There is no universal format for the courses other than that each is conducted as a workshop. Editors determine the format that they believe is most effective and beneficial to the students and that reflects their own editorial style. Some editors like to adopt a "micro" line-editing style, while others prefer a more "macro" perspective; some write down their comments and suggestions, others prefer to deliver them orally. In either case, classes are intensive, and it is expected that each student will submit anywhere from five to six pieces of writing no longer than 18 pages during an academic year.
Each workshop meets for two hours a week and is held at a time that is least likely to interfere with the schedules of the editors and of the students holding full-time or part-time jobs. Classes are usually held on Thursdays starting around 6:00 or 6:30 PM and ending at 8:00 or 8:30 PM. Workshops for 2022-23 classes will be held online.
Leo Carey, Senior Editor at The New Yorker
Christopher Cox, Editor at The New York Times Magazine; Editor-at-large at Orion
Edwin Frank, Editorial Director, New York Review Books
Jonathan Galassi, President, Farrar Straus & Giroux
Klara Glowczewska, Executive travel editor, Town & Country
John Knight, Independent Editor
Robert Messenger, Executive Editor, Simon & Schuster
Calvert Morgan, Executive Editor, Riverhead Books
Patrick Ryan, Editor-in-Chief of One Story
Sam Tanenhaus, U.S. Writer-at-Large for the British monthly Prospect
Matt Weiland, Vice President & Senior Editor, W. W. Norton & Company
No. Most people have very busy lives, and it is not our intention to disrupt or undermine peoples’ professional responsibilities. This is why we try to schedule our workshops at a time least likely to conflict with normal work hours. But the Institute is a demanding commitment and assumes that, for the duration of nine months, writing will occupy a significant portion of a student’s time and energy.
Whether your primary focus will be writing fiction or creative nonfiction or memoir, each editor is totally capable to teach in three areas, as each edits and publishes all three. All editors this coming year are themselves published authors.
Yes. Many of our students are engaged in writing personal narratives. The personal essay, the personal narrative, and the memoir are genres that most fiction and nonfiction editors are highly familiar with. Life Writing is now a very popular form and addresses issues that straddle both the conventions of fiction and creative nonfiction.
Regardless of your area of interest, the Institute is strongly committed to expose you to as many genres as possible. Your expertise may be in politics or in fashion or in engineering and you may not be interested in, say, the personal essay, but we believe that a writer should at least hear an editor discuss someone else’s writing that does not necessarily reflect another writer’s field of interest. Travel writing may be the furthest thing from your mind if you are interested in fiction. But hearing an editor discuss a travel piece may turn out to be vital to a well-rounded fiction writer.
As it is normally impossible to workshop an entire book-length manuscript, the best solution—and this has worked in the past—is to break up the book into no more than eighteen-page segments and to workshop these each time it is a student’s turn to workshop material. We strongly urge, however, that students refrain from workshopping the same pages with multiple editors.
Editors read prose pieces all day long. They spot talent and they recognize excellence. They are the people who evaluate manuscripts, who accept or reject them. The Writers’ Institute is a magnificent opportunity to learn from editors, to understand what they are looking for, how they read, and more importantly how they judge a work. To quote our motto once more: we never invite famous writers to teach, we hire the editors who made them famous.