2022 Great Smokies Young Writers Workshop – Worldbuilding 101 and Nature Based Writing

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. Learn about our region’s vibrant history and culture through field trips to local landmarks.

Worldbuilding 101:  Every story needs a setting. In science fiction or fantasy, this often involves creating a world from scratch, but even in realistic fiction, we need to establish place, time, and culture for our readers. The trick is how to create a believable world without just dumping information on the reader. This workshop is your answer—how to create a world that naturally and organically exists apart from the characters you put in it.

Nature Based Writing:  What does it mean to be a nature-based writer? In this creative writing workshop, we will focus on incorporating nature in our poems, flash fiction, and short personal essays. Building on the elements of craft and inspiration prompts provided by the instructor, participants will learn key narrative conventions and techniques to pay attention to the world around us. Among other examples we’ll study pieces from Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, and Kamilah Aisha Moon as we seek to precisely and imaginatively describe the environment through keen observations, perceptions, and senses.

Registration Details

    • June 19-24, 2022
    • $1,200
    • Scholarships are available through Great Smokies Writing Program (Click here for more information)
    • Price includes lodging, meals, all course materials, activities, and excursions
    • Students reside in campus residence hall and dine in campus dining hall
    • Due to the continued effects of COVID-19, we are maintaining a flexible refund policy.  There is a full refund available minus a $50 administrative processing fee
    • Enrollment is open until spaces are filled
    • Students that register for two back-to-back Pre-College programs, have the option to also register for an optional stayover weekend in-between programs for an additional $350.  The stayover weekend is all-inclusive of housing, meals and activities in and around Asheville

Topics icon


  • Wordbuilding
  • Nature-Based Writing

Sample Schedule

  • Morning

  • 8:00 a.m. – Breakfast
  • 9:00 a.m. – Nature Based Writing
  • 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 include: swimming, beach volleyball, Asheville Tourists game, observatory, game night, movie
  • 11 p.m. – Lights out

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  • In this writing workshop, students will be writing, critiquing the work of their peers, and learning from experienced authors.   

Meet Your Faculty


Dr. Mildred Barya

Dr. Barya is a writer from Uganda and Assistant Professor of English at UNC Asheville. Her publications include three poetry books: Give Me Room to Move My Feet, The Price of Memory after the Tsunami, and Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say, as well as prose, poems, or hybrids in Tin House, poets.org, Poetry Quarterly, Asymptote Journal, Matters of Feminist Practice Anthology, Prairie Schooner, New Daughters of Africa International Anthology, Per Contra, and Northeast Review. She won the 2020 Linda Flowers Literary Award for her creative nonfiction piece, “Being Here in This Body.”

Mildred received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver, MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University, and B.A. in Literature from Makerere University. She serves on the board of African Writers Trust and hosts the Poetrio Reading Events at Malaprop’s Independent Bookstore/Café in Asheville.

Dr. Jamieson Ridenhour

Dr. Ridenhour is the writer and producer of the popular audio drama Palimpsest (half a million downloads and counting), 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, TheNewerYorkAcross the MarginsMirror Dance, and Architrave, among others, and has been podcast on PseudopodCast of Wonders, and Radio Unbound.  His newest play, Bloodbath: Victoria’s Secret, premiered in October of 2021.

Jamie has a Ph.D. in Victorian Gothic fiction. In addition to publishing scholarly articles on Dickens, LeFanu, and contemporary vampire film, he edited the Valancourt edition of Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla (2009) and wrote a book-length study of urban gothic fiction, In Darkest London (Scarecrow, 2014). He has taught writing and literature for over twenty years, currently at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, NC.

Contact Us

Questions? Please contact us at camps@unca.edu.