Summer 2022 Classes

Please read the following announcements carefully:
-We are offering some classes in-person and some classes via Zoom. Please read all course descriptions carefully before registering.
-All classes are 5 sessions long.
-All in-person class attendees will need to purchase a UNCA Summer parking permit ($20) which will be valid for the full Summer session.
-For everyone’s ongoing health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are limiting space in our in-person classes to 10 students.
-Registration will open on Friday, April 8.

In-Person Classes

Lang 371: Prompts + Prods = Pages: A Fiction Workshop

Instructor: Heather Newton
Meets in-person at the Reuter Center in room 206

Has the pandemic derailed your writing practice? Are you ready to get words on the page this summer? In this 5-week generative workshop for developing or experienced fiction writers, you’ll write from in-class prompts with a different focus each week, including: character, sensory details, getting story inspiration from real life, finding objects to anchor your story, and using constraints to free up your writing,  

Unlike a workshop/critique class that focuses on revising work you’ve already polished, our goal for the five weeks will be to generate new work and get the creative juices flowing. You may later wish to develop some of the short pieces you create into longer pieces in a class with a workshop format. Come to class prepared to write and to share your work with others.

Heather Newton is the author of the short story collection McMullen Circle (Regal House 2022), finalist for the W.S. Porter prize. Her novel The Puppeteer’s Daughters is forthcoming from Turner Publishing in July 2022 and has been optioned for television. Her novel Under The Mercy Trees (HarperCollins 2011) won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, was chosen by the Women’s National Book Association as a Great Group Reads Selection and named an “Okra Pick” by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. A practicing attorney, she teaches creative writing for UNC-Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program and is co-founder and Program Manager for the Flatiron Writers Room writers’ center in Asheville. You can read more about Heather on her website or the Flatiron Writers Room website

Tuesdays, 6:00-8:30pm. Dates: 6/7, 6/14, 6/21, 6/28, 7/5.

Register Now!


Lang 371: Wild Thing: A Memoir Writing Workshop

Instructor: Jennifer McGaha
Meets in-person at the Reuter Center in room 206

In this five-week course, we will write about outdoor adventures, both large and small, with an eye for exploring the transformative power of the wild. Each class will begin with writing prompts and include informal writing workshops and a discussion of brief readings. Because of its focus on generative writing, this course is appropriate for all levels of writers. It is also appropriate for all levels of adventurers including backpackers, hikers, bikers, runners, climbers, paddlers, and those who simply like to meander through the woods. Your homework each week will be to get outside and play! (After all, it is summer in Asheville…)

Jennifer McGaha is the author of two memoirs, Flat Broke with Two Goats (Sourcebooks, 2018), and Bushwhacking: How to Get Lost in the Woods and Write Your Way Out (forthcoming from Trinity University Press in 2023). Her work has also appeared in The Bitter Southerner, Brevity, CHEAP POP, The Huffington Post, Lumina, PANK, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Passengers, HerStry, Baltimore Fishbowl, and many other publications. A native of Appalachia, Jennifer lives in a wooded North Carolina hollow with her husband, two cats, five unruly dogs, ten relatively tame dairy goats, and an ever-changing number of chickens. 

Thursdays, 6:00-8:30pm. Dates: 6/16, 6/23, 6/30, 7/7, 7/14. 

Register Now!


Lang 371: The Uses of Sensory Detail: A Prose Studio for Writers of Fiction or Memoir

Class Full

Instructor: Abigail DeWitt
Meets in-person at the Reuter Center in room 206

The smell of a cookie, the taste of a plum, a glimpse of children playing in a muddy creek–these small details have inspired some of our greatest masterpieces. In this course, which is designed for beginners as well as published authors, we will explore how focusing on sensory detail can deepen and strengthen every aspect of a writing project, from the first glimmer of an idea to the final revision. We’ll do a series of in-class exercises designed to help you develop a keener awareness of the physical world and we’ll discuss the most powerful ways to describe what you see, taste, smell, hear, and touch. We’ll also consider how focusing on our senses keeps us honest even when we’re making things up. Finally, we’ll see how a single sensory detail can answer a multitude of questions about character development, plot, and meaning. Because this is a studio course, all the work will be done in class and we will not be critiquing manuscripts. Please bring pen and paper and come prepared to write in class. 

Abigail DeWitt is the author of three novels: Lili, Dogs, and News of Our Loved Ones. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in Narrative, LitHub, Five Points, Witness, the Alaska Quarterly Review, the LA Review of Books, and elsewhere. She has been cited in BEST AMERICAN SHORT STORIES and has received grants and fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Tyrone Guthrie Center, the McColl Center for the Arts, and the Michener Society. She received a B.A. from Harvard University and an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop, where she studied with the late James Alan McPherson. She has taught Creative Writing, Composition, and French at various colleges and universities, including Harvard University, Boston University, Lenoir-Rhyne College, UNC-Asheville, and Appalachian State University. 

