Odyssey is offering three online workshops early next year, with registration deadlines coming up – two of them have deadlines on Monday and Wednesday, Dec. 7 and 9. Odyssey is a science fiction writing workshop, with the main focus the six-week annual class held each summer. I went in 2006 – here’s the class photo! (I’m on the far left, middle row. Writer-in-Residence that week was Robert J. Sawyer, in the middle, with Director/Teacher Jeanne Cavelos – in red shirt – to his immediate left. Yes, Jeanne is a surviving redshirt.) It was at Odyssey that I learned the foundation of my SF writing. I go back nearly every year to The Never-Ending Odyssey (TNEO), a nine-day workshop for graduates also held each summer – I’ve been to that six times now.

Here are the three online courses coming up:

Monday, Dec. 7 is the deadline to register for the first one, “Three-Act Structure in Fantastic Fiction,” taught by Odyssey director Jeanne Cavelos. The course meets Jan. 4 – Feb. 2, 2016. If you are having any type of plotting problems and want to strengthen your story structure, I strongly recommend this. This is likely similar to what was taught in the six-week Odyssey workshop I went to with Jeanne in 2006, and yet I’m tempted to take the course as a refresher. (Alas, I don’t have time right now.) Here’s an excerpt describing the class:

“Does your story or novel lack momentum, suspense, and escalation? Do you feel you’re making plot decisions randomly? Are you missing crisis points of impact and emotion? Do readers say “ho hum” or “hunh?” to your climax? One of the greatest weaknesses of developing writers is plot. One of the best tools for strengthening plot is the act. Plotting in acts creates a more suspenseful, unpredictable, and emotionally satisfying experience for the reader. This course will start by defining key units of structure–the scene, chapter, and act–and explore why we need acts. We’ll discuss the effect of acts, the importance of acts, how acts work in short fiction and novels, and how acts are used in science fiction, fantasy, and horror. How does one identify an act? When are three acts appropriate? Why are three acts so popular and powerful? We’ll learn how to plot in three acts. What makes a strong three-act plot and what makes a weak three-act plot? We’ll look at powerful methods and weak methods of ending an act. We’ll explore how to create a causal chain that generates escalations and leads to a strong climax, the qualities of a strong climax, how subplots work within three-act structure, the unifying role of theme, and the critical connection between structure and character transformation. With a strong act structure, the protagonist will face challenges that will put him, and the reader, through an experience they will never forget.”

Wednesday, Dec. 9 is the deadline to register for the second one, “Getting the Big Picture: The Key to Revising Your Novel.” I’ll let you go there for the description – but if you are currently revising your novel, or think you might be doing so at some point, jump in there!

You have a little more time for the third, “Point of View: The Intersection of Character and Plot,” with the deadline on Dec. 26, 2015. But that’s the day after Christmas, and some might forget about it that day, so I suggest registering early.

Of course, if you really want an inundation workshop where you can completely jumpstart your SF and fantasy writing, and have a memorable experience that you’ll never forgot while making lifelong writing friends – consider applying for the six-week workshop. I absolutely guarantee you won’t regret it, and then we can meet each year at TNEO!

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