Sharpen Your Skills with Odyssey Online

Need to revise your NaNoWriMo novel in January? Do your descriptions leave you flat? Is your character hiding his/her/its emotional truth? Try an online course with Odyssey Writing Workshops! Courses are taught by professionals, limited in size, and filled with serious writers like you. Three courses are offered for January and February, 2019, with application deadlines in December, 2018.  See descriptions and links below.

Without exception, at the conclusion of each course, I was dying to rip my manuscript apart and re-do it, because now I understood. And that is a good thing. –Theresa Fuller, three-time Odyssey Online student

YA/MG started as my speciality. And a degree in writing for kids really didn’t come in to focus until I took Odyssey courses. –Jenny Green

My debut middle grade fantasy A Witch’s Kitchen never would have happened without Odyssey Online, because I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I wrote it. –Dianna Sanchez

  • Odyssey Writing Workshops is a nonprofit based in the United States.
  • Focus is fantasy, science fiction, and horror, but courses cover the basics of good fiction writing, and any writer can benefit.
  • Each course includes a one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss your work.
  • In addition to award-winning instructors, the Odyssey application process guarantees that your classmates will be among the best writers/critiquers you’ve ever partnered with.
  • Courses have live meetings in the evening, Eastern Time in North America, but don’t let time zones limit you. Writers from all over the world participate in real time.
  • Odyssey also runs a six-week residential writing workshop each summer, and offers on-demand recorded webinars that can be completed any time.

Click the course titles below for more info.

Getting the Big Picture: The Key to Revising Your Novel

Image: Pixabay/Capri23auto

Quick Course Description: Finished the first draft of a novel? In the final stages? Struggling with revisions? Getting the big picture can help bring your novel to life. Writers often approach revisions as an opportunity to polish their manuscripts rather than to take a hard look at the story itself. If your plot meanders and your protagonist’s goals are unclear, polishing your prose won’t help. This course will teach you what will help. (From Odyssey site)

The instructor, Barbara Ashford, is the winner of the 2013 Washington Irving Book Award. She will drive you hard, keep you on task, and make you justify what you think you know about your own story and characters. Between classes, you may wish you could spend all day, most days, applying everything you’re learning to your novel. You may end up completely rewriting, but you’ll understand why and, with guidance, figure out what to do. Apply by November 15 for a course discount (this course only); otherwise by December 4.

Riveting Descriptions: Bringing Your Story to Life in the Reader’s Mind

Image: Pixabay/Mysticsartdesign

Quick Course Description: Good description does more than provide the sensory and physical details crucial in setting, characterization, action, and world building. The ways in which characters see and describe their worlds deepen personality, establish point of view, convey motivation, ratchet up tension, and move the plot. Ultimately, the description is the thread that connects the who, what, when, where, and why in any narrative. (From Odyssey site)

The instructor, Lucy A. Snyder, has published ten books and hundreds of short stories, articles, and poems. She has won the Bram Stoker Award for horror five times, but she writes plenty of science fiction and fantasy, too. In addition to being a writer, she is an anthology editor, offers professional critique, editing, and writing coach services, and is a faculty member in the Writing Popular Fiction MFA at Seton Hill UniversityApply by December 5.

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

Image: Pixabay/marcisim

Quick Course Description: Reading a great story is, above all, an emotional experience. The characters’ emotions draw us in—powerful, immediate, real. We may feel a bond to the character, the character’s emotions resonating inside of us. Or we may feel an aversion to the character, the character’s emotions generating an opposing reaction inside us. This course will delve into different techniques to convey character emotions realistically and powerfully on the page. (From Odyssey site)

The instructor, Scott H. Andrews, writes both literary and speculative short fiction, which has been published widely. He is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the six-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies. (Sounds like it’s just a matter of time on the Hugo!) In addition to writing, Scott is a musician and teaches college chemistry. Apply by December 12.

Have questions? Put them in the comments. I’ve taken the novel revision class and will be happy to answer!


    1. I applied for Riveting Descriptions, but I can endorse Getting the Big Picture if you have a novel that needs revising. Not that I’ve (cough-cough) FINISHED revising the novel that I took it for, the last time the course was offered! But it was incredibly useful for figuring out a road map.

      Liked by 1 person

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