What is Authors Lab?

Charlotte Lit’s Authors Lab is an intensive program designed to guide you through the process of writing a full-length novel or memoir.

When you join Authors Lab, you join a community of writers, teachers, and mentors dedicated to helping one another reach their writing and publishing goals. Along with fellow cohort members, you’ll participate in programming structured to provide the skills necessary to write, revise, and prepare a full-length manuscript for publication, and support one another in the writing process. In addition to significantly enhancing your craft skills, you’ll develop the habits and confidence essential for a lifelong writing practice.

Applications for the upcoming program year, which runs November 2021 to October 2022, open June 1 and close on August 1. You may apply to enter Authors Lab at any stage of the drafting process, from concept to completed first draft. Writers entering at the beginning of the writing process should expect to stay in program for two years, with an option for a third year if needed. Those entering with a completed first draft can expect to finish an extensive rewrite in a single program year. Most writers enter somewhere in between, with a partial first draft. You’ll begin with a one-year enrollment and commit to additional program years on an annual basis, for up to three years.

Entrance is competitive; we receive more applications each year than we have available spaces. An application, writing sample, and story summary are required for admission. (Application link and instructions are at the bottom of this page.)


The primary component of the Authors Lab experience is six Weekend Intensives over one year, during which you’ll attend craft classes, meet with your mentor, and participate in a supportive cohort community. Between these Intensives you will: participate in an online community with your cohort and faculty mentors; meet with your sub-cohort for writing and personal support; attend working socials; select electives from Charlotte Lit’s public class calendar; and stay in contact with your mentor for ongoing guidance and support.

Weekend Intensives

Your full cohort, which will include writers at different stages of the drafting process, will meet at Charlotte Lit every other month for a two-day Weekend Intensive. Each Intensive includes:

  • Craft Classes: deep dives into essential skills such as story structure, creating effective dialogue, building story worlds, and showing and telling.
  • Mentor Meetings: A mentoring session with your sub-cohort (see below), to review your progress, brainstorm, troubleshoot, and receive developmental feedback on your writing.
  • Labs and Mini-Lessons: generative writing exercises designed to help you integrate craft lessons while generating content for your manuscript; special-interest discussions on topics such as genre, technology for writers, publishing options, and many more.
  • Office hours: opportunities for one-to-one meetings with faculty mentors.

Dates for 2021-22: November 13-14, 2021; January 22-23, March 12-13, May 14-15, July 16-17, September 17-18, 2022.

Faculty Mentors

You’ll be matched with a faculty mentor and placed in a 4-6 person sub-cohort. You’ll work with your mentor in several ways:

  • Mentor Meetings: Attend mentor meetings with your sub-cohort at the Weekend Intensives (see above).
  • Feedback: Receive written developmental feedback six times during the year, through an online platform.
  • Ongoing Support: Between intensives, your mentor will be available virtually for brief consultations, by email, phone, or zoom.

Authors Lab faculty mentors for our 2021-2022 cohort are Kathie Collins, Paul Reali, Megan Rich, and Kim Wright. You can read their bios on our Lit People page.

Cohort Community & Sub-Cohorts

  • Main Cohort. Your cohort of up to 24 people takes the book journey together, with guidance from faculty mentors. Each writer faces the solitary task of putting words onto the page, but that job is easier (and more fun!) with a supportive community.
  • Sub-Cohort. You’ll have the benefit of belonging to a small subgroup—accountability partners, sounding boards, and feedback partners—working with a single mentor. The sub-cohort is a diverse group who can learn from and support one another through meaningful differences in experience, style, and reading preferences. You’ll meet with your group formally during each intensive and informally as often as you like.

Additional Features

  • Electives. Authors Lab membership entitles you to take two single-session electives from Charlotte Lit’s public class calendar at no extra charge.
  • Socials. In addition to the Weekend Intensives, you’ll also gather with your cohort for a series of working socials for additional craft lessons and sharing experiences.
  • Online Community. You’ll be part of an online community, which includes discussion boards, class resources and recordings, Lab news, and more.
  • Open Studio. As a member of Charlotte Lit, you’ll have access to our lovely and quiet writing studio in Plaza Midwood.

Your Investment

  • Your time and energy. To be successful in Authors Lab, you must be dedicated to your writing and to your cohort. This means: writing consistently; attending at least five of the six Weekend Intensives; attending elective classes; meeting with your mentor and cohort accountability partners; and participating in the online community — an average investment of 7-10 hours per week.
  • Base fee. The base fee for 2021-22 is $3,000 per year, payable in monthly installments of $250 per month, plus the Charlotte Lit annual membership fee. (Memberships begin at $75 per year.)
  • Optional: Developmental Reads. Developmental feedback on the entire manuscript draft is recommended after each major draft is completed. We contract with published writers and experienced editors, including Betsy Thorpe, Constance Renfrow, Jeff Jackson, Paula Martinac, and others. The fee for this service is an additional $1,200 for the first 80,000 words.


Charlotte Lit has limited scholarship funds available. You can apply here. Writers making it to the final round may be asked for income verification in the form of IRS filings. Please note that scholarship requests are evaluated after acceptance into the Lab.

Applying to Authors Lab

What makes a strong application?

• A firm grasp of your chosen genre. (Writers are readers first.)

• A strong story concept and an ability to summarize the basic story arc (with the understanding, of course, that the story arc may change during the drafting process).

• A well-crafted writing sample. (While we accept writers with a range of writing and publication experience, writing a full-length manuscript requires above-average writing skills. Applicants should have previous craft class experience and completed at least one full-length short story or essay.)


NOTE: Applications and information sessions for the 2022-23 cohort open in the summer.

In addition to completing the written application, applicants are required to attend an information session. If you’re unable to attend a scheduled session, please contact us at to set up a personal interview.

Here are the links you need:

Application, Part 1 (questions about you and your book project)
Application, Part 2 (writing sample and story summary, plus $20 application reading fee)
Application Question Preview (a good idea, as the apps must be completed in one go)
Information Session Schedule (essential! See note above.)