Instructor: Award-winning novelist Barbara Ashford
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.
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.
Instructor: New York Times bestselling author Patricia C. Wrede
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 email@example.com.
Other than the Hogwarts acceptance letter we’ve been stubbornly awaiting for the past 20-something years, this is the best possible news a grown-up Harry Potter fan could hope for. The cottage where Harry Potter was born is now available to rent on Airbnb.
De Vere House appeared in the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as the home where Lily and James Potter raised baby Harry, until (obvious spoiler alert) Lord Voldemort killed Harry’s parents and left him with the badass scar (which Prince William also has). After the attack, he was forced to live in a closet under the stairs at the Dursleys’ house.
The village of Lavenham in Suffolk, in which De Vere House is located, also appeared in the movie as the fictional town of Godric’s Hollow.
The classical Japanese theatre, which combines highly stylised movement and unusual vocalisation, will swap samurai swords for lightsabers and replace feudal warriors with the forces of light and darkness.
Star Wars Kabuki-Rennosuke and the Three Light Sabers, which are being staged in Tokyo, will combine plots from each of the franchise’s latest trilogy, substituting plots drawn from the days of feudal clan rivalry with drama from a galaxy far, far away.
Ichikawa Ebizo XI, Japan’s pre-eminent kabuki actor, will take to the stage as Kylo Ren, the conflicted son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, in front of 50 winners of an online lottery.
livestream will be accessible on YouTube:
(4) LIVE, FROM 1964! Galactic Journey’s Gideon
Marcus will be all over the Southern California map in December.
The second movie in the original trilogy is the one Bradbury almost co-wrote.
In the early 1940s, the writer studied with Leigh Brackett, a pioneer for women and the melodramatic space opera in science fiction. That gave way to a collaboration with “Lorelei of the Red Mist,” a novella about a powerful, siren-like woman who controls the strong, barbarian body that a convict has recently been transplanted in.
Brackett went on to become a screenwriter and was a co-writer with Larry Kasdan on the “Empire” script. But she was in failing health, so the producer asked Bradbury whether he was familiar enough with her work to finish it if she couldn’t.
“Ray Bradbury said, ‘Yes, I do. But I want her to have credit,’ ” center director Jon Eller said.
As it turned out, Brackett completed her draft before she died in 1978, so Bradbury never had to work on it.
But the script — a fourth revision that doesn’t even contain Darth Vader’s big reveal to Luke because that detail was so secretive — remains part of Bradbury’s collection
3) Use your own experiences to help you create emotional resonance on the page.
This is another acting technique that can help you get closer to a character. If you’re writing a scene of grief, go back to a moment where you lost someone or when you first learned of this person’s passing. Write down as many specific details as you can recall.
* Your physical responses (e.g., recoiling, fleeing, turning your face away);
* Your emotional reactions (which could be conveyed via action, dialogue or inner monologue);
* The small details that intruded on the moment, like the laughter of children playing a game or the scent of your mother’s gardenia bush outside her bedroom window. Choose details that will show readers what the POV character is feeling. Does the laughter make the character angry because it reminds her of her loss? Or comfort her because she realizes life goes on?
Adapted from: The Eternals by Jack Kirby / Eternals by Neil Gaiman (writer) and John Romita (artist) Originally published: 1976, Marvel Comics / 2006, Marvel Comics Optioned for: Film (Marvel Studios) What it’s about: The Eternals are a race of humans created through experimentation by the alien Celestials, intended to be defenders of Earth against the unstable Deviants (also experiments). Plot details for the film are unclear, but there is some suggestion it may follow the Gaiman miniseries. Status:Chloe Zhao (The Rider) will direct a cast including Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, Gemma Chan and Kit Harington.
(8) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 28, 1987 — Next Generation’s “Haven” aired in which Deanna Troi’s mother Lwaxana Troi was performed by Majel Barrett. She would go on to have a role in every Trek series produced up to her death.
(9) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 28, 1911 — Carmen D’Antonio. In the Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe Thirties reel, she was Ming’s Dancing Girl, she’ll show up in the soon to be released Arabian Nights as a harem girl. And her last genre performance was in The Twilight Zone. (Died 1986.)
