Last winter my novel got wrung out, taken apart, and put back together. It was praised and constructively critiqued by classmates from nearby towns and faraway countries. I found the emotional heart of my main character and discovered the spine on which to hang all the other elements of the story—all the elements worth keeping, that is. I had to throw out some due to the “kitchen sink syndrome.” I worked more intensely on my writing than I had in years and learned things I didn’t even know I needed to.
In short, I took an online writing course with Odyssey Writing Workshops.
- Odyssey Writing Workshops is a nonprofit based in New England, in the U.S.
- Their main focus is fantasy, science fiction, and horror, but their courses cover the basics of good writing, and any writer can benefit regardless of genre.
- Odyssey runs a six-week residential writing workshop each summer, but the online courses can be attended by anyone with an internet connection, email address, and phone.
- Courses have a number of live meetings in the evening, Eastern Time, but don’t let time zones limit you: We had an Australian attending on her lunch hour last year, and a night-owl European too.
- Plan on several hours each week outside of class to complete assignments.
Three courses are offered this year (see below). Classes meet in January and February, 2017. Application deadlines are all in the third week of December, and applications may take a bit of time to complete, so don’t delay. Each course title is linked to its page on the Odyssey site.
The Heart of the Matter: Bringing Emotional Resonance to Your Storytelling
The instructor, Barbara Ashford, taught the novel revision course I took last year. She will drive you hard, keep you on task, and make you justify what you think you know about your own story and its emotional heart. Between classes you may wish you could spend all day, most days, just applying everything you’ve learned so far to your own writing.
Powerful Dialogue in Fantastic Fiction
Dianna Sanchez says, “I used to be absolutely terrible at dialogue. I took Odyssey Online’s Powerful Dialogue in Fantastic Fiction with Jeanne Cavelos, and now I consistently get compliments on my dialogue.” (From her recent post, Hone Your Craft.)
Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction
The instructor, Patricia Wrede, has decades of world-building experience, writing fantasy and science fiction for children, teens, and adults. I’m building a world for a new novel, so this is the course I’ve got my eye on.
Each course is a bargain at under $250. Once you’ve completed an Odyssey Online course, you’re welcomed into an online Odyssey community—a very active, prolific, supportive, online group of writers. Some of Dianna Sanchez’s posts here on Writers’ Rumpus started out as weekly pep talks to the Odyssey group, and she’s just one member.
Limited time or money? Odyssey is also offering two recorded on-demand webinars this winter:
Do you write middle grade, young adult, or new adult? You WILL learn something from one of these classes, even if you write realistic fiction instead of science fiction, fantasy, or horror. Be aware that the courses are demanding. If you fall behind in your assignments, it will be noticed! But isn’t that a good thing?
Images from Pixabay.