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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I register for the conference without applying to a workshop?

At the heart of the Writers in Paradise conference is the intense week-long workshops with distinguished authors. Most writers who attend the conference do so to workshop their writing. Workshop participants are selected based on the strength and potential of a writing sample, which we collect during the online application process.
Though we encourage writers to apply to workshops, we understand that some may prefer to attend the conference without applying or as an option if not accepted into workshop.  Attending the conference without attending workshop is what we call auditing.  Auditing the conference means you pay a flat fee and get to attend all conference activities except workshops.  Please contact the Conference Coordinator for more details about auditing at [email protected].

How many participants are in each workshop?

For the weeklong workshops, which meet 6 times, the maximum number of participants is 12.  For the 3-day workshops, which meet 3 times, the maximum number of participants is 6.

Can I apply to more than one workshop?

Absolutely. You may apply to as many workshops as you like. Just keep in mind that there’s a non-refundable application fee of $25 for each workshop you apply to, AND if you are accepted into a workshop, you’ll be accepted into that ONE workshop only.  Only the application fee for that ONE workshop will count toward tuition.

Additionally, please know that we may choose to place you in a different workshop than the one you applied to if we feel that your work is better suited to another faculty member.  If we feel this way, we will reach out to you to let you know and to give you our reasons, and you will ultimately have final say as to whether or not you wish to participate.

Some advice: if you apply to more than one workshop of the same genre, please consider submitting different material, and here’s why.  We will likely already consider you for another workshop should we feel a different one would fit your work better (as stated above).  If the work is accepted, we’ll either place you in your desired workshop or we’ll let you know that we think for x, y, z reasons that Prof. [] would suit your style or project better.  Then, you’d decide.  Conversely, if the work is rejected, it’ll be rejected across the board.  So, let’s say you apply to 4 different workshops with a piece titled, Vase, and we feel that Vase isn’t ready for workshop for whatever reason.  Vase will be rejected in all 4 apps.

Instead, we prefer that you let us know in your application background statement if you’re open to working with a different faculty member.

What kind of writing should I submit in my application?

We accept applicants based on the strength and/or potential of a writing sample.  Please submit your best unpublished work, the work that you plan to have workshopped if accepted. For formatting guidelines, please see our applications page starting August 1.

Is the manuscript submitted with the application the same one that will be used in workshop?

Yes. And after acceptance, we will ask you to submit a “final” version of that manuscript.  The final version can either be the exact same pages or a revision of those pages.  We will not accept an entirely new manuscript.  Note: if you’re accepted into long form prose or into poetry, you may submit up to 25% of new material only (this does not apply to short story).  Remember, we are not a publication.  We are workshops.  We want to see your works-in-progress as those are the very works that we’re assessing for workshop when we read applications.

Can I attend more than one workshop if I’m accepted to the conference?

No, and here’s why.  Our conference is designed to give participants a full week of intense workshopping and mentoring. This means that, if you are accepted into a workshop, you’ll be in that one workshop for the entire week along with up to 11 other participants and your faculty leader. There is no hopping around to other workshops.  This also means that your workshop will be closed to all other participants. Keeping workshops closed to all but those accepted into said workshop fosters community, honesty, and focus. We know from past experience that the relationships built in our workshops can and will outlast the week. In most cases, you will find good readers of your work, receive critical and constructive feedback on your piece(s), learn about craft and publishing, and make a solid connection with your faculty leader.

If I'm accepted into a Special 3-Day Workshop, can I still attend the full week of activities?

Absolutely!  You are still considered a full participant and are welcome to all conference activities and gatherings throughout the entire week.

What if I need financial help to attend the conference?

When you start your application, you’ll have a chance to tell us if you’d like to be considered for financial assistance in the form of a fellowship, a scholarship, general funds, or all three. You will also be asked to tell us in 500 words or less why you should be considered. You do not need to fill out any additional documentation. Everything is contained in the one application.

We do not typically offer financial assistance to those auditing. However, if you find yourself under special circumstances and would like to discuss financial aid, please do reach out to the Conference Coordinator at [email protected].

Why isn’t there housing on campus?

Eckerd College is a small private college. Though it does provide housing for its students, the housing facilities are very limited and thus not available to visitors. For this reason, we invite attendees of Writers in Paradise to stay at our partner hotel or find accommodations on their own from any of the hotels and b&b’s in the St. Petersburg area.

What airport should I use if I’m flying in to the conference?

