Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

New Focus Areas

"Writing Nature"

The Stonecoast MFA program has long maintained an awareness of the importance of the natural world.  In fact, our physical home, the Stone House, was originally willed to the University of Southern Maine with the provision that it be used to support environmentally-based education.

As of Summer 2009, the Stonecoast MFA program is proud to announce a new, cross-genre focus in writing about the natural world: "Writing Nature."

The "Writing Nature" focus offers students the opportunity to participate in one class focusing on environmental literature each residency.  In addition, a special writing workshop will be offered each summer with a focus on writing nature.  

In the powerful natural setting of the Stone House, surrounded by organic farms, heather gardens, the rocky coast, and Wolfe Neck State Park, students choosing this focus will have the opportunity to work with renowned Stonecoast faculty and visiting writers  to develop new ways of conceiving and exploring the natural world in their writing.

Presentation and Workshop Samples

Writing Nature

This workshop will explore conventions and innovations of American nature writing. Participants are welcome who would like to explore integrating science into creative nonfiction; exploring issues of climate change, biodiversity, urban nature, and environmental justice in lyric and narrative forms; writing about place and relationships between nature and culture; or religious/spiritual experiences of nature and the wild.

Nature in the Body: Cross-Genre Experiential Nature-Writing

Our unique sensual perception is part of our gift as writers: the specificity of our connection with the natural world can produce writing that is both vivid and immediate. But first we have to feel—and most of us rarely take the time to open our senses and inhabit the natural world deeply. This presentation will give us tools to do just that. Armed with genre-specific questions, we will venture outdoors together to slow down, pay attention, and explore our sensual perception as a key to unlocking a trove of connections and valuable sense memories. Then we’ll come back inside to discuss the most compelling, truthful ways to commit our experiences to paper. Come prepared to share brief passages of nature-inspired writing from favorite authors in your genre.

Writing Nature Faculty



Inspired by strong student and faculty interest in writing for theatre and film,  the Stonecoast MFA Program in Creative Writing is proud to offer an Academic Concentration in Scriptwriting.  This Concentration means that a student can pursue work in playwriting or screenwriting with a different faculty member during each semester of enrollment at Stonecoast and will also be able to attend presentations and panel discussions on scriptwriting and take at least one academic class in scriptwriting during each Stonecoast residency. 

In addition, students have the option to band with a half-dozen other students interested in scriptwriting to request a special elective workshop during the residency, according to Stonecoast's guidelines for elective workshops in the Stonecoast Community Handbook.  Class offerings may include: Writing the 10-minute Play; Writing the Screenplay; Scene Development; Script-writing – Screenplays and Stage Plays; Fiction to Film and a Dialogue Intensive Workshop. 

Stonecoast faculty members, as well as recent Stonecoast students and alumni, have written scripts for theater, television, short films and feature films.  Their works have been widely performed and have attracted national media attention.  Stonecoast residencies have long featured staged readings and recently hosted professional actors to perform student works in Michael Kimball's popular Dialogue Intensive workshop.  The program looks forward to further creative collaborations with the lively New England theatre community.

Presentation and Workshop Samples:

Scriptwriting Intensive- Illuminating What’s Not Being Said

Mike Kimball’s Scriptwriting Intensive is an elective workshop in which writers join forces with visiting actors and a professional director from the Portland theatre community to develop dialogue through a three-step process:

  • A first reading
  • Director’s adjustments and workshop critiques
  • Script revisions for a second reading on our final workshop day

Whether you write screenplays, stage plays, or radio plays, if you want to find the pulsing heartbeat of your dialogue and your characters, there is no better way than to see and hear your words fully brought to life.

Scriptwriting: Writing Plays and Movies

Screen or stage, the scriptwriter’s task is the same: grab your audience, hold them at the edge of their seats, then send them home richer for the experience. Although formatting differs, both screenwriting and playwriting will sharpen your ear for dialogue, heighten your appreciation for human drama, and make you write efficiently. If you want to see your writing produced, your best strategy is to work short form, ten to thirty minutes, and submit to the many festivals looking for submissions. If you’d rather work full-length, I’d be delighted to work with you.

The Screen: Writing and Dealing

A panel of five with wide-ranging experiences in the art, craft, and commerce of movies and television. They will discuss screenwriting, collaborating, adapting, pitching, optioning fiction, creating tie-in projects, producing, marketing, dealing with lawyers and agents, mining foreign markets, writing for broadband, surviving Hollywood, and keeping your sanity . . . all that, plus a 10-minute course: “How to Write a Screenplay in One Easy Lesson.”

 Scriptwriting Faculty