Creative Writing Summer Program for High School Students

Interlochen's summer Creative Writing program gives you time and space to immerse yourself in the craft of writing. Guided by an outstanding faculty of published fiction writers, essayists, playwrights, and poets, you will expand your skills in multiple genres, deepen your conceptual understanding of writing as an art form, and increase your confidence to share your work with others in print and aloud.

Program length: 3 weeks
Program dates:
June 26, 2021 to July 17, 2021
Tuition: $6,250
Age range: Students currently in grades 9-12

During the three-week session, students spend their days in The Writing House, a beautiful and inspiring space built specifically to meet the needs of young writers. View 360-degree virtual tour.

Our on-campus offerings this summer draw inspiration from an old Shaker aphorism, "To master one craft, apprentice yourself to three." This summer, students will take daily classes in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and playwriting. Part of the day will also be given to guided open writing time, and students will have the chance to workshop up to two full pieces in two of the above genres of their choice.

  • Fiction workshop focuses on the fundamental elements of writing short stories. You will be introduced to the craft of short fiction through in-class exercises and the discussion and analysis of a diverse range of published stories. You will explore story structure, point of view, character, plot development, setting, dialogue, and revision.
  • Nonfiction workshop focuses on the fundamental elements of writing creative nonfiction. You will be introduced to the craft of creative nonfiction through in-class exercises and the discussion and analysis of a diverse range of published essays. You will explore essay structure, point of view, voice, character, temporality, setting, and revision.
  • Poetry workshop focuses on lyric, narrative, and dramatic poetry, and you will be introduced to traditional and contemporary poets. You will explore topics such as the texture and rhythm of language, image-making, and metaphor.
  • Playwriting workshop introduces you to character creation and dramatic structure through reading contemporary dramatic texts. You will write scenes to explore character, action, theatricality, and dialogue, and workshop a scene in class.

High school Creative Writing students are required to bring a laptop computer, which supports Windows 10, or macOS 10.14 and newer only, and a USB Flash Drive. Other operating systems are not guaranteed to be compatible with campus systems. It is not necessary to bring a printer. Computer use is strictly limited to classwork and Internet access is not allowed during class.

Faculty appointments for Arts Camp 2021 will be finalized in spring.


Portfolio Requirements

Please submit up to five PDF files.

PDF #1 A one-page, double-spaced personal essay that addresses these three points:

  1. How the practice of reading and writing enriches your life.
  2. How your time at Interlochen will help you attain your goals for creative writing.

PDFs #2-5 Assemble a portfolio that includes at least two of the following genres:

  • Poetry—four to five poems, preferably non-rhyming, that offer a variety of forms, styles, and subject matter.
  • Fiction—two short stories, only one of which may be so-called "genre" writing (science fiction, fantasy, etc.).
  • Playwriting—two dialogue-driven scenes or plays.
  • Nonfiction—two personal or outward-looking essays. Please do not send academic essays, like book analyses for English class.
  • Experimental or Unclassifiable work—one or more pieces that don't play by the rules and which perhaps include visual or sonic components.

All portfolio materials should be typed and proofread, double-spaced, with a standard 12-point font. Single-spacing is preferred but not required for poetry. Portfolios must not exceed 25 pages.

Additional Opportunities

Students are also invited to apply for the one-week Novel Writing Intensive, which takes place the week prior to this three-week program.

Students with an interest in screenwriting are also invited to apply for the one-week Screenwriting Intensive offered by the Film and New Media Division.

Interlochen is also home the Arts Academy boarding high school, which offers a Creative Writing major for grades 9-12, as well as a post-graduate year.


Emily Pittinos

Instructor of Creative Writing, High School Poetry, Interlochen Arts Camp

Associate Editor, Poetry Northwest; First Year Seminar Instructor, The College of Idaho; Poetry Instructor, Boise State University

Joe Sacksteder

Director of Creative Writing, Interlochen Center for the Arts; Instructor of Creative Writing, Interlochen Arts Camp


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