Chautauqua Institution

Each workshop is taught by an experienced, published author in a small group setting. Most classes are limited to just 12 participants. All workshops are held on the second floor of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. (Located on the south end of the grounds on Wythe Ave. across from the Hall of Philosophy.) For specific questions regarding workshops, please contact Clara Silverstein. - See more at:

Each workshop is taught by an experienced, published author (writer-in-residence) in a small group setting. Most classes are limited to just 12 participants. All workshops are held on the second floor of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. (Located on the south end of the grounds on Wythe Ave. across from the Hall of Philosophy.)

For specific questions regarding workshops, please contact Clara Silverstein.

Registration begins in April. Call the ticket ofice at 716.357.6250 to register by phone or register online at You may also register at one of our ticketing windows at our Main Gate Welcome Center.

Weekly prose and poetry workshops have been the core of the Chautauqua Writers' Center for 24 years. Faculty members are selected not only for their national reputations and the quality of their work, but also for their ability to inspire developing writers to grow in their craft.


Week 1, June 22-28

Hillary Jordan
Creating a distinctive voice that grabs hold of the reader and pulls them inexorably forward, never letting go until the end, is one of the hardest and most important tasks facing a storyteller. This workshop will explore different forms of voice in fiction and creative nonfiction and the narrative elements writers use to make them compelling. Through writing exercises and analysis of works by master storytellers, students will gain a new set of tools for creating voices that captivate readers. You are welcome to bring 14 double-spaced copies of a story or an excerpt of up to 1,500 words to discuss in class as time allows.

Hillary-Jordan 2Hillary Jordan is the author of the novels Mudbound and When She Woke and the digital single “Aftermirth.” Mudbound, a 2013 World Book Night selection, won the Bellwether Prize for socially conscious fiction and an Alex Award from the American Library Association. Both Mudbound and When She Woke were long-listed for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and have been translated into ten languages. Hillary received her BA from Wellesley College and her MFA from Columbia University.

Week 1, June 22-28

April Eberhardt
Whether you have labored for many years over a manuscript or simply dream of starting one, literary change agent and author advocate April Eberhardt walks you through the process in two different workshops, and discusses the many ways in which you can be published in these changing times. Register for one or both.

  • Day 1: THE MANY PATHWAYS TO PUBLISHING |  Monday, June 23, 3:30 to 5 p.m.  |  Limit: 50 students
    • This workshop encourages you to consider all methods of publishing your work, ranging from traditional to self, with many hybrid options in between. What are the pros and cons of traditional vs. independent publishing? How do you decide which route is best for you? Come learn about how the industry is changing, and how to pursue goals that suit your dreams, timetable and budget.
  • Day 2: DESIGNING A REALISTIC STRATEGY FOR WRITING  |  Wednesday, June 25, 3:30 to 5 p.m.  |  Limit: 50 students
    • This workshop guides you in developing a strategy for your writing life, including carving out and adhering to writing time; identifying and handling stumbling blocks; and planning and implementing a sustainable approach for growth. The goal is to create a blueprint for achieving a steady sense of accomplishment, including modest and satisfying successes along the way, at the same time that you continue to reach for the stars.

A limited number of individual 20-minutes sessions to discuss a completed manuscript, a work in progress, an idea for a book, or any writing-related question may also be scheduled on Tuesday, June 24 for an additional fee of $35, paid directly to the instructor. To sign up, please e-mail by Monday, June 16. For a manuscript critique for a finished work or one in progress, also e-mail up to 20 double-spaced pages in 12-point type with your name, email address, and phone number at the top of the first page.


April-EberhardtApril Eberhardt joined the literary world after 25 years as a corporate strategist and consultant.  A self-described "literary change agent," she founded her own agency in order to assist and advise authors as they navigate the increasingly complex world of publishing.She also served as head reader for Zoetrope: All-Story, a literary magazine, followed by five years as an agent with two San Francisco-based literary agencies. She holds an MBA from Boston University in Marketing and Finance, a BA from Hamilton (Kirkland) College in Anthropology and French, and a CPLF degree from the University of Paris. She represents clients worldwide, and divides her time between San Francisco, New York and Paris.

Week 2, June 29-July 5

Jonathan Eig
Willa Cather said there are only two or three human stories, and “they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” But if most stories are essentially the same, what separates the good ones from the bad? More than anything, it’s the hero and his or her journey. Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, a short story or memoir, you won’t get far until you find your hero. Through writing exercises, supplementary readings, and discussions, we'll work on creating true heroes and putting them to work for your own purposes. No experience or advance submissions necessary but you are welcome to bring 14 copies of up to 10 double-spaced pages of your own work to discuss in class as time allows.


Jonathan-EigJonathan Eig is a former writer for the Wall Street Journal and the best-selling author of three non-fiction books: Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig; Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson's First Season; and Get Capone: The Secret Plot that Captured America's Most Wanted Gangster. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Esquire, and the Washington Post. He's been a guest on NPR's Fresh Air and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His latest book, Birth of the Pill, will be published this fall. He lives in Chicago.


