For the first year, StoryStudio is thrilled to present: StoryBoard, an intensive writing workshop in Chicago. This week-long program will run from August 17 – 21, led by Lidia Yuknavitch, Danielle Evans, and Manuel Gonzales.

Lidia Yuknavitch – Hybrid (Fiction/CNF)

Lidia Yuknavitch is the National Bestselling author of the novels The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children, winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award’s Ken Kesey Award for Fiction as well as the Reader’s Choice Award, the novel Dora: A Headcase, and a critical book on war and narrative, Allegories Of Violence (Routledge). Her widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water was a finalist for a PEN Center USA award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award and the Oregon Book Award Reader’s Choice. The Misfit’s Manifesto, a book based on her recent TED Talk, was published by TED Books. Her new collection of fiction, Verge, is now out from Riverhead Books.

Danielle Evans – Short Story

Danielle Evans is the author of the story collection Before You SuffocateYour Own Fool Self, which was a co-winner of the 2011 PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize for a first book, a National Book Foundation 5 under 35 selection, the winner of the Paterson Prize for Fiction and the Hurston-Wright award for fiction, and an honorable mention for the PEN/Hemingway award. Her work has appeared in magazines including The Paris Review, A Public Space, American Short Fiction, Callaloo, The Sewanee Review, and Phoebe, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2008, 2010, 2017, and 2018, and in New Stories From The South. Her second collection, The Office of Historical Corrections, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books. She teaches in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

Manuel Gonzales – Fiction

Manuel Gonzales is the author of the novel The Regional Office is Under Attack! and the acclaimed story collection The Miniature Wife, winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the John Gardner Fiction Book Award. A graduate of the Columbia University Creative Writing Program, he teaches writing at the University of Kentucky and the Institute of American Indian Arts. He has published fiction and nonfiction in Open City, Fence, One Story, Esquire, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, and The Believer. Gonzales lives in Kentucky with his wife and two children.


August 17 – 21


Application window opens March 1
and closes May 31


$9 application fee
$799 tuition


Use Submittable to upload
your application materials and
make your faculty preference selections.

Materials include: 10-page writing sample, and a brief questionnaire

FAQs are below.

The StoryBoard program is a weeklong intensive workshop. Workshops will take place at StoryStudio’s location: a cozy studio space in the Ravenswood neighborhood. For more about StoryStudio as a creative writing center under our parent nonprofit organization Stories Matter Foundation, click here.

What’s different about StoryBoard is that it’s in Chicago in August with plenty of free time to explore the best of all cities. We have structured the workshop so that you can get equal parts literary craft education and vacation time. The afternoon and evenings are your own.

Here’s how it will work:

  • Sunday evening, August 16, there will be an optional reception for the authors and attendees at StoryStudio.
  • Monday, August 17 will kick off the workshops at 10am. Each day will include 3 hours of craft lecture and workshops, until 1pm. From there, you’re free to do as you wish – continue the conversation with classmates over lunch, flop on your bed, or explore the city.
  • Tuesday, after workshop, Artistic Director Rebecca Makkai will give a short craft talk of her own to all three cohorts, optional.
  • On Wednesday evening, Rebecca will be in conversation with all three faculty members downtown, a conversation that will be free and open to the public, but completely optional. Books from all four will be for sale and a signing will follow.
  • All students are invited to a planned evening out together on Thursday in a neighborhood to be determined, also optional.
  • Things will wrap up on Friday, August 21 with a goodbye rooftop party following the final workshop.

If you’re accepted, StoryStudio will provide you with a brochure of recommendations for lodging, food, activities, and transportation. We are happy to help with these details, but StoryStudio does not provide these accommodations with the tuition.

applications open march 1

The Art of Hybrid Storytelling – Lidia Yuknavitch

Sometimes a story aches to emerge between forms. Think of Maggie Nelson’s Bluets or The Argonauts, or stand alone essays and stories by Eula Biss, Amy Hempel, Terese Mailhot, or Roxane Gay. In this workshop we will explore the art of moving between fiction and nonfiction as a dynamic form of storytelling by looking at a few examples and then diving into narrative practice. We will put our ideas into collaboration through discussion and generate deep form and content questions that lead to new modes of storytelling. Participants will draft a narrative helix and a narrative braid for future development.

