Year-Long Fiction Writing Project with Alison McGhee

Fiction Writing Project

Online cohort led by Alison McGhee

Tuesdays 6-9 PM + Saturdays 10 AM-1 PM CST on Zoom | Starting Tuesday, June 11, 2024

In order to sign up for a cohort, you have a few options.

  1. Register in full on the website (full payment is due at the time of registration) or pay via Sezzle at check out
  2. Fill out the Payment Plan Request Form
  3. Once registered, the Loft will schedule an introductory meeting between you and the teaching artist to ensure your project is a fit for the program. In the rare instance the teaching artist or student decide this is not a fit, the student is eligible for a full refund. See the refund and payment policies for more information.
Tuesdays on Zoom | Starting June 11 | 6-9 PM CST

Alison McGhee will meet with each person after they register for the Year-Long (but before the first class) to determine if your project is a good fit for the year-long project. The teaching artist will reach out directly to the student to schedule the initial consultation. In the unlikely chance this is not a fit, the student is eligible for a full refund until a set deadline. Please sign up at the link below (once registration opens)!

2024 Fiction Writing Project with Alison McGhee

We’ll be diving into fiction in all its glorious forms throughout the year. What are you drawn to? What are you interested in writing? Short stories, flash fiction, sudden fiction, novels for adults, novels for children, less-definable fiction forms and structures: we are open to all of it. I’ve always loved to experiment in my fiction writing and you should feel free to do the same. The advantages of a multi-genre fiction workshop are many: reading and thinking deeply about fiction in a genre adjacent but unfamiliar to your own work can expand our creativity and positively influence our own writing. Throughout the year, you may be drawn to and want to experiment with various forms of fiction, and we welcome that as well.

Despite the possibility of multiple genres of fiction, our workshop will encompass all the building blocks of fiction in general. We’ll talk about what all fiction, no matter its specific form, shares in common: the creation of people and places and worlds that are alive to us, that feel real no matter how speculative they may be, that share some deep humanity with ourselves. We’ll consider the architecture of various fictional forms–what are the essential frameworks of short stories, novels, flash fiction, and other less definable works? How did each writer achieve their purpose? What can we learn from every piece of reading, and every writer submission, that we read?

We’ll read widely throughout the year, with an emphasis on brief writings that illuminate fiction’s breadth and depth and beauty. Note that our readings will often include writing that’s not fiction; poems, creative nonfiction, small essays and memoirs, even children’s picture books all contain structures, language, and innovative frameworks that can help us be better fiction writers. We’ll also invite critically acclaimed guest authors to some of our meetings, the better to understand their processes and sources of creativity. These discussions will be informal and free-ranging, based largely on your own questions regarding the authors’ work. We may also host a discussion with a publishing professional, such as an agent, editor, or bookseller. 

Notes & Important Dates
Workshop Meeting Dates

Zoom link sent in confirmation email

All times listed in US Central Time

Year-Long Writing Project Orientation Meeting

Required of all participants

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

6:00 PM–7:30 PM 

Online/Zoom

Fiction Writing Project Final Public Loft Reading

Tuesday, April 22, 2025

7:00 PM

Online/Zoom

A link will be sent closer to the date of the event from Loft staff.

Summer Meetings

9 Tuesdays & Saturdays | 6:00 PM–9:00 PM Central Time and 10:00 AM–1:00 PM Central Time except for weeks when individual consultations are scheduled.

June 10 – August 17, 2024

  • 8 full class meetings, Tuesdays and Saturdays, with additional one week of individual conferences
  • Note: no meeting July 2
  • Half-hour individual meetings instead of workshop on July 23
Summer Independent Study Time

August 18-September 9: Independent study time between the final summer meeting and the start of the fall cohort meetings; this time is to be used for independent writing time, focusing on aspects of craft your teaching mentor feels will help your development as a writer; deep reading, of your own work as well as books outside of the cohort reading list that will benefit your writing; one to one meetings with your teaching mentor; writing group meetings with your cohort members.