Week 3, July 6-12

Marion Roach Smith
Put down that glue gun, toss aside that scrapbook, stop merely telling your tales at dinner and finally write your story. A possible subtitle for this class could be Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Memoir, but that’s a little wordy, isn’t it? We’ll talk about being too wordy, as well as finding your voice, telling the family truths and every other aspect of writing what you know. No experience or advance submissions necessary.


Marion-Roach-Smith1Marion Roach Smith began her writing career at The New York Times and has since published four non-fiction books, including The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing – And Life. Her personal essays have aired on NPR’s All Things Considered. She teaches memoir on various platforms, including online.

Week 4, July 13-19

Roy Hoffman
This workshop for writers of nonfiction and fiction is focused on a topic at the center of our hearts. Whether it’s the hearth we knew as a child, the house we aspire to as adults, a place whose atmosphere is one of caring and sweetness – or discord and yearning – the core of who we are is often bound up in a place called home. Leaving home, looking for home, making a home – these themes and others are part of a great literary tradition. To prepare ourselves for our own explorations, we’ll look at excerpts from literature, do in-class exercises, and discuss how this special place can be deepened in our creative writing. You are welcome to bring 14 copies of up to 8 double-spaced pages from an essay or short story to discuss in class as time allows.

Roy-HoffmanRoy Hoffman is author of three novels,Come Landfall, about three women, the men they love and wars that shape them; Almost Family, a drama of the civil rights South; and Chicken Dreaming Corn, about immigrant Jews in early 1900s Alabama. Also author of two essay collections, Back Home, and Alabama Afternoons, his articles have appeared in the New York Times and other publications. He resides in Fairhope, Ala., and is on the faculty of the Spalding University Brief Residency MFA in Writing Program.

Week 5, July 20-26

Donna Jo Napoli
Life happens, and sometimes it makes a good story. But a good story isn’t enough to delight your reader. We will look at the structure of specific events and ask how to tighten the screws that hold that structure together, so that the funny becomes hilarious; the sad, tragic; the scary, terrifying. History, mythology, daily life will be our fodder; emotional draining of the reader will be our goal. No experience or advance submissions necessary.

Donna-Jo-NapoliDonna Jo Napoli has published 77 books for young people. Her most recent books are Treasury of Egyptian Mythology (middle grade), Storm (young adult), and Hands & Hearts (picture book). Her awards include the Golden Kite, Sydney Taylor, both gold and silver Parents' Choice, Anne Izard's Storytelling, Bock Book, several ALA best books, and state awards from New Jersey, Kentucky, Nevada, California, and Pennsylvania. She’s professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College and creative writing at University of Pennsylvania.

Week 5, July 20-26

Molly Smith Metzler
Whether you’re writing your hundredth play or your very first, this fun and rigorous playwrighting workshop, offered as a collaboration between the Chautauqua Theater Company and the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, will set you up to succeed. This class is designed to help you find your next great idea for a play (which you already have, you just don't know it!) and then tackle the actual writing of it with focus and efficiency. No creative writing experience is necessary. Just bring a pen and an open mind.

Molly-Smith-MetzlerMolly Smith Metzler is New York-based playwright. Her award-winning plays have been produced across the country at such theaters as Manhattan Theatre Club, South Coast Repertory, Humana Festival, Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, and The Kennedy Center. Her most recent play, The May Queen, a comedy commissioned by the Chautauqua Theater Company, premieres at CTC this summer. Her plays Carve and Close Up Space were part of CTC’s New Play Workshops in previous summers.

Week 6, July 27- August 2

Richard Terrill
Music presents an unusual challenge for writers who choose to take it as a subject: how to describe in mere words encounters with this abstract yet perhaps most evocative of the arts?  In this writing workshop we’ll examine how published writers have taken up that task.  We’ll write -- in either nonfiction prose or poetry -- our own “personal criticism,” first person writing about listening to, playing, composing, or performing music.  Advance submissions (up to 3,000 words) are welcome but not required, and may be sent to 4633 Ensign Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55428. You are also welcome to bring copies of up to 8 double-spaced pages of nonfiction prose in progress or 1-2 poems in progress to discuss in class as time allows.

Richard-TerrillRichard Terrill is the author of Fakebook: Improvisations on a Journey Back to Jazz and Saturday Night in Baoding: A China Memoir, winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award for nonfiction; and two collection of poems, including Coming Late to Rachmaninoff, winner of the Minnesota Book Award. Other honors include an NEA Grant and three Fulbrights. He teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University, where he is Distinguished Faculty Scholar, and works as a jazz saxophone player.

Week 6, July 27-August 2

Deb Pines
Make your dream of being a published author a reality by doing it yourself. Learn how to polish, publish and promote any kind of book. Get practical tips on editing, cover design, titles, print and ebook formatting, hiring help, making a business plan, distributing and promoting your work. The class will also address reasons for self-publishing, success stories (like Fifty Shades of Grey) and more realistic expectations. Bring a three- or four-sentence blurb for your book jacket.
Wednesday, July 30, 3-5 p.m.

