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Take a Writing Class with Me

January 31st, 2013

Writing boot camps are workshops where you live for a week (or several) and focus completely on the written word. It’s a very intense experience, one that can change your writing style, your relationship to books, and even your life. Some famous camps like Clarion list many famous writers as their alums.

The most well-known SF and fantasy writing camp for teenagers is called Alpha, and takes place every July in Pittsburgh. It’s ten days altogether (July 10-19 this year) including eight days of workshops and two days of attending Confluence a literary sf convention nearby. You have to be age 14 to 19 to attend.

I’ve blogged about Alpha before, but this year, I willl be teaching there, along with Tamora Pierce and Theodora Goss. If you want to apply, submissions are open now.


To quote Alpha:

We’re looking for enthusiastic, talented young writers who have a strong interest in science fiction, fantasy and/or horror and a passion for writing. Students from anywhere in the world are welcome. In the past, students have attended Alpha from Canada, the United Kingdom, all over the United States, and even as far away as New Zealand.

Learn about writing and publishing. Meet other teens who share your interest in writing speculative fiction. Talk about short stories, novels, and films. Have your submission story critiqued. Brainstorm new story ideas, write a first draft, receive feedback, and rewrite. Attend readings by the authors. Do a public reading. Learn about submitting for publication, and send off your story at our manuscript mailing party.

2013 will be Alpha’s twelfth year. Previous attendees have placed in the Dell Magazines Award and Writers of the Future contests, and have sold stories to Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Cicada, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Nature Futures, Pseudopod and more.

Workshop tuition is $1100 and includes all workshop-related costs, but does not include transportation to and from Pittsburgh, or hotel/meals at the Confluence Convention. A limited pool of scholarship funding is available for students in need of financial aid.

Here are some testimonials from previous students.

Click here for more info and to apply.
Click here to donate to Alpha.

I hope I’ll be seeing some of you there! It’ll be great to meet you in person and talk about writing for a few days.

(Also: I will be more blogging soon, including some Uglies movie news.)

63 Responses to “Take a Writing Class with Me”

  1. 1
    January 31st, 2013 09:07

    wow that sounds so awesome! too bad i can’t make it to Pittsburg. have fun, Scott!

    heehee 1st comment!

  2. 2
    January 31st, 2013 09:17

    This looks fantastic! I would love to go, but Pittsburgh is a long way off.

  3. 3
    Her Imperial Maliciousness
    January 31st, 2013 09:41

    yay a new post :)
    i wish i could go, but pittsburg is all the way across the country and my parents wouldnt let me
    also, did i read that last sentence correctly?!?! AN UGLIES MOVIE?! YES!!!

  4. 4
    January 31st, 2013 17:18

    I must concur with the previous three comments: Pittsburg is very far away.
    In other news, he’s alive! Scott is still alive!

  5. 5
    January 31st, 2013 17:27

    I think I will check this thing out. It sounds like fun, and isn’t ridiculously far from where I live. It is a bit of a drive, though.

    And unwind movie news?

  6. 6
    Middy Miles
    January 31st, 2013 19:12

    What are the dates? Is it over the summer? Because I’d love to apply (and in my dreams get in) but I can’t if I’ve got stuff going on those days.

  7. 7
    January 31st, 2013 20:44

    Sounds fancy. I would love to go, however Pittsburg is a few states over and I’m not much of a writer…

  8. 8
    Middy Me
    January 31st, 2013 20:52

    That sounds really cool, Scott. There’s only one problem for me…I’m about a country away, so it’s no go for me. However, if anyone here goes, you HAVE to tell us all how it went.

    @4 – Yes, finally! Scott, you had us worried!

    UGLIES MOVIE!!!! What? When? How? Who?

  9. 9
    January 31st, 2013 20:59

    This sounds fantastic. And I might actually be able to go!

    Also Pittsburgh has an ‘h’ on the end of it everyone. Don’t know why that was bothering me so much.

  10. 10
    January 31st, 2013 21:34

    Seriously : why am I French ? >< (and 21 years old… well…)

  11. 11
    February 1st, 2013 01:12

    @10, what’s wrong with being French? unless you mean you can’t get to Pittsburgh… but seriously, don’t put yourself down like that, be confident! :)

  12. 12
    Middy Joe
    February 1st, 2013 01:49

    I got braces today…and they DIDN’T hurt. Yay!
    That looks awesome, but I can’t go…

  13. 13
    February 1st, 2013 02:37

    Hello, everyone. Alpha alum here. I went last year, and I must say, it’s a fantastic experience. Definitely apply if you’re passionate about writing.



