Have you ever wanted to join an intimate – yet highly dedicated – creative writing group where the leader can give you intensive one-on-one mentorship and feedback? Are you looking for a mentor, accountability, craft lessons, customized assignments, and a close-knit group to share your writing with week to week? You might be ready to join our Intensive Coaching Cohorts.

This Intensive Coaching Cohort (ICC) is specifically designed for writers who are actively putting words on the page (or want to be), and have the time and desire to spend six months writing, revising, and getting personalized feedback and plans for their work-in-progress. Students will join a small creative cohort of 6 students who share a commitment to the process.

This program is here to walk you through every step of your writing journey.


Students will meet weekly, on Zoom, for 1.5-hour sessions.

  • 1st week: Group meeting with craft talk
  • 2nd week: Group write-in with mentor prompts
  • 3rd week: One-on-one meetings (½ hour) with mentor to go over individual goals, progress, or pages submitted.
    (Following each one-on-one meeting, the mentor will email each student with individual assignments, deadlines, and goals for the the coming month)
  • 4th week: Group meeting with optional sharing of work

Students may submit up to 25 pages for review every month, to be discussed at the 1:1 meeting. Each meeting is designed to provide the most benefit to writers, so if you don’t have work to submit that month, you may use the 1:1 meeting to talk big-picture ideas, seek advice, or just chat about the writing life.

The Cohort is limited to 6 students. There is no application process but when you register you are encouraged to send a writing sample so that the mentor can get a sense of your writing and project ahead of time and start preparing a more customized approach.

Between class sessions, you’ll have plenty of time to write and revise while staying in touch with other students via StoryStudio’s private online class forum. Brainstorm, vent, or just use it to discuss your favorite current read. The forum is also a great place to voluntarily exchange work with each other for feedback.

This process is meant to help with generation of new material, so feedback on pages will not be reflective of a Manuscript Consultation. Rather, the meetings and feedback of your work will be a time for steering the narrative, broad strokes on craft elements, and macro edits.


  • Any writer, any level, any genre, with the agreement that you are dedicated and committed to making the most of the six months in the group.
  • Someone who’s considered taking one of our In A Year courses, but wants more attention, feedback, or exercises.
  • Someone with a draft of a book, whether it’s 3 pages, 50, or 200.
  • Someone who isn’t sure of what they’re writing but wants guidelines and accountability for developing and sustaining a serious writing practice.
  • Local or virtual students; we will rotate our offering formats each time we run this program.
  • No application needed.


The added bonus of joining an ICC is built-in StoryStudio perks. You’ll be considered a VIP student with first looks and dibs on upcoming classes, events, and even complimentary access to a few of our special offerings. Here’s everything you get both in the ICC program and beyond.

  • 6 months of one-on-one and group coaching
  • Individual assignments and deadlines
  • At least 5 private meetings with your mentor
  • 20 Weekly group meetings
  • Feedback on pages (up to 25 pages per month)
  • A Slack channel with other cohort members, and the option to arrange extra write-ins, meetups, or page swaps
  • Weekly or monthly deadlines and accountability, as needed
  • Complimentary access to three PJ seminars (online Master Classes) and some recorded lectures
  • Complimentary access to the Writers Room for local students (eligible for the 6 months you’re active in the program)
  • Complimentary access to Pub Crawl 
  • First signup access for the next cohort from that mentor or in that genre, so you can keep going


For the second half of 2024, we are offering 2 sessions of this program. See below for the instructors and dates you can choose from.

No application needed.

Payment plan options are available. Because this is a very small cohort, the plan spots are first come, first served. Please email to ask about the payment plan options and to claim a spot.


Julia started out at StoryStudio many years ago exactly where you are: as a student! Since then, she’s published three books at big publishing houses, and has become a long-term instructor for us, teaching multiple intensive writing programs with StoryStudio, Catapult, and elsewhere. She has served as a Coaching consultant for us and has lead many of our In a Year alumni through the Long Haul program. A beloved instructor at StoryStudio, Julia Fine is excited to guide six writers on their projects through the ICC program this year.

Julia Fine is the author of The Upstairs House, winner of the Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction, and What Should Be Wild, which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior First Novel. Her third novel, Maddalena and the Dark, came out from Flatiron in June 2023. She teaches writing in Chicago, where she lives with her family.


Mike has been a longtime friend of the Studio, and has recently joined the ranks as one of our Novel In a Year instructors for our in-person students. He’s involved on our Board as a liaison for the faculty and has extensive teaching and coaching background in fiction. He’s taught all age ranges and experience levels of writers as a former instructor at Northwestern University and as a public-school educator where he taught literature and writing.

Michael Zapata is a founding editor of MAKE Literary Magazine and the author of the novel The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, winner of the 2020 Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction, finalist for the 2020 Heartland Booksellers Award in Fiction, and a Best Book of the Year for NPR, the A.V. Club, Los Angeles Public Library, and BookPage, among others. He is a recipient of a Meier Foundation Artist Achievement Award, an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction and two City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program Awards. He currently lives in Chicago with his family.

Both instructors accept writing in multiple genres, and have written both literary and genre fiction. They are highly trusted and successful teachers, helping numerous students get published as well as making an impact on their craft and storytelling abilities. Coaching one-on-one with students is a key strength of both Julia’s and Mike’s teaching style.

2024 DATES

Julia’s Group
MONDAYS at 6:30pm Central
August 19
August 26
September 3* (Tuesday to avoid Labor Day)
September 9
September 23
September 30
October 7
October 14 
October 28
November 4
November 11
November 18
December 2
December 9
December 16
December 23
January 6
January 13
January 2
January 27

Mike’s Group
THURSDAYS at 6:30pm Central
August 22
August 29
September 5
September 12
September 26
October 3
October 10
October 17
October 30* (Wednesday to avoid Halloween)
November 7
November 14
November 21
December 5
December 12
December 19
December 26 (Skip for Christmas/Hanukkah)
January 2
January 9
January 16
January 23
February 6


Tuition for this six-month program is $6,000.

A payment plan is available for either $1,000/month, or $3,000 paid out twice during the course of the program. If paying in installments, a contract will be initiated to ensure full payment is received.


Teaching Artists
The instructors for our Advanced Courses are rockstars. They are dedicated members of the literary community who are actively publishing novels, memoirs, and collections.

Though time and space can be in short supply, having a friendly and encouraging cohort will help you meet those word count goals and deadlines. It’s quite a motivator!

Cohort & Community
Who said you have to go it alone? Taking continuous classes with the same cohort of students will give you the chance build strong and lasting bonds, participate in the community, and be listed as a StoryStudio VIP student with “first chance” opportunities for future classes.