Writing the Fantastic, my July course offering at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, is now open for registration. You can find the full course description and syllabus here, but here are the highlights:
This course expands the study of science fiction and fantasy writing to include both short and novel-length fiction. Infusing a narrative with originality and fantastic literature’s much-discussed “Sense of Wonder”–while at the same time preserving its clarity and heart–is a juggling act that can test a writer’s skills to the utmost. Writing the Fantastic places emphasis on meeting this challenge by merging the otherworldly content of speculative fiction with humane, emotionally powerful storytelling. Through exercises and readings, students deepen their understanding of the speculative subgenres: alternate history, time-travel, horror, dark fantasy, sword and sorcery, urban fantasy, sociological science fiction, and hard science fiction.
UCLA has tons of great classes and instructors if you’ve already taken this one. The popular stuff fills up fast, so browse now, browse often. My classes, especially my summer offerings, are intended to work as alternatives to something like Clarion or Clarion West, in case this isn’t the year when you can take six weeks off work, or preparation for same. WTF, as I like to call it, is one of the classes that qualifies you to take the Advanced SF Workshop that I also run, periodically, through the program.
I am going to Victoria tomorrow to do some research for the series of books and stories I’m currently writing–in point of fact, I’m going on a short day sail on a tall ship called the Pacific Grace, which is owned and sailed by S.A.L.T.S. It should be a neat experience. If I’m not clinging to a rope every minute, there will, of course, be pictures.
I am really excited about this, except in the moments when I wonder if it will involve barfing or hard labour.
But back to the current project, I have firmed up my decision to give away naming rights to one island nation on the world of Stormwrack to the person who contributes the most to Clarion West in my name this summer. I will also have a draw for naming rights to a landmark, animal species, sailing vessel or city on Stormwrack. It’s your choice. Anyone who wants to qualify for that one need only donate something, even if it’s the minimum.
To win, you need to 1) give money; 2) tell me so and 3) give me some contact info. The Clarion site’s supposed to let me know about contributions, but this didn’t work out so well last year–I’m doing something wrong when I log in, is all I can conclude, because I have immense troubles with the site, and I’m the only one. (It’s me, lovely wonderful Clarion folks, it’s not you. You’ve tried, Chaos knows you’ve tried…)
The reason I’m clattering for donations should be blindingly clear, but if it isn’t: Clarion is a great program. It does terrific work. It made a difference in my life. I wrote six stories in the weeks before I went to Seattle (see, I had a pre-season last time too!) and 220 pages of new fiction while I was there. It helped me improve at my chosen art, it got my nascent writing career on track and introduced me to some of my best friends in the world.
But wait, there’s more, and it’s not frickin’ steak knives!
You need to know what kind of a place Stormwrack is if you’re gonna name an island, right? So as I continue to Thon, there will be posts from all the interconnected works set in this world, and they will be about the island nations I’ve established so far. For example, in the first of a series of stories called The Gales, I have this, about Redcap Island:
To distract him, she asked: “What do you know of Redcap Island?”
“It’s a kingdom,” he said promptly. “Government is stable, king’s rule is absolute. The crown passes to the eldest son upon the death of the king or his sixtieth birthday, whichever comes first. Elder kings go into a kind of ceremonial exile, along with any other sons…”
“There’s usually just one other son. They must use magic to affect the succession.”
Gale nodded. “Once there’s a healthy heir and a second son, the king’s consorts bear only daughters. The Blossoms Majestic—the princesses—run the government.”
From “Among the Silvering Herd,” out on Tor.com and available as an e-book too!
As some of you may have deduced, my spate of posts on basic writing skills is an effort to create some new resources for the students in my next UCLA Extension Writers’ Program course–Novel Writing I, Writing the First Novel. The class opens for ‘business’ on April 16th and the point is to conceive of and start a novel… to do the preliminary planning and get a first chapter drafted. I’m scheduled to do the N2 class in the summer, and the tentative plan is to then do N3.
What does this mean? It’s an opportunity for writers located anywhere on the Internet, and working in any genre, to have me look over their shoulders for three quarters in a row, and to workshop their books-in-progress with a group of 10-15 like-minded writers.
Questions? Let me know!
I am pleased to announce that I will be presenting two workshops at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference this weekend. One will be a worldbuilding workshop based on my ten-week “Creating Universes, Building Worlds” course. The other is called “Taking Baby to the Story Doctor.” Essentially, it’s a trouble-shooting overview–a starting point for for critiquing your own novels and short stories.
I have been hoping to have the opportunity to be a part of this particular conference for some time. It has such a terrific reputation, and the guests this year are amazing (they are always amazing).
When I’m not actually in a workshop I will, of course, be mingling. Let me know if you’re going to be around and would like to connect.
The Clarion West Write-a-Thon begins today. I set a modest fundraising goal of $100, as I’ve never done this before, and if you’re interested in sponsoring me, the link is here:
My goal for the next six weeks is to write 20,000 words of fiction, some of which will be expended upon revising a very rough draft of a story called “Wetness.” Here’s a snippet.
“There’s a naked man in your bathtub.”
“I can explain,” Calla said, which was basically a lie. She was on Skytrain, headed for her mandatory therapy session. “What are you doing at my place?”
“Returning some DVDs.” Calla’s ex, Richard, had given out sets of their keys to a half-dozen of their friends, the better to get their cats fed if they suddenly had to go out of town. She’d managed to retrieve all the others, but June had made a whole big don’t-you-love-me, OMG, and I’m the one who’s been loyal to you all this time issue of it all. Calla hadn’t found the backbone to ask, not with June being the only person still calling her since her job and relationship had both turned to manure. “I went downstairs for a pee and saw him in the mirror and scared myself witless.”
“Sorry. But June, can this wait? Right now I’m prepping myself to seem sane and sensible so I can have my job back.”
“How’d you even get him home? Ignoring the fact that he’s probably infested with… well, I shudder to think. He’s too heavy to ship. Even if you find someone on Ebay who wants a well-hung garden gnome, you’ll never make money off him.”
“But he’s okay?” she asked, and then bit her tongue. Shit, shit.
“Calla, he’s a statue.” June said.
If you are at or shadowing Clarion this year, I wish you the best.