LINKS TO WRITING SCHOOLS, CONFERENCES & SEMINARS
WRITER’S BOOK FAIRS & FESTIVALS:
Books Fairs are great places for authors to connect to others in the industry, other authors, editors and agents, similar to festivals and may last a week, but are usually day events and offer no overnight accommodations.
AMELIA ISLAND BOOKS FESTIVAL - In Fernandina Beach, Florida.
BAY AREA BOOK FESTIVAL - Festival in San Francisco.
BOOK CON - Located in NYC.
BOOK EXPO AMERICA - Located in NYC.
BOSTON BOOK FESTIVAL – Boston book festival.
BROOKLYN BOOK FFESTIVAL - New York City’s largest book festival, a meeting place for publishers, small presses, agents and authors.
BRONX BOOK FAIR – Located in Bronx, NY.
FORT WORTH BOOK FESTIVAL – In Texas.
HOLLYWOOD BOOK FESTIVAL - Entertainment/Hollywood-Book-Festival-255938647756201/ or HollywoodBKFest @ aol.com - “Via PA: They have issued a call for entries to their annual program celebrating books that deserve greater recognition from the film, television, game, and multimedia communities. They mean to spotlight literature worthy of further consideration, and facilitate getting those works to the proper hands for consideration by the entertainment industry. They will consider published, self-published, and independent fiction, non-fiction, and just about anything else. The grand prize is $1,000 and a flight to Los Angeles.”
LA TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS – Located in Los Angeles, CA.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS BOOK FESTIVAL - In Washington DC.
OXFORD EXCHANGE BOOK FAIR – Located in Tampa, FL.
NEWBURY PORT LITERARY FESTIVAL – Located in Massachusetts.
NEW YORK BOOK FESTIVAL - “Via PA: It is calling for entries to its annual program celebrating books that deserve greater recognition from the world's publishing capital. It will consider published, self-published, and independent publisher fiction, non-fiction, children's teenage, how-to, audio, comics, e-books, science fiction, romance, biography/autobiography, or wild card (anything goes). Entries can be in English, Spanish, French, or Italian. Grand prize of $1,500 and a flight to New York for the awards. Deadline is April 25, 2007. Entry fee $50 for each submission. My comment: this looks interesting, but I am wary of that charged submission; it may or may not be legitimate. December 2007 update: They have issued a call for 2008 entries, same terms, same prize. Deadline is May 25, 2008. 2008 update: It's an annual event. October 2013 update: It continues. November 2014 update: But now their database is down.”
PORTLAND BOOK FESTIVAL – Located in Oregon.
SAN ANTONIO BOOK FESTIVAL – In Texas.
SAVANAH BOOK FESTIVAL - In Georgia.
SEATTLE URBAN BOOK EXPO – Located in Seattle, WA.
SOUTHERN FESTIVAL OF BOOKS – In Tennessee.
SUNSHINE STATE BOOK FESTIVAL - In Gainesville Florida.
TWIN CITIES BOOK FESTIVAL – In Minneapolis.
VEGAS VALLEY BOOK FESTIVAL – In Las Vegas, NV.
WIMBLEDON BOOK FESTIVAL – Located in UK.
WISCONSIN BOOK FESTIVAL – In Madison, WI.
WRITER’S CONVENTIONS AND CONFERENCES:
Writer’s conventions and conferences are usually more specialized for authors and offer lodging accommodations and last from several days to a week, lending more personalized experiences for writers to meet agents and editors and other authors, usually for new authors.
ALGONKIAN WRITING CONFERENCES - Higher quality conferences, held in multiple locations in US. Will McCoy approved.
ANSIBLE INTERNATIONAL EVENTS LIST – Comprehensive list of international events.
ANSIBLE UK EVENTS & CONVENTIONS LIST – Fully covers only British Isles events plus all Eurocons & Worldcons.
AUTHOR ADVANTAGE LIVE – Held in Austin, TX.
AWP WRITER’S CONFERENCE - AWP Writer’s Conference and their programs, top conference in US.
CENTRAL COAST WRITER’S CONFERENCE - In Los Angeles - Whether you are a new writer or an established author, the Cuesta College Central Coast Writers Conference will elevate your writing and scribing passion to the next level. Cited as one of the best writers conferences in the US, this destination conference offers workshops in all genres presented by an inspiring faculty. From Academy Award winners to New York Time Best selling authors to Poets to Children’s Authors to NetFlix stars, we have it all personalized just for you.
