Speculative fiction writing workshops – a list

A list of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror writing workshops (updated October 17, 2017). Thanks @outseideNavah WolfePatrick Neilsen Hayden, and Rebecca Stefoff for corrections and additions!

Workshops for new writers

Clarion, San Diego, CA
Six weeks in June-August

Clarion West, Seattle, WA
Six weeks June-August

FutureScapes Workshop, Sundance, CO
Three days in April

Gunn Centre SF & Fantasy Novel Writers Workshop, Lawrence, KS
Two weeks in June

Gunn Centre Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop, Lawrence, KS
Two weeks in June

Gunn Centre Young Adult Novel Writing Workshop, Lawrence, KS
Two weeks in June

Milford, Wales, UK
One week in September

Odyssey, Manchester, NH
Six weeks June-August

Odyssey Online
Offering month-long classes through the year

Taos Toolbox, Taos, NM
Two weeks in June/July
I was at the inaugural workshop, 2007, with my heroes Connie Willis and Walter Jon Williams

Viable Paradise, Martha’s Vineyard, MA
One week in October

Workshops for youth

Alpha, Pittsburgh, PA
Only for people aged 14-19
Two weeks in July/August

Shared Worlds, Spartanburg, SC
Only for teens
Two weeks in July

Post-secondary studies

Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction, University of Kansas
Offers courses in Speculative Fiction Studies

UCLA Online Extension Program
Offers a certificate program in fiction writing. My wife Alyx teaches Speculative Fiction writing in the online program.

MFA programs

I’ll only list the MFA programs that are specifically friendly to speculative fiction. This list is surely not complete. More info at Michael Underwood’s blog.

Creative Writing MA, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK
Faculty includes Helen Marshall

Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing, Portland, ME
Low residency
Faculty includes James Patrick Kelly, Theodora Goss, Elizabeth Hand

Temple University MFA in Creative Writing, Pittsburgh, PA
Samuel R. Delany is on the faculty

NC State MFA in Creative Writing, Raleigh, NC
John Kessel is on the faculty

Seton Hill MFA, Writing Popular Fiction, Greensburg, PA
Lucy A. Snyder is on the faculty

Other workshops

Many established writers are passionate about paying it forward. Check out the websites of your favorite authors. Chances are good they sometimes teach.

Additionally, many science fiction conventions offer workshops, master classes, lectures, or manuscript critiques from established writers.

Clarion West (Seattle, WA) holds one-day workshops throughout the year.

Locus runs several workshops (there doesn’t seem to be a dedicated page for them). There’s a two-day workshop at the Locus Awards in June (usually taught by the wonderful Connie Willis) and a one-day workshop in October (upcoming this month, taught by Nick Mamatas).

Writing Excuses podcast runs courses and retreats.

The Surrey International Writer’s Conference embraces all genres. It’s a superb professional development conference that offers access to editors, agents, and superstar authors. I was there in 2012 and had the time of my life.

What have I missed? Email or tweet me.

About impostor syndrome

I was a rodeo princess.

Whiskey and me

When I was a teenager, we lived on an acreage west of Hinton, Alberta, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s beautiful country, but not a great place for a bookish kid to live — especially pre-internet.

I wasn’t naturally athletic. Quite the opposite, in fact. But I was naturally horse-crazy. I competed in the local rodeo and summer gymkhana meets, riding in the barrel racing competitions along with a variety of other timed events. I did steer riding only once. It was the most frightening thing I’ve ever done, next to driving in Sicily.

When I was 14, I lost the rodeo queen competition. Yes, there were tears (I was only 14!). The next year, I was first runner-up, which officially made me Rodeo Princess. Always better to be the princess than the queen, if you can manage it. All the glamour, none of the responsibility.

Lucky and me

But despite all this outdoorsiness, I was a nerdy kid at heart. I never felt comfortable in my rodeo princess skin. I always felt like an impostor, a poseur, a fake.

Writers talk about impostor syndrome a lot. We don’t often acknowledge that it’s not a phenomenon confined to the writing world. Impostor syndrome happens to everyone who’s actively working at getting better at something that most people don’t have the guts or the ambition to try. It happens whenever we’re taking risks.

One of my barriers to becoming a better barrel racer was psychological. I was too scared of getting hurt to really push the speed. Plus, I was working on learning the skill by myself, so I could never see what I was doing right or wrong. And, crucially, I didn’t have anyone to coach me through my fears.

Writers don’t take physical risks, but we take psychological and emotional risks that are just as scary. We have to, or we don’t get better. This is why most of us crave relationships with other writers. We need peers and (occasionally) teachers or coaches to show us the risks are worthwhile, tell us what we’re doing right and wrong, and reassure us that we will get better if we just keep working.

 

What editors want

A writer actively submitting stories to market might spend a lot of time wondering what editors want. I just came across this lovely group interview on Clarkesworld, grilling a bunch of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror editors on just that topic.

The story’s almost six years old, but it’s not that much out of date. Gordon Van Gelder isn’t editing S&SF anymore, for example (though he’s still the publisher and owner). Fantasy Magazine is now merged with Lightspeed.  Jim Baen’s Universe is defunct, and so is Weird Tales. But most of the editors are still powerhouses in the field, and their answers are fascinating.