The Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit known for offering some of the best programs in the world for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, is offering three live, intensive online classes this winter.
Odyssey’s online classes are unique among writing programs. Live class meetings allow you to see and interact with the instructor, ask questions, and contribute ideas. Challenging homework assignments help you to understand and incorporate new techniques into your writing process. In-depth feedback from the instructor and your classmates provides insights into your work and your use of the new techniques. Each student has a one-on-one meeting with the instructor to allow for private discussion. With class size limited to 14, each student receives personal attention in a supportive yet challenging, energizing environment.
Odyssey offers just three online courses each winter and focuses them on some of the biggest challenges writers face.
Interested writers should apply in December for the courses, which are held in January and February. While Odyssey’s nonprofit mission is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, most of Odyssey’s programs can help writers in any genre, and writers of all genres are welcome to apply.
Standing Out: Creating Short Stories with That Crucial Spark
Course Meets: January 11- February 8, 2018
Instructor: Scott H. Andrews
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Application Deadline: December 15, 2017
One major struggle for writers is having their work stand out from the hundreds of submissions editors and agents receive. Every day, writers submit well-crafted, engaging stories and novels only to have them rejected. Scott H. Andrews, editor-in-chief and publisher of the fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a five-time Hugo Award finalist, discussed this at the Odyssey workshop last summer, and his insights were so fascinating that we asked him to teach an online course. Scott receives far too many well-crafted, engaging stories each month to publish. For him to publish a story, it needs to be special; it needs to have that crucial spark. What exactly is a “spark”? In Standing Out: Creating Short Stories with That Crucial Spark, Scott will describe various ways to create a spark–with a fascinating concept or thematic impact or emotional resonance or potent voice. Students will study examples and then work to add a spark to their own work. For intermediate to advanced authors, having that spark can make the difference between personalized rejections and sales. If you want to write works that are more than competent, that captivate or enthrall or delight, this course is for you.
Odyssey offers the most useful and practical writing toolkit that I’ve ever experienced in a workshop setting. I find myself retaining a high proportion of what we cover because the techniques are so clearly communicated and pertinent to the craft. Rock on, Odyssey.
— Jacque Day Pallone
These [courses] are not just for fantasy or science fiction authors. Anyone who has ever felt like they are going in circles will find Odyssey offers practical, clear lessons from a passionate, experienced editor who knows how to teach.
Saying the Unsayable: Building Meaning and Resonance Through Subtext
Course Meets: January 4 – February 1, 2018
Instructor: Donna Glee Williams
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Application Deadline: December 8, 2017
The most common request made by Odyssey Online students has been for a course on subtext. One of the most insightful approaches to subtext has been developed by author Donna Glee Williams. Donna Glee has been teaching highly praised writing seminars for years, so Odyssey is honored to have her as an instructor for Saying the Unsayable: Building Meaning and Resonance Through Subtext. Writers spend most of their time focused on the text, the words on the page. But often the part of the story that most engages readers is the subtext, the layer of meaning below the surface of the words. Readers respond strongly to what is not on the page, elements that are implied, evoked, suggested, but unsaid. For a story to engage and move readers, whether they are adults, young adults, or middle-grade readers, the author must create both text and subtext. Donna Glee will explain how subtext can be generated in almost any part of a story using three key strategies, and students will study these strategies and work to incorporate them into their own work. For intermediate to advanced writers, this course will offer invaluable techniques to engage readers in the line-by-line flow of the story and make them deeply invested in the characters and outcomes.
This was my first Odyssey Online class, and I was nervous it wouldn’t be as useful or in-depth as I was hoping. The class definitely blew away my expectations! It was fascinating, rigorous, and I had to work hard to keep up with the homework assignments, which was exactly what I wanted. I learned so much from applying the lesson material in the assignments and analyzing other students’ writing in the critiques. . . . I had a great experience and would recommend Odyssey Online to anyone serious about improving their writing.
One Brick at a Time: Crafting Compelling Scenes
Course Meets: January 3-January 31, 2018
Instructor: Barbara Ashford
Application Deadline: December 7, 2017
One of Odyssey’s most highly rated instructors, award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford, has agreed to bring back her course One Brick at a Time: Crafting Compelling Scenes. Stories and novels are made up of scenes, so if your scenes are weak, your story has little chance of success. Writers often have strong ideas, fresh worlds, and interesting characters, but their scenes do not do justice to these elements. A compelling scene engages readers intellectually and emotionally, changes something of significance to the story, and leaves readers eager to turn the page to find out what happens next. Barbara will explain how to design your scenes, how to track and develop the emotional beats in a scene to create strong impact, and how to diagnose and fix problems in scenes. Students will study effective scenes and weak scenes, discover the special needs of opening and ending scenes, and learn how to make sure all the scenes work together to create a powerful story or novel. These skills are invaluable for intermediate students seeking to take their work to the next level, so Odyssey is offering it again for those who were unable to take the course in 2015. Students of Barbara’s classes regularly praise her insightful lectures, her effective instruction, and her incredible, in-depth critiques. This course will help you shape each scene into a powerful, memorable experience for the reader.
This course was amazing. I feel like I can navigate writing a scene better now because I have the tools and vocabulary to do it! Thanks, Barbara, for a wonderful course!
This course offers a clear roadmap to success–along with extremely insightful feedback along the way. Barbara’s energetic and interactive lectures are a goldmine of quality content, and along with the constructive assignments and well-curated reading list this course is an incredible experience. I would recommend this course to anyone looking to take their writing to the next level.
Every season brings a new opportunity to improve your writing. Learning new techniques and incorporating them into your writing process can lead to a huge improvement in your stories and novels. If you want to advance your skills and write engaging, involving, memorable stories, Odyssey Online can help. You’ll see the strengths and weaknesses in your work with new clarity and gain the knowledge and insight to make significant progress. Odyssey’s nonprofit mission is to help writers improve their work, and we’ll do our best to achieve that goal for every student in every class.
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In addition, the Odyssey site, http://www.odysseyworkshop.org, offers many resources for writers, including free podcasts, a monthly discussion salon, writing and publishing tips, a blog, a critique service, coaching, consultations, and information about the six-week, in-person workshop.
Don’t let this winter pass without making a major step forward in your writing!