  14. 14
    February 1st, 2013 06:09

    I’m from New Zealand! Ahhh, too far away :(

  15. 15
    February 1st, 2013 06:32

    Hi I’m Alex. I have read So Yesterday and I thought it was the best book that I have ever read!!! I would be flattered if you responded to this email: I am doing a book report on midnighters and I am so excited!! My teacher said it would’ve so cool if I could contact you!!!

  16. 16
    February 1st, 2013 07:33

    Pittsburg….. Yup that is exactly NINE states away from my home.
    Gotta love San Fran.


    So i just started reading the Host….. anyone read it?

  17. 17
    Sage Wilson
    February 1st, 2013 07:35

    Oh my gosh! An uglies movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tell me more Scott

  18. 18
    February 1st, 2013 07:35

    Sheesh…. from the looks of all the “really far away from Pittsburgh” comments we all live on the west coast!!

  19. 19
    February 1st, 2013 07:36

    Uglies movie?????????????????????
    UGLIES MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    welll, umm, thats a yes.

  20. 20
    February 1st, 2013 13:39

    scott and tamora pierce (who has been one of my all-time favorites for over five years)…..
    but since i live in oregon, i could never go…

  21. 21
    Cammie's Mom's Codename
    February 1st, 2013 14:36

    I’m considering applying even though I live in Australia (have to work a few dozen shifts to pay off that airfare…)

    The problem is I’ve only written sci-fi novel-length stuff, and one novel and one short story set in the future which nonetheless aren’t sci-fi in the traditional sense (set either very soon in the future, with more of a focus on new trends than new tech, or in a future where massive shortages have led to technological and innovational stagnation).

    Scott-la, if you’re actually reading this, do you think it’s worth me spending the next month working on something to use as my application piece, or is a month too short?

  22. 22
    Cammie's Mom's Codename
    February 1st, 2013 14:40

    Oh, I also had to say, I’m sorry if people think it’s rude that I comment on Scott’s site with an Ally-Carter-book-related alias. I think there’s a bit of fandom crossover (c’mon, I can’t be the only Uglies/Midnighter/Gallagher Girls fan!) and since a few years ago I used to comment on Ally’s blog a lot with this name, I kept it here too so people would know I was the same person. :D

    If it helps, I found out about I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have to Kill You, because Scott-la blurbed it so I knew it must be good!

  23. 23
    February 1st, 2013 16:32

    @16- The Host as in the Stephanie Meyer novel? I tried reading that… I personally don’t really care for her writing, I guess…

  24. 24
    February 2nd, 2013 00:10

    @3: How did I miss that?!? Now I’m very curious about the Uglies movie news!
    @12: Not to be the bearer of bad news, but they will. (Trust me.) For a few days, anyway. Unless you have super-pain-resisting powers.

  25. 25
    February 2nd, 2013 00:36

    I’m glad to know that scott-la hasn’t been eaten by zombies- he’s been away for so long! Plus:
    I’m fangirling so much right now!

  26. 26
    February 2nd, 2013 01:04

    As an Alpha alum, I would like to tell everyone who claims they could never go because they don’t live close to Pittsburgh that they should give it a shot anyhow. I live in Texas, and I never in a million years thought I would be able to attend, but I applied anyway just for experience, and lo-and-behold, my parents actually let me go!

    Also, if you’re super into writing and not just meeting Scott, whether you can go or not, I strongly encourage applying just for the experience, and to see if you get accepted. Believe me, it’s quite the confidence-booster if you are.

  27. 27
    February 2nd, 2013 04:17

    @26 you’re torturing me! i really want to go, but more to meet Scott than anything else. i’m not much of a writer, so i wouldn’t want to take up space where some really good, writing enthusiast could benefit much more than me. *attempting to restrain self and be generous*

  28. 28
    February 2nd, 2013 05:06

    For those of you saying that Pittsburgh’s *really* far away.

    Cheap round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh (for example) are about $320. Surely that’s not a deal-breaker compared to parental permission, $1100 tuition, and having ten free days. I fully understand that money is a concern, but there are scholarships. It’s kind of random to let geography be the thing that stops you.

    YOU LIVE IN THE FUTURE. We have airplanes here.

    (I love that the Australian on this thread gets this, but the people in, like, California don’t. And yes, Cammie’s Mom’s Codename, you can write a short story in a month.)

  29. 29
    February 2nd, 2013 06:42

    There aren’t too many times when I wish I was a teenager again, but this is one!

  30. 30
    Cammie's Mom's Codename
    February 2nd, 2013 08:27

    Thanks Scott! My experience of writing speed varies from Nanowrimo (“woohoo 8000 words in a day”) to this school subject where we wrote one over the course of a whole year, which has severely stuffed up my is-this-long-enough-to-write-something-good sensor.