Born November 28, 1946 — Joe Dante, 73. Warning, this is a personal list of Dante’s works that I’ve really, really enjoyed starting off with The Howling then adding in Innnerspace, both of the Gremlins films though I think only the first is a masterpiece, Small Soldiers and The Hole. For television work, the only one I can say I recall and was impressed by was his Legends of Tomorrow “Night of the Hawk” episode. That’s his work as Director. As Producer, I see he’s responsible for The Phantom proving everyone has a horrible day.
Born November 28, 1952 — S. Epatha Merkerson, 67. Both of her major SF roles involve Robos. The first was in Terminator 2: Judgment Day as Tarissa Dyson; a year later, she had a recurring role as Capt. Margaret Claghorn in Mann & Machine. And she had a recurring role as Reba on Pee-wee’s Playhouse which I can’t remember if the consensus here was that it was genre or genre adjacent.
Born November 28, 1962 — Mark Hodder, 57. Best known for his Burton & Swinburne Alternate Victorian steampunk novels starting off with The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack that deservedly garnered a Philip K. Dick Award. He also wrote A Red Sun Also Rises which recreates sort of Victorian London on a far distant alien world. Emphasis on sort of. And then there’s Consulting Detective Macalister Fogg which appears to be his riff off of Sherlock Holmes only decidedly weirder.
Born November 28, 1981 — Louise Bourgoin, 38. Her main SFF film is as the title character in The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec, directed by Luc Besson. Anybody know if it got released in a subtitled English version? She also played Audrey in Black Heaven (L’Autre monde), and she’s the voice heard in the Angélique’s Day for Night animation short.
Born November 28, 1984 — Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 35. She was in the 2011 version of The Thing. She was in Sky High which is a lot of fun followed by a series of horror films such as the cheerful holiday charmer Black Christmas that earned her a rep as a Scream Queen. And she’s Huntress (Helena Bertinelli) in the forthcoming Birds of Prey film.
Born November 28, 1987 — Karen Gillan, 32. Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor. Nebula in the Guardians of The Galaxy and in later MCU films, Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. Two episodes of Who she was in did win Hugos, “The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang” and “The Doctor’s Wife”.
Born November 28, 1988 — Scarlett Pomers, 31. The young Naomi Wildman on Voyager, a role she played an amazing seventeen times. Retired from acting, one of her last roles was in A Ring of Endless Light which at least genre adjacent as it’s written by Madeleine L’Engle.
(10) COMICS SECTION.
Grant Snider (Incidental Comics) did this for a magazine with stories and comics for
(11) THAT’S COZY, NOT CRAZY. Sarah A. Hoyt continues her Mad
Genius Club series about writing cozy mysteries with “Meet
Interesting Strangers”. Tons of advice here about the need for
colorful supporting characters.
REMEMBER — this is important — eccentricities in fiction must be larger than in real life to be perceived as such. In real life Stephanie Plum and half the cozy heroines, including my own Dyce Dare would be locked up in the madhouse. (So would half the characters in sitcoms) BUT on paper there is a tendency to see things as less extreme than in real life. So exaggerate all the interesting bits, or your character will come across as very very boring.
In the early 1950s the British catering firm J Lyons & Co, pioneered the world’s first automated office system.
It was called LEO – Lyons Electronic Office – and was used in stock-taking, food ordering and payrolls for the company.
Soon it was being hired out to UK government ministries and other British businesses.
Mary Coombs worked on the first LEO computer and was the first woman to become a commercial computer programmer.
(13) IS YOUR FAVORITE THERE? Entertainment Weekly brings
you “The droids
of the Star Wars universe, ranked”. The one I went looking for
isn’t ranked – could be those Roomba-style things that dodge underfoot don’t
have enough IQ to qualify as droids.
In honor of the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which will introduce a tiny wheeled green droid named D-O, EW has put together an extremely serious and extremely scientific ranking of the best droids in the galaxy. From tiny cameos to starring roles, these are the finest and most memorable droids depicted on the big screen. (A note: We’re limiting this list to the Star Wars films, so our apologies to Chopper from Star Wars Rebels and IG-11 from The Mandalorian.)
Researchers are trying to determine whether an 18,000-year-old puppy found in Siberia is a dog or a wolf.
