StoryStudio is thrilled to present the fourth annual StoryBoard workshop, hosted in hybrid form: in-person or online. In 2023, this week-long program will run in-person from August 13 – 18, followed by an online week August 20 – 25.


August 13 – 18 in person
August 20 – 25 online


Application window 
closes Friday, April 14


$9 application fee
$795 tuition in-person
$705 tuition online


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 in our Chicago-based Studio, or on our online platform Zoom. For more about StoryStudio as a creative writing center under our parent nonprofit organization Stories Matter Foundation, click here.

StoryBoard will offer workshop time, community building with your cohort and instructor, and special discussions with all six authors. Throughout the week there will also be one craft talk from each instructor in the afternoons.


  • Sunday evening of your week, August 13 or 20, there will be a welcome meeting at the Studio or via Zoom. Have a drink and meet your fellow writers. (Optional, but highly encouraged as this is where you will meet your peers.)
  • Monday, August 14 or 21 will kick off the workshops at 10am Central.
    • Each day will include 3 hours of craft lecture and workshops, until 1pm. From there, you’ll have free time to do as you wish (continue the conversation with classmates over lunch, flop on your bed, or log off to put your inspiration to use on the page) until 3:30pm.
    • At 3:30pm, a craft talk will be given by one of the instructors on a topic of their choosing. This is optional, but we highly encourage you to attend. (All craft talks, even those in-person, will be streamed on Zoom and recorded.)
    • The days without a craft talk are free to you to explore Chicago. If you’re in-person, we encourage you to set up some lunches and dinners with your fellow cohort members, and check out some literary events around the city. If you’re virtual, we’ll have some online cocktail hours for you to all mingle and get to know one another more.
  • Special Offering: Artistic Director Rebecca Makkai will be in conversation with all faculty members in a webinar fashion on Zoom, a conversation that will be free and open to the public. Date TBD, but likely before the first week begins. This will be recorded for those unable to attend live.
  • Things will wrap up on Friday, August 18 or 25 with a goodbye reception or Zoom party following the final workshop.

Exploding the Personal Moment in a High Concept World – Sequoia Nagamatsu

ONLINE SPECULATIVE FICTION • It’s a frequent criticism of genre writing that world building and technical concepts supersedes character. In this workshop, we’ll talk about genre expectations, tropes, and what we value in well-rounded characters. Collectively, we’ll build a fictional world together while considering avenues for the intimate, personal, and “small story”, as well as potential character oriented story arcs born from world.

1 hour craft talk/exercises, followed by two hours of workshop.

Sequoia Nagamatsu is the author of the novel How High We Go in the Dark, a national bestseller and New York Times Editors’ Choice, as well as the story collection Where We Go When All We Were Is Gone. His work has been a finalist for the Ursula K. Le Guin Prize, short listed for both The Barnes and Noble Discover Prize and The Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize, long listed for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and the Dublin Literary Award, and has received support from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and the U.S. Embassy. His short stories have appeared widely in publications such as Conjunctions, Tin House, The Iowa Review, Lightspeed Magazine, and One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories. He is an associate professor at St. Olaf College and serves as a faculty mentor in the Rainier Writing Workshop Low-Residency MFA program. He resides in Minneapolis with his partner, a cat, a dog, and a robot dog named Calvino. More at

Mrs. Turpin Reads the Stars – Margot Livesey

ONLINE FICTION • Flannery O’Connor’s great character walks right out of the story and into the reader’s imagination. How can we create characters that are vivid, deep and complicated? How can we devise stories worthy of them? We’ll be addressing a craft topic each day – characters, dialogue, setting, beginnings and endings et al. – and doing an in class exercise. In workshop we’ll be aiming for a discussion that leads to fruitful revision.

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

Margot Livesey grew up on the edge of the Scottish Highlands and has taught in numerous writing programs including Emerson College, Boston University, Bowdoin College and the Warren Wilson low residency MFA program. She is the author of a collection of stories and nine novels, including Eva Moves the Furniture, and The Flight of Gemma Hardy. The Hidden Machinery: Essays on Writing was published in 2017. She is on the faculty of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and goes back to Scotland whenever she can. Her most recent novel, The Boy in the Field, was published in August 2020.

