Creative Writing

Crafting compelling narratives.

Join a group of passionate writers interested in crafting compelling narratives. At Ringling College, our Creative Writing degree is designed to support, empower, and honor young writers.

Cover Photo by
Dion MBD

Two smiling students working with books on a table

Tell your story in this genre-crossing writing program.​

Pursuing the Creative Writing degree at Ringling College means joining a group of writers passionate about stories. Students benefit from craft instruction from practicing writers/teachers and close interactions with visiting authors, scholars, and publishing professionals. Creative Writing classes cover historical, contemporary, and digital literary forms, with a global perspective. Most important, Ringling College students learn by doing. Opportunities to try out a wide range of writing are here from day one.

Three students collaborating by a large whiteboard wall

Choose Your Path

Creative Writing Concentrations

All Creative Writing majors have the option to choose a concentration to focus and further develop their writing pursuits. To earn the distinction, students take three or more classes in one of the following areas and then complete their year-long Senior Capstone project in the same area.

• Scriptwriting • Game Writing • Word and Image

Creative Writing at Ringling College

Ringling College Press

Founded in 2018, the Ringling College Press gives students firsthand experience with editing and producing real-world products, such as our international literary journal, Shift: A Journal of Literary Oddities, and books such as Anyone’s Game: Opening Moves. This teaching press prepares students for potential careers in the publishing industry. It also promotes research and encourages cultural expression while enhancing and extending the reputation of the Creative Writing major.

4 Various Covers of Shift Magazine

Visiting Writers Forum

Every Creative Writing major at Ringling College participates in the Visiting Writers Forum by reading samples of an author’s work before attending an on-campus reading and talk.

Students discover the various career blueprints directly from successful, working wordsmiths. Visiting professionals include graphic novelists, newspaper editors, literary agents, screenwriters, game designers, and novelists.

Here are some recent visitors:

Headshot of Banana Chan

Banana Chan

Founder of the board-game publishing company “Game and Curry”

Headshot of Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Author of the bestselling essay collection World of Wonders

Headshot of Kwame Alexaner

Kwame Alexander

Author of multiple bestsellers, including the Newbery-Award-winning novel The Crossover

Headshot of Stephen Graham Jones

Stephen Graham Jones

Author of award-winning experimental fiction, including The Only Good Indians

Headshot of Rob Sanders

Rob Sanders

Author of award-winning children’s books, including Two Grooms on a Cake: The Story of America’s First Gay Wedding

Headshot of Rachel Harrison

Rachel Harrison

Author of the contemporary horror novels, The Return and Cackle

Our Faculty Write the Books on Writing

Covers of 2 books: Memior Writing for Dummies and Writing Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Horror for Dummies

Opportunities for students

Where our students have worked

various logos

Where our students have been published

Start your writing career at Ringling College.

The 1st Annual "Anyone's Game" High School Game Writing Contest

Accepting entries January 15 through April 15, 2022

The Ringling College of Art and Design Creative Writing Program was created to support, empower, and honor young writers. 

To that end, we’re inviting all high school students to enter the 1st Annual “Anyone’s Game” High School Game Writing Contest by submitting an original 600-word micro-roleplaying game (micro-rpg). The sole criterion for earning prizes in this contest is overall quality, meaning that well-edited, engaging, and evocative games have the best chance of winning over the judge.  

Game Specifications

2022 Theme: Tomorrow. These micro-games are about what comes next, be it literally tomorrow or sometime in the distant future.

What to send: Micro-roleplaying games based upon the current contest year’s theme

Word Count: 600 words maximum (for game samples of this length, check the bottom of this page)

Contest Submission Period: Jan 15, 2022 – April 15, 2022

Submission Quantity: One entry per person, per contest year

Have Other Questions? Check the FAQ answers below!

