Graduate Essay: “Adventures in Emotional Craft” by Sam Weiss

Sam Weiss is a graduate of the 2007 Odyssey Writing Workshop and the 2021 Odyssey Online class Emotional Truth: Making Character Emotions Real, Powerful, and Immediate to Readers.” She is an applied mathematician who works in Boston with her husband and two cats. Her first professional sale, “There Will Be No Alien Invasion,” was published in Fireside in August 2021.

When I first started writing, I got a lot of “pretty writing but this isn’t really a story” critiques. I didn’t have a clue how to fix those stories or even what underlying problem those critiques pointed to. Once I wrapped my head around active main characters working toward a specific goal, obstacles, causal chains, and the framing of character change, those criticisms abruptly stopped. My stories fared better in my attempts to publish them (and caused less pain to those reading them), but I acquired a new set of criticisms: that my point of view was too distant, that I was telling and not showing, that I was showing but not telling, that the emotions my characters felt seemed inauthentic or inappropriate for their situations, or that the emotions were too on the nose.

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Online Classes for Winter 2015


This winter, the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust is offering three live online courses with the same high quality and rigorous approach as its acclaimed, in-person Odyssey workshop: Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction, One Brick at a Time: Crafting Compelling Scenes, and Effective Endings in Speculative Fiction.

Since learning is an active process, all Odyssey Online courses involve live online class meetings, allowing students to ask questions and participate in discussions. Jeanne Online Class captureEach course is designed to provide intensive focus on a particular aspect of fiction writing. Challenging homework assignments allow students to practice new techniques, while feedback from the instructor and from classmates helps students to make strong improvements. Each student also has an individual meeting with the instructor. Courses provide a supportive yet challenging, energizing atmosphere, with class size limited to fourteen students. While courses are designed for adult writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror, interested writers of all genres are welcome to apply. Continue reading “Online Classes for Winter 2015”

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