This course is an intense practicum in speculative fiction writing and students can expect a traditional graduate-level quality 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. We 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.
Imagine taking a deep breath before you dive into a body of water, but instead of swimming across the surface, you sink to the bottom with the waterproof pencil and pad of paper invented by Yoshihuro Nakamatsu and write as much as you can before coming up for air.
That’s what this workshop is going to be like.
This fall, Science Fiction Fairy Tales will be taught in the hypoxic style, meaning it is a breathless generative kind of writing where writers will be producing new material every week. During class, writers will share those pieces with the workshop by posting them to WetInk (giving others a chance to read before class time) and then reading them out loud during class for immediate feedback. This will not be a standard format workshop, such as taught in Short Fiction.
This hypoxic-style workshop is designed to push students to challenge themselves as writers and to question the conventions and limits of what it means to remix fairy tales in modern ways. The workshop focuses on writing that is not simply writing about or on a given fairy tale but writing that is also performative—writing that does something, as writing. We are trained to think about the what of what we write (our plots, our characters) but not the how of what we write (the language and style, the point of view, the structure).
Every week we will consider a different fairy tale and experiment in remixing it using experimental methods. Every week each student will write 750-1500 words based on each week’s fairy tale or scientific theme, as well as be asked to discuss each other’s work.
There are no standard end comments on the pieces through the semester, and in-text marginalia will be limited due to the nature of the sharing process, and especially because this is a generative writing workshop, where we’re trying to produce as much writing “in one breath” as possible. There will be a final portfolio of completed work, complete with revisions, with extensive feedback including end comments and marginalia, though.
Because of the mixed backgrounds and professional goals of workshop writers, students are encouraged to work with me to best adjust the assignments to help advance their own work. But, pretty much, this class is a way to get super comfortable creating shitty first drafts, getting that work in front of other peoples’ eyes and getting feedback.
In addition to the weekly virtual class sessions, we are excited to host Master Class Roundtable Sessions with the guests profiled below.
Every student enrolled in The Brainery will have the opportunity to RSVP and attend all roundtable sessions as there is limited virtual seats available. It is important to note that guest speakers are no longer designated for each workshop, but are available to all enrolled in The Brainery. All sessions will be recorded and available for students to download.
Once you enroll, you will be given a schedule availability chart, and based on the times you are available, you will be sorted into a section taught by one of these two instructors. Please note: Jilly Dreadful will be filling in teaching for Carina Bissett while Carina does her residency at Stonecoast in July.
Jilly Dreadful is the founder of The Brainery: Online Speculative Fiction Workshops + Resources which has been featured on The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Roundtable Podcast. She completed her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing at University of Southern California. Jilly is a member of SFWA, and has stories published or forthcoming from: Lightspeed, She Walks In Shadows, the first all-female Lovecraft anthology (Innsmouth Free Press), and Rough Magick, an anthology edited by Francesca Lia Block and Jessa Marie Mendez. Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in NonBinary Review, Devilfish Review, among others.
Carina Bissett is a writer, poet, and educator working primarily in the fields of speculative fiction and interstitial art. She completed her M.Ed. at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and studied interdisciplinary arts and performance, American literature, journalism, and creative writing in her undergraduate studies at Arizona State University. Her short fiction and poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies including the Journal of Mythic Arts, Mythic Delirium, NonBinary Review, Timeless Tales, and The Horror ‘Zine. She also fosters her passion of fairy tale and folklore through creative non-fiction including her research work at the Mythic Imagination Institute and contributions to the forthcoming publication of American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore. In addition to teaching creative writing at Glendale Community College and Arizona State University, she has participated in the Colorado Writing Project and works with educators to develop writing instruction in the secondary school classroom. Her fiction has been nominated for the Sundress Publications Best of the Net Award, her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Sundress Publications Best of the Net Award, and her creative non-fiction has won both a bronze and an award of merit from the Annual International Regional Magazine Association. You can learn more about her work on her website at www.carinabissett.com.
By the end of the semester, the goal is for writers in Science Fiction Fairy Tales to have written approximately 7,000 words, and feel energized to expand and complete the work generated in class. The goal of the Portfolio submission at the end of workshop is get in-depth feedback on those revisions in order for that work to be ready to be short story ready for submission and a draft of a second short story in the pipeline.
The discussions in The Brainery Workshop can be exhilarating, and the contact high from connecting to peers in these meaningful ways can be addictive–you’re in a group with other writers who care about speculative fiction as much as you do–so it’s important to stay true to the kind of stories you want to tell, instead of performing for the group. Although generating a large amount of writing, and thinking about the ways that writing is performative, is one of the goals of this workshop, this is not the same as relinquishing your writerly agency in an attempt to be awarded the “best” feedback.
Master Class Roundtable Sessions are 60-90 minutes long. Please note: Every student enrolled in The Brainery will have the opportunity to RSVP and attend all roundtable sessions as there is limited virtual seats available. It is important to note that guest speakers are no longer designated for each workshop, but are available to all enrolled in The Brainery. All sessions will be recorded and available for students to download.
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.
Example Tentative Schedule–themes are subject to change based on workshop interest. Each fairy tale will be paired with scientific journalism articles.
Literary Lab will return in the fall.
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.
We are using the term “graduate-level” for this course for a couple reasons, even though we are not affiliated with an institution of higher education:
As teachers, our 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, 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 personal growth as a writer comes from critiquing writing in a workshop. Peer review is where many of us learned about what we liked and didn’t like, what worked and didn’t, and became able to articulate these things, as well as identify these in our 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.
If you’re interested in the workshop but have concerns about your writing level or capabilities, feel free to contact us.
We will not give you a prescription for how to change a story so it’ll get published. We will tell you what you’ve done so you can highlight and reinforce those things that we perceive to be working in order for writers to make the story consistent throughout.Furthermore, with the focus on publishing, we also try to suggest which magazines would be the best fit based on our knowledge.
The third goal for writers enrolled at The Brainery is developing a community.
It is difficult enough being a writer, but having a support system that is rooting for you is a powerful motivating force. Trying to keep pace with your cohorts who are sending manuscripts out is as well. Not in a competitive sense, but, rather being inspired by their bravery and their success.
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 we 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 me: