2018 Workshop

Applications for Alpha 2018 are now closed. If you did not receive e-mail confirmation for something you submitted please let us know as soon as possible.

Alpha 2018 will be held at the University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg Campus July 25-August 5, featuring guest authors Tamora PierceN. K. JemisinMary Robinette Kowal, and Maggie Stiefvater.


The days at Alpha will consist of lectures, writing exercises, activities, time for writing, and time for just hanging out. Students will write a short story during the workshop.

Some topics that lectures typically cover are:

  • developing new ideas
  • building science fiction and fantasy settings
  • character creation and portrayal
  • plot and story structure
  • conflict and tension
  • dialogue, description, and narrative exposition
  • pacing, mood, and imagery
  • the business of writing: publication, money matters, scams and pitfalls
  • marketing and manuscript preparation

Here’s the schedule for the latest Alpha. Information about author guests is posted here as guests are announced.


The workshop fee for 2018 is $1200.

This fee includes housing, airport/bus/train pickup, and transport to and from evening events (such as the readings at Barnes & Noble). Three meals per day (dinner on the first day, through breakfast on the last) are also included. The fee does not cover travel to and from Pittsburgh. A limited amount of financial aid is available for students who need tuition assistance in order to attend Alpha.


All students will stay in dorms on UPG’s campus. The price of the workshop includes a private room (with door lock and key) in an air-conditioned suite containing four bedrooms, two baths, a fully-equipped kitchen and living room. Wireless internet access is freely available, but students should bring their own laptop computer, if possible. Female and male students are housed in separate areas. There are free washers and dryers in each dorm. Each room is carpeted, and has a desk, chair, bureau, closet, twin bed and a window. Linens (towels, sheets, blankets) will be provided.


Alpha aims to provide a workshop that is comfortable for all our students, staff, and guests. UPG provides barrier-free access for persons with disabilities including ramps, automatic doors, restrooms, water fountains, telephones, and reserved parking areas close to all building entrances. One suite per dorm is equipped for students with disabilities.

If you have any questions about accessibility, please contact the Alpha staff at alpha@spellcaster.org. We will be happy to answer any queries you may have.


Meals during the workshop will normally be taken at the college cafeteria which has an extensive selection of food and drink, in an all-you-can-eat buffet style. Daily selections are available, as well as a pasta bar, a salad bar, a pizza station, a dessert cart, and a Belgian waffle/ice cream station. If you have special dietary needs, space for you to note these is provided on the application form.


The branch campus of the University of Pittsburgh in Greensburg is over an hour away from the Pittsburgh International Airport.  Alpha will provide transportation from the airport to campus. Students who take a bus or train to downtown Pittsburgh, Monroeville or Greensburg will be met and driven to the University of Pittsburgh branch campus. Free on-campus parking is available. After the workshop, we’ll see that each student gets directly to their transportation home.

Safety and Conduct

UPG is situated in a secluded rural housing neighborhood, away from commercial districts. Staff members will be on hand at all times, and students are encouraged to carry cell phones and keep in touch with their parents throughout the workshop. Students and staff are expected to observe our conduct policies.


Interested in applying? Our Apply page has all the information you’ll need.