Wednesdays, 6:00-8:30pm. Dates: 6/15, 6/22, 6/29, 7/6, 7/13.

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Virtual Classes

Lang 371: Life in the Slow Lane: Revising Line by Line

Instructor: Bruce Spang
Meets online via Zoom

In this generative workshop, we will look at different poets and pay close attention to how their poems evolve line by line and how the lines interact. We will focus on the masters of the poetic line such as Elizabeth Bishop, Mark Doty, Ellen Bass, Jericho Brown, and Ross Gay, using their poems as prompts to write our own poems. We will, then, turn our attention to our own poems. We will focus on different elements of the craft—syntax, line breaks, sonic rhythm, meter, and imaginative arc—and slow down the workshop process to look carefully at how each word, every phrase, every line interacts with every other word, phrase, and line. By homing in on each line, we will refine our ability to pause, ask questions about craft, and assess how we can make the poem as a whole cohere and transform our way of seeing the world. 

Too often in revision, we fidget with one part of the poem and fail to see how any change in one part affects and may require changing another part. Writing in the slow lane can help us develop the intuitive instincts to push our poems to a different level.

This workshop is open to poets of all skill levels, provided they have some prior workshop experience. 

Bruce Spang, former Poet Laureate of Portland, is the author of two novels: The Deception of the Thrush and Those Close Beside Me. His most recent collection of poems, All You’ll Derive: A Caregiver’s Journey, was published in 2020. He’s also published four other books of poems, including To the Promised Land Grocery and Boy at the Screen Door (Moon Pie Press) along with several anthologies and several chapbooks. He is the poetry and fiction editor of the Smoky Blue Literary and Arts Magazine. His poems have been published in Gay and Lesbian Literary Review, Connecticut River Review, Red Rover Magazine, Great Smokies Review, Caesura, Los Angles Review, Kalopsia Literary Journal and other journals across the United States. He lives in Candler, NC with his husband Myles Rightmire and their five dogs, five fish, and thirty birds.

Tuesdays, 6:00-8:30pm. Dates: 6/7, 6/14, 6/21, 6/28, 7/5. 

Register Now!


Lang 371: The Enneagram and Creative Writing

Class Full

Instructor: Ali McGhee
Meets online via Zoom

Our favorite characters feel like people we know. Their conflicts and desires leap off the page, and they linger with us long after a story ends. But writers commonly struggle to create characters whose vibrancy matches people in their favorite books, or in the real world. Even when a character emerges initially with a strong voice and backstory, we often lose that intensity and struggle to rediscover it as a project continues.

In this workshop, we’ll use the Enneagram, which has long been employed as a profound transformational tool for personal growth from fixation to essence, to transform our creative writing practice. Over five sessions, we’ll dive into the Enneagram’s triads, or centers (the gut, the heart, and the head), and explore the Enneatypes in each triad through teaching, discussion, and the revolutionary Embodiment Tradition – an experiential, felt sense of the types that creates deep, empathic, and holistic understanding.

Then, we’ll use readings, prompts, and exploratory questions to create fictional characters of each type. Working with the personality of the type, the movement of the pattern, the instincts, and the wings, we’ll craft backstories, dialogue, motivations, and dreams for characters, giving them distinct, compelling voices that will carry them through any plot. We’ll also use the Enneagram as a tool for plotting a full-length creative writing project.

Note: This workshop is open to anyone who feels called to creative writing – whether you’re a published author or use writing as a private, reflective tool – as well as anyone who would like to use creativity to explore the types more deeply for themselves and their personal growth. There are no prerequisites, and no previous training in the Enneagram is required. Feel free to come in with characters you’ve already created and would like to workshop.

A creative writer and journalist, Ali McGhee has a PhD in English from the University of Rochester and is the Culture and Team Development Leader at 6AM City. Her creative work has been published in Dark Mountain and Slippery Elm Literary Journal, and her academic work and journalism have been published in Romantic Circles, The Edgar Allan Poe Review, Atlantic Studies, and Scalawag. She’s currently completing her novel, an apocalyptic horror/SF work about people turning into trees, and is working on a multimedia visual art and text project, Oso and Otter, with visual artist Justin Noah Wells. She is an IEA-accredited Enneagram coach and a core faculty member at The Enneagram School of Awakening in Asheville, NC.

Mondays, 6:00-8:30pm. Dates: 6/6, 6/13, 6/20, 6/27, 7/11. 

Register Now!



To ensure that students receive individual attention from the instructor, enrollment is limited. In some courses, the instructor’s permission is required for admission. See course descriptions where applicable.


The Great Smokies Writing Program is committed to providing the community with affordable university-level classes taught by professional writers, and to giving voice to local and regional writers through Writers at Home, its free reading series. The Great Smokies Writing Program wishes to thank Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café for its support of Writers at Home.