Register for Odyssey’s Winter 2021 Online Classes

The Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust has announced its Winter 2021 online classes:  

  • One Brick at a Time:  Crafting Compelling Scenes, taught by award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford;
  • Emotional Truth: Making Character Emotions Real, Powerful, and Immediate to Readers, taught by award-winning editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews; and
  • Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction, taught by New York Times bestselling author Patricia C. Wrede.

The application deadline for all three courses is December 7, 2020.  

One Brick at a Time: Crafting Compelling Scenes

Course Meets: January 4 – February 1, 2021

Instructor: Award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford

Level:  Intermediate

While writers often focus on their characters, plot, and setting, they seldom put as much attention on each scene–whether it is fulfilling its purpose in the story and whether it’s as strong as possible. Stories and novels are made up of scenes, so if your scenes are weak, your piece has little chance of success. 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. One of our most highly rated instructors, award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford, will explain how to design your scenes so they carry tension and power, 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.

Barbara is truly an incredible resource for writers. Her students regularly praise the depth of her knowledge, the useful tools and techniques she provides, and her insightful critiques.

Emotional Truth: Making Character Emotions Real, Powerful, and Immediate to Readers

Course Meets: January 6 – February 3, 2021

Instructor: Award-winning editor-in-chief and publisher Scott H. Andrews

Level:  Intermediate to Advanced

According to Scott H. Andrews, editor-in-chief and publisher of the eight-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, the most common weakness in submissions is the failure to convey character emotions in a powerful way.

Scott will explain the most effective techniques to convey character emotions realistically and powerfully on the page, so that moment by moment, you can create an authentic and evocative experience. He’ll show you which techniques work best for point-of-view characters, and which work best for non-point-of-view characters. He’ll also discuss how to handle multiple emotions, conflicting emotions, and complex emotions, because that’s when stories get really interesting. More than that, the course will cover strategies for developing situations and stories with strong potential for emotional resonance, and how to use character emotions to make every page a gripping read. The character’s emotions may draw readers to the character or repel readers from him, but either way, line by line and scene by scene, you’ll be able to give readers an authentic, powerful, involving experience.

Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction

Course Meets: January 7 – February 4, 2021

Instructor: New York Times bestselling author Patricia C. Wrede

Level:  Beginner/Intermediate

A well-chosen, compelling world can capture the reader’s imagination and enhance every aspect of a story. But fantasy and science fiction writers often struggle to create strong worlds that enhance their stories. Worldbuilding carries many difficulties and potential pitfalls, including inconsistencies, overcomplication, oversimplification, confusion, distraction, lack of vividness, and lack of originality. Coming up with the best world for your story, one that works with the characters and plot to create the strongest effect, can be difficult, and then getting that world down on the page can be even more difficult.

Patricia C. Wrede, New York Times bestselling author of 24 fantasy and science fiction novels and creator of the legendary Fantasy Worldbuilding Questions tool for writers, will share her expert knowledge about the processes by which imaginary worlds can be designed, discovered, and developed, as well as different ways writers convey their worlds within their stories. The course will explore the various ingredients of worldbuilding in depth and look at the ways different worldbuilding choices can affect characters and plot, and enhance your story or novel. You’ll learn how different worldbuilding choices can affect characters and plot, and how to avoid common pitfalls. Finally, you’ll learn how to portray your world on the page in a way that enriches the story rather than distracting from it.

Odyssey Online offers only three classes each year and admits only fourteen students per class, to keep quality high and ensure each student receives individual attention.  Courses are focused on some of the biggest challenges writers face.

Live class meetings allow a virtual classroom experience, with students participating in discussions, asking questions, and learning from an instructor responsive to students’ concerns.  Between class meetings, students interact with each other and the instructor in a discussion group, complete assignments, and give and receive feedback.  Each student also has a one-on-one meeting with the instructor.

Classes are held in January and February.  While Odyssey’s nonprofit mission is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, writers of any genre of fiction are welcome to apply.  Courses cover issues helpful to writers aiming their work at adult, young adult, or middle grade readers.  Full information can be found at their website or you can email jcavelos@odysseyworkshop.org.  

[Based on a press release.]

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