FRANKFURT WRITER’S CONFERENCE – Frankfurt, Germany.
GENEVA WRITER’S GROUP - Hosted in Geneva, Switzerland.
GRITLIT - Another Canadian book conference.
LOCUS CONVENTION – List of most major conventions.
KAUAI WRITER’S CONFERENCE – Kauai, Hawaii.
KILLER NASHVILLE – The Nashville writer’s conference.
MELBOURNE WRITER’S FESTIVAL – Held in Melbourne, AU.
MIDDLEBURRY BREAD LOAF WRITER’S CONFERENCE - Held in Vermont.
NONFICTIONOW - Held in Wellington, NZ.
NORTHER COLORADO WRITERS – In Fort Collins, CO.
OTTOWA FESTIVAL OF IDEAS – Canadian conference.
PARIS CAFÉ WRITING - Conference held in Paris, FR.
PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY CONFERENCE - Dates & info for book events worldwide.
ROMANCE WRITERS OF AMERICA - In San Francisco, CA.
SAN FRANSISCO WRITERS CONFERENCE - Based in San Francisco, CA.
SANTA BARBARA WRITER’S CONFERENCE - Conference in Santa Barbara, CA.
SAN MIGUEL WRITER’S CONFERENCE – Held in San Miguel Mexico.
SEWANEE WRITER’S CONFERENCE - Tennessee.
SLEUTHFEST – Mystery book conference held annually in Florida.
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA WRITER'S CONFERENCE - Not a favorite of Will McCoy's, but a legit conference.
SURREY INTERNATONAL WRITER’S CONFERNCE - Based in Canada.
SXSW CONFERNECE - Held in Austin TX.
THE INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN WRITER’S FESTIVAL – Dublin, IE.
THE LAS VEGAS WRITERS CONFERENCE – In Nevada.
THE LONDON BOOK FAIR - London, UK.
THE WRITING CONFERENCE OF LOS ANGELES - Held in Los Angeles.
THRILLERFEST - Convention for horror and thriller genre books.
TORONTO INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS – Toronto, CA book conference.
VANCOUVER & VICTORIA SCHOOLS OF WRITING – Retreats held in Canada and Mexico.
VCXA - Residency program for writers in Virginia.
VERSE KRAKEN WRITING RETREATS - Retreat held in Peumerit, France.
WILD ATLANTIC WRITERS - Ireland writer’s retreat.
WILLAMETTE WRITER’S CONFERENCE - Every year in Portland, Oregon, the Willamette Writers Conference offers three packed days all about writers and writing. You’ll meet industry professionals, learn from world-class faculty & keynotes, and connect with a community of writers. While focused on book authors, the conference also has a significant Hollywood emphasis, with managers, agents and producers speaking on entertainment industry topics, especially adapting books to screenplays. Willamette Writers is the largest writers organization in the Pacific Northwest. The conference was founded by Portland writer Kay Snow a half-century ago with the goal of bringing published and unpublished writers together for mutual help and support. They also offer a writing competition that features a screenplay category.
WINCHESTER WRITER’S FESTIVAL – Each June the Winchester Writers’ Festival attracts over three hundred emerging novelists, screenwriters, short story writers, children’s writers, poets and memoir writers from across the UK and internationally to the University of Winchester to attend workshops, talks and one-to-ones with over seventy literary agents, commissioning editors, authors and expert practitioners throughout an inspiring and supportive weekend. Now in its 38th year, the Festival is open to creative writers of all levels of experience.
WHEN WORDS COLLIDE FESTIVAL - Calgary, CA conference.
WORLDCON - The world science fiction convention.
WORDFEST – In Calgary, CA.
WRITER’S DIGEST ANNUAL – Top conferences, held annually.
WRITER’S DIGEST NOVEL WRITING CONFERENCE - Another conference by Writer’s Digest, geared for novel writing.
WRITING DAY WORKSHOPS - Held in various locations across US.
WRITING LIFE RETREAT - Various retreats for writers.
WRITING ON WATER - Various writer’s retreats held across the globe.
