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2021 Workshop

Alpha 2021 was held in a Virtual Format, from the University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg Campus July 21 – August 1, 2021, featuring multiple guest authors.

What Is Alpha?

We want everyone to stay safe and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis. In 2021 Alpha will be a digital workshop the same way it was in 2020. The digital workshop brings as much of the in-person workshop as we can to your safe, socially-distanced screen. Live lectures and social activities happen on Zoom, and the staff are also around on Discord to chat at all sorts of hours! Tuition for the digital workshop is discounted from $1200 to $300.


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 fee for 2021 as a virtual workshop is $300.

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 campus at the University of Pittsburgh’s Greensburg campus (UPG). (Alpha is not owned by, operated by, or affiliated with UPG.) The price of the workshop includes a private room with door lock and key in an air-conditioned suite. Each suite contains four bedrooms, two baths, a fully-equipped kitchen, and a living room. Wireless internet access is freely available, but students should bring their own laptop computer, if possible. 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 We will be happy to answer any queries you may have.


We recommend bringing a laptop for use during the workshop. Technology will be made available at the workshop for students who do not have access to a personal computer.

If you have any questions, or would like to inquire about the technology available on-site, please contact us.


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 residential 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.