The Art of Storytelling – Maya Shanbhag Lang

ONLINE NONFICTION • How do we make nonfiction as compelling as a novel or detective story? Turning to passages from Lily King, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Elizabeth Strout, we will explore uses of structure, voice, dramatic tension, and vulnerability to equip us with a tool set. One note: I conduct workshops with great care and am protective of writers’ unique voices, particularly BIPOC and under-represented voices. My goal is not to make you sound like anyone else, but to help you think about what’s getting in the way of sounding fully like yourself.

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

Maya Shanbhag Lang is the author of What We Carry, named a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a “Best Memoir Of 2020” on numerous international lists. She is also the author of The Sixteenth of June, named a Must-Read Novel by CBS and InStyle and long listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Lang’s essays been widely published and anthologized. The American Civil Rights Museum named her a “Woman You Should Know.” She is the incoming President of the Authors’ Guild.

The Only Way to Be a Writer is to Write – Asali Solomon

IN PERSON FICTION • This is a practical grounded workshop designed to get your writing off the ground and into the heights. We will focus on confronting the obstacles to composing, both mundane (“should I do the laundry instead?”) and spiritual (“Who am I, anyway?”). We will then hone in tackling the obstacles to writing what it is that only you really need to write, because that is what people will want to read.

1 hour of craft talk/writing activities, 2 hours of workshop (2 writers per day).

Asali Solomon’s latest novel, The Days of Afrekete has been called “a feat of engineering” by the New York Times. She is also the author of Disgruntled and Get Down: Stories. Her previous novel, Disgruntled, was named a best book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Denver Post. She is the recipient of a Pew Fellowship, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honor. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Vibe, Essence, The Paris Review Daily, McSweeney’s, on NPR, and in several anthologies including The Best Short Stories of 2021: The O. Henry Prize Collection. Solomon is the Bertrand K. Wilbur Chair in the Humanities at Haverford, where she is a Professor of English and director of Creative Writing.

Against Overwhelm – Claire Dederer

IN PERSON NONFICTION • This class is for people writing essays, book-length memoirs, or essay collections. Writing about your own life can feel overwhelming. There’s simply too much material–how do you know what to leave out? And yet at the same time our stories can feel too small, too ordinary. In this workshop we’ll learn tools, strategies, techniques, concepts, and processes that will help us shape the material of lived experience into story.

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

Claire Dederer is a bestselling memoirist, essayist, and critic. Her books include the critically acclaimed Love and Trouble: A Midlife Reckoning, as well as Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses, which was a New York Times bestseller. In April 2023 Knopf will publish Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma, Dederer’s nonfiction book investigating good art made by bad people. A hybrid of essay, criticism, and memoir, Monsters is based on her globally viral 2017 essay for the Paris Review, “What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men?” Dederer is a longtime contributor to The New York Times. Her essays, criticism, and reviews have also appeared in The Paris Review, The Atlantic, The Nation, Vogue, and many other publications.

Inquiry and Invitation: Making Poems – Chen Chen

IN PERSON POETRY • In this workshop we’ll consider how revision can be generative and offer one another feedback rooted in care, compassion, and attentiveness to both language and the many vulnerabilities each participant brings to the page. Above all, your idiosyncratic poems and questions will drive our discussions, our sharing of imaginations.

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

Chen Chen’s second book, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency (BOA Editions), has been named a best book of 2022 by the Boston Globe, Electric Lit, NPR, and others. It is also a 2023 Notable Book according to the American Library Association’s Reference and User Services Association. His debut, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017), was long-listed for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. His work appears in many publications, including Poetry and three editions of The Best American Poetry. He has received two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from Kundiman, the National Endowment for the Arts, and United States Artists. He teaches for the low-residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast.


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?

Workshops are limited to 10 participants maximum.

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.

What will the virtual participation look like?

Zoom invite links and information for joining your peers online will be provided in advance of the workshop. Additionally, you will have access to a private online chat forum for continual conversation outside of the live Zoom component. We will also provide some optional, general hang-out sessions throughout the week to get to know your peers more.

If I’m in a virtual workshop, but live locally, can I come to the Studio?

For some things, yes! The afternoon craft talks and end-of-week goodbye party will be open to all attendees if you are local.

Testimonials From 2022 Attendees

2022 Faculty

Testimonials From 2021 Attendees

2021 Hybrid-Format Faculty

Testimonials From 2020 Attendees

StoryBoard Workshop Welcome Reception over Zoom
Lidia Yuknavitch’s Workshop Group
2020 Inaugural Faculty