How The Fifth Semester Works

The Fifth Semester is a four-month course that includes writing mentorship and full manuscript development by bestselling authors and professional teachers, two weekend residencies featuring more than 20 instructional hours on story development, craft, and the business of writing, a built-in writing community, and access to agents, editors, and other industry leaders.

You start with a weekend in Chicago, immersing yourself in discussions on the craft of writing. Then you return home, and for four months, work remotely with Ann, Erin, or one of the visiting writers (when appropriate) — or sometimes all of the above — on developing your idea or draft. At the end of those four months, each cohort meets for a long weekend in NYC to talk the business of writing, meet agents and editors, and further discuss your project with your mentor.

  • A three-day residency in Chicago, focused on the craft of writing

  • Four months of one-on-one mentorship

    Including a monthly exchange of draft pages, a telephone conference with your mentor, and email check-ins.

  • A three-day residency in New York, focused on the business of writing

    At the New York residency, mentors will provide a developmental critique of full manuscript up to 300 pages and individual conference to discuss future strategies and goals.

  • Access to agents and editors

  • Room and board for both residencies

    Including breakfast, catered lunch, and nightly hors d’oeuvre and wine reception.

  • A program that adheres to Association of Writers and Writing Programs

    (AWP) standards  taught by university professors/published authors

  • A writing community

    Complete with a private Facebook page and private online forum (coming soon!)

  • Narrative structure
  • Concept and conflict
  • Pacing
  • Beginnings and endings
  • Persona and voice
  • Description and significant detail
  • Scene versus summary
  • Dialogue
  • Synopsis and query writing
  • Social media strategies and techniques
  • Who to pitch: developing agent lists
  • Platform and promotion
  • Finances, taxes, and budgets
  • How the publishing world goes ’round: the structure of modern publishing
  • Write here, publish there…but where? Picking a publisher that’s right for you.