1 hour of craft talk each day, 2 hours for workshops (2 students per day).

Structuring the Short Story – Danielle Evans

In this workshop, we will think about the form of the short story, discuss how writers create movement in the story form, and push our own work to use the full capacity of the form. We’ll read and discuss published stories that move through time, stories that unfurl around a single moment, and stories that weave together multiple threads. Through discussion and craft exercises, we will explore what makes a successful short story feel both compressed and expansive. Participants will each workshop a complete short story.

1 hour of craft talk each day, 2 hours for workshops (2 students per day).

Plot & Suspense: Building Tension in Fiction – Manuel Gonzales

If there’s no tension in your story, then there’s really no story. But how do you create and build and sustain tension? How do you create suspense? What drives a successful plot forward and pushes a reader to race breathlessly to the end of a compelling story or novel? We will explore the many different ways to add and build tension in your work, build plot, and develop suspense. We’ll look at various examples of masters in the art of creating tension and we’ll practice with in-class exercises the different ways you can tighten the screws for your characters and your readers, too. Writers will leave with a more keenly developed sense of how to build narrative tension, and the tools to apply in-class lessons to past, present, and future drafts.

1 hour of craft talk each day, 2 hours for workshops (2 students per day).

You Talkin’ to Me?: The “Ear” of the Story, with Rebecca Makkai (for all students)

We talk a lot about a story’s point of view—who’s telling it, why, under what circumstances. But there’s a flipside to that POV question: Who is the story’s implied listener? Are you casting your listeners as people who already know this world or people who need to be filled in? And what are the political and artistic implications of glossing a culture or setting for readers who don’t know it?

Tuesday afternoon, after workshops end.


What level are these workshops?

Acceptance is selective and based on the quality and promise of the writing sample. The writers and instructors participating will all be serious about their craft and the feedback provided. Prior workshop experience is not necessary.

How many people will be in my group?

Each workshop will have a maximum of 10 participants.

Will we be workshopping new pieces, or ones we apply with?

You are welcome to submit any piece for the workshop component of the program. If you apply with one piece, but want to submit something else for the group to workshop, that’s acceptable. All workshop pieces will need to be submitted one month prior to the program’s start date.

Will I get to pick who I work with?

On our submission manager, Submittable, you’ll find options to list your preferences of faculty members. We’ll do our best to match you with your first choice.

How can I get to the studio?
Our studio is located at 4043 N. Ravenswood Ave., #222, Chicago – just north of Irving Park Road. All Map apps will be able to provide directions, but here are our preferred public transit options:

El: The Irving Park stop on the Brown line is the closest to StoryStudio—just a half a block away.

Bus: We’re a short walking distance off the Irving Park, Damen, Montrose, or Lincoln buses.

Parking: Yes, we have a parking lot that offers easy, free parking for evening and weekend classes. Make sure you’re on the EAST side of the train tracks.

More details will be provided closer to the workshop in an informational brochure.

Is food provided? Is lodging provided?

No, but Chicago has so much to offer on both fronts. If you’re accepted, StoryStudio will gladly supply you with suggestions for lodging, food, and activities.

What do I need to bring with me?

A laptop, or preferred writing tools (notebook, pen, pencil, etc). You will also need access to all of your peers’ pieces and your comments and feedback on each. The Studio does not offer printing, so we encourage you to print ahead of time, or check with your lodging for any business center. We know a few great Staples locations nearby, as well.

And of course, bring your vacation clothes and some good walking shoes. We have beaches, and boats, and Navy Pier, and a free zoo, and bookstores, and Broadway shows, and comedy clubs, and and and…

Is the studio handicapped accessible?

We are located on the second floor of an historic building, and there’s an elevator, but there are 3 small steps that will have to be navigated.