Please use the Tampa International Airport (TPA) as your first choice. TPA is roughly 30 minutes away from Eckerd College and the Residence Inn.    If staying elsewhere, please check with your hotel or b&b to see if they offer shuttle service from the airport as many of them do.  Ride sharing services, such as Uber, are also available (Uber price estimator:

Allegiant ( flies to/from St. Pete Airport (PIE) and often offers better rates than other larger commercial airlines.

I have a car. Is there parking on campus?

Yes. Eckerd College has plenty of guest parking on campus. Please see the teal and purple sections on the map.

I don’t have a car. How can I get to campus for the conference?

Writers in Paradise provides free daily shuttle service to and from our partner hotel and campus. Trips are scheduled in accordance with conference activities and run on a specific schedule. If you plan to stay at a different hotel or b&b, you will have to arrange your own transportation to/from campus.  Details of our shuttle schedule will be made available after the application period has closed and acceptances have been made.

Will I need to print while I’m at the conference? Where would I do that?

Though our workshops are geared toward critiquing the work that you’ve submitted, some faculty leaders may include generative exercises in class in an effort to stimulate further writing or as a means to deepen craft. Eckerd College has several options for printing, which will be provided to you after acceptances to the conference are completed. Printing on campus can be done at the Armacost Library using the Papercut system, at the Copy Center in Edmundson Hall, or at any FedEx/Kinko’s location close by.

What is Writer Idol?

Writer Idol is an afternoon panel modeled after the tv show, American Idol. How it works is, in preparation for this panel, we ask participants who’d like to be a part of the panel to turn in the first page of a story they are working on. The page must be the first page only and the page must not contain the author’s name. When the session begins, three faculty leaders sit as judges at a table in the front of the room while a 4th person reads from the stack of submitted first pages. The judges listen to what’s being read, and if at any point they hear something that turns them off in any way, they raise a hand. Once two judges raise their hands, the reading stops, and the judges have a chance to say why s/he raised a hand. If the page is read all the way through, it is considered a successful beginning and the judges usually say why they stuck with it.

The goal behind Writer Idol is to give participants a seat at an editor or agent’s table at a journal or publisher via the cold read. And because the page read has been submitted without the author’s name, the author/participant can sit silently and listen to raw and honest critique from professional writers without anyone in the room knowing. That said, it’s important to remember that Writer Idol is always conducted in the spirit of constructive criticism.

Rules for Writer Idol:

  1. The Conference Coordinator or Conference Assistants collect these pages in person from the start of the conference up to five minutes before the start of the panel, at the registration desk ONLY.  No emailed pages will be accepted.
  2. You may submit only one time for all Writer Idol sessions.
  3. Once you’ve submitted your page, no changes or swaps will be accepted.
  4. You may submit any first page of a story. It does not have to be the story you are workshopping at the conference.
  5. Fiction and nonfiction are both accepted as a gripping start is important in any narrative.
  6. Standard formatting of the page is expected: 12-point font, double-spaced, one-inch margins.  No handwritten pages.
  7. Please include title at the top of the page.
  8. Your name cannot appear on the page.


What is Pitch Idol?

This session is offered occasionally and is a much-requested spin-off from Writer Idol.  One of the most amusing and effective uses of montage in cinema comes at the opening of The Player (1992), where a film producer played by Tim Robbins listens as a series of would-be scriptwriters “pitch” their ideas for films, most of which are obvious bombs-to-be.  But prose writers are also confronted by the need to answer the question,“What is your book about?” not only during cocktail parties but in entreaties to agents and editors who first want a short and effective summary of a manuscript before they invest the time to read it.  Thus comes “Pitch Idol,” an opportunity for prose writers to “pitch” their books to a panel of WIP faculty experts.

Participants will prepare a ONE-PAGE, 250-WORD SUMMARY of the story, one that is intended to convince listeners that the whole manuscript is worthy of a closer look.  Summaries will be read aloud to the panel, anonymously, and individual panel members will raise a hand when a false note is detected.  At the point where two hands have risen, the reading ends, and the panel will elaborate on what seems to have gone wrong.  If a pitch is read through to the end, it has“won,” and panel members will talk about what has intrigued them.

  1. The Conference Coordinator or Conference Assistants collect these pages in person from the start of the conference up to five minutes before the start of the panel, at the registration desk ONLY.  No emailed pages will be accepted.
  2. You may submit only once.
  3. Once you’ve submitted your page, no changes or swaps will be accepted.