A four-week, eight-course, story-intensive summer writing camp

August 6-31, 2012
Uncharted Books
2630 N. Milwaukee Ave.

This August the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography is offering its first-ever summer writing camp, broken down into a series of eight stand-alone courses covering different specific aspects of the storytelling process. Taking place from Tuesdays through Fridays, in both lunchtime and afternoon two-hour sessions, these one-week courses each concentrate on a unique part of long-form narrative writing (detailed below), making them perfect for existing authors looking to brush up on one or two specific topics; but with the eight courses designed as one larger program as well, the entire series is especially recommended to teens looking for a deep and thorough college-style creative and academic experience, only without the costs and time commitment of a traditional fourteen-week course. With an equal emphasis on smart reading as well as smart writing, and when combined with the free Saturday salons and feedback sessions that will be open to the general public, interested participants will have the means at their disposal to write an entire full-length manuscript from start to finish in August if they want, with individualized attention from the CCLaP staff for those who choose to do so; but with a narrow university-type focus during each individual course, these are also a great choice for anyone looking to get better at one specific type of skill or another.

Individual courses cost $100 to attend, with their "enroll" buttons following each of their descriptions below; or sign up for the entire eight-course, 32-session series for only $500, a 37-percent discount over their individual prices. Courses and salons all take place in the back room of Logan Square's Uncharted Books, located at 2630 North Milwaukee Avenue. Please see the bottom of this page for the bios of the Summer School developers and instructors. For any questions whatsoever, please write CCLaP directly at cclapcenter [at]

Tuesday, August 7th to Friday, August 31st
Tuesdays through Fridays, 12:00 to 4:30 pm

REQUIRED TEXTBOOK: The Making of a Story, by Alice LaPlante


Week 1 (August 7-10), early (12-2 pm)

If plot is considered to be the "backbone" of a fictional work, then characters are its flesh and blood. Characters are those imagined people we relate to or don't, hate or feel mildly about or love, root for or against. They are made in the image of us as human beings or they are the symbols about our humanity, or both. They're enigmatic, captivating, ever-revealing. One of the main reasons we keep turning the page. So how can we go about defining "character"? What are the various facets that make up these definitions? Or, are they indefinable? How best to construct them? How are they related to the plot? Are these same notions applicable to creative non-fiction? In this course, we'll be referencing Alice LaPlante's enlightening text The Making of a Story, looking at examples from writers throughout literary history, doing in-class exercises, and engaging in involute discussions so as to build our overall knowledge of and hone our ability to utilize these imperative compositional elements. (Instructor: Jesse Darnay)

COST: US$100

Reading as a Writer/Breaking Writer's Block
Week 1 (August 7-10), late (2:30-4:30 pm)

This course will help novice authors better understand the elements of fiction. It will focus on teaching students to be able to read like a writer by noticing how master writers use these elements to build stories and how students can use the elements to design their story. The course will focus on building characters and setting, developing a relationship between characters and plot, understanding how to show and tell (as well as write dialogue), and structuring narrative. There will be a number of writing prompts that will help students discover their story, as well as instruction in how to utilize these prompts in their work. (Instructor: Jacob Singer)

COST: US$100

Showing and Telling
Week 2 (August 14-17), early (12-2 pm)

What does it mean to say a writer is "telling" or "showing" in a work of fiction or creative non-fiction? What are the elements that comprise these two terms? How do they function together? Separately? Why is it important for us as writers to be aware of them? In this course, we'll be referencing Alice LaPlante's enlightening text The Making of a Story, looking at examples from writers throughout literary history, doing in-class exercises, and engaging in involute discussions so as to build our overall knowledge of and hone our ability to utilize these two, crucial compositional tools. (Instructor: Jesse Darnay)

COST: US$100

Week 2 (August 14-17), late (2:30-4:30 pm)

Plot is structure, timing, details and characters delivered artfully, creatively, with purpose and flair. It can also very boring to think about, and is usually a pain to ever get exactly right. In other words, plot IS creative writing. It IS storytelling. If you can master plot, you can be a writer. In this course, we will examine the elements of plot, why "story" and "plot" are different -- and why that matters, traditional vs. nontraditional plot arcs, how to generate plots, and how to properly move them along. We will use our textbook, representative short stories, and in-class exercises, to discover how to create workable, successful plots. (Instructor: Steve Bogdaniec)

COST: US$100

Point of View
Week 3 (August 21-24), early (12-2 pm)