To enter the contest:

  • Email your micro-game as a plain-text document (pdf, doc, or docx) to
  • Title your submission by YOUR LAST NAME + TITLE OF YOUR GAME, not “Ringling Contest,” “Contest Entry,” or anything like that. (Example: DakanTheWithering.pdf or JonesCatAttack.docx)

Please also include:

  • A short bio focused on your writing and gaming background (50 words max)
  • Name of your high school
  • City and state of your high school
  • Your current year in high school
  • How you heard about the contest

Prizes in Each Category

1st prize

  • $1,000
  • 1:1 consultation about your writing with a literary agent or editor
  • iPad for each winner’s high school writing teacher
  • Ringling College Creative Writing T-shirt


2nd prize

  • $100
  • Ringling College Creative Writing T-shirt


3rd prize

  • $50
  • Ringling College Creative Writing T-shirt


Honorable mentions

  • Ringling College Creative Writing T-shirt


Judges’ Award

One full-tuition scholarship to Ringling College’s 2023 summer PreCollege program ($6,200 value)


What EXACTLY are the three submission categories?

  • Submission Category 1: Literary Stories
    Examples of this type of writing? Short fiction/flash fiction set in the real world and that emphasize style, character, and theme over plot
    Examples of writers who work in this vein? Tim O’Brien, O. Henry, John Green, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Robert Olen Butler, and Lorrie Moore

  • Submission Category 2: Genre Stories
    Examples of this type of writing? Horror stories, fantasy stories, mystery stories, science fiction, thriller stories
    Examples of writers who work in this vein? Neil Gaiman, Edgar Allen Poe, J.K. Rowling, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R.R. Martin, Philip K. Dick, and Patricia Highsmith

  • Submission Category 3: Nonfiction Stories
    Examples of this type of writing? Autobiographical essays, personal essays, creative nonfiction (including very well-written, story-based travel writing, nature writing, science writing, and/or biography)
    Examples of writers who work in this vein? Lauren Hillenbrand (Unbroken), Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle), Oliver Sacks (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), John Burroughs (“In Mammoth Cave”), Chuck Klosterman (Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs), Jorge Luis Borges (“Blindness”), E.B. White (“Once More to the Lake”), and Annie Dillard (“Seeing”)

Will the contest entries be published?

The top winner in each category will be offered the opportunity for their work to be published in Shift, the Creative Writing Program’s literary arts journal. Beyond that offer of one-time publication, authors retain all rights to their stories.

What if I win first prize but don’t want my work published?
That’s a decision we will respect.

Can I submit to more than one category?
Yes. Though each piece can only win a prize in a single category so please send different pieces if you’d like to contend in more than one contest category.

Can I submit more than one entry for a single category?
No. It’s one entry per category per person. The maximum amount of entries anyone can send is three–one literary short story, one genre story, and one nonfiction piece.

You say you want “unpublished” work. What does that mean?
If you wrote something for a school assignment, that’s fine. If your piece ran in your school newspaper or school literary magazine, that’s fine too.

If your piece ran in a national periodical of any type (USA Today, Reader’s Digest, Boy’s Life, Seventeen, etc.)? That’s published. The same is true with posting your piece in online forums, blogs, and websites (personal ones or Wattpad). And if your piece was included in any textbook or anthology, that too counts as being published.

If you have any questions about this, please email us to ask.

I want to send in something different than a traditional short story. Can I do that?
Absolutely. While many submissions will be traditional short stories, we are also quite open to graphic narratives, scripts, picture book manuscripts, comics, and other literary forms/blends.

I’m a poet. Can I submit a poem?
You may submit anything you choose up to 2,000 words long, though poetry without an extremely strong narrative component likely doesn’t fit well in any of the submission categories. This is primarily a prose narrative contest.

What type of stories/subjects/themes do you want?
That’s entirely up to you, though a familiarity with the genre/style you’re writing in will surely be of help to you.

What are the judges REALLY looking for?
High-quality writing that engages the reader.

What are the common issues with most submissions?
Here are three of the top reasons most entries don’t make the cut.

  • Failure to follow the contest guidelines
  • Poor editing/proofreading
  • Cliché ideas/plots

I’m not an American citizen. Can I still submit?
If you’re a high-school-age student enrolled in a high-school curriculum and you’re writing in English? Yes.

I’m homeschooled. Can I enter the contest?
If you’re a high-school-age student enrolled in a high-school curriculum and you’re writing in English? Yes.

Is Ringling College associated with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus?
John Ringling was involved with the launching of the institution in 1931, but beyond that, we have no relationship to the circus beyond the association of his name. So the circus’ closing in 2017 had zero effect on Ringling College.

I’ve got a question that doesn’t seem to be answered anywhere. What do I do?  
Send in your question via email to with the subject line “Contest Question.”