This course is an intense practicum in speculative fiction writing and students can expect a traditional graduate-level fiction workshop, concentrating on understanding and implementing the various aspects of speculative fiction. These aspects include craft issues such as characterization, point of view, narrative structure, style, and voice. Although this class is designed with a flexible schedule in mind, students are expected to commit to the same standards as expected of graduate-level creative writing courses, including: deadlines, feedback, and accountability.
Students participating in The Brainery must be committed to a spirit of community development and support. I believe collaboration, as opposed to competition, is the key component of a good workshop chemistry–and having a supportive community of like-minded writers and readers, of the kind of stories you’re most invested in, is transformative.
This summer session is shorter than the usual offerings. Writers hand in 3 submissions: the first two will be of new and/or original work, up to 7500 words in length (either short story or novel excerpt), the third submission will be a revision of one of the two previously submitted pieces.
In addition to the weekly virtual class sessions, there will be two live Master Class Roundtable Sessions with guest speakers who are working professionals in speculative fiction. All sessions will be recorded and available for currently enrolled students to download.
Once you enroll in Short Fiction, you will be given a schedule availability chart, and based on the times you are available, you will be sorted into a section of Short Fiction taught by one of these two instructors:
Valerie Valdes attended the University of Miami, where she majored in English literature with minors in creative writing and motion pictures. After graduation, she studied poetry in an intensive six-week program at Trinity College Dublin with Denise Duhamel and Campbell McGrath. Since then, she has participated in numerous workshops with writers and editors including CC Finlay, Jeff VanderMeer, Nick Mamatas and Carrie Cuinn. Her latest work is forthcoming in Lakeside Circus and She Walks In Shadows, the first all-women Lovecraft anthology by Innsmouth Free Press.
Valerie has over fifteen years of experience as a copy editor and proofreader for individual and corporate clients. She has served as the Municipal Liaison for the Miami region of National Novel Writing Month for ten years, and runs The Miami Grindstone, which coordinates local meet-ups and provides information on calls for submission and writing-related topics. You can learn more at her website: http://candleinsunshine.com/
Jerome Stueart has a PhD in Fiction from Texas Tech University, and has attended workshops at Clarion San Diego (2007), Lambda Literary Retreat for Emerging LGBT Voices (with Samuel R. Delany), and recently the Center For the Study of Science Fiction’s Novel Writing Workshop with Kij Johnson. He has taught creative writing workshops for twenty years in various colleges and universities.
You can find Jerome’s work in Lightspeed’s Queer’s Destroy Science Fiction, Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Geist, three Tesseracts anthologies, and other assorted anthologies. He’s been the co-editor for Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Fiction and Wrestling with Gods: Tesseracts 18. His first book of short fiction, The Angels of Our Better Beasts, comes out in November.
In addition to each others’ work, we’ll be reading and discussing Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer, and Steering the Craft: A Twenty-First-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin, as well as 1-2 stories per week from magazines available online.
The Brainery provides the framework for speculative fiction writers looking to produce submission-ready short fiction (this may be in the form of flash fiction, short stories or novel excerpts). Participants will deepen their theory and practice of spec-fic through the discussion of course readings, a continually evolving feedback loop from me and their peers, as well as the kind of accountability that a community of peers can provide. At the end of the course, we will work on query/cover letters, as well as target publications for writers to submit the work produced during The Brainery Workshop.
By connecting you with fellow readers/practitioners of speculative fiction, The Brainery helps you recognize that your writing is important by connecting you to peers in meaningful ways, which, ideally, will allow you to realize that your writing is important and that there is a market for your work. By investing in your writing in these ways, it is my hope that The Brainery gets you to make your writing a priority.
The focus of The Brainery in this session is on short fiction (as outlined briefly above). The program is designed in the fashion of graduate-level creative writing workshops, so the focus is on generating new material. But since I know that writing is not necessarily always about writing, but, instead, is really about re-writing, I have built in a revise-and-resubmit portion of the course. This way we can revisit a previously submitted piece and trace how the work has changed.
By the end of the semester, the goal is for everyone to have one complete short story ready for submission, a draft of a second short story in the pipeline, and a work of flash fiction..
The discussions in The Brainery Workshop can be exhilarating, and the contact high from connecting to peers in these meaningful ways can be addictive–so it’s important to stay true to the kind of stories you want to tell, instead of performing for the group. Although submission-ready work is one of the goals, I want to impress upon you that it is not the only goal.
John Joseph Adams is the editor of John Joseph Adams Books, a science fiction/fantasy imprint from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He is also the series editor of Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, as well as the bestselling editor of many other anthologies, including Wastelands, Brave New Worlds, and The Living Dead. Recent and forthcoming books include What the #@&% Is That?, Operation Arcana, Press Start to Play, Loosed Upon the World, and The Apocalypse Triptych. Called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes & Noble, John is a two-time winner of the Hugo Award (for which he has been nominated ten times) and a seven-time World Fantasy Award finalist. John is also the editor and publisher of the digital magazines Lightspeed and Nightmare, and is a producer for WIRED’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. He also served as a judge for the 2015 National Book Award. Find him online at johnjosephadams.com and @johnjosephadams.
Roundtable Session Confirmed: TBA
Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination, Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about magic and music, is a Locus finalist and Aurora nominee. Her first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, was a finalist for the Sunburst Award in Canada. Her second novel,Certain Dark Things, will be out in October. She has edited several anthologies, including Dead North and She Walks in Shadows (re-released as Cthulhu’s Daughters). She is the guest editor for Nightmare‘s POC Destroy Horror October 2016 issue.
Roundtable Session: TBA
Virtual face-to-face classes are held once a week using GoToMeeting. Classes are 2-2.5 hours each week during an agreed upon time, so participants will have a chance to meet and talk about each others work out loud. All writers are expected to read and submit written comments on the work we’re peer reviewing that week by our class meeting during the virtual class session.
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.
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 am using the term “graduate-level” for this course for a couple reasons, even though I am not affiliated with an institution of higher education:
As a teacher, my impulse 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 a student, I know that feeling of intimidation all too well. Sometimes the fear can be debilitating.
So I will say: only you can be the judge of your comfort level. But I 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.
On Trigger Warnings:
On Conflict Resolution:
Absolutely. 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.
Classes start the week of July 4th, 2016 — but I can take late registrations up to July 11th, 2016.
The cost of the 10 week course is $397. Registering for The Brainery Workshop enrolls you for Summer 2016, which comes with:
Do you have any other questions about The Brainery Workshop? Here’s an easy way to contact: