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”

Moments of Odyssey by Peter Simonson

About a year ago, Peter Simonson committed himself to developing his writing. Getting accepted to Odyssey was a first accomplishment. Now he is working on a few different short stories and hoping to start submitting his work early next year. He enjoys writing fantasy and science fiction that play with paradigm shifts and cultural assumptions.

Peter squeezes in writing around his work as Executive Director of the ACLU of New Mexico. In 1994, he earned a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan. For several years, he lived in Latin America, but now he makes his home in Albuquerque, NM. He graduated from Odyssey in 2009.

It’s been three months since I returned from Odyssey and already the memories run together–a blur of early morning lectures, critique circles, and late nights tapping out stories on my laptop. Like the bundle of student critiques that now sits on the desk beside my computer, I’m still unpacking everything I learned.

Still, a few key moments of the experience stand out for me. Continue reading “Moments of Odyssey by Peter Simonson”

Podcast #36: Carrie Vaughn

Podcast #36 is now available for download here.

As writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2009, Carrie Vaughn provided a week of great lectures and worked closely with students. In her lecture on suspense, pacing, and the delivery of information, Carrie discussed various techniques authors can use to create suspense and control pacing, and the role that information plays in both of these elements. In this podcast, Carrie discusses the importance of drawing out key moments, creating emotion and expectation. Slowing down at the right places can help you generate suspense and manipulate the reader. Carrie also explains how the order of information determines the emotion and effect of the story. Changing the order in which you reveal events, or the place at which you reveal a piece of information, can completely change the impact of the story. Carrie differentiates those situations in which withholding information can provide a big payoff, and those in which withholding information alienates the reader. She also stresses that information can make the reader worry, which is good. Even better can be providing information but leading the reader to misinterpret it, so understanding only comes later. The expectations of the reader can also be used to create suspense. Does the reader expect the character will survive the story unharmed? Or is the reader terrified that the character may not survive? Playing with reader expectations can be more effective than just surprising the reader. Carrie also discusses some common mistakes writers make in creating false suspense.

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. Publishers Weekly said that “Vaughn’s universe is convincing and imaginative.” Kitty and The Midnight Hour, the first book in the series, has over a hundred thousand copies in print. The seventh novel in the series, Kitty’s House of Horrors, was released in 2010. She’s also published many short stories in various anthologies and magazines such as Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales, and is a contributor to George R. R. Martin’s Wild Cards series.

Carrie graduated from the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop in 1998 and was excited to return as an instructor. “Once I was but the student. Now, I am the master.” Oh, and she’s also a big Star Wars fan. But she really does have a Masters in English Literature from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She credits the intensive Odyssey experience with helping her cross the great divide between unpublished and published, and with setting her firmly on the road of professional writing, with the skills she learned and contacts she made.

A lifelong science fiction fan and reader (her parents both read science fiction), Carrie worked the traditional series of day jobs for about twelve years before turning to writing full time. She survived her Air Force brat childhood and managed to put down roots in Colorado, where she lives in Boulder with her dog, Lily, and too many hobbies. Visit her website at www.carrievaughn.com.

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

Podcast #35: Carrie Vaughn

Podcast #35 is now available for download here.

Carrie Vaughn was our writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2009, where she delivered a week of lectures, participated in workshopping, and worked one-on-one with students. Her experience as an Odyssey student turned bestselling writer was invaluable to students. Her first lecture of the week covered matching the right idea with the right length. In this podcast, Carrie explores the importance of being able to write pieces at all lengths, and how to distinguish a short story idea from a novel idea. She suggests that considering the reaction you want from the reader is key to understanding the appropriate length. Are you looking for a quick, sucker-punch-type reaction or a more complex, resonant reaction? Another way to find the right length is to consider the core idea of the story and how many scenes, characters, and plotlines you need to illustrate the idea. Carrie also explains how you can manipulate length, turning a novel idea into a short-story idea, if you can’t come up with short ideas, or turning a short-story idea into a novel idea, if you can’t come up with long ideas. She also discusses ideas for series or sagas. Carrie uses her own short story, “A Hunter’s Ode to his Bait,” as raw material for turning a short story into a novel. You can read her story here, if you’d like to play along.

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 #35: Carrie Vaughn”