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The Conference
January 14-21, 2023

2024 dates to be announced

Located on the beautiful waterfront campus of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, this writers’ conference features professional writers at the top of their form spending quality time with motivated and talented participants seeking an intimate, unhurried climate for learning…in paradise.


  • Nonfiction with Madeleine Blais
  • Whether you are working on a personal story, an historical account, a biography, or some combination, your work is going to need a narrative arc, which can be challenging in nonfiction. Our group will work on ways to create an engine for your prose—-on how to turn a situation into a story (especially tricky in memoir). We will spend time devising strategies to create lively prose. A special emphasis will be placed on publication options and on generating future subject matter so that you will leave the conference armed with new ideas and enthusiasm.  Your 25 sample pages can be the opening chapter of a longer work or a self-contained article-sized piece of 25 pages or less (plus a 1-p synopsis).


  • Novel with Anjanette Delgado
  • A World of Our Own: Moving Into Your Novel So You Can Finish It
    It’s possible the number one reason some of us can’t finish our long-form stories is that we keep trying to write the world of our novels while continuing to live and think only from the perspective of this world.  But what if, rather than plotting or outlining, you first created so much of your novel’s world that you could (almost) move right in, live with your characters, and figure out the logical and the magical in what is driving you to write? In this workshop, we will use targeted tasks to uncover and develop your novel’s plot, places, characters, themes, tone, and ambiance, as well as the momentum to propel you toward a solid, well-plotted first draft, a work that can then be revised, rewritten. A whole thing. A dish and not its ingredients.


  • Novel with Stewart O’Nan
  • The class will be primarily a workshop. Students will read one another’s novel excerpts, interrogating character, action, language, ideas and setting with an eye toward revision. Participants admitted to this workshop are asked to read The Art of Revision by Peter Ho Davies as part of preparation for workshop.


  • Short Story with Andre Dubus III
  • If I teach nothing else in my writing classes, I teach this: do not outline your novel or novella or short story or essay. Do not think out the plot, the narrative arc, the protagonist’s journey, whatever you want to call it. Instead, try to find the story through an honest excavation of the characters’ total experience of the situation in which they find themselves. Do that, and I promise the story will begin to write itself, with little need for the controlling hand of the godly, intelligent, well-read, and ambitious author. But how, precisely, does one go about this “excavation”? And how, technically speaking, can we ignite a story into “writing itself”? Come to this workshop, and I will seek to demystify those writerly tools and skills that time and time again, if they are sharp enough, and if the writer can summon enough daily faith and nerve, can penetrate the mystery of story itself.


  • Crime Fiction with Laura Lippman
  • Are there really “rules” for crime-writing? Only one: Keep the reader turning pages. Students interested in crime fiction will learn about the specialized challenges of pacing their stories, playing fair with readers and why less is often more when it comes to mysteries.


  • Narrative Suspense with Michael Koryta
  • The workshop is open to both fiction and nonfiction writers who are interested in improving their storytelling and broadening their range of techniques. Focus will be on how the handling of core issues such as character, plot, tension, and emotion are imperative regardless of the form, and demonstrating that fiction writers can benefit from seeing how journalistic techniques can add depth and realism to their own work, while nonfiction writers can benefit from learning how to build scenes, create suspense, and use dialogue. (A properly formatted screenplay opening of up to 25 pp will also be considered.)


  • Memoir with Ann Hood
  • In this workshop, we will read and discuss published essays every day to examine what makes a good piece of memoir writing. We will then critique pages from your own memoirs and essays with an eye toward revision.


  • Poetry with Major Jackson
  • In addition to manuscript discussion and critique, in this generative workshop, composed of in-class writing exercises and close readings of poems that model risk-taking, we will write exploratory drafts that push us towards next-level thinking and emotional breakthroughs. Students will enter a community of writers whose collective aim is to forward our growth as writers by crafting both our feelings and our language.


  • *Special 3-Day Workshop*   Structure: Planning the Novel with Sterling Watson – (Jan. 15, 16, 17) $495
  • We will cover as many matters of craft and art (character, theme, point-of-view, language, structure, and setting) as we can fit into the time allotted with special attention to problems and possibilities that arise from our reading of the students’ manuscripts.  Using the manuscripts as prompts, I will suspend discussion occasionally for mini-lectures and demonstrations of key ideas.  This class will help participants fashion a better synopsis and sample chapter to send out to agents.


  • *Special 3-Day Workshop*   Structure in Fiction, Nonfiction and Memoir with Les Standiford – (Jan. 19, 20, 21) $495
  • This workshop will focus on the overall conception and structure of book-length projects–novel, memoir, or general interest non-fiction, either completed or in progress. Discussion will center on the clarity and substance of a summary of the project and the efficacy of the opening 25 pp, given the stated intention.