WRITER’S COURSES, CLASSES, RETREATS & WORKSHOPS:
These are often longer term and more intense studies, some of which are held in other countries for as long as an entire season. Basically these are specialized classes for more advanced writers in general.
ABLE MUSE/ERATOSPHERE 30 DAY WRITING PROGRAM - "Looking for a dirt-cheap but highly effective writers' workshop/conference/retreat? “Via PA: Here comes, online, the Able Muse 30 day writing program (for poetry, fiction & nonfiction), designed to (re)kindle your writing?" Course date: September 1-September 30, 2011. So you're already late for this one, but maybe there will be others hereafter. There are three addresses: www.AbleMuse.com, www.AbleMusePress.com, http://eratosphere.ablemuse.com. February 2012 update: Their current course runs from February 1 to March 10, 2012. September 2012 update: They would like donations to support their efforts. April 2018 update: The deadline for their Able Muse Book Award (for poetry manuscript) has been extended 5 days to Thursday, April 5, midnight PST.”
ACE READER - Learn to read faster.
ARQUETOPIA – Writer’s retreat held in Oaxaca, Mexico & Cusco, Peru.
BLUE MOUNTAIN CENTER - Writer’s retreat in Blue Mountain Lake, NY.
BOAAT WRITER’S RETREAT - Writer’s retreat held in North Carolina.
CASCADE WRITERS – World class workshops featuring top New York editors, agents, & authors like: John Scalzi & Ellen Datlow.
CENTAURI ARTS CAMP - Summer camp for ages 8-18, writing, acting, moviemaking, drawing, photographing, etc.
CLARION – The famous Clarion workshop (scroll down for info). Clarion blogs, journals, articles & interviews - author Liz Argall's excellent Clarion resource.
CLARION WEST - 6-week summer program for writers who pursue sf/f/magical realism professional careers.
CREATIE REVOLUTION RETREATS – Writer’s retreat held in Salta, Argentina.
EDITH WHARTON RESIDENCY PROGRAM - Writer’s retreat held in Lenox, MA.
DANGEROUS WRITING WITH TOM SPANBAUER - Tom Spanbauer’s writing workshop, a teacher of Chuck Palahniuk, held in Portland, Oregon.
GOD’S WHISPER FARM – Retreat held in Radiant, VA.
GOTHAM WRITER’S GROUP - Comprehensive writing workshops and seminars in New York City.
HEDGEBROOK – Women’s writing retreat. Recently through non-fiction writing works, plays, and screenplays, women at Hedgebrook have been a voice for helping raise awareness in a vast range of issues, including: women’s rights in the Middle East, the spread of AIDS in Africa, inner city violence in America, rights of incarcerated women prisoners, political strife in Cambodia, radioactive fallout in the Ukraine, highway construction dividing a Latino community, the ethical responsibilities of the pharmaceutical industry, and environmental stress on bees.
INDIAN SUMMER HOUSE RETREAT - Held in Kerala, South India.
KEY WEST LITERARY SEMINAR - Writer’s retreat in Key West, FL.
KROUNA WRITING WORKSHOP - Held in Greece.
MACDOWELL - Writer’s retreat in located in Peterborough NH. Since 1907, our mission has been to create a space where inspiration happens on a daily basis. We do that by providing essential support for emerging and established artists by bringing together diverse, multidisciplinary talent to exchange ideas and pursue creative work.
MANUSCRIPT BOOTCAMP - Manuscript writing seminars held in Bend, Oregon and Minneapolis, MN.
NYC CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP LIST - Fairly good event calendar for workshops in the greater NYC area.
ODYSSEY ONLINE WRITING CLASSES - Online classes adapted from effective workshop techniques; top instructors.
ODYSSEY WRITING WORKSHOP - Jeanne Cavelos' SpecFic workshop.
ODYSSEY WRITING WORKSHOP FREE PODCASTS - Excerpts from lectures given by guest writers, editors, & agents.
PURDUE UNIVERSITY ONLINE WRITNG LAB – 200+ free resources: writing/teaching writing, research, grammar/mechanics, style guides, ESL, job search, professional writing.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN FICTION WRITER’S RETREAT – Retreat held in Colorado Spring, CO.
SACKETT STREET WRITERS WORKSHOP - Online and in person workshops in NYC.
