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Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writing for Teenagers with Lara McKusky

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The Brainery Workshop is an online writing workshop focusing exclusively on speculative fiction as a discipline, and for the first time we’re offering writing workshops for teen writers.

What are the teen writing workshops?

The teen writing workshops are virtual genre-writing workshops for young writers aged 18 and younger. Each section will focus on a different genre. We will have three sections: fantasy, science fiction and horror.

 What is the course in fantasy?

The fantasy section writers are expected to produce stories that include (but are not limited to) any fantasy subgenre such as Arthurian legend stories, alternate worlds and parallel universes (think Alice in Wonderland), dark fantasy, high fantasy, hero tales, sword & sorcery and urban fantasy. Anything that includes magic and whimsy will fall under this heading.

Reading Material:

 

What is the course in science fiction?

The science fiction writers are expected to produce stories that include some sort of science or technology component. This can include (but is by no means limited to) alternate time lines or time travel, apocalyptic, dystopian, and holocaust, cyberpunk, first contact stories, traditional hard science fiction (space travel, robots, etc), military aspect scifi, stories that revolve around a branch of science (from biology to psychology), and space operas.

Reading Material:

 

What is the course in horror?

The horror writers are expected to produce stories that include some level of scary material that induces fear and can include but is not limited to suspense, psychological or dark thrillers, supernatural, noir, surreal, paranormal, Lovecraftian, and Gothic. There are other subgenres that overlap with science fiction, such as alien, mind control and rampant technology, where the feelings of fear and horror are central to the story, which will also be acceptable.

Reading Material:

 

Course Description

The workshops will be shorter than the adult workshops The Brainery offers, especially for the summer.   These workshops will run 7 weeks. The student will have 2 pieces at the end: a short story of original work up to 7500 words in length, as well as a flash fiction piece. We will meet twice a week for 45-50 minutes each. One day will be dedicated to learning about craft and one day will be critiques of writings the participants have turned in.

The objective here is to give young writers a chance to experience a real, college-like, workshop environment that is safe and includes peer and teacher reviews. Not only will participants come out with improved writing skills, but the following secondary skills will be imparted as a matter of course:

The hope is to impart a life-long love of writing the genres that most interest them, help the participants understand that there is an audience for their work and where to find said audience, and to introduce them to new genre fiction authors that they love to read. In addition, the Round Table with a published author brings the idea of being published and the reality of being published closer together. These authors discuss things like writing rituals, earning capability, self-confidence in writing, improving, and more, broadening the participants writing horizons and hopefully whetting their writing appetites. In short, this workshop should make the participants feel supported, hopeful, confident and excited about their writings. The Brainery anticipates assisting all participants as much as possible in the aftermath of their workshop as well.

This workshop also includes virtual office hours with me once a week for an hour that anyone can join, or by appointment. During office hours, students can talk with me about any writing concerns they have, including brainstorming, writer’s block, reading assignments and other course questions. We will create a private Facebook group for the teens of the Brainery where submission calls will be posted, writing encouragements put up and any members can ask for critiques from their workshop mates.

Who is teaching the Teen Writing Workshops?

Lara McKusky
Lara McKusky
Instructor

Lara is very active on social media, has been a blogger for 7 years and is part of Writer Unboxed’s FB support group for writers, among others.  She has written for Technorati, Fresh Fiction and Today’s Mama’s Parenting column, the York, PA edition.  She is a regular reviewer of books on her blog, is a Diana Gabaldon Fan Ambassador and on the PBS Viewers Like You Advisory Panel.   One of her blog posts, “How The Little Engine That Could Perpetuates Gender Stereotypes” was picked up by NPR’s All Things Considered where it was mentioned and linked to.  Lara currently works in not one but TWO libraries: a public library where she will soon be the Youth Services Coordinator and the local high school library.  Now that her dream of constantly being surrounded by books is realized, she is working on her other lifelong goals which include publishing her fantasy/sci fi novel (preferably before she dies), writing and illustrating children’s books, writing a YA novel and general world domination via living a creative life.  Her personal blog is LaLa Land: Books, Movies, Parenting and LaLa in the Kitchen at www.lalanetwork.com.

 

MASTER CLASS ROUNDTABLE SESSIONS WITH GUEST SPEAKER

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Please note: Round Table with an author To Be Determined. We will strive to have the author in on a Tuesday to take the place of a craft class, however please be aware these authors have rigorous schedules and the Round Table could be any day of the week, outside of class time. These are not mandatory sessions but highly encouraged, as the ability to speak with and question a published author for 2 hours is not something we get to do every day and they are of great benefit to us as writers.

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Summer 2015 Schedule

Available Class Times
THIS WORKSHOP MEETS TUESDAY AND THURSDAY.

Virtual face-to-face classes are held once a week using GoToMeeting for which you’ll need access to a webcam. In addition to the virtual class session, you should plan on budgeting three hours a week for reading and critiquing peer work, as well as stories from the reading list, in addition your solo writing time.

Summer 2015 Schedule for Teen Writing Workshop:

SCIENCE FICTION WORKSHOP SCHEDULE, FANTASY AND HORROR HAVE THEIR OWN SCHEDULES AND WILL RUN AFTER SCI-FI IS OVER

Week 1, week of July 14, 2015 :

Day 1, Tuesday: Introductions. Be ready to discuss your writing experiences and goals. Tell us a little about yourself! I will be talking about expectations and webinar class procedures. For the purposes strictly of due dates, each participant will be given a group number and follow that throughout the course. Group 1 will be expected to turn in their short stories no later than Sunday June 28, 2015 so fellow participants have a chance to read it and make their comments. Reading assignment TBD.