    Full manuscript guidelines for submissions are available on our Submittable page.

    New for 2023

    • Writers in Paradise at Eckerd College is pleased to announce the addition of a series of Pruitt-Meinke Fellowships. For 2023, Conference Co-Directors Dennis Lehane and Les Standiford will award as many as four new fellowships targeted toward writers from traditionally under-supported communities.  Each of the awards will cover full conference tuition, 8 nights of housing at the conference hotel, and a stipend for travel and meals. The primary criterion for designation as a Pruitt-Meinke Fellow is the submission of a writing sample judged of excellent quality.  In furthering the Conference’s long-standing commitment to inclusion and diversity and to ensure the participation of a rich and varied array of talent from about the country and abroad, special attention will be given to applications from individuals from historically underserved populations as well as individuals who have overcome substantial socioeconomic obstacles. Since its founding in 2005, Writers in Paradise, with an increasingly large applicant pool and high bar for admission, has made it a priority to include a diverse group of mentoring faculty who reflect the ultimate achievement in their genres and who are gifted and generous teachers.  The new series of Fellowships is meant to acknowledge and address the challenges of taking time away from family, work, and studies during a week in January not long after the year-end holidays, not to mention the cost of traveling to Florida during peak season. The awards are made possible by generous gifts to the College from Martha Rudy Wallace in honor of Eckerd Professor Emeritus Peter Meinke and from the Pruitt family in honor of the late Dr. Crayton Pruitt.  Learn more about how to apply in our application page.
    • Writers in Paradise partners with the Residence Inn for participant lodging.  For more information about room rate and amenities, click on lodging.

    Deadline for Applications to Workshop

    Our applications period runs from August 1 to November 1 ( 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time).   Apply starting August 1 on Submittable.

    For more information on workshop selection, deadlines and conference costs, click on Application.

    Les Standiford


    Dennis Lehane

    Co-Founder & Co-Director

    Co-founded by Dennis Lehane and Sterling Watson, and co-directed by Les Standiford, Writers in Paradise offers an intensive eight-day experience of workshop classes, roundtables, panel discussions, Q&As, readings, book signings, and receptions with our award winning-faculty and guest speakers.

    The tranquil seaside landscape sets the tone for this informal gathering of writers, teachers, editors, and literary agents. The size and secluded location of the Eckerd College Writers’ Conference allows you the time and opportunity to share your manuscripts, critique one another’s work, and discuss the craft of writing with experts and peers who can help guide you to the next level.

    Why You Should Attend

    After eight days of workshopping and engagement with peers and professionals in your field, you will leave with a refreshed understanding of your craft and solid ideas about how to find an agent and get published.  At the heart of the conference are six days of workshops led by master faculty in various genres where techniques are discussed and participant manuscripts are closely examined.

    2023 Faculty & Guests

    Writers in Paradise offers a wide array of Fellowships and Scholarships.

    Additional Information

    The 19th edition of Writers in Paradise will take place from January 14 – 21, 2023.  Esteemed faculty and selected participants workshop for three hours in the morning, attend panels and craft talks in the afternoon, and attend evening readings and events. Participants are actively engaged with our faculty and guests from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

    For more information about Writers in Paradise, please visit our FAQ or contact Conference Coordinator, Marina Pruna, at


    Writers in Paradise helped me find my footing and develop a successful plan for revising my memoir. Conversations with faculty and fellow workshop participants refueled me, helped me untangle some of the issues I was working through in my manuscript, and fostered a sense of community.

    Angela La Voie2019 Conference Participant

    Writer’s in Paradise is well organized and enormously supportive of everyone. Where else can you find a group of this caliber willing to focus on your work with such intensity and good intent? Truly a gift.

    Wikki Krawczyk2019 Conference Participant

    Writers in Paradise is an extremely well put together week of inspiring readings, critique, people, and ideas. There is kindness and support amidst the hard work and a nice sense of camaraderie. I particularly appreciated the emphasis on craft. Worth the effort to clear a week for!

    Hana Maris2019 Conference Participant

    At Writers in Paradise, passionate instructors help you succeed at an event organized to provide you with a seamless experience. I've made lasting friendships with other writers while honing my craft. If you want constructive honesty, check your ego at the door and listen.

    Jenn MondelloConference Participant 2018 & 2019

    Shortly after returning from WIP 2019, I received not one, but two offers of publication for my short-story collection, The Lightness of Water and Other Stories. The first story in this collection 'Bondservant,' which is also the first chapter in my novel-in-progress, was workshopped with Les Standiford at WIP 2016. Following that conference, I applied everything I learned from the amazing speakers and mentors--as well as my co-horts--to my short-story collection. The wisdom shared with me helped land a story publication in Qu Literary Magazine, as well receive the 2019 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, which includes publication of my collection.