SETON HILL UNIVERSITY - One of few U.S. institutions offering a MA degree in "Writing Popular Fiction".
STORY REBELS - Retreat based in Norway.
STORY QUEST - Writer’s retreat held in Costa Rica.
THE CENTER AT MARTINDALE – Retreat held in Ossining, NY.
THE CREATIVE WRITER’S WORKSHOP - Various retreats.
THE GOOD CONTRIVANCE FARM WRITER’S RETREAT – Good Contrivance Farm is a 501 C-3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the preservation and restoration of small, historic farms in Maryland. Toward that end, our farm serves as a model of historic preservation and sustainable nurture.
THE HIMALAYAN WRITING RETREAT - Writer’s retreat held in the Himalayas.
THE MILLAY COLONY - Writer’s retreat in Austerlitz, NY.
THE MOTH RETREAT FOR ARTISTS & WRITERS - Retreat in Cavan, Ireland.
TINHOUSE SUMMER/WINTER WORKSHOPS – Writer’s retreat held in Newport, Oregon.
UNDER THE VOLCANO RETREAT – Well known retreat named after Malcom Lowry’s novel of the same name, held in Tepozlan, Mexico where the story took place.
VALERIA VESCINA WRITER’S RETREATS – A retreat held in Switzerland. The retreat will enable you to focus on your writing – whether you’re completing a novel or you’ve always yearned to set time aside to draft your first short story. There will be a 90-minute writing workshop in the morning and then you’ll be free to write in your own time. The option of one-to-one sessions with me is available.
WRITER’S VILLAGE UNIVERSITY - Free writers' course, links, bulletin board, group, chats.
WRITING ACADEMY - “Via PA: This provides online workshops and writers' retreats in California, for a price. My impression is that if you are serious about writing, and can afford it, this could be good. Even if you don't make it into print, it could be a rewarding experience. December 2004 update: Their regular fee for the Ten Day Course is $149, but for a limited time, $99. October 2005 update: Now their 6 week course is $119. November 2013 update: The site still seems to be there, but I gave up waiting for it to load.”
WRITER’S MFA PROGRAMS:
These are generally two year programs for writers and authors who’ve completed at least a bachelor’s in writing, although some of these intensive programs make exceptions. I’ve listed only the top schools that offer these MFA programs, check your local schools, some other colleges may offer them as well.
“There is a myth that writing is a solitary endeavor. While it's true that no one but the author can put words to paper, writing is certainly not a solitary practice, especially for students in creative writing workshops at some of the most prestigious writing programs in the U.S. There, writers work with other students and professors to hone their creative works through intensive writing workshops. Over the past few decades, these programs have produced some of America's best-known and best-loved authors, and continue to train the next generation of American literary figures. While every writer has his or her own favorite when it comes to these prestigious writers' workshops, here are a few we think are the biggest and the best in the U.S., listed in no particular order.”
This is a quoted text from a website on MFA programs. I know only from what I learned applying, that most of these schools require the minimum of a Bachelors in writing to be accepted, and most only accept a very limited number of applicants. The few schools that make exceptions require prestige recommendations, all of which Will McCoy was able to acquire, but being accepted is a different story. Although these schools have well touted literary professors and grammar curmudgeons who are often established authors and poets, it certainly isn’t a requirement for anyone who is looking to write a book. Many of the scholars I think end up becoming teachers themselves, with more of their skills focused in grammar and style than the art of story telling and selling commercial fiction, and Will McCoy still believes there is no better education than the hands on experience of teaching yourself. Listed are the top school like Iowa, Boston U, Brown, USC Irvine, and Cornel, and as many other schools have MFA programs for writers, check your local colleges for more info.
BOSTON UNIVERSITY - When it comes to poetry, few schools can compete with the impressive array of graduates produced by Boston University's writing workshops. Boston University's alumni include poetic greats like Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, and George Starbuck and present and past faculty members are prestigious in their own right, like Robert Pinsky, Robert Lowell, and Ha Jin. The program is notoriously intense, critical, and structured, and is designed to get students used to the harsh criticisms they'll face in the real world and help them to build the skills to produce great work. While students will take an assortment of literature courses, the crux of the program are the writing workshops, offered in fiction, poetry, or drama, where most of the writing and critiquing takes place.
