2021 Odyssey Online Classes


“I’ve taken other online writing classes before and gained a few useful insights here and there, but this class does more than just lecture—it gives you tools and forces you to practice using those tools. Then it shows you how to incorporate those tools into writing an actual story. I felt welcomed and supported in every stage of the class and am thrilled at how my writing network has expanded from this class. I was astounded at the amount and quality of the critiques I received from the instructor and my classmates on assignments I turned in. I learned so much from them! And I was just as astounded at the amount and quality of critique I was giving to other students—I’d been giving critiques for years, but this class taught me how to look at the big picture.” —Caitlin Jacobs

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.

Over the last 26 years, through a unique mix of intense instruction, challenging assignments, one-on-one guidance, and in-depth feedback, Odyssey has helped hundreds of writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror build their skills. Odyssey is known for requiring its students to work hard and step out of their comfort zone, while simultaneously offering support and guidance. Graduates include award winners, Amazon bestsellers, and New York Times bestsellers.

Odyssey has been a pioneer and innovator in holding live online classes since 2010. 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.

To keep quality high, Odyssey Online offers only three classes each year. To ensure each student receives individual attention, only fourteen writers are admitted to each class.

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

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.

“Barbara was wonderful! She presented the material clearly and with nuance. Her insights into and deconstruction of my scenes really helped me apply the class information in a practical way. I learned how to look at a scene closely and note beats and emotional turning points. This really helped to clarify my approach to each scene, why it is there and what it seeks to accomplish. I noticed that I tended to rush emotional beats where they needed to be emphasized more. Mapping them out really helped me to recognize when I was doing this and correct it.”
—Olivia Fowler

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.

“In Emotional Truth, Scott H. Andrews distilled the labyrinth that is human emotion and its expression into a logical methodology that is already informing my writing. The selected readings were strong examples of the techniques he illuminated in his lectures, and the abundant exercises focused on practicing each technique first in isolation and then together. I found this course to be unexpectedly challenging but also equally rich in content. I’ll be drawing on Scott’s lessons for years as I work to add emotional depth to my writing.”
—Chip Houser

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.

“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.” —Amy Warren

If you’re willing to work hard, hear about the weaknesses in your writing, move outside your comfort zone, and try new techniques, then Odyssey Online is for you.

More information about Odyssey Online can be found at http://www.odysseyworkshop.org/online.html or you can email jcavelos@odysseyworkshop.org.

In addition, the Odyssey site, http://www.odysseyworkshop.org, offers many resources for writers, including free podcasts, an online monthly discussion salon, a blog, a critique service, coaching, consultations, and information about the legendary six-week, in-person workshop.

Become the writer you’ve always known you could be!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s