One of the most difficult yet important ideas a writer must understand is point of view, which acts like a camera through which the reader experiences the text. What are the pros and cons of using different POVs? While first person might be the most intimate way to tell a story, a third-person limited POV might allow the writer to manipulate the psychic distance. We will discuss how POV is used in stories with interior and dramatic monologue, subjective narration, and how to use multiple characters to tell one story. (Instructor: Jacob Singer)

COST: US$100

Week 3 (August 21-24), late (2:30-4:30 pm)

Often a "naughty" word in the academy, genre is not simply harlequin romance but instead historical fiction, encyclopedic narratives, magical realism, and satire. Writers will gain a better understanding of how to read and write stories that aren't realism by studying dramatic situations, tone, and setting. Benjamin van Loon, editor of Anobium, will be a co-instructor and discuss what he looks for in a submission -- which is anything but typical realism. This class will help writers avoid the clichés of bad science fiction and instead point them towards the scientific fiction, steampunk, and alternative history. (Instructors: Jacob Singer and Benjamin van Loon)

COST: US$100

Revision/Working With Editors
Week 4 (August 28-31), early (12-2 pm)

Writing is revision. But what does it mean to "re-vision" a piece of creative writing? This course will help apprentice writers work their way from first to final draft. What makes revision so difficult is that there is no formula to follow, no generic path one can walk along. One way to develop a stronger understanding of revision is through workshopping manuscripts, which is the keystone of most MFA programs. This opportunity will allow writers to learn how to offer and receive critical feedback by peers. We will also have the opportunity to talk with Kevin Kane, from the Handshake Magazine, about his role as an editor of a literary magazine. Every professional writer needs to learn how to work with an editor, and Kane will talk about what he looks for in a writers and manuscripts. (Instructor:Jacob Singer)

COST: US$100

Experimentation and Getting Your Manuscript Read
Week 4 (August 28-31), late (2:30-4:30 pm)

As the final course in the CCLaP program, we will explore some of the 20th century's greatest experiments in fiction, and how we as writers can borrow ideas from literary movements such as modernism, post-modernism, magical realism, and Oulipo in order to write boldly. This course will cover how people like Gertrude Stein, Thomas Pynchon, and Raymond Queneau used genre, tone, and point of view to go beyond traditional realism. It will have both Elizabeth Tieri (Back to Print) and Benjamin van Loon as co-instructors; both will talk about how to get your manuscripts read by editors and how to research literary journals (as well as share some of their favorite experimental writers). (Instructor: Jacob Singer)

COST: US$100

Saturday Open Salons
Every Saturday, 2 to 5 pm

And finally, join us every Saturday afternoon in August for a free get-together, open to the general public, for those working on full-length manuscripts and who wish to participate in feedback sessions, out-loud readings, motivational creative games and more. A loosely structured event that is strictly voluntary for course participants, it aims to spread the goodwill of the CCLaP Summer School program out to the general writing community, providing a supportive and constructive environment for anyone in the city currently working on a full-length book, and who desires feedback or simple camaraderie.


Jesse Darnay
Jesse Darnay (co-director) has been a working novelist for many years, having recently completed his M.A. in English Literature at DePaul University as well as his first novel, currently being considered for publication. Prior to Chicago, Jesse lived in Los Angeles where he was engaged in comparative literature and fiction coursework at UCLA Extension. Darnay has traveled much of the world in his quest for new experiences and inspiration and he is now settled here in Chicago, his hometown, where he is currently interviewing for full time positions as a Creative Writer Instructor.

Jacob Singer
Jacob Singer (co-director) teaches English at Elmhurst College and has been published at Handshake Media, Back to Print, and Anobium.

Steve Bogdaniec
Steve Bogdaniec is a Chicago-based writer and teacher. He has a Master's from DePaul University in Writing and Publishing, and currently teaches Composition at Wright College and Kennedy-King College, both parts of the City Colleges of Chicago. Steve will write just about anything: he has had poetry and short fiction published, and recently wrote a monthly movie feature with the website Pop Bunker. Follow him on Twitter! Just kidding -- he never posts anything there anyway.

Kevin Kane
Kevin Kane is an MFA candidate in Fiction Writing at Columbia College Chicago. He currently is the managing editor of the print and online magazine The Handshake. He served as managing editor for the Spring 2012 issue of fictionary, an editor for the 2012 Story Week Reader, and editor for the 2012 Story Week edition of fictionary.

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