BROWN UNIVERSITY, PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND - The MFA program in creative writing at Brown University is administered through the Department of Literary Arts. The program, of the two-year residency type, is one of the older ones in the country, having been established in the 1960s by the poet and translator, Edwin Honig. The most famous faculty members today are probably John Edgar Wideman, author of Sent for You Yesterday (Alison & Busby, 1984; winner of the International PEN/Faulkner Award) and many other influential novels and memoirs, Robert Coover, author of The Public Burning (Viking, 1977) and other well-known novels and short stories, and C.D. Wright, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. Brown is also home to The Brown Literary Review.
CORNELL UNIVERSITY, ITHICA, NEW YORK - The MFA Program in Creative Writing is one of two creative writing programs offered by Cornell University’s English Department. The other is a combined MFA/PhD program. Best known as the former American home of the great Russian-American novelist Vladimir Nabokov, today the English Department at Cornell is graced by the presence of one of our finest contemporary writers, Alison Lurie, author of Foreign Affairs (Random House, 1984), among many other distinguished novels. The Program is small and highly selective (only eight MFA students are enrolled each year). First-year students receive practical training by working as Editorial Assistants for Epoch, the literary magazine published by the Department.
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY - Columbia's creative writing program boasts some pretty impressive alumni, among them J.D. Salinger, Federico Garcia Lorca, Carson McCullers, Eudora Welty, Jack Kerouac, Langston Hughes, and Allen Ginsberg, though that's hardly a complete list. Surrounded by the sights and sounds of the city, the school is situated amid a living, breathing source of inspiration that has helped many great authors to launch successful careers. Of course, the city alone isn't what helps Columbia's students to produce high-quality work; the rigorous writing workshops it requires of MFA candidates, whether they want to become a screenwriter, novelist, or poet, are likely of greater importance. Through the workshops, students work closely with award-winning faculty and their peers to write, edit, and, hopefully, to create work that makes it into publication, a goal many a Columbia grad has achieved.
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY - This Tallahassee school offers students the chance to work with Pulitzer and National Book Award-winning professors in intensive workshops. The school may not boast the same high-profile alumni as others on this list, but that's in part because the writing program has seen a near complete reinvention over the past two decades under the leadership of the programs's top-notch professors and dedicated administrators. In 1997, FSU's writer's workshops languished at 37th in the U.S. according to U.S. News and World Report rankings. Today, FSU is ranked among the best places in the nation for writers to hone their skills, and as time goes on, the program will undoubtedly produce some big names in literature as its workshops hone the skills of America's aspiring writers.
IOWA WRITER’S WORKSHOP MFA – “The University of Iowa is home to the most prestigious writers' workshop in the nation. A key factor in that prestige is that the program is one of the oldest, starting nearly three decades before any other writing workshop in the U.S. It was also the first program in the country to offer an MFA in English. Students in the Iowa Writers' Workshop take a small number of classes each semester, the most important of which is a weekly class where students share work and engage in roundtable discussions with teachers and peers to provide constructive criticism and feedback for the author. Having top-notch faculty certainly helps the writing process and in past years the school has boasted literary greats like Kurt Vonnegut, Philip Roth, and John Irving as faculty members. Whatever the secret of its success, the program is doing something right: alumni of the school have won seventeen Pulitzer Prizes, a handful have been Poet Laureates, and dozens more have won other prestigious awards.” They claim to be the best writing MFA program in the world, and they accept 25 people out of thousands of applicants a year. If you are incredibly accomplished and you know it and you still don’t get in, don’t fret – although they claim to accept students who have remarkable gifts and don’t have lengthily college track records, more so it seems to be myth. Will McCoy applied, had top recommendations and work samples, and didn’t get in, and feels he’s accomplished more and better quality work than the majority of the professors. These guys are likely the big literary curmudgeons looking to train every young talent out there to make your life hell if you’re trying to be a commercially successful author – for them it’s about class, knowledge, seniority, dedication, intention, how politically correct you are and good at following rules – and although it appears these guys have integrity, a closer look under the surface may reveal other facets – another reminder, if you look at all the great writers of history and big best sellers, none of them went here. Just wanted to clear up those facts.