    Rhonda White2016 & 2019 Conference Participant

    I found WIP to be life-changing. In a week, my drive to write went from 'moderate' to 'fever pitch'. Andre [Dubus III] the 3rd is as gifted an orator as he is a writer, very helpful.

    Jim Mentink2019 Conference Participant

    It’s hard to imagine any writer who wouldn’t come away from WIP without a bag full of skills, ideas and renewed energy... and stuff to read for months afterward. As if that isn’t enough, we come away engaged more deeply in the community of those who share love of craft and respect for those who practice it.

    Mary Fox2019 Conference Participant

    Since the conference, two of my novels written under a pen name- a YA and a Thriller - are under contract for publication in 2020. And last week I received a request from a lit agent for the full manuscript of the novel I workshopped. Obviously, I learned a lot.

    Tim Vargo2019 Conference Participant

    If it was only inspiration from the drop-dead talented readers and workshop leaders, Eckerd Writer’s Conference wouldn’t be as useful. Daily, we retrain our focus on what it means to be a writer, explicating the craft and its toolbox. WIP is that balance of soaring spirits and nuts n’ bolts.

    Diane Dewey2019 Conference Participant

    In Debra Dean's historical fiction class, I was blessed to witness her devotion to the art of writing, to learn from her practical experience as a writer in the publishing world, and to be encouraged by a wealth of information and good sense that she packed into a relatively short time period!

    Mary Shaffer2019 Conference Participant

    I've tried many different ways to write about this conference and my experience working with eleven other poets, Major Jackson charting our journey from strangers into a community of poets who learned the ways of eachother's rhythms. Extraordinary experience is not an overstatement. Writers In Paradise is a perfect writing environment with an engaged faculty and it is one of the most well-run conferences because its staff clearly wants to deliver the best experience for every participant.

    Sara Schlossman2019 Conference Participant

    I’ve been to two consecutive Writers in Paradise and plan to return for a third next year! I’ve studied with Denise Duhamel and Major Jackson, who are both phenomenal teachers and lead interactive, quick-paced workshops. I learned more than I expected both times and made friends I’m in touch with often. I’m a much better poet for having attended these.

    David ColodneyAlum 2016 & 2017

    WiP was transformative! The generous feedback from the brilliant Andre Dubus III and my workshop colleagues helped put the final brushstrokes on my story, now submitted for publication. I'm using the techniques taught in the cross-genre craft classes to experiment with prose poem forms, imagery prompts, and rythm in my prose.

    Albert LeftwichShort Story Workshop Participant 2020

    Attending Writer’s in Paradise has been an essential ingredient to my development as a writer. I’ve attended several years and have always come away with new tools and skills. The readings, faculty, panels, lectures and fellow students make it a great week and a conference not to be missed.

    Gale MasseyAlum 2016 & 2017- The Girl From Blind River – July 10,2018

    Les Standiford fosters a friendly and respectful environment and is especially masterful in teaching the art of creating story blueprints. I left the conference with a filled notebook, several new friends and ideas on how to structure my next project. No doubt I hope to return.

    Sara GoudarziStandiford Fellow 2017

    My experience at the 2020 Writers in Paradise conference exceeded my expectations- and as a second-timer, my expectations were high!
    This time I attended John Dufresne's short fiction workshop, and was incredibly impressed by the quality of feedback from the group, and the level of respect every member gave to our fellow participants-quite an elcetic group- and their work. John was an excellent "herder of cats" and we all left brimming with energy and ideas.

    Barbara Riddle-DvorakShort Fiction Workshop 2020

    Attending WIP has been one a pivotal points in my writing journey. Every aspect, from my memoir workshop with Ann Hood, to the craft talks and nightly readings, went beyond expectation. I came home with a notebook full of inspiration and much work to do. Thank you!

    Diane FormanMemoir Workshop 2020

    Writers In Paradise is no hyperbole. The experience I had in the poetry workshop was truly life-altering. With the brilliant poet Gregory Pardlo our chiron, we dozen fine poets dug way past structure and line edits to get to the point: Why this? Why now? Why Me? We came to realize that going to our strengths can be a signal we are stopping short, that we must move past a false bottom to where we really must go. WIP? Sign me up!

    Philip ColemanPoetry Workshop 2020

    I was intimidated by the manuscripts of the other participants in Ann Hood's memoir workshop. How I dreaded having my work critiqued by these more accomplished writers. We came together as strangers and left entrusted with intimate details of each others lives. Our workshop revealed flaws, plot holes, confusing prose, and inconsistencies. My manuscript is now so much better for the gentle, thoughtful, consideration of the group. Thank you!