Day 2, Thursday: Discussion of the technology we will be using (how to post your stories, how to comment in the margins, etc.)

 

Week 2, week of July 21, 2015

Day 1, Tues: Writing exercise. Discuss readings. Readings assigned for next Tuesday.

Day 2, Thurs: Critique class for Group 1. Group 2 will turn in their short story by Sunday July 5th.

 

Week 3, week of July 28, 2015

Day 1, Tues: Writing exercise. Discuss readings. Readings assigned for next Tuesday.

Day 2, Thurs: Critique class for Group 2. Group 3 will turn in their short story by Sunday July 12th.

 

Week 4, week of August 4, 2015

Day 1, Tues: Writing exercise. Discuss readings. Readings assigned for next Tuesday.

Day 2, Thurs: Critique class for Group 3. Group 1 will turn in their flash fiction piece by Sunday July 19th.

 

Week 5, week of August 11, 2015

Day 1, Tues: Writing exercise. Discuss readings. Readings assigned for next Tuesday.

Day 2, Thurs: Critique class for Group 1 flash fiction. Group 2 will turn in their flash fiction piece by Sunday July 26th.

 

Week 6, week of August 18, 2015

Day 1, Tues: Writing exercise. Discuss readings. Readings assigned for next Tuesday.

Day 2, Thurs: Critique for Group 2 flash fiction. Group 3 will turn in their flash fiction piece by Sunday August 2nd.

 

Week 7, week of August 25, 2015

Day 1, Tues: Writing exercise. Discuss readings.

Day 2, Thurs: Critique for Group 3 flash fiction. Last day of class!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHO IS THE TEEN WRITING WORKSHOP FOR?

Teenage writers ages 14-18.

This is NOT a workshop for adults writing YA literature.

The Brainery Workshop is an investment in developing and deepening one’s relationship to, and mastery of, speculative fiction writing. If you find yourself starting stories, but never finishing them; if you find yourself without a stable, reliable writing group that “gets” your kind of writing; if you crave learning from a collection of writers who will read your work with a spectrum of spec-fic and literary knowledge; if you find the solitary nature of writing a hindrance to productivity, but find sharing work as a source of productive motivation–then The Brainery Workshop may be for you.

The Brainery is for you if you are creative, courageous, curious, and, perhaps, most importantly: generous, both with others, and with yourself; generous with your time and energy to provide insightful feedback and share resources with your fellow writers, but also generous with your writerly self–believing your writing is important, and making your writing a priority. (I might just be projecting, but this is something that I continue to struggle with myself, and so it’s a personal goal of mine to help others conquer this particular form of self-sabotage.)

I CONSIDER MYSELF A NEW WRITER, ESPECIALLY OF SCIENCE FICTION-Y THINGS (BUT I LOVE THIS STUFF!) CAN I STILL JOIN THE WORKSHOP?

As teachers, our impulses is to be as inclusive as possible and say that all levels of writers are welcome–as long as you’re comfortable writing and you’re willing to work on your craft. But, as students, we know that feeling of intimidation all too well. Sometimes the fear can be debilitating.

So we will say: only you can be the judge of your comfort level. But we will also say: we are all here to work. It’s not a competition. It’s about cooperation. And that, a large part of my personal growth as a writer, came from critiquing writing in a workshop. Peer review is where I learned about what I liked and didn’t like, what worked and didn’t, and became able to articulate these things, as well as identify these in my own writing (added bonus: these are skills that translate to other careers as well). Plus, peer review can make you brave–if you’re able to write for yourself and not worry about “performing” for a group.

This is why I spent so much time developing The Portal where we’ll conduct our peer review critiques: because I don’t want to lose this integral part of a workshop just because we’re online.

If you’re interested in the workshop but have concerns about your writing level or capabilities, feel free to contact me.

THE BRAINERY POLICIES – PLEASE READ AND AGREE TO THESE BEFORE ENROLLING

On Refunds:

On Trigger Warnings:

On Conflict Resolution:

WILL YOU BE OFFERING MORE WORKSHOPS IN THE FUTURE?

Absolutely. I am planning a comic book writing workshop for the fall, in addition to Short Fiction and Sci-Fi Fairy Tales. You can keep up to date with future workshop offerings on my email list (sign-ups are on my blog, in the sidebar on the right hand of the screen), and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

WHEN DOES REGISTRATION END?

Classes start the week of June 15, 2015 — but I can take late registrations up to June 22, 2015.

ENROLLMENT FEE

HOW MUCH DOES THIS COST?

The cost of the 10 week course is $250. Registering for The Brainery Workshop enrolls you for Summer 2015, which comes with:

If you have registered for The Brainery for a free account in the past or registered for a course in the past, make sure you’re logged out, or else you won’t be able to see the registration page. (I’m actively troubleshooting this problem.)

If you have a PayPal account, you can use PayPal credit to break the payment down into installments. Right now, PayPal credit has no interest on purchases for 6 months of $99 or more. The Brainery offers a Writer Support Fund for writers in dire economic circumstances.

Contact Us

Do you have any other questions about The Brainery Workshop? Here’s an easy way to contact:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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