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - The MFA in Fiction and Poetry at Johns Hopkins University is known as "The Writing Seminars." The Writing Seminars is a two-year residency program. Students are expected to produce a substantial manuscript by the end of the program, in the form of a novel, short-story collection, or book of poetry. Fiction writers will work with faculty including Alice McDermott and Brad Leithauser. Poets will work with Dave Smith, Mary Jo Salter, and others. JHU also supports the noted literary magazine, The Hopkins Review.
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY - A big part of the prestige of NYU's writers' workshops comes from the professors who guide them, among them E.L. Doctorow, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds, and Zadie Smith with elite visiting writers like Jonathan Safran Foer, Charles Simic, and Anne Carson also lending a hand. While prestigious faculty help the workshops at the school stand out, so does progressive coursework and a wide range of specializations that allow students to tailor their writing instruction to their particular goals and styles. To graduate from the program, students must take at least four creative writing workshops and use them to help to produce a creative thesis, either a novel, collection of short stories, or a group of poems. With reading, writing, and editing at the core of the program, many grads go on to produce works that make it into publication.
THE NEW SCHOOL - A vital center for writing & the instruction of writing for almost 80 years. They offer an MFA program that is supposedly pretty good.
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN, ANN ARBOR - The University of Michigan is among one of the best public universities in the United States, so it should come as no surprise that the school also boasts one of the top writing programs. The MFA program at the university takes two years to complete, much of which is spent in writing workshops and crafting a master's thesis. All students also get a $6,000 stipend for the summer semester that allows them to spend time writing and honing their skills rather than having to worry about working to pay bills and rent. The school's workshops have produced a number of notable writers, with some even winning National Book Awards. Many of Michigan's successful writers have specialized in science fiction and fantasy writing, making it an ideal place for students interested in those genres to hone their skills.
UC IRVINE - The programs here have some seriously high-profile alumni among their ranks, some of whom produced successful works while students still in the school's MFA program. Michael Chabon's MFA thesis would get him a book deal and he would later go on to win a Pulitzer Prize. Alice Sebold's memoir about her rape began as a writing assignment in her Irvine courses, and would later be published after her graduation. Other notable alumni include Pulitzer winners Robert Ford and Yusef Komunyakaa, with many other grads going on to score book deals and win awards. The high profile of the program allows it to be selective, accepting just 10 to 12 writers into its programs each year, though applications can sometimes number 500 or more. Workshops at UC Irvine aren't just for grad students, however as the school also offers writers' workshops to undergrads who are interested in becoming professional writers.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS, AUSTIN - While not an alum, author James Michener played a major role in shaping the creative writing program at UT Austin. Michener founded the MFA program in writing at the school, which is now named after him, and left the school a generous donation that has enabled it to provide substantial fellowships to admitted students. The result has been the establishment of a prestigious program that allows students to work closely with published authors and their classmates in workshops throughout their three years at the school, focusing on either fiction, poetry, screenwriting, or playwriting with the opportunity to choose a second area of interest as well. Alumni of the school have done well, capturing elite fellowships, prizes, and awards for a wide range of work and the program is consistently ranked as one of the best in the nation for creative writing.
UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA - With a 1% acceptance rate, the University of Virginia's creative writing program is one of the most selective in the United States. Its selectiveness, as well as the high esteem both graduates and faculty are held in, have made it one of the most prestigious programs in the U.S. Alumni of the program include Char Harbach and Charles McLoed, both successful fiction writers, though UVA is most famous for its poetry writing workshops, which provide intensive instruction that has helped numerous aspiring writers get their works published. Named by Poets & Writers magazine as the third best school in the nation for getting an MFA in creative writing, UVA takes educating its students seriously, requiring 12 hours of workshopping and 24 hours of research related to the construction of a creative thesis.
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, MADISON - The MFA program at UW Madison is relatively new, having been started in 2002, though the school had offered other graduate degree studies in English previously. It's unique among many other writing programs because of its alternating admissions, accepting fiction students in odd-numbered years and poets in even-numbered years. Further distinguishing it is that students can take workshops outside of their area of concentration, studying fiction, poetry, nonfiction, playwriting, and screenwriting as it strikes their interest. This flexibility is perhaps why the school's program is held in such high regard, and has been ranked among the best in the nation for several years running. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have prize-winning faculty, generous financial aid, and a great track record of published alumni either.
