Creative Writing: Journalism & Nonfiction

Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
I - June 25–July 13, 2018
II - July 17–August 3, 2018
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 10:00–11:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m. –12:45 p.m., and 3:15–4:45 p.m., with optional elective 2:00–3:00 p.m.
Creative Writing staff

Course Description

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. We will explore sub-genres ranging from news and magazine writing to memoir and personal essay; from science writing and profiles to humor, food writing, and lyric essay. Students will learn 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, and use workshops to develop skills as editors and as writers.

Applicants should have some background with creative writing or journalism. They must submit two writing samples, 5-10 pages total, of journalism or any kind of creative 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.


Will Augerot

Will Augerot teaches and studies creative writing at Columbia University. He has written for n+1, The Rumpus, The Towner, The Morning News, and elsewhere. He was born in Port Chester, New York.

Kristi DiLallo

Kristi DiLallo is the founding editor of The Grief Diaries, an online magazine of art and writing about loss. Her own writing centers on her experience navigating the grief of parental incarceration, and her work has appeared in Fusion, Guernica, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere.

Kristen Martin

Kristen Martin recently received an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. She is at work on a collection of essays that explores and meditates on grief. Her personal and critical essays have been published in Literary Hub, Catapult Magazine, Real Life, The Hairpin, Guernica, The Toast, Google Play Editorial, Public Books, Saveur, The Grief Diaries, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Cleaver Magazine, and elsewhere. She teaches first-year writing at Columbia University and Baruch College.

Daniel Penny

Daniel Penny is a critic, journalist, and poet with an MFA in creative nonfiction from Columbia University. His writing has appeared in the New Republic, The New Inquiry, The Rumpus, The Village Voice, The Collagist, Slice Magazine, and others. He teaches writing at Parsons and Columbia.

Back to the Course Guide

Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.