A thing I’ve been told so many times – and a thing to which I agree – is that writers should really take the time to attend a workshop, get some lessons and tips from the professionals, and network with other writers. The problem is that often writing workshops require a lot of time and a lot of money – neither of which I have in great supply. I suspect I’m not the only one.
So if you’re like me you may want to know about any alternatives to the traditional writer’s workshop that’s available. This is a list of some of the alternatives that I’ve found. If you have a weekend and a couple hundred bucks most of these will be available to you. Something to keep in mind with this list is that I am a genre writer, and as such I will be providing what genre-centric resources I have managed to dig up. I hope it helps!
If you’re in the Eastern United States this may be a helpful one for you. Every spring in Baltimore Maryland there is a gigantic science fiction and fantasy convention held by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. It has already passed this year but 2016 is open. It happens May 27th-30th, with that fantasy-lit giant George R. R. Martin as guest of honor. You’ll also be able to meet some other great writers like the hosts of the Dead Robots Society.
Every year a part of the festivities is a writing track – a series of interconnected panels giving you the writing workshop experience. This past year they played host to something like 59 panels over the course of the convention for you to sit in on.
This year sci-fi writer Jody Lynn Nye will be hosting D*Con’s annual two day writer’s intensive. Every year for a small fee on top of the standard admission price Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA plays host to some of the biggest name in SFF to give you the chance to learn at their feet and pick their brains. I will be at D*Con myself for the very first time this year, though not attending the workshop. It’s my intention to attend that next year.
Most people involved in any moderate to deep level of geek culture are aware of Gen Con. Gen Con is and has been one of the largest gaming conventions in the world. This year is their 20th, and as always they will be hosting a track for writers. The symposium is, in fact, one of the largest writing conferences in the world. They call it the “Best Kept Secret in Science Fiction and Fantasy.” Sounds great to me! They will play host to award winning writers like Mary Robinette Kowal and more. All in all they have 80 authors and assorted experts on the dockets to teach, and last year they were attended by 2500 eager minds.
This was recommended by personal friend Amalia Dillin, hosted by her friend, writer Valerie Valdes. The Brainery Workshop is currently hosting a short fiction workshop with writer Valerie Valdes. As of this writing there are ten spots left, so you better grab them soon. The Brainery Workshop is an online writing class with a focus on genre fiction, specifically of the SFF bent.
From their website: “The writing participants are expected to produce includes, but is in no way limited to: magical realism, science fiction, horror, weird tales, slipstream, steampunk, and the like. As long as there’s a speculative fiction-y element, we’ll call it good.”
With the cost of admission you get lessons including overall theory, craft as art, as well as feedback from other class participants and your instructors. Unlike the writing tracks there is required reading, but it’s all relatively cheap so you don’t need to worry over cost as much. Cost f admission is $375. Given that full, on-location workshops can be often quadruple that this is a steal.
The Gotham workshops are kind of an institution. Established in 1993, they have been the go-to online workshop for decades, and many best selling writers can be counted among their alumni. Gotham is not speculative or genre per se, rather offering a wide variety of possible classes. You can study fiction and non-fiction, script writing, and more. Within their fiction writing section they cover most genres, as well as finer points of craft like character development. (They even now carry a section on video game writing that looks more than a little tempting to me.).
On the subject of price, you might be looking at anywhere from $300-$500 depending on the class you’re taking and whether you receive instruction online or in their classes in New York, though returning students to receive a slight discount. But for your money you’ll be receiving college level education from masters of the craft.