Introduction to Creative Writing

Open to students entering grade 9 or 10 in the fall
I - June 29–July 17, 2020
II - July 21–August 7, 2020
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 10:00–11:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m. –12:45 p.m., and 3:15–4:45 p.m., with optional elective 2:00–3:00 p.m.
See representative biographies below.

“This program has shaped me both as a writer and as a student. I am so glad to have participated in this course.” – Arshia A. | Potomac, Maryland  

Course Description

This course serves as an exploration of the creative writing process, including idea generation, creation and development of drafts, and basic editing skills. Through frequent and diverse exercises, students develop their use of voice, imagery, characterization, dialogue, and narration. Students work in poetry, prose poetry, drama, and fiction. Works produced by professional writers as well as by students in the class form the basis of discussion in the workshop process.

Applicants must submit 3-5 pages of any kind of writing demonstrating a command of grammar and punctuation.


Students may choose an optional elective as a supplement to the three required daily class meetings. Please note that participation in an elective will prevent students from partaking in most other midday activities

Comedy Writing: Students spend class time reading, writing, and performing comedy.

Genre Fiction: Students spend class time reading and writing different types of genre fiction, including science fiction, horror, crime, fantasy, and mystery.

Journalism: Students produce a news blog, including but not limited to campus and neighborhood news, book/music/art/restaurant reviews, interviews/profiles, and op-eds.

Publishing House: Students work as editors to create their own literary magazine, which is published at the end of the program.

Write What You Don’t Know: Students read authors who have perfected the art of writing in persona; exercises are designed to help students practice writing from points of view that are distinctly not their own.

Exquisite Corpse: Students wishing to focus more on poetry read a wide and stimulating selection of poems, and work toward finishing a chapbook at the end of the program.

Independent Project: Students complete an additional writing project and take part in extra conferences.

Courses in creative writing are offered in conjunction with the Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Overseen by Chair of Creative Writing Timothy Donnelly, Professor Alan Ziegler, and Director of Creative Writing for Pre-College Programs Christina Rumpf, the creative writing courses are designed to challenge and engage students interested in literary creation, providing them with a substantial foundation for further exploration of their creative work.


Olivia Ciacci

Olivia Ciacci teaches undergraduate writing at Columbia University, where she is working on her MFA in fiction. She blogs monthly for Ploughshares on books and perfume, and she has recently published work at McSweeney's Internet Tendency and The Hairpin.

Zach Davidson

Zach Davidson is the senior editor at the literary annual NOON. He has taught creative writing at Columbia University.

Isabella DeSendi

Isabella DeSendi is a Cuban-Italian poet from Florida living in New York City. Her poems have been published in Tea, Two Peach, The Grief Diaries and are forthcoming in Appalachian Heritage. She is currently working on completing her MFA at Columbia University and is a recipient of the 2016 NYS Summer Writers Institute award.

Jakob Guanzon

Jakob Guanzon lives in New York where he is an MFA candidate in Columbia University's Graduate Writing Program and is teaching an elective seminar entitled Humor as Bait, Balm & Machete. Before moving to New York, he worked as a teacher and translator in Madrid, Spain for several years. In 2016, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His work has previously appeared in Juked, Breakwater Review, Outside In Literary & Travel Magazine, and elsewhere. He is currently finalizing his first collection of short stories and a translation of David Trueba's novel Cuatro Amigos.

Tadhg Hoey

Tadhg Hoey is a writer from Co. Monaghan, Ireland. Before coming to Columbia University for his MFA in creative writing, he completed his Master's in Irish literature and xulture. He is currently at work on his first novel.

Christina Alice Schmidt

Christina Alice Schmidt was born in New Zealand and raised in Japan. Her upbringing overseas prompted her to teach English in Thailand before moving to Los Angeles where she worked in the hotel and entertainment industries. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016 with her BA in English and is studying non-fiction at Columbia University’s MFA Creative Writing program. She lives in New York with her cat, Captain Smokey.

Adriana Socoski

Adriana Socoski is an MFA candidate in poetry and an Undergraduate Creative Writing Program Teaching Fellow at Columbia University. Adriana is the winner of Columbia University’s 2015 Bennett Poetry Prize, selected by Carl Phillips, sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, and published on She earned a BM in violin from The Juilliard School. As a violinist, she has presented solo and chamber music recitals throughout North America, Europe, China, and Tibet, and has appeared as a soloist with multiple orchestras. She is a violin faculty member at the New Amsterdam Conservatory of Music. Adriana is from Philipsburg, PA.

Lizzy Steiner

Lizzy Steiner is an MFA candidate in fiction from Sarasota, Florida. She holds a BA in English and French from Wesleyan University. During her time at Columbia, she has worked as a high school writing instructor and teaching site coordinator for the Columbia Artist/Teachers (CA/T) program.

Shelby Wardlaw

Shelby Wardlaw is a Fiction graduate student in Columbia's creative writing MFA. program. She received an MA in comparative literature from the University of Colorado, and a BA in English and Russian from Vassar College. She will be teaching essay writing in Columbia's Undergraduate Writing Program next year. She has taught literature in some way, shape, or form for five years and absolutely loves it. Originally, Shelby hails from Austin, TX but she currently lives in Brooklyn.

Supipi Weerasooriya

Supipi Weerasooriya graduated from Columbia's Graduate Writing Program in 2016. She was a recipient of the Felipe De Alba Award for her short story, “The Secret of the Elks.” She currently works at The Authors Guild and is working on her first novel based in her home country of Sri Lanka. This is her second year teaching at the Program for High School Students.

Back to the Course Guide

Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.