receiving feedback on their own work. Classes are limited to six students, so that each student can receive plenty of individual attention.
One unique benefit of these classes is that they are enhanced by video lectures. I teach challenging (but age-appropriate) stories in my classes, and I often teach older, classic works. To help students with the difficulty these stories present in vocabulary and style, the instructor makes dynamic reading videos in which she reads the story aloud while defining terms, explaining historical context, and making observations about style and theme.
These classes include three rounds of personalized feedback, including a full hour of class time devoted exclusively to review of their work. For drafts one and two, students will workshop their stories with their peers and receive detailed in-class feedback from me. The instructor will also proofread and polish each student’s final draft before submission.
This summer, we are offering workshops in two genres: flash fiction and short story (more on these below.) Each workshop has a unique syllabus, so it would be possible to take more than one simultaneously if a student is interested in multiple genres.
Workshops are available in two age ranges: 7th-9th grade and 10th-12th grade. Readings may vary depending on the ages, abilities, and interests of each group. Classes will be scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays, and/or Thursdays, between 2pm and 6:30pm EDT, depending on student availability and interest.
Students should expect to commit to at least two to three hours of homework between classes. This includes a short weekly reading (around 30 minutes) and time spent drafting their story and/or completing writing exercises.
Each class includes:
Ten weekly, 1.5 hour class meetings, for a total of 15 hours live instruction
Six challenging short story reading assignments with accompanying video lectures
Recorded classes in case you have to miss a session
One full hour of class time devoted to a discussion of your work
Final proofreading and polishing before you submit (can be used any time before the December Scholastic deadline)
Unlimited email support between classes
A curated list of age-appropriate journals and contests to submit to after class ends
The group classes are fully registered. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for the private class registration.
About the Instructor
Miss Cat is a professional fiction writer and teacher with over 15 years’ experience helping students of all ages improve their writing. As an admissions essay coach, she has helped students gain acceptance to a number of top colleges and business schools, including Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, UPenn and Stanford. She has been coaching middle and high school creative writers for the last two years and has worked with nearly a dozen students on submissions for the Scholastic Awards specifically. She holds a BA magna cum laude in Music and English from Harvard University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University, where she was a De Alba Fellow and an Undergraduate Teaching Fellow. Her writing has appeared in Action, Spectacle!, The South Dakota Review, and The Missouri Review. In 2019, she was the recipient of The Missouri Review’s Peden Prize for best story in a volume year. She is currently working on her first novel and is represented by the literary agency Janklow and Nesbit.
FLASH FICTION (max 1000 words)
We tend to think that shorter is easier—but this is often not the case! Crafting a compelling and complete story that’s less than 1000 words can be one of the more challenging tasks a writer faces. In this class, we’ll explore the many unusual ways that writers have succeeded in doing this. This class will place particular emphasis on compression, brevity, and creating beautiful sentences.
Sample readings include:
“The Cares of a Family Man” by Franz Kafka
“Girl” by Jamaica Kincaid
“Sticks” by George Saunders
Micro-stories by Lydia Davis
SHORT STORY (max 3000 words)
This class focuses on classic short stories. We’ll primarily read and discuss realist fiction from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, though magical realism will make an appearance. This class will focus on the core elements of the traditional story: plot, character, dialogue, and setting. Along the way, we’ll discuss how different writers bend (and break) conventional forms in their fiction.
Sample readings include:
“The Far and the Near” by Thomas Wolfe
“The Lady with the Little Dog” by Anton Chekhov
“An Old Man With Enormous Wings” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
“What I Have Been Doing Lately” by Jamaica Kincaid
Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Writing Categories:
Frequently Asked Questions:
The workshop remains the basic format for most creative writing pedagogy at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the United States; it is also a popular format for elementary writing instruction. The workshop has two key functions. First, learning to read the work of one’s peers with a critical but compassionate eye is one of the best ways to become a better reader and editor of one’s own work. Second, the workshop recognizes that no one person can or should tell you how to write; getting a variety of inputs is more useful. And learning to listen and respond to critical feedback from a variety of sources is a key skill in both writing and life.
Who is this class suitable for?
Anyone who is interested in creative writing! This class offers benefits both to students new to short fiction and to those who already write regularly. It will be most helpful for students who have some interest in or enthusiasm for fiction and creative writing. It may not be the best option for students who actively dislike or struggle with writing or need remedial writing help of some kind.
What makes these classes unique?
In short: deep expertise and personal care. In designing these classes, I am attempting to distill everything I have learned in the last three years of conducting creative writing classes and coaching for students ages 8 to 18, in both the United States and China. These recent experiences are backed by over 15 years of teaching experience, 7 years of Ivy League education, and 10 years pursuing a career as a fiction writer. I strive to achieve the highest level possible in my own writing, and I bring both extensive knowledge and passion to this work. As a high school student, I was a dedicated violinist, and the adults who were most impactful in my life were those who took me seriously as an artist and a person. I’d like to do the same for my students. I believe that every student has a unique combination of talents; I strive to identify these talents in all of my students and to help them more fully realize their potential.
What skills will students build in these classes?
Obviously, students will become better writers! I aim to help students improve their writing on both a sentence and story level. I hope that by the end of the class, students will feel more confident expressing themselves thoughtfully in both writing and speaking. Strengthening the imagination is a core goal, as is developing creative problem-solving techniques. These classes also emphasize improving vocabulary and critical reading skills—essential for learning to write well. Finally, students will learn to deliver and receive effective critical feedback. These skills are all applicable not just to creative writing but also throughout students’ academic lives and on into future professional lives as well!