Special Announcement: Writing Resources

OdboatThank you to all who have applied to the summer Odyssey Writing Workshop!  The deadline for the 2016 June-July Workshop has now passed. Applicants should receive word by May 1.

Writers, there is a variety of free writing resources available on the Odyssey Workshop site. Here are just a few:

–Salon (noun): 1. a place of business that specializes in beauty techniques and products  2. the room in a large house used for the reception and entertainment of guests 3. a gathering of writers, artists, and creative thinkers.

Director Jeanne Cavelos hosts an online writing salon every second Wednesday, from 7.30-8.30 Eastern time (the next one is this Wednesday, April 13). Check out more information, as well as the technical requirements, here, and make plans to join other writers and readers in an online discussion. No experience necessary other than a love for writing and a desire to discuss the craft.

–Manuscript Formatting: Do you need to know about spacing, indents, best fonts, and overall manuscript preparation? See the FAQs of manuscript presentation.

–Literary Agents: Go here for advice about starting your agent search.

Other free offerings: writing exercises and almost one hundred podcasts of authors’ and editors’ lectures from the Workshops, on a variety of subjects from plotting to worldbuilding to submitting and much more.

Stay tuned for notifications about online courses and webinars!

And above all–keep writing.

Special Announcement: Final Odyssey Online Course Deadline +New Podcasts

OdboatThank you to all those who have registered for the winter online writing classes with Jeanne Cavelos and Barbara Ashford!

There is still time to register for “Point of View: The Intersection of Character and Plot,” taught by David B. Coe, author of The Thieftaker Chronicles (writing as D.B. Jackson), the LonTobyn Chronicle, a trilogy that was awarded the William L. Crawford Award for best new fantasy series, the Winds of the Forelands series, and the Blood of the Southlands trilogy.

Odyssey Online helps you to learn new techniques and build your skills, and provides in-depth feedback to guide you.  If you’re ready to hear about the weaknesses in your writing and ready to work to overcome them, you’d be welcome to apply.

Point of View: The Intersection of Character and Plot

Course Meets:  January 21 – February 18, 2016
Instructor:  David B. Coe
Application Deadline:  December 26, 2015
Level:  Beginner/Intermediate

Of all the many tools writers have at their disposal, perhaps none is more powerful, or more overlooked, than point of view. Often thought of simply as the perspective through which a story is told, it is actually far, far more.  It is the mechanism by which we guide our readers through the plot points, narrative arcs, and emotions of our fiction. It is the place where all of our storytelling elements–character, plot, setting, prose–come together. And point of view can also provide solutions to some of the most common problems encountered by aspiring writers and professionals alike. Award-winning author David B. Coe, highly praised mentor and teacher of fiction writing, will show how weaknesses in point of view can undermine an entire story.

We will begin our discussion of point of view by looking at the many factors that go into choosing the correct point of view character or characters for our stories, as well as the proper voice for those characters. We will then move to the study of how point of view influences not only character arc, but also our establishment of plotting, setting, and pacing. We’ll explore the challenges in writing from the point of view of non-human characters and characters from alien cultures. Finally we will conclude the course with an exploration of the ways in which POV can be used to address a host of common problems writers encounter in their work.


Resources abound at the Odyssey Workshop home! Visit the Odyssey Podcasts page for downloadable lectures on a whole variety of writing-related topics. Recent podcasts include:

  • “Making It Real” by E.C. Ambrose (#87 and #88), who discusses the importance of worldbuilding, setting, details, and POV.
  • “Productivity for Writers” by Alex Hughes (#85 and #86).  Alex Hughes shares how to prioritize writing and strategies for focusing on getting words on the page.  Alex will also be leading our first live webinar in February 2016. See the details and register here!
  • “Characterization” by Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman (#83 and #84). Guest lecturers at the 2014 Summer Workshop, Ellen and Delia talked about writing characters with your own heart and insight, and creating in depth, complex characters.

