Creative Writing: Master Class in Prose Writing

Level: Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in fall 2015.
Session: II, July 21-August 7, 2015
Days & Time: Monday–Friday, 9:30–10:30 a.m., 10:45 –12:15 p.m., and 2:30–4:00 p.m., with optional elective 1:15–2:15 p.m.
Teacher(s): Creative Writing staff (see below)

Prior creative writing workshop experience is preferred

Related Courses:

Students interested in this course might also be interested in Theatrical Collaboration: the Actor, the Director, and the Playwright or Creative Writing: Introductory and Advanced Workshops.

Course Description

For students who seek intensive experience with the writing of fiction or literary nonfiction. In addition to participating in writing workshops, students work on their independent projects (see below) on a daily basis.

Applicants must submit a proposal for an independent project (i.e., an extended short story or personal essay, a short story or personal essay collection, or a novel-in-progress), as well as two writing samples (five to ten pages total) in the same genre as the proposed project. Prior workshop experience is preferred.

Courses in creative writing are offered by the Summer Program for High School Students in conjunction with the Writing Program at Columbia’s School of the Arts, one of the most distinguished creative writing programs in the country. Overseen by Professor Sam Lipsyte (Chair of Creative Writing), Professor Alan Ziegler, and Christina Rumpf (Coordinator of Creative Writing for the Summer Program for High School Students), the creative writing courses are designed to challenge and engage students interested in literary creation, providing them with a substantial foundation for further exploration of their creative work.


Students may choose to participate in one of the following electives:

Comedy Writing: Students spend class time reading, writing, and performing comedy.

Genre Fiction: Students spend class time reading and writing different types of genre fiction, including science fiction, horror, crime, fantasy, and mystery.

Journalism: Students produce a news blog, including but not limited to campus and neighborhood news, book/music/art/restaurant reviews, interviews/profiles, and op-eds.

Publishing House: Students work as editors to create their own literary magazine, which is published at the end of the program.

Write What You Don’t Know: Students read authors who have perfected the art of writing in persona; exercises are designed to help students practice writing from points of view that are distinctly not their own.

Exquisite Corpse: Students wishing to focus more on poetry read a wide and stimulating selection of poems, and work toward finishing a chapbook at the end of the program.

Independent Project: Students complete an additional writing project and take part in extra conferences.


Sophie Unterman

Sophie Unterman studied English and American studies at Tulane University in New Orleans before moving to New York. She is currently working toward an MFA in nonfiction at Columbia, where she co-directs the Columbia Veterans Writing Workshop and spends too many Sunday afternoons wandering across the Williamsburg Bridge. Her essays have appeared in The Jewish Daily Forward, Deep South, and NolaVie.  

Specific course information, such as hours and instructors, are subject to change at the discretion of the University.