Final 2016 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.

Writing Question: Setting?

Choosing the right setting can enhance a story, and describing that setting vividly can make the story sing. A strong setting can add to plot, atmosphere and characterization. To get a better idea of how to develop a setting, we asked Odyssey graduates,

How do you visualize your story’s setting? Do you model the setting after an actual place? Do you do research into a particular landscape, time period, or culture? Do you use photos from magazines, your imagination, or something else? Do you draw any elements of your setting or create diagrams or maps? Continue reading “Writing Question: Setting?”

Podcast #30: Catherine Asaro

Podcast #30 is now available for download here.

In her lecture at Odyssey 2004, Catherine Asaro explained how to develop a scientific “What if?” for your story. In this podcast, she covers some of the challenges of getting the science into your science fiction. Too much detail may bore readers, while insufficient detail may leave readers skeptical or confused. Catherine suggests various ways to introduce scientific exposition in your stories while keeping the reader tense and interested. Maintaining scientific accuracy may at times seem limiting to your story, but it may actually force you to be more creative and come up with exciting solutions. Science can also help you to extrapolate and figure out what your futuristic world would really be like. Catherine provides various examples and explains how to develop your novum in a scientifically accurate way, taking into consideration the consequences of that novum.

Catherine Asaro is a writer, scientist, and dancer. Praised for her ability to mix hard science fiction with character-driven stories, she has a Ph.D. in chemical physics from Harvard. Among her many awards, she has received the Nebula for her novel The Quantum Rose and her novella “The Space-time Pool.” Catherine currently has twenty-four novels out. Her most recent fantasy is The Night Bird (Luna 2008). Her latest science fiction book, Diamond Star (Baen 2009), is about a rock star in the future. The paperback of Catherine’s book The Ruby Dice was also released in 2009. Her next book, Carnelians, will be out from Baen in the next year.

In April 2009, Starflight Music released the soundtrack for the book, a CD also titled Diamond Star, by the rock band Point Valid, in collaboration with Catherine. The CD presents songs from the book, with three additional works by Hayim Ani, lead vocalist and guitarist for the band. After Point Valid dispersed to college, Donald Wolcott joined the project as the pianist for Catherine’s vocals in concerts and at science fiction cons.

For more information about Odyssey, its graduates and instructors, please visit our website at

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