Podcast #44: Laura Anne Gilman

Laura Anne Gilman was the writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2010. During her week at Odyssey, Laura Anne lectured on a variety of topics, participated in critique sessions, and worked individually with writers. In this podcast, Laura Anne discusses how to approach revisions. Before one can revise, one first needs to get a draft of the story written. Often, writers can get hung up on creating the perfect sentence and lose focus on the story. In a first draft, each sentence doesn’t need to be perfect; it’s more important to get the heart of the story on the page. Of course, that doesn’t give one the right be a sloppy writer. Improving the sentences will come in revision, along with other improvements. Laura Anne discusses common problems writers need to address in revision, drawing on her experiences as both editor and writer. She also provides tips on how a writer can tell when something isn’t good enough. And she explains how revising a work can help you with future works.

Laura Anne GilmanLaura Anne Gilman was an editorial assistant at the Berkley Publishing Group in 1994 when she took the first plunge into murky writing waters and submitted her first story to a professional market. An almost immediate sale to Amazing Stories followed. She didn’t make another fiction sale for more than a year, which taught her humility and patience. And the fine art of perseverance. Continue reading “Podcast #44: Laura Anne Gilman”

Podcast #43: David G. Hartwell

Podcast #43 is now available for download here.

Award-winning editor David G. Hartwell was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2010, where he spoke on a variety of subjects authors need to know to survive and thrive in the publishing world. In this podcast, David discusses story titles and pseudonyms. A good title can make a story stand out, not only to editors but to readers, as they scan down the contents page of a magazine or anthology. A good title may relate to the themes of the story. It can even suggest to the reader how to read the story, or suggest to the author how to revise the story to make it stronger and more unified. A bad title confuses or turns off the reader. For example, a title that makes sense only after the reader has finished the story is generally not a good idea. A title with unfamiliar words is weak and may turn off readers, bookstores, and book distributors. David also discusses pseudonyms. He explains the different reasons you may want to use a pseudonym, as well as some of the questions you should ask yourself before making that decision.

David G. HartwellDavid G. Hartwell is an American editor of science fiction and fantasy. Continue reading “Podcast #43: David G. Hartwell”

Podcast #42: Gregory Frost

Podcast #42 is now available for download here.

As a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2010, Gregory Frost spoke about “Character, Viewpoint, and the Critical Voice of the Story: Why It Matters How You Tell It.” In this podcast, the second of two parts, Gregory continues his discussion of the properties, limitations, and challenges of each viewpoint, covering second person and first person. He describes different ways to use first person, such as the interior monologue, the dramatic monologue, the epistle, the diary, and the memoir. Gregory stresses the importance of considering the question, “Who is listening?” when a first-person narrator tells his story. He also provides a series of questions for an author to ask himself when choosing a point of view. Gregory explains the difference between viewpoint and voice. Voice is critical to establishing character and can create an image of the character more powerful than any physical description. He also describes the unique nature of voice and points out that voice can be a powerful source of originality in fiction. You can find part 1 of Gregory’s lecture excerpt in Podcast #41.

Gregory Frost Continue reading “Podcast #42: Gregory Frost”

Podcast #41: Gregory Frost

Podcast #41 is now available for download here.

Gregory Frost was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2010. In his lecture, “Character, Viewpoint, and the Critical Voice of the Story: Why It Matters How You Tell It,” Gregory explained how to choose the best point of view for a story, how to create a consistent viewpoint and voice, and how to reveal character through voice. In this excerpt, the first of two parts, Gregory describes the underlying, pervasive importance of point of view to a story. All the elements of fiction are connected to viewpoint. The viewpoint also determines how the reader interacts with a story. Each viewpoint carries different rules; a writer must consider which viewpoint will allow him to do what he wants to do in his story. Gregory begins a discussion of the properties, possibilities, limitations, and challenges of each point of view, including third-person objective (camera view), third-person limited omniscient, and third-person omniscient; this discussion is continued in part 2. He explains the concept of psychic distance, which is critical to point of view. Controlling psychic distance and limiting shifts in psychic distance help the reader to more vividly experience the story. Failing to maintain a consistent psychic distance distracts and confuses the reader, as Gregory’s examples illustrate.

Gregory FrostGregory Frost is a writer of fantasy, thrillers, and science fiction who has been publishing steadily for more than two decades. Continue reading “Podcast #41: Gregory Frost”

Podcast #40: Alexander Jablokov

Podcast #40 is now available for download here.