    To everyone worried about travel — apply, then if you get in, tell your parents you got in! They’ll probably be proud of you and likely to pay for travel if they can (or let you get a job/do jobs for them to pay it off), and in the worst case scenario if you can’t go, you’ll be no worse off than if you didn’t apply, PLUS you’ll have the confidence booster of knowing you were good enough to go. :) Of course it would be a massive downer not to be able to go, but a lot of people hope to win writing competitions, not for the prize money, but to see how their writing is going, and it’s nice to know when it’s well received. :)

  31. 31
    February 2nd, 2013 10:26

    @28: Great, now I feel bad. ;/ But that’s a very good point. I’m sure it would be a stellar experience, and I would surely be able to go without pushing it too much. Yes, a rather lame excuse to say it’s far away.

  32. 32
    February 2nd, 2013 23:24

    I’m really sad that I can’t go. (I don’t meet the age requirements.)
    On the other hand, I really hope I read this correctly: (Also: I will be more blogging soon, INCLUDING SOME UGLIES MOVIE NEWS.) Yay!!!!!

  33. 33
    February 3rd, 2013 03:34

    Tamora Pierce and Theodora Goss and SCOTT WESTERFELD!

    the world is now officially a better place.

    The weird thing is that i always imagined how cool it would be it one of these existed, and it really awesome to know that they do.

    And sorta dumb that i didn’t figure it out sooner.

    I will most positively be looking into this.

  34. 34
    Middy Joe
    February 4th, 2013 00:12

    Does anyone here know what Hetalia is….? Alek and Austria are so alike in a way!!!

  35. 35
    February 4th, 2013 04:48

    @34 you watch Hetalia too? nice! wow absolutely no one at my school has any idea what that is. yeah Alek and Austria are so similar! i can’t wait for October… worldwide Hetalia day! look it up.

  36. 36
    Timothy Robert
    February 5th, 2013 01:59

    MORE UGLIES MOVIE NEWS!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!! umm, uhh, i mean, yeah, thats cool. I can’t wait to see it. I’m suppose to be doing math homework right now. THIS WILL BE THE BEST MOVIE EVER!!!!!!!!!

  37. 37
    Middy Joe
    February 5th, 2013 05:29

    @35-OMG that looks like fuuun! I love Prussia (and gilbird)! X3

  38. 38
    February 5th, 2013 05:37

    @37 yeah it looks so epic, right? i’ve never been before, but a friend told me about it and we’re going in a group with a few other people. lucky us, there’s a meet-up spot in our town. i hope there’s a location near you too everyone should get Hetalia day! but Prussia kind of scares me… even more than Germany! XD

  39. 39
    Midshipman K
    February 5th, 2013 05:40

    TT I wants to go precious. I MUST GO. But I don’t think I can with us already paying in advance for a exchange trip to France (my sister takes French, not me) and me supposed to be getting a job or volunteer something or other. And my short fiction….is not good. But hopefully I can apply at least….*thinks of meeting awesome authors (SCOTT) and having them as teachers* I WANT TO GO!!!! HOW CAN I NOT GO??? *sobs* I will try, precious, I will try!

  40. 40
    Middy Joe
    February 5th, 2013 06:29

    @38-I like Germany…even though he scares me too. America is annoying. I don’t know why, he just annoys me.

  41. 41
    February 5th, 2013 14:18


    Don’t worry, I’m not crying all my heart but, well, I’d like to try something like that <3
    But I think it's kind of a curse : all my favorite author are english or american xD I have to deal with it. I just have to become famous and when my books will be translate in english, maybe I could make a trip like this one !

  42. 42
    February 5th, 2013 15:46

    @40 really? i kind of like America just because he’s so oblivious to reality that it makes me laugh. most idiots i’ve met are oblivious but also obnoxious so i don’t like them.

  43. 43
    February 7th, 2013 01:07

    sooo… is anyone else here bored out of their mind and can’t wait for summer? bluh. dead of winter is no fun when there’s no snow.

  44. 44
    February 7th, 2013 05:06

    @42: The fact that he’s friends with an ALIEN scares me. So does the fact that England has maaaagical friends. Belarus is scary…she’s like a mega-stalker-lady-person-thing. And unless your name is Rin or Len Kagamine, you’re not supposed to have crushes on your sibling.

    But I like Italy. PASTAAA!!!!

  45. 45
    February 7th, 2013 05:06

    Eh, sorry, I’m still Middy Joe. I’m using my Quizilla username.

