This is the year to give your writing the attention and discipline it deserves

Our Short Story Collection in a Year program will support you during the long road from idea generation to composition to revision and beyond. It’s a unique opportunity to join a writing cohort, study craft, workshop key scenes, measure your progress, meet deadlines, and give and get support in the development of long-form literary work.

This cohort is completely online through the 2022 session.

Short stories are immediate, urgent, emotionally and psychologically satisfying. Short stories show narrators experiencing certain and conclusive change that may be subtle or obvious. In a collection, the short stories are intermingled like literary licorice waiting to be savored.

Join fiction writer Cyn Vargas (On The Way) and a supportive cohort of brilliant, strong writers who will support you through the development of a full short story collection, whether you want to complete a first draft, revise stories what you’ve already written, or commit to an ongoing writing practice that will sustain you long after our year is over.

We’ll examine the short story and short story collection as a remarkable form that combine five key elements: character, setting, conflict, plot and theme. We’ll read as writers, expanding our resources to include short story collections that will guide us in our own creative problem solving, our how the hell do I get this on the page? And no reading goes to waste. Don’t like the work then figure out what they didn’t do and do that. 

And we’ll support each other through the different stages of the writing process with both accountability and constructive feedback—you’ll know that your work matters deeply and you’ll know how to make it better.



Students at any stage of story writing are encouraged to apply.

You may be anywhere in the first draft—some students may have a handful of stories already published; some may have a messy draft of a complete collection; others may have nothing more than an idea and a first sentence.

Work of any length is welcome.

PLEASE NOTE: This application-based class is selective. We are looking for students with talent and drive, though familiarity with the workshop process or previous experience writing a book is not mandatory. This program is for writers who are ready to make a strong commitment to their work, and our waitlist for the course is typically very long. Students are expected to participate in the full program.


No disclaimers in this class. You’ll learn that you are a writer. Not that you want to be one. Writers work hard by spewing words and themselves into their work, fiction or not. Writers acquire new skills and evolve in their craft, read continuously to learn from others, give and take constructive feedback. 

We’ll engage in a series of activities (adapted for online engagement!) to get our stories on the page. 

Specific topics covered during the class sessions include:

  • Story development
  • Character
  • Setting
  • Conflict
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Voice
  • Movement
  • Structure
  • Collection size
  • Constructive feedback


Students will meet monthly on Zoom for three-hour sessions to discuss craft, tackle the challenges of writing about our experiences and ideas, and workshop drafts. In between class sessions you’ll have plenty of time to write and generate new work while still staying in touch via StoryStudio’s private online class forum.

We’ve structured this program to provide maximum benefit without demanding too much time away from focusing on your own work. In addition to workshopping short sections in class, participants will meet individually with Cyn for 100-page manuscript reviews.

Added content to the virtual cohort will be 2-3 visiting guests throughout the year, including publishing professionals, editors, and other authors.

Students enrolled in this course will receive complimentary admission and early registration to two (2) classes from our acclaimed Master Class series throughout the year, OR three (3) complimentary admission and early registration to our virtual PJ Seminars. (Recent and upcoming writers include Alexander Chee, Pam Houston, Terese Marie Mailhot, Garth Greenwell, Laura van den Berg, Kaveh Akbar, Nick Flynn, and Matt Bell among others.)

The class also includes optional evening social gatherings via Zoom, to be scheduled between Cyn and the cohort as desired. As a writer in our In a Year programs, you’re considered a “VIP” at the studio with early-bird access to programs and events.

Throughout the course, you’ll have access to a private online forum for exchanging additional work and sharing articles and links of interest. And most importantly, these courses provide accountability check-ins to report your progress and struggles, and keep you writing.


Whether you’ve already made headway on your book or are just gathering ideas, your cohort will provide the structure, companionship, feedback, good humor, and emotional support to help you see your project through.

You’ll also join StoryStudio’s larger community—in person and on social media—where you can connect with students from other classes, receive “first chance” invitations to special programming, and stay informed about literary events around the city.

The Short Story Collection In a Year program is a brand new program modeled after our highly successful Novel in a Year and Memoir in a Year courses, and you will have the opportunity to benefit socially and professionally from a strong network of alumni, many of whom are experiencing publishing success.

The program fee is $2,350.

This tuition includes:

11 sessions, meeting once per month for 11 months
A manuscript review with Cyn Vargas
Access to visiting authors, agents, and editors
Various online social gatherings with your cohort
3 comped passes to our PJ Seminars
A private online chat forum
VIP status at the Studio
A literary community to take well beyond this program

2022 Schedule Meets Online on the Following Dates:

6:30pm – 9:30pm Central Time

January 13
February 10
March 10
April 14
May 12
June 9
July 14
August 11
September 8
October 13
November 10


Extension: December 2

This course is limited to 12 students and is submission based.

  1. You will be asked to submit a 10-page writing sample in a .doc or PDF. The sample can be a story or novel excerpt.
  2. Someone who submits on the first day has the same chance as someone who submits on the last day, so don’t worry, and don’t rush.
  3. Payment isn’t due until after the application period is closed and acceptances have been sent out. We are happy to discuss payment plans with students who are accepted.

Cyn Vargas’ short story collection, On The Way, received positive reviews from Shelf Awareness, Library Journal, Heavy Feather Review, Necessary Fiction, among others. Book accolades include: Book Scrolling’s Best Short Story Collections of All Time, Newcity Lit’s Top 5 Fiction Books by Chicago Authors, Chicago Book Review’s Favorite Books of 2015Bustle’s 11 Short Story Collections Your Book Club Will Love, and Chicago Writers Association 2015 Book of the Year Honorable Mention.

Cyn’s prose and essays have been widely published and she received a Top 25 Finalist and Honorable Mention in two of Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers Contests, is the recipient of the Guild Literary Complex Prose Award in Fiction, a company member of the award-winning storytelling organization 2nd story, on the Board of Directors for Hypertext Studio, twice selected as artist-in-residence at the Ragdale Foundation and is Core Faculty at StoryStudio Chicago. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia College Chicago and is currently working on her first novel.