Short Story Cohort

Mary Robinette Kowal's Short Story Cohort. Writing, Coaching, Critique, and Community.


Join Mary Robinette Kowal for a transformative three-month writing experience, designed to help you learn the craft of short stories while also generating new work. You will join a cohort of six writers through an audition process and journey with them, gaining accountability, support, and camaraderie. Each month, you and your peers will have a critique session with MRK as you work to write three short stories and polish them for submission to markets.

This program is a small group experience, and admission is granted through an application process.

What to Expect

On Tuesday, April 2nd, 10am Eastern: you will meet the rest of your cohort and take Mary Robinette’s Short Stories Explained. This is an all-day intensive class focused on how short stories work.

Each month, on Sundays from 11:00am – 1:00pm Eastern: Make Me Write. During these sessions, you’ll be given a prompt and ninety-minutes to write the first draft of a short story. Some weeks, you will focus on practicing specific skills like dialogue or setting. Mary Robinette will be writing a story from the same prompt and will share her process after the session with you.

Every Tuesday, from 11:00am – 1:00pm, starting with April 9th and ending with June 25th, you will have a two hour session that will either be a Critique, Revision, Unlocking, or Social time. The Critique sessions are mandatory attendance and the others are highly recommended if you want to get the full experience of the cohort but we understand that on occasion you may have other urgent life things that will make it difficult to attend every Tuesday. 

You will pick one of the stories you write each month to develop into a story between 2000-4000 words long and bring to the critique group. Mary Robinette will also be putting stories into the group. So be aware that you are committing to read and critique six stories each month.

Based on feedback, you’ll polish the short story and can ask Mary Robinette follow-up questions about it. The goal by the end of the three months is for you to have three stories ready for submission.

Mary Robinette's desk on which we see her computer screen that has a sample of one of the worksheets from class. It is titled "Mary Robinette Kowal's Finding a Plot Part 2"

What’s Included?

  • MRK’s Short Stories Explained, which is an all-day intensive designed to teach you how to find a short story from any idea.
  • Monthly live video critique sessions with MRK and six fellow writers on your short stories.
  • Weekly sessions to come together to work on revision, brainstorm story problems, and talk about story elements. 
  • Monthly writing goal setting to provide accountability for your writing.
  • Intimate group of up to 6 total writers; you will be expected to provide critique for your fellow writers each month.
  • Weekly two-hour Make Me Write live video session with a short story prompt, during which everyone will write for 90 minutes, then come back together for 30 minutes of show-your-work time where MRK or our guest writer will guide you through their writing process. (Typically at 11:00 AM Eastern on Sundays.)
  • MRK’s library of pre-recorded classes on writing craft and career (70 hours of materials and always growing).
  • Discord Access to the Lady Astronaut Club, the kindest corner of the internet, and a wonderful community of readers and writers. You’ll have your own private channel within the LAC.
  • Monthly large-group Q&A session for any questions you have about your writing journey.
  • Monthly live-streamed writing class on craft and career. (Typically at 8:00 PM Eastern on the last Monday of the month.)


The cost of this intimate writing coaching group is $500/month for three months. It is by application only. After the members have been accepted we will ask you to sign up for the Short Story Cohort tier on Patreon (we will tell you the timing of this so you don’t overlap with the current cohort). At the end of the cohort you will be guided through how to leave the tier. 

Applications are due on the Ides of March, (March 15) by 11:59 pm PST.


You will be expected to attend the April 2nd intensive, all critique sessions, and Make Me Write sessions during the three month period. The Make Me Write sessions are to teach you to build time in your schedule for writing, but we can make accommodations for things like vacations, etc.

We will also be having a weekly session on Tuesdays from 11 am to 1 pm Eastern on the non-critique weeks and they will either be a chance to co-work for writing or revisions, an unlocking/brainstorming session, or a social time. Attendance for all of these sessions is not mandatory but highly recommended to get the full experience and benefits of the cohort. 

The other benefits (Classes, Q&As, etc. are optional attendance).

Below are all the dates and times your attendance is required to participate in this cohort:

  • April 2nd, 10 AM to 8 PM eastern time (Short Story Intensive/Kick off cohort with instructions)
  • April 7th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • April 14th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • April 21st, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • April 28th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • April 30th – 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (1st Critique Session)
  • May 5th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • May 12th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • May 19th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • May 26th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • May 28th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (2nd Critique Session)
  • June 2nd, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • June 9th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • June 16th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • June 23rd, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (Make Me Write)
  • June 25th, 11 AM – 1 PM eastern time (3rd Critique Session)

Please note, schedules can be subject to change due to travel or emergencies; we will give as much advanced warning as possible


By March 15, 11:59 PST.

Yes, the hope is to do this quarterly.

My goal is to let people know by March 20th

Not for this one because, later in 2024, I’ll be doing a cohort that is entirely scholarship students.

This later course is designed around building up a cohort of individuals along a shared identity axis such that the folks in the group have a community of peers that understand their specific challenges. In the past, I’ve done this with people of color who also had a marginalized gender or sexuality. This scholarship cohort will focus specifically on disabled people. If you identify as disabled, this group is likely to be a good fit for you.

Signing up for my newsletter is the best way to be notified about that.

Yes, the other cohorts will meet in these time ranges (might change), although the specific dates are still in process.

  • July – September: Sundays 2 pm – 4 pm eastern
  • October – December: Saturdays 8 pm – 10 pm eastern

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