What creative possibilities do true stories hold? How can truth telling and storytelling work together? How can we turn ourselves—and other real people—into compelling characters? This class considers the possibilities of journalism and creative nonfiction. Students will learn basic research and reporting skills essential to all forms of nonfiction writing, as well as how to incorporate techniques traditionally associated with fiction writing into journalism and nonfiction. We will engage with a range of nonfiction prose and quality journalism—from news and magazine writing to memoir and personal essay—and use workshops to develop skills as editors and as writers.
Applicants must submit two writing samples, 3-7 pages total, of any kind of writing (longer submissions are acceptable).
Students may choose an optional elective as a supplement to the three required daily class meetings. Please note that participation in an elective will prevent students from partaking in most other midday activities.
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.
Courses in creative writing are offered in conjunction with the Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Overseen by Chair of Creative Writing Timothy Donnelly, Professor Alan Ziegler, and Director of Creative Writing for Pre-College Programs Christina Rumpf, 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.