• 2018 Dates: Session 1, June 24 - July 6; Session 2, July 8-27

  • Look here for the 2018 Student Application after January 1.

Summer Program

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THE YOUNG WRITERS WORKSHOP of the University of Virginia is a nonprofit arts organization established in 1982 as the nation’s flagship program for young writers. Now in its fourth decade, it continues to bring together a community of writers from across the country and internationally with a common purpose: to create a supportive, non-competitive environment where teenage writers can live and work together as artists.

The faculty of authors and residential staff bring professional experience to the development of new talent. In partnership with nearby Sweet Briar College and its idyllic setting, the Young Writers Workshop has achieved a long-desired goal: to welcome its participants to a retreat space where writers can commune with each other, immerse themselves in creative activity, and fuel their imaginations through an innovative arts program.


The Studio Workshops evolve through the dynamic principles of play, invention, response, revision, performance, and publication. Participants learn strategies to invent, develop, and revise material using the writer’s most essential tools—language, imagination, craft, sight, and insight. They conference with instructors and peer writers. They examine contemporary artists’ work. They become more discerning readers. Six studio workshops are offered:

Graphic Fiction & Nonfiction

In this innovative workshop writers will create fiction or nonfiction – or both! –by combining their own particular visual and verbal styles. Graphic texts – currently the most popular new mediums for storytelling – will become what participants in this workshop craft to dynamically render their own unique narratives that work on textual as well as visual levels. Instruction will accommodate a wide range of drawing abilities; it’s the story that matters most! See student samples here.


From the real to the surreal, fiction writers learn how evocative fiction works: the power of provocative story hooks, resonant settings, and plot lines that weave together the lives of complex characters. This workshop also focuses on developing a repertoire of voices, styles, and narrative techniques to intrigue readers and leave them wanting more.

Creative Nonfiction

Creative nonfiction writers deploy the devices of great fiction—riveting description, charged dialogue, strong narrative structure—for telling true stories. They take these literary skills into field assignments to practice the real moves of the nonfiction writer, through humor, memoir, editorial, review, and many others bringing truth to the page with the force of fiction.


Poets make the ordinary extraordinary. They experiment with craft and form. They embody whole worlds of experience in just one line or image, distill where they have been and what they know, and give shape to personal truth in luminous detail. This workshop helps young poets discover the ways to tempt the muse to the page and forge what follows into a full blaze.


Artists in this workshop write songs that give rise to unequivocal statement. They concentrate on lyrics, music, or both. Through improvisation, they enter the kinship of poetry through jazz-poetry fusion. They perform live, go solo, or collaborate with other singer-songwriters. Either way, they create in that unparalleled space where sound and words explode.

Screen & Playwriting

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “Writers aren’t exactly people … they’re a whole bunch of people trying to be one person.” Script writers learn the skills needed to unleash their cast of characters onto screen or stage. Dramatic writing is the perfect genre for those whose inspiration exceeds the limits of the page!

Sample Schedule

Workshop Labs & Electives

Genre labs play an essential part in the weekday schedule: a follow-up to the intensive studio workshop, they extend experimentation through a variety of inventive techniques. A similar array of elective mini-courses expand the daily menu, among them: visiting artist forums; related arts exploratories in photography, drawing, dance, music, and drama; excursions into popular culture forms like spoken word poetry and alternative video; and playwriting-team marathons.

Evenings & Weekends

Our schedule takes advantage of Sweet Briar’s extraordinary setting, its related summer arts programs, and its sister organization, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Endstation Repertory Company stages outdoor and proscenium plays; the VCCA offers an open house featuring artists in residence at the Mt. San Angelo campus; and Sweet Briar coffeehouses bring together artists from across their summer program to share their work. The schedule sampling also includes treks to the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains and local historic sites, program alumni artists in readings and performances, literary salons, and open mics. The Writer’s Café, the capstone event, showcases everyone’s original work.


The workshop program welcomes all applicants, including those who are international. A tourist visa is required for accepted international applicants.

To apply, choose from two workshop sessions:

Session I

June 24 - July 6 (Two Weeks) Designed for writers with a range of experience — those new to study in a specific genre as well as those seeking to build their existing craft repertoire. Eligibility: Rising 9th grade through rising 12th grade (minimum age 13 by start of session). Features: intensive workshops, labs, readings, faculty conferencing, independent writing, publication and performance. 2018 Tuition TBA

Session II

July 8-27 (Three Weeks) Includes all Session I features plus visiting artists, the semi-formal banquet, and in-depth genre reading and writing with emphasis on technique, revision, and the road to publication. Eligibility: Rising 10th grade through rising college freshmen (minimum age 14 by start of session). A more advanced session, it requires commitment to revision and pushing the limits of the genre. 2018 Tuition TBA

Other Details: Tuition includes instruction by published professional writers who are also master teachers, trained counselors who are both writers and teachers, room, board, recreation, supplementary accident insurance, local transportation, and a personal copy of the Workshop literary magazine in which all participants are featured.

  • The average writer-student ratio is 1:12.
  • Dormitory rooms are double (2)-, triple (3)-, and quad (4)-occupancy; participants may request a roommate.
  • The counselor-student ratio averages 1:8; females and males are accommodated in separate dormitory areas.
  • Participants are supervised in all aspects of the program. A limited number of partial scholarships, based on financial need, are available; financial aid information is included with the application.
  • The deadline for completed applications is March 1.
  • A nonrefundable deposit of $250 must be made by April 1 to reserve space in the program.
  • Preferable mode of payment is by credit card or echeck.

Application Procedures

All applicants submit:

  • An autobiographical sketch that details reasons for wanting to attend the Workshop and captures the applicant’s interests and influences as a writer
  • A recommendation (excepted for program alumni).

If your first choice is SESSION I, also submit:

  • One 1-page writing sample in your 1st choice of genres; and
  • One 1-page writing sample in your 2nd choice of genres.

Identify excerpts as such. Retain copies of all submitted materials as they cannot be returned.

Those applying to the Songwriting Workshop may upload lyrics, music, or both as a portfolio.

If your first choice is SESSION 2, also submit:

  • A selective writing portfolio (3-5 page document) in your 1st choice of genres; and
  • A 2-3 page writing sample in your 2nd choice of genres.

Identify excerpts as such. Retain copies of all submitted materials as they cannot be returned.

Those applying to the Songwriting Workshop may upload lyrics, music, or both as a portfolio.

Deadline: Complete the application online by March 1. (Late applicants are accepted on a space-available basis.)

Questions: Email writers@virginia.edu

The University of Virginia does not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity, marital status, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, and family medical or genetic information.