FESTIVALS, CONFERENCES & SCHOOLS FOR SCREENWRITERS:
A great place to network for novelists - remember, screenwriters and people in the film industry are the people that take great works of fiction and turn them in to films.
AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE (AFI) - In Los Angeles, most well known film school in the world.
AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL – This Texas film festival is known for championing writers and filmmakers in a creative incubator that offers an eight-day film festival, a four-day conference with educational panels and meet and greets, and competitions for screenwriters, TV writers and playwrights. Did we mention the scrumptious local barbecue visitors can’t get enough of?
GOLDEN RASPBERRY AWARDS – Known as the “Razzies” these are the awards you don’t want to win since they are given out to the worst movies and performances of the year. Though such an award may sound crass, the awards are born out of a deep appreciation for movies and actors. Some famous actors like Sandra Bullock have actually attended the Razzies to collect their awards in good fun. What better place to meet other filmmakers and bond over bad movies?
LONDON SCREENWRITER’S FESTIVAL - An annual gathering of emerging and established screenwriters. With over 1,000 attendees, 100 sessions, 150 industry expert speakers and the biggest names in film and TV (from both the UK and Hollywood), the LSF has become the premiere screenwriting event to attend.
NASHVILLE FILM FESTIVAL AND CREATOR’S CONFERENCE – The Creator’s Conference, presented by NashFilm, includes robust tracks for filmmakers, screenwriters, musicians, and all kinds of creators. Come hear about the latest industry trends, paths that have led to success, ways to hone your craft, and meet others in the community.
NEW YORK TV FESTIVAL – The NYTVF is a pioneer of the independent television movement, connecting its community of artists with leading networks, studios, agencies, production companies, and brands.
NYU TISCH FILM SCHOOL - The legendary top film school program on the east coast, in NY.
RAINDANCE FILM FESTIVAL - Raindance showcases features, shorts and music videos by filmmakers from the UK and around the world celebrating and supporting independent, new and alternative filmmakers not just during our 12-day festival but throughout the year.
SCREENCRACFT WRITER’S SUMMIT – Held in Atlanta, Georgia, a city that’s known as the Hollywood of the South, three days of panels, workshops, pitch events and networking parties help connect writers with producers, agents, managers and other industry professions. In 2019, featured mentors and speakers include Meg LeFauve, Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Inside Out, Steven E. de Souza, writer of Die Hard, and Hannah Ozer, literary manager at Kaplan/Perrone.
SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL - C21 International Drama Summit, London, UK. Undoubtedly the most significant annual gathering of the global drama community. Three-day event with an unrivalled agenda, screenings, coproduction marketplace and awards. From the subversive to the silly, this festival is known for supporting truly emerging filmmakers with highly original voices. This year, Academy Award-winning director Steven Soderbergh will be presented with the 2019 Founders Award, given to a Slamdance alumnus who has continued to support the filmmaker community of Slamdance well into their careers.
SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST (SXSW) FILM FESTIVAL - What’s exciting about this Austin-based festival is that it runs concurrently with the South by Southwest Music Festival, offering a festival experience like no other. In 2019, the festival will feature a variety of networking opportunities along with featured talks about cryptocurrency, eSports and “cannabusiness” (a look at opportunities within the growing Cannabis industry).
STORY EXPO – Held in both New York and Los Angeles six months apart, you can choose which coast works best for you. Touted as the world’s biggest conference for storytellers of all kinds, including screen and TV writers, novelists, gamers, journalists and comic book writers. Speakers, classes and time in the Story Expo Pitching Room all provide access to agents, managers and production companies.
SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL – Every filmmaker should go to Sundance at least once to see the world’s best independent films, ski the fluffy Utah snow and enjoy the endless parties. Park City is like a beautiful little bubble where networking opportunities exist on steroids, stars aren’t just in the sky and egos are checked at the ski lift.
TORONTO SCREENWRITING CONFERENCE – June is one of the best times to visit Canada and this “Real writers. Real talk.” event on June 23 and June 24, 2019, is timed perfectly. Two full days of lectures, panels, roundtables and workshops with over 500 screenwriters, producers and development executives every year, you’ll want to get your passport renewed for this one.