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Northwestern University Summer Writers' Conference

Conference Schedule

2019 Conference Schedule

Register today!

Last day to register: August 11!

Summer Writers' Conference Schedule

  Thursday, August 15 Friday, August 16 Saturday, August 17

9:00 a.m. –

9:30 a.m.

Coffee and Check-In Coffee and Check-In Coffee and Check-In

Writing Workshops

9:30 a.m. –

11:00 a.m.

Workshop A

Thrills & Chills: Writing the Modern Ghost Story

with Sara Connell

Workshop A

Poetic Turns and Last Lines

with Maya Marshall

Workshop A - CLOSED

How to Write a Gut Wrenching Story

with Nami Mun

Workshop B - CLOSED

A River Runs Beneath It: The Internal Plot in Fiction

with Fred Shafer

Workshop B

Life as Story: Crafting the ​Autobiographical Novel

with Christine Maul Rice

Workshop B

Strange Animals: Prose Poems

with Valerie Wallace

Workshop C

Sounds Funny: The Basics of Humor Writing

with Sophie Lucido Johnson

Workshop C - CLOSED

Seductive Openings

with Garnett Kilberg Cohen

Workshop C

Rules for Breaking

with James Tadd Adcox

Workshop D

Your Story, Your Story's World

with Susanna Calkins

Workshop D - CLOSED

Move Me: Strategies for Getting Unstuck and Energizing Your Prose

with Rachel Swearingen

Workshop D

Diving Into Possibility

with Faisal Mohyuddin

Workshop E

Submission Strategies

with Eileen Favorite

Workshop E

Discovering the Vivid Landscape

with Laurie Lawlor

Workshop E

How to Read a Photograph: A Workshop for Writers

with Lynn Sloan

Workshop F

Short and Sweet Nonfiction: The Art of the Essay

with Michele Weldon

Workshop F

The Habit of Art: How to Transform Your Writing Life Through Daily Practice

with Kelcey Parker Ervick

Workshop F

“We Have Ignition, We Have Liftoff!”:  How to Get Your Stories Up and Going in Effective Ways

with Eric Charles May

Workshop G

Beyond First and Third: Mastering Point of View in Any Genre

with Kathleen Rooney

Workshop G - CLOSED

Lightning Bolts: Escalation and Pattern Building

with Jac Jemc

Workshop G - CLOSED

The Blended Voice: Mixing Research and Experience in Creative Nonfiction

with Deborah Siegel

Morning Panels

11:15 a.m. – 
12:15 p.m.


Punch the Keys: Why Criticism and Commentary Matter More than Ever

with Tony Adler, Paula Carter, Charles Finch, and Jarrett Neal (moderator)


Brand Matters

with Gint Aras, Amina Gautier, Mare Swallow, and Ben Tanzer (moderator)


Good Writing is Revising

with Randall Albers, Eric Charles May, Donna Seaman, and Sarah Kokernot  (moderator)

Lunch and Keynotes

12:15 p.m. 

1:45 p.m.

Keynote Reading and Discussion

Writing Chicago: Never a Lovely So Real

with Miles Harvey, Natalie Moore, Renee Rosen, and Gerald Brennan (moderator)

Keynote Reading and Discussion

It's a Family Affair: Taking the Heart's Dictation

with Gina Frangello, Krista Franklin, Mark Turcotte, and  Christine Sneed (moderator)

Keynote Presentation

Researching Into the Void

with Rebecca Makkai 

Writing Workshops

2:00 p.m. –

3:30 p.m.

Workshop A

Good Enough

with Juan Martinez

Workshop A - CLOSED

What a Character Wants, What a Character Needs

with Betsy Finesilver Haberl

Workshop A - CLOSED

Speaking the Unspeakable: Pushing Past Silence, Stigma, and Taboo in Creative Nonfiction

with Kim Brooks

Workshop B - CLOSED

Do They Need to Know What Time It Is?: How To Know What Details to Give the Reader

with Alex Higley


Workshop B

The Body in Question

with Riva Lehrer

Workshop B - CLOSED

Writing Myth and Magic into Short Stories

with Dipika Mukherjee

Workshop C

Writing the Absurd

with Vincent Francone

Workshop C

Flash Nonfiction: Your Life in 750 Words or Less

with Paula Carter

Workshop C

Write Where You Are: Placing the Reader in Your Poems

with Rebecca Morgan Frank

Workshop D

Prompts that Emphasize Play in Writing: A Generative Workshop

with Christine Sneed

Workshop D - CLOSED

Will You Please, Please, Please Stop Talking: Knowing When to Speak and When to Shut Up in Your Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry

with Billy Lombardo

Workshop D

Big Ideas, Big Stories: Genre Writing 101

with Michael Moreci

Workshop E

“Are You My Mother?” Is the Only Plot Structure You Need

with Jeremy T. Wilson

Workshop E - CLOSED

Greater than the Sum of Its Parts: Crafting a Novel-in-Stories

with Karen Schreck

Workshop E

Method in Narrative Craft

with Bayo Ojikutu

Workshop F - CLOSED

The Truth Can Be a Great Story: Turning Nonfiction into Narrative

with Mary Wisniewski

Workshop F

Getting from Abstract to Concrete in Fiction (or, How to Make the Political Personal)

with Jennifer Solheim

Workshop F

Troubleshooting Negative Thinking, Keeping Up Confidence

with Ross Ritchell

Workshop G

Density of the Poem: Heavy or Porous

with Angela Jackson

Workshop G

Private Pages, Public Spaces: The Power of Journaling

with Jarrett Neal

Workshop G

Getting Your Memoir Off the Ground

with Beth Finke

Afternoon Panels

3:45 p.m. –

4:45 p.m.


Navigating the World of Creative Writing Residencies

with Kathryn Kruse,  Amy Sinclair, Simone Muench, and Ignatius Aloysius (moderator)


Publishing Your Book: Many Roads to One Goal

with Mary Bisbee-Beek, Marcy Posner, Deb Robertson, Doug Seibold, and Emily Victorson (moderator)


The Restrained and Rousing: Writing on the Page, Reading from the Stage

with Dana Norris, Jeremy Owens, Kenyatta Rogers, and Ian Belknap (moderator)


4:45 p.m. –

5:30 p.m.

Networking Reception

Networking Reception 

Networking Reception


5:30 p.m. –

6:30 p.m.

Northwestern University Literary Reading 

featuring faculty, alumni, and students from Northwestern University's MA in Writing and MFA in Prose and Poetry programs

Indie Press Reading

featuring authors from Chicago-area indie publishing companies

Live Lit Performance

with storytellers and performers from across Chicago

Please note: schedule is subject to change. The online registration form is updated in live time with space available in each session. If you've registered for the conference, waiting lists are available for closed workshops. Email with your request.

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