Alexander Jablokov was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2010. In his lecture on how plot works in genre fiction, Alex discussed the key elements of plot and the specific requirements for plot in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. In this excerpt, Alex stresses the importance of cause and effect linkage in plot. He also explains that the character’s desire is central to the plot and that obstacles must prevent the character from getting what he wants. He discusses different standard plots, the challenges of openings, the role of the author as torturer of the protagonist, and how to create suspense. Alex challenges writers to view the requirements of plot not as a limitation on a story but as a way to deepen and enliven a story.

Alexander JablokovAlexander Jablokov writes science fiction for readers who won’t give up literate writing or vivid characters to get the thrills they demand. He is a natural transition for non-SF readers interested in taking a stroll with a dangerous AI or a neurosurgeon/jazz musician turned detective, while still giving hardcore SF fans speculative flash, incomprehensible aliens, and kitchen appliances with insect wing cases. Continue reading “Podcast #40: Alexander Jablokov”

Podcast #39: Ginjer Buchanan

Podcast #39 is now available for download here.

Ginjer Buchanan, editor-in-chief of Ace and Roc, was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2009. In her lecture on how to get published, Ginjer explained how the book publishing industry works. In this excerpt, Ginjer provides tips on how to create and execute a smart submission strategy. She explains that there are no magical shortcuts. First, you must write a novel to completion. Next, target your submissions. Find other authors writing in the same sub-genre, find out who their agents and editors are, and target your submissions to those people. Ginjer stresses the importance of selling yourself and your work to the agent or editor, and of knowing what is happening at the different publishing houses. Ginjer lists resources that provide information about the publishing industry. She also describes what belongs in a query letter and what doesn’t, and what you should include with your submission.

Ginjer BuchananGinjer Buchanan was born in Pittsburgh, PA. Continue reading “Podcast #39: Ginjer Buchanan”

Podcast #38: Carrie Vaughn

Podcast #38 is now available for download here.

Carrie Vaughn served as writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2009. In her lecture on goal setting and building a writing career, Carrie discussed important strategies that can help writers to persist and succeed in the publishing industry. In this excerpt, Carrie discusses the insanity of the publishing business. She explains that many writers are discouraged by setting unrealistic goals that deal with issues beyond their control. She suggests that writers instead set goals only about those things they can control, such as how much they will write, what efforts they will make to improve, and how often they will submit their work to markets. Those things that writers can’t control, such as whether a story will sell, whether a story will sell to a particular publisher, whether it will receive an award, whether an agent will represent a novel, should be separated from goals, so they don’t needlessly frustrate and discourage the author. By setting reasonable goals and focusing on what can be controlled, writers can build their skills, work through the tough times, and make progress toward achieving those things that can’t be controlled. Carrie explains how goals and habits kept her from giving up on writing and led to her eventual success.

Carrie VaughnCarrie Vaughn is the New York Times Bestselling author of a series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Continue reading “Podcast #38: Carrie Vaughn”

Podcast #37: Lori Perkins

Podcast #37 is now available for download here.

Lori Perkins was a guest lecturer at Odyssey 2003, where she worked with students, critiqued manuscripts, and lectured on what agents do and how they do it. In this podcast, Lori explains why the importance of agents has increased and how agents currently fit into the publishing industry. Agents now do the job editors used to do. Most publishers no longer read the slush pile, so agents are left to do that, discover the promising new writers, and help them get their manuscripts into shape. Editors have little time to work with developing writers on manuscripts these days, since they spend most of their work day attending meetings and acquire 20-75 books a year. Editors wants agents to provide manuscripts in publishable shape and are willing to pay more money for them. Lori describes the different types of agents, the traits to look for in an agent, and the best way to get an agent. She gives advice on query letters and on where to find good information on agents. She also explains how not to approach an agent.

Lori PerkinsThe L. Perkins Agency is a New York-based literary agency with 4 staff agents and agents in 11 foreign countries, as well as Hollywood affiliates.

The agency represents approximately 150 clients in such diverse areas as romance, erotica, science fiction, fantasy, horror, mysteries and thrillers, as well as popular culture nonfiction.

Since its inception in 1999, the agency has had 8 books on the New York Times Best-Seller List.

Lori Perkins can be reached at lori@lperkinsagency.com

Lori Perkins writes a blog about agenting at agentinthemiddle.blogspot.com.


For more information about Odyssey, its graduates and instructors, please visit our website at http://www.odysseyworkshop.org.