Creative Writing: The Great Smokies Young Writers Workshop – Developing Voice in Fiction & Nature-Based Poetry

Hone your literary skills through workshops with experienced local authors and poets. Generate new pieces, revise works-in-progress and critique works of others in a collaborative workshop setting.

Developing Voice: Fiction is woven together from a multitude of voices: omniscient authors, first person narrators, individual characters all with distinctive manners and (hopefully) recognizable traits. What does it mean to have a “voice”? How do you distinguish between voices and maintain a cohesive style? This course will address these issues, looking at authorial and character voice as an integral part of storytelling. We’ll analyze a range of examples of voice in fiction and drama, and then work on our own developing voices. Students will receive feedback from the instructor and fellow writers, revising towards 5-8 pages of prose focusing on some form of voice.
Nature-Based Poetry: What does it mean to be a nature-based poetry writer? In this creative writing workshop, participants will focus on incorporating nature into their poems. We’ll use our senses to guide us in crafting language that best describes a specific animal or plant under observation. Building on inspiring prompts provided by the instructor, participants will also read poems from Eric Nelson’s Horse Not Zebra, Heather Swan’s Dandelion, and Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese. The goal is to learn techniques and remarkable ways in which other poets can help us to listen and pay close attention to the non-human beings teeming with life or endangered in the natural world.


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Plot Development

Generative Writing


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Participating in peer workshopping sessions to give and receive feedback on work-in-progress
Students will be encouraged to participate in an end-of-week reading for an audience of family and friends


Sample Schedule

  • Morning

  • 8:00 a.m. – Breakfast
  • 9:00 a.m. – Developing Plot
  • 12 p.m. – Lunch & free time
  • Afternoon

  • 1:00 p.m. – Wordbuilding 101
  • Evening

  • 5:00 p.m. – Dinner
  • 6:30 p.m. – Activities / recreation / free time
  • Options could include: beach volleyball, Asheville Tourists game, observatory, game night, movie
  • 11 p.m. – Lights out


Meet Your Faculty

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Mildred Kiconco Barya

  • Mildred Kiconco Barya is a North Carolina-based writer and poet of East African descent. She teaches and lectures globally, and is on faculty at UNC-Asheville. She’s the author of four full-length poetry collections, most recently The Animals of My Earth School released by Terrapin Books, 2023. Her prose, hybrids, and poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Joyland, The Cincinnati Review, Tin House, New England Review, and elsewhere. She’s now working on a collection of creative nonfiction, and her essay, “Being Here in This Body”, won the 2020 Linda Flowers Literary Award and was published in the North Carolina Literary Review. She serves on the boards of African Writers Trust, Story Parlor, and coordinates the Poetrio Reading events at Malaprop’s Independent Bookstore/Café. She blogs here:


Dr. Jamieson Ridenhour

Jamieson Ridenhour is the writer and producer of the popular audio drama Palimpsest, the author of the werewolf murder-mystery Barking Mad (Typecast, 2011) and writer and director of the award-winning short horror films Cornerboys and The House of the Yaga. His ghost play Grave Lullaby was a finalist for the Kennedy Center’s David Cohen Playwriting award in 2012. Jamie’s short fiction and poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Andromeda Spaceways Magazine, TheNewerYork, Across the Margins, Mirror Dance, and Architrave, among others, and has been podcast on Pseudopod, Cast of Wonders, and Radio Unbound. His newest play, Bloodbath: Victoria’s Secret, premiered in October of 2021. He has taught writing for over twenty years, currently at Warren Wilson College

Registration Details

  • June 23-28, 2024 
  • $1,430
  • Pre-College Programs are open to rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
  • Price includes lodging, meals, all course materials, activities, and excursions
  • Scholarships are available through Great Smokies Writing Program (Click here for more information)
  • A $500 deposit is due upon registration with remaining balance due by May 1, 2024.  Click here to see our cancellation policy.
  • Students reside in campus residence hall and dine in campus dining hall
  • Enrollment is open until spaces are filled
  • Registration is through the Camp Doc platform.  Detailed registration instructions can be found here.



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