Short Story Incubator
“It was an experience that definitely took my writing to the next level. I would recommend it to all serious writers!”
In a Nutshell
A competitive, accessible – and repeatable – MFA-level course, spanning 8 months, for ten short story writers from all backgrounds who want to move their stories from “workshop good” to publishable quality.
Date of Course: September 2021 - April 2022
Applications for the 2021-2022 Short Story Incubator are now closed. All applicants can expect to hear back by late August.
Free Open House and Info Session
Thinking of applying? Every summer, GrubStreet offers an informal Q&A session with instructor Ron MacLean to answer any questions you have about the Incubator, including the workload, the application process, what the program does and doesn’t entail, the schedule, the philosophy behind our approach, and anything else on your mind. The next Open House will be hosted in Summer 2022. More details will be posted here as they become available!
Overview and Goals
Most MFA-level writing programs focus on eliminating major problems in a story – getting it to the point where no one in workshop has any serious objections. Rarely does a program or course focus on developing a story into an outstanding, finished piece that fully realizes its writer’s vision. The Short Story Incubator was created to do just that: fill the gaps missing between regular short story workshops and MFA programs. Our unique model was designed to provide concrete and specific tactics to navigate the distance between “workshop good” and “publishable.” It is founded on two core premises:
- The short story is a living – and evolving – art form that every writer both follows and reinvents to provide their particular window on human experience.
- Essential to effective workshopping is honoring each writer’s material and approach, whether traditional or experimental, western-based or grounded in the traditions of another culture.
In this program, each writer helps define for themselves the measures that will take essential elements of story (e.g., grounding, tension, motion, resonance) and incorporate those into a narrative that reflects that writer’s vision, priorities, values, and intentions. We believe that all voices must be spotlighted with the range and fullness they deserve and that stories are made better when different voices and approaches are part of the conversation. Students working toward a story collection will have an opportunity to discuss – and check in on – their approaches and goals with the instructor, and will receive access to a 90-minute session on putting together and publishing story collections. They can also tailor their second-term goals toward milestones related to a collection.
There is no multi-term commitment. Students apply for each six-month program term and can take as many terms as they wish, with a new goal each time.
Want to learn more? Check out instructor Ron MacLean's explanation of the program in this podcast.
Among the achievements by writers in the program’s first two years:
- 2 agents contracted
- 10 published stories
- 1 O. Henry Award
- 1 semi-finalist, Katherine Anne Porter Prize
- 3 writing residencies
- 3 MFA programs
- 1 AWP Mentor Program
“The Short Story Incubator gave me the confidence to acknowledge and respect my own point of view. More than anything, the Incubator made me willing to take my seat at the table. And now I'm developing a collection.”
“It's a stunningly well-conceived and executed program.”
“Definitely took my writing to the next level. I would recommend it to all serious writers!”
“A wonderful experience with a group of writers of such high caliber and a level of workshop critique that I had not encountered before.”
The entire cost of the program is $3,995. Tuition is payable in two installments.
Partial or full tuition fellowships are available and based on a combination of merit and financial need.
GrubStreet is planning to hold all of its classes using Zoom video conferencing until it becomes safe to meet in person in Boston. We are monitoring the public health situation closely, and while we expect this program will be able to meet in person in Boston eventually, all applicants should be prepared to participate via Zoom for as long as necessary.
Prospective applicants to the Short Story Incubator or any other Incubator or Generator programs at Grub should either be local to Massachusetts/Boston area, or able to relocate in the event that the class can at some point meet in person. GrubStreet will be following the lead of health experts and the city of Boston, and working alongside other arts organizations in our decision-making regarding in-person classes. In the event that it’s absolutely safe to meet again, the opportunity will be provided to our intensive programs to gather in person. We will of course offer the possibility to participate remotely if a student is unable to attend in person for health reasons, but as with previous years, local community building is an integral aspect of these programs.