The canine – which was two months old when it died – has been remarkably preserved in the permafrost of the Russian region, with its fur, nose and teeth all intact.
DNA sequencing has been unable to determine the species.
Scientists say that could mean the specimen represents an evolutionary link between wolves and modern dogs.
(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Let’s revisit this 2015 video of a Sasquan
GoH showing his musical range.
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren plays Amazing Grace on the bagpipes from the International Space Station.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge,
Martin Morse Wooster, Mlex, Contrarius, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for
some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of Turkey
Day, Daniel Dern.]
Odyssey Writing Workshops is offering three live, intensive online classes this winter. Odyssey’s nonprofit mission is to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, however, writers of all genres are welcome to apply. Courses will cover issues relevant to writers of adult, young adult, and middle grade fiction. Full information can be found at their website or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instructor Scott H. Andrews is the editor-in-chief and publisher of the fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a six-time Hugo Award finalist and winner of the World Fantasy Award. When asked the most common weakness in the submissions he receives, Scott says, “Most writers fail to convey character emotions in a powerful way.”
How do you convey a character’s emotion? You might just tell readers what the character is feeling (“He was afraid”), which can convey that information clearly but fail to make the emotion real and immediate. You might try an internal life sign (“His heart pounded”), which can be more immediate but often feels clichéd. Or you might try an external action (“His eyes widened”), but this can sometimes feel like overacting, or if we’re in the character’s point of view, it can feel like we’ve jumped to a point of view outside the character.
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. You’ll dig deep into your own emotional reservoir to find that emotional truth that will give readers an authentic, powerful, involving experience.
For most writers, crafting strong, effective description is a major struggle. Some avoid description, fearing they’ll lose the reader’s attention, and instead they leave the reader lost in a vast, white nothingness. Some embrace description, drowning the reader in details so important ones are lost and unimportant ones create expectations that will never be fulfilled. Some use a hit or miss approach, throwing in a detail here or there and hoping they’ve magically made the right choices.
You don’t need to guess or struggle anymore. Award-winning fiction writer, poet, and editor Lucy A. Snyder will guide you through this critical and often-avoided subject. You’ll learn how to identify the key details that will immerse readers in your world, allow them to feel they know your characters, and put them in the middle of the action. Lucy will explain the qualities of strong description, how to know how much description is enough, which details to include, and where in the scene to include them. You’ll also learn how to use subtext so your description suggests deeper meanings, and how to write description with emotional impact.
More than that, this course will explore the role of point of view in description. How a character sees and describes his world can deepen personality, convey motivation, increase tension, and drive plot. Lucy will also discuss how to use poetic techniques in your description, and how to avoid common descriptive pitfalls. You’ll finish this course feeling much more assured about your description and knowing how to use description to make your story more impactful.
In response to many requests, we’re bringing back this course, one of our most highly rated. There are few things more difficult than revising a novel. You’ve worked on it for months, or years, and you’re so immersed in it you can’t step back and see the big picture. You might polish the draft and make minor changes, but you don’t really know what to change to turn that rough draft into a powerful, unified novel. And chances are, major changes are necessary. In this course, Barbara Ashford, one of our most popular instructors, will guide you in a deep examination of the “big picture” elements of your novel–premise, promise, theme, world, character, plot. Analyzing each of these building blocks and how well they are working together can give you new perspective on your novel, reveal weaknesses, and provide direction for major changes that will help you to maximize your novel’s potential.
Whether you’ve already completed your first draft, are still working on it, or are struggling with revisions, this course will provide invaluable insights into your novel through the lectures, assignments, and critiques. Barbara’s feedback on assignments has been widely praised for its depth and helpfulness.
Barbara’s course will be longer than the standard Odyssey online class, with four class meetings rather than our usual three, so you’ll be able to fully process and incorporate the important concepts discussed. If you’re participating in #NaNoWriMo, this course can show you the path from rough draft to completed novel.
In live class meetings, students learn specific, invaluable techniques, ask questions, and participate in discussions. Between meetings, they interact with each other and the instructor in a discussion group, complete demanding assignments, and give and receive in-depth feedback. Each student also has a one-on-one meeting with the instructor.
Odyssey Online offers only three online classes each year and admits only fourteen students per class, to keep quality high and ensure each student receives individual attention.