Deb-PinesDeb Pines is the author of five novels including the self-published mystery In the Shadow of Death: A Chautauqua Murder Mystery. A graduate of Brown University, she is a former newspaper reporter for The Indianapolis Star, The New York Law Journal and other publications. She is now an award-winning headline writer and copy editor for The New York Post and popular speaker on writing and editing issues.

Week 7, August 3-9

Jim Hunt and Linda Lawrence Hunt
Have you ever noticed how even brief travel experiences alter one’s perspective on life?   Whether epic journeys, like John Muir’s 1000-mile botany walk and Helga and Clara Estby’s 3500-mile walk across America, or our own travel moments, these journeys often prove life-shaping. We’ll look at biographies, journals, and travel writers that highlight the transformative nature of leaving the comfort of the familiar.  We’ll also tap into our own travel memories and seek to expand meaning within these stories. No experience or advance submissions necessary but you are welcome to bring 14 copies of up to 8 double-spaced pages of a work in progress to discuss in class as time allows.

JJim-Hunt-2ames B. (Jim) Hunt, a historian and professor emeritus at Whitworth University, is the author of Restless Fires: Young John Muir’s Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf in 1867-68. He has researched and written articles on how travel experiences shaped the lives of Jane Addams, Frederick Douglass, John Quincy Adams, and Muir. He is co-founder of the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship, a legacy for his 25-year-old married daughter who was killed while volunteering in Bolivia; a Danforth Associate; and recipient of outstanding teaching and service awards.

Linda-HuntLinda Lawrence Hunt is the award-winning author of six non-fiction books, including Pilgrimage through Loss: Pathways to Strength and Renewal after the Death of a Child and Bold Spirit: Helga Estby’s Forgotten Walk across Victorian America, which won the national Willa Cather Literary Award for Non-fiction and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award. Former director of the Writing Program at Whitworth University, she received awards for outstanding teaching and service, and co-founded the Krista Foundation for Global Citizenship. She is also a Danforth Associate and a keynote speaker for civic and historical organizations.

Week 8, August 10-16

Brian Castner
Writers of all statures and expertise can theoretically reach a nearly limitless audience online. But how to gain a readership and keep it? And how to create a site that helps you grow as a writer? A well-considered author’s blog can serve as an important platform, and this workshop will not only discuss the nuts and bolts of setting up your own blog, but also on writing essays, travelogues, and stories beyond your normal range. You are welcome to bring 14 copies of up to 8 double-spaced pages of a potential blog post to discuss in class as time allows.

Brian-CastnerBrian Castner is the author of The Long Walk: A Story of War and the Life That Follows, an Amazon Best Book of 2012 and a 2013 Chautauqua Scientific and Literary Circle selection. Before becoming a full-time writer, he was an Air Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal officer, serving three combat tours in the Middle East. His work has appeared in Wired, The Daily Beast, The New York Times, Foreign Policy and other national publications.


Week 9, August 17-24

Evan Fallenberg
Put two people in a room (or a tent, or a swimming pool) and you've got a story.  But where do these characters come from and how do we make them real enough to pass muster while at the same time avoiding stereotypes? This workshop will be devoted to the creation of plausible, interesting characters who bring with them stories so riveting that all we need to do is sit down and write what they're telling us. We will also devote time to scene work – how to activate those characters once we’ve created them. Class time will be a mix of discussion and group and individual writing exercises.  Participants are welcome to send in advance up to 2,000 words of prose to or bring 14 copies to discuss in class as time allows.

Evan-FallenbergEvan Fallenberg is author of the novels Light Fell and When We Danced on Water and a noted translator. He has won or been shortlisted for many prizes, including an American Library Association Award, the Edmund White Award, and the PEN Translation Prize. He is coordinator of fiction and literary translation at Bar-Ilan University of Israel and an instructor in the MFA program in creative writing at City University of Hong Kong. The recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the National Endowment for the Arts, Fallenberg serves as an advisor to several literary prizes.


Registration for all workshops begins in April. Tuition is $110 is open to writers of all stages ($150 for Advanced Poetry Workshop, and requires writing samples to be submitted).

Register online -

Register by phone - Call 716.357.6250. Please have all registration information ready before calling. Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover are all accepted.

Pre-register by mail or fax (716.357.5823) - Complete the registration form printed in the Special Studies Catalog and return it to:

Special Studies
PO Box 28
Chautauqua, New York 14722

Registration forms will be available in the Special Studies Catalog which can be obtained by writing to the address above.

Register in-person - Walk-in registrations will be accepted at the Main Gate and the Colonnade.

Note: A $5 handling fee will be added to all phone, fax and mail registrations.


Clara Silverstein
Program Director

Sherra Babcock
Director of Education