  46. 46
    February 7th, 2013 06:16

    @44 i think Tony (that is the alien’s name, right?) is kind of weird. but Britain’s magical friends amuse me.
    in art class we had to sculpt a cartoon character, so i chose flying mint bunny, and the teacher looked at it funny. i had to do a lot of explaining.

    occasionally, Belarus haunts my dreams. wow, here we are talking about Hetalia on Mr. Scott Westerfeld’s website… Scott, where did you disappear to this time?

  47. 47
    February 7th, 2013 16:46

    @43- I got snow. And despite what the groundhog says, where I am, we always have the extra six weeks of winter. Not that it’s a bad thing, though.

  48. 48
    February 8th, 2013 00:32

    SCOTT-LA i command you to release this “uglies movie news” right now because the suspense is almost literally killing me.

  49. 49
    February 8th, 2013 04:28

    @48 i know right? i NEED to find out about this movie!

  50. 50
    Midshipman K
    February 8th, 2013 08:12

    @45: I LOVE that username XD

  51. 51
    February 8th, 2013 11:51

    So I just finished the Manual of Aeronautics (which was quite enlightening visually), and though it was AWESOME and AMAZING, I was a little surprised to find “hydrogen sniffers” missing from the beastie section. :/

  52. 52
    Middy Miles
    February 11th, 2013 03:12

    Hey, everyone! I need story ideas for my Alpha application submission!
    (P.S. Scott, if you want to help, I totally wouldn’t object. Unless, you know, you aren’t allowed and I’d get kicked. In which case I’d rather you didn’t. If you can toss out a little advice, do you know what they look for in submissions? Strong or inventive plot, strong characters, settings, description, etc.? Who judges?)

  53. 53
    February 11th, 2013 09:44

    I hear you, MM. I, myself, was absolutely frantic for a couple of days because I was COMPLETELY brain-dead story-wise. Luckily, I came up with something and am currently editing the hell out of it.
    What’s your genre? Fantasy, sci-fi, horror, or a mix? (I think they’re just looking for a nice mix of all those things you mentioned. The most enthralling and well-written story between 2000-6000 words.)
    If it helps any, last year I wrote about a gang robbery in a world-of-words setting (in which they have ink for blood and whatnot).

  54. 54
    Middy Miles
    February 11th, 2013 23:23

    I’m currently writing a sic-fi manuscript, but fantasy is one of my favorite genres. Definitely not horror, though.
    Sounds interesting.

  55. 55
    February 13th, 2013 09:13

    Uglies movie??? I almost died when I read that last sentence, really.


    Agh, I’d love to go to that camp, but sadly, it is necessary for me to work during the summer, which would be completely counterproductive to dropping $1100. :(

  56. 56
    (Can't think of a good name)
    February 16th, 2013 08:03

    I’d love to go! It would be awesome! Pittsburg isn’t that far from where I live!!! :D You’re like my hero Scott, and it would be totally cool to meet you. Ooooh…. But $1100? Yipes! Totally bogus. It would fun to go though, I need the workshop. Maybe I could save up… *thinks* Well if I get enough money, you’ll see me there. :)

  57. 57
    (Can't think of a good name)
    February 16th, 2013 08:11

    I am an idiot who doesn’t know the difference between googling Pittsburg and pittsburgh. Clearly I need to check my spelling when I google things.

  58. 58
    February 19th, 2013 04:23

    Uglies *eye twitch* movie? I really shouldn’t get excited by mentions of this anymore. It has been what? 5 years now? I’m still waiting and growing uneasy about the whole thing as I see other books ruined by hollywood. :(
    but here I am again, excited and eager to hear what you have to say. SCOTT GIVE US INFORMATION SOON BEFORE I CRACK :)

  59. 59
    March 20th, 2013 23:54

    Hi I would so love to go I live really close and its so amazing but I’m to young to go :( but I if u still are there in a couple of years I will be there u can count on it!!!!!!

    And what a movie my life is so getting good because I can’t wait to see it I think u should use new faces in the movie though but that’s just me I would go to try out but I heard it wasn’t in the U.S so I can’t and again on the whole I’m pretty young thing but I could always be an extra in the back playing an Uglie

  60. 60
    April 14th, 2013 03:34

    Oh my gosh please tell us about the movie!!

  61. 61
    June 30th, 2013 22:59

    Ummmm how do u get In to alpha I mean I would love to go but do u have to write a story and be exepted?

  62. 62
    February 1st, 2014 18:06

    Writing is an art that everyone does it. Congratulate you for having this art.
    Your blog is unique

  63. 63
    February 3rd, 2014 16:25

    Writing is an art that everyone does it. Congratulate you for having this art.
    Your blog is unique

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