Chairperson: Randy Albers
Today’s job market continues to place a premium on individuals with excellent oral and written communication skills as well as the ability to exercise creative, imaginative problem solving. As one of the largest creative writing programs in the country, the Fiction Writing department seeks to prepare students not only for independent work as writers of publishable fiction, creative nonfiction, and playwriting, but also for a wide variety of professions such as journalism, theater, management, advertising, teaching, and law. We try to give students several skills to discover the power of their own voice and develop the critical-thinking skills crucial to success in any endeavor.
Core classes use the Story Workshop® approach, a dynamic, process-based method of teaching that draws fully upon the students’ diverse backgrounds and experiences by emphasizing permission for, and development of, each student’s unique voice and story content. Classes are small. Students are taught to tap into their imagination and potential for creative problem solving as they explore the interrelated processes of reading, listening, perceiving, experiencing, oral telling, critical thinking, and writing — all in an intimate setting that stresses close individual attention and positive feedback from faculty. Specialty writing courses include everything from genre fiction and publishing to creative nonfiction courses and courses related to freelance writing applications and teaching.
Our award-winning faculty comprises working writers, including scriptwriters, journalists, and playwrights. The department distinguishes itself in the diversity of experience it offers students and in its enthusiastic efforts to encourage students to discover their own voices in writing about what interests them most. There's an old saying that creative writing can’t be taught. We believe it can. Everyone has the capacity to tell a story and learn how to do it better and better, regardless of the level of experience with which they enter the program.
Students have numerous opportunities to publish their work through several of Columbia College Chicago’s award-winning publications. Hair Trigger, for example, the department’s annual anthology, has won first-place prizes from three different national student publication competitions. The department also sponsors two other nationally distributed publications: Spec-Lit, a science fiction journal, and F Magazine, a journal devoted primarily to novels in progress. All of these publications empower students to find their own voices while giving them a vehicle through which to showcase their work to a wider audience. They also allow students to extend their learning beyond the classroom and prepare for successful competition in the current job market.
During its acclaimed Story Week Festival of Writers, and periodically throughout the year, the department features well-known visiting writers, editors, and scholars who read from their work, meet with groups of students, and give intensive manuscript conferences to individual students.In addition, our Internship program gives students the opportunity to expand their professional skills before they graduate, placing them with numerous publishing houses in Chicago, as well as newspapers, magazines, and other publications.