    Eileen Vorbach CollinsMemoir Workshop 2020

    For decades, even while working as a journalist, I had an outsized faith in talent and effort. I didn’t even know about the myriad techniques to improve a piece of work I learned here. This conference hit me at exactly the right time.

    Andrew MeachamCreative Nonfiction Workshop 2020

    WIP feels like a community led by inspiring and amazing mentors and staff. The readings and craft talks are sometimes sacred experiences, other times hilarious and fascinating. I'm addicted.

    Lita KurthNovel Workshop 2023

    Studying with Laura Lippman catalyzed a new way for me to approach manuscript revision, and the additional instructional lectures throughout the week were brilliant. The Writers in Paradise deep dive into narrative structure and craft has improved my work-in-progress and will inform all of my work going forward.

    Dev RogersCrime & Suspense Workshop 2020

    A writer friend said WIP was an outstanding conference. She was right! Novel Writing with Stewart O'Nan was beyond the pale. My fellow writers were professional and concise in their feedback. The lectures were inspiring. Readings and parties. Beautifully orchestrated and organized with 24/7 help available. What's not to love?

    Pamela CederquistNovel Workshop 2020

    Writers in Paradise encouraged a wonderful balance of rigor and community on one of the most beautiful college campuses I have ever been to. My instructor, Andre Dubus III, was one of the most knowledgeable, down to earth, and passionate writers I have ever met. He guided our short story cohort not only on how to write better but how to be better as people. This was, in all honesty, a pivot point for my writing career and I will always look back at this time fondly.

    Noel QuiñonesPriutt/Meinke Fellow 2023

    Working on what I trust will be my second book, my goal in attending the 2023 WIP if accepted again, was to study with Ann Hood - learn from the best about writing Memoir. Ann enthusiastically shared daily, her ample treasure and spot-on terrific outside-the-box suggestions. Her encyclopedic knowledge of all-things-literary, plus being surrounded by a multitude of talented, accomplished writers inside our workshop and across the conference, far exceeded my expectations. This conference generously filled the empty Memoir toolbox with which I had arrived, and my writer’s soul.

    Deb CarsonWiP alum, 2023, and author of "Becoming Flo"

    WIP helped elevate my writing more than any other workshop I've ever attended. I gained literary authority and found the bravery to write my hard, yet crucial, truths— all in the company of other craft-obsessed writers. It's called Paradise for a reason and it has nothing to do with the beach.

    Danielle Monroe2023 Novel Workshop with Elizabeth Strout


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    Mission Statement

    Our Mission

    Our mission at Writers in Paradise is to provide talented and hardworking writers of all levels and genres the opportunity to learn from and work with other writers under the guidance of masterful and successful authors.  For an entire week, we strive to provide an open, inclusive, and nurturing environment where creativity, critical awareness and writing techniques can be exercised, fostered and encouraged.   Every year we try to grow our conference to include new voices and ways of looking at writing and what it means to write in today’s market while maintaining a core faculty of proven authors who are both successful in their genres as well as gifted in the classroom. Our central premise has always been to help talented writers reach their intended audiences.  We understand the complexities of putting together effective stories, and this understanding and sensitivity makes our workshops popular and coveted.  One of our goals is to create community among our participants which is why our workshops are closed to all but those participants who submit manuscripts and are accepted into workshop—one long time faculty member calls it “having skin in the game.”
    We believe that keeping workshops small allows for focus, productive criticism and honesty.

    Our commitment to providing a week filled with writing education and sanctuary includes poetry. Nearly every year we rotate a nationally-acclaimed, award-winning poet who teaches as part of our core faculty. In addition to the poetry workshop and craft talk(s), we are honored to have as part of our lineup the poet laureates of St. Petersburg and of Florida, Helen Pruitt Wallace and Peter Meinke.

    With the help of our St. Petersburg community and Eckerd alumni, we work with an endowment that affords us the opportunity to help many participants financially.  We never want money to be the reason that you can’t come be with us for a week.  If you’ve got a story that’s burning to be told, we want to help you add to your set of craft-box tools, so you can effectively tell it. While we are competitive and accept writers based on the strength and potential of their writing, we abide by the notion that good writing is good writing and we all stand to learn from one another no matter where we come from, how old we are, or what we may or may not have studied formally.  After a week at WIP, we hope you leave with a new and inspired sense of direction, some good friends who you can share writing with throughout the year, and with confidence you can navigate new writing challenges on your own.

    Les Standiford, Conference Director
    Marina Pruna, Conference Coordinator