 

Fall Meetings

14 Tuesdays | 6:00 PM–9:00 PM Central Time except for weeks when individual consultations are scheduled.

September 10 – December 17, 2024

  • 10 full class meetings with additional two weeks of individual conferences
  • Note: No meeting October 15 or November 26
  • Half-hour individual meetings: October 29, December 17
  • Guest authors/speakers throughout this term
Winter/Spring Meetings

12 Tuesdays | 6:00 PM–9:00 PM except for weeks when individual consultations are scheduled.

January 7 – April 8, 2025

  • 12 full meetings with additional two weeks of individual conferences
  • Note: No meeting February 11
  • Half-hour individual meetings February 25
  • Guest authors/speakers throughout this term
  • Final manuscripts will be turned in on April 8, with a final one-to-one meeting scheduled with teaching mentor no later than May 30, 2025
Course meetings

Our workshop will meet every week over Zoom; there will be no in-person meetings. Typically, five Tuesdays in a row will be devoted to discussion of craft, mini-lectures, writing prompts, and feedback on 3-4 workshop submissions, with oral feedback and a written summary expected from participants and editing, margin notes, written summaries, and oral feedback from the Teaching Mentor. The sixth Tuesday will be devoted to 20 to 30-minute individual conferences.

Workshop Structure

Each meeting will include discussion of assigned readings, a brief writing prompt, mini-craft lecture (for example, Tense, Point of View, Beginnings, Endings, Character Development, etc.), followed by discussion of submissions (typically three submissions per session). Each writer will submit up to two submissions per each five- to six-week period. Word count limits will depend upon your chosen genre, but for long-form writers who are submitting twice in each period, each submission will not exceed 4000 words. Most work should be double-spaced and page-numbered, using 12-point font and a standard typeface. We’ll spend approximately twenty minutes per individual submission per workshop session. If your goal is to experiment with various forms of fiction and delve deeply into all aspects of fiction writing and craft, you will be able to do that. If your goal is to complete a full draft of your fiction project, you will be able to do this by the end of the year as well.

One-on-One Consultations and Final Manuscripts

During our 20- to 30-minute individual conferences (roughly every six weeks), we’ll discuss any questions and curiosities you have about your own work, from micro to macro, and whatever else you’d like to talk about with regards to the absorbing world of fiction writing. We’ll also meet once before the workshop begins so that we can discuss your goals for the year and make sure we and the workshop are a good fit for you. Your final manuscript will be submitted on April 1, 2025. I’ll send you a written summary critique letter by mid-May 2025 at the latest, after which we’ll schedule a one-hour final consultation.

Sample Readings and Books

Selections will include work from, among others, the following authors:

  • Kim Fu
  • Claire Keegan
  • Tommy Orange 
  • Naomi Shihab Nye
  • Julie Schumacher
  • Jason Reynolds
  • Carson McCullers
  • Mona Susan Power
  • Danusha Lameris
  • Laurie Foos
  • James Baldwin
  • George Saunders
  • Elizabeth Strout
  • Kazuo Ishiguro
  • William Maxwell
  • Ross Gay
  • Helene Tursten
  • Elizabeth Acevedo
  • William Stafford 
  • Ari Tison
  • Leslie Jamison
  • Ada Limon
  • Celeste Ng
Visiting Writers and Publishing Professionals

Throughout the year, 4–6 visiting writers and publishing professionals will meet with your cohort as special guests.

  • Julie Schumacher, novelist and short story writer who has also written novels for children
  • Ari Tison, novelist, short story, and picture book writer for YA and younger 
  • Laurie Foos, novelist and novella writer, speculative, magical realism
  • Mona Susan Power, novelist and short story writer
  • Sara Crowe of Sara Crowe Literary, literary agent (primarily children but also some adult work
Communal Writing Space

Online cohorts have their virtual classroom available to them via Zoom for the duration of their year. These spaces are available for Year-Long Writing participants to utilize at any time for writing and discussion space outside of group cohort meetings.

Technology

All of our manuscripts are disbursed electronically via a digital service after our first meeting. You must have basic Microsoft Word, Google Docs and email literacy. 

Access to Alison During the Writing Project

Full-time working artists must schedule their time carefully, and I respect your need to do the same. Our individual consultations, scheduled approximately every six weeks, will focus solely on you, your work, and any questions you have. I will also be available to you via email for limited exchanges outside of class. If you have a specific, pressing question not addressed in the workshop, feel free to email me. Note that I respond to emails only on Mondays and Thursdays. 

Writing can bring up painful memories, encounters, situations; if you need help managing mental health issues, anxieties, trauma, please make arrangements to get help with those things outside of your time with these programs; the Loft can not and does not diagnose, treat, or manage mental health issues, and neither does your teaching mentor. Here are some resources.