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Short Fiction Fall 2014

The Brainery Workshop is an online writing workshop focusing exclusively on speculative fiction as a discipline, and is run with the same artistic rigor as a top-tier university course found in creative writing PhD and MFA programs.

Registration closed. Course full.



The Brainery Workshop is an online creative writing class focused exclusively on speculative fiction as an artistic discipline worthy of theory and practice. 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.

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.

However, unlike most PhD/MFA programs, 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.

Writers will be required to hand in three submissions, as well as one query letter, during the program: the first two submissions will be of new/original work, approximately 15-30 pages in length (either novel or short story), the third and final submission will be a revision of one of the previously submitted pieces.


In addition to each others work, we will be reading 1-2 stories per week from the collections below:


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.

You’ll be one of 9 students in a private, online workshop led by me, where we will help each other deepen our writing practices. I’ll also hold two hours of virtual office hours each week, where we can live-chat about any questions you might have about the course, the readings, or your writing. I will provide in-depth written feedback on each one of your assignments, as well as marginalia. By the end of the semester, you should have one complete short story ready for submission, as well as the first 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 8 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 submission-ready work is one of the goals, I want to impress upon you that it is not the only goal.


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:

  1. Graduate school is where you pick a specialty discipline, regardless of subject matter.
  2. This course is specifically for people who are interested in working on their speculative fiction creative writing in a professional way.

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.


Christie YantChristie Yant is a science fiction and fantasy writer, Associate Publisher of Lightspeed Magazine and Nightmare Magazine, and editor of the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special issue of Lightspeed. Her fiction has appeared in anthologies and magazines including Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2011 (Horton),  Armored, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, io9,, and China’s Science Fiction World. Her work has received honorable mentions in Year’s Best Science Fiction (Dozois) and Best Horror of the Year (Datlow), and has been long-listed for StorySouth’s Million Writers Award.She lives on the central coast of California with two writers, one editor, two dogs, three cats, and a very small manticore. Follow her on Twitter @christieyant.

Tentatively scheduled:

Lois Duncan, author of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Stranger With My Face, A Gift of Magic, Locked in Time, and 45 other books.


Virtual classes are held on Mondays and Tuesdays of each week to try to accommodate the busy schedules of participants. I will host a 60-to-90-minute Google Hangout during an agreed upon time on both days, 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 after the virtual class session they participate in–written comments will be collected by me and passed on to the writer unedited (I am reading comments for accountability and for teaching purposes).

Writers are not required to participate in both virtual class sessions. In addition to the virtual class session, you should plan on budgeting three hours a week for reading course texts, and reading and critiquing peer work, in addition to however you schedule your solo writing time.

  • Week 01 September 15-16: Welcome and Introductions, discuss readings, Group One submits 1st story
  • Week 02 September 22-23: Discuss readings, discuss Group One’s Work, Group Two submits 1st story
  • Week 03 September 29-30: Discuss readings, discuss Group Two’s Work, Group Three submits 1st story
  • Week 04 October 6-7: Discuss readings, discuss Group Three’s Work, Group One submits 2nd story
  • Week 05 October 13-14: Discuss readings, discuss Group One’s Work, Group Two submits 2nd story, Christie Yant’s Roundtable Session will be held this week
  • Week 06 October 20-21: Discuss readings, discuss Group Two’s Work, Group Three submits 2nd story
  • Week 07 October 27-28: Discuss readings, discuss Group Three’s Work, Group One submits Revision
  • Week 08 November 3-5:  Discuss readings, discuss Group One’s Work, Group Two submits Revision
  • Week 09 November 10-12: Discuss readings, discuss Group Two’s Work, Group Three submits Revision, redistribute into two groups for Query Writing
  • Week 10 November 17-18: Discuss readings, discuss Group Three’s Work, Group One submits Queries
  • Week 11 November 24-25: Free Week
  • Week 12 December 1-2: Discuss readings, discuss Group One’s Queries, Group Two submits Queries
  • Week 13 December 8-9: Discuss readings, discuss Group Two’s Queries, wrap-up.


The cost of the 12 week course (technically 13 weeks, because I have scheduled the week of November 24th off) is $350. Since, at this time, I cannot offer coupon codes, I am purposefully discounting the cost of the workshop as a whole. Registering for The Brainery Workshop gets you Scribonaut level membership, which comes with:

  • A 12 week course focusing on speculative fiction, short stories and/or novel excerpts.
  • Submission and feedback on 2 original stories + 1 revision + 1 query letter.
  • Conduct weekly peer review of my peers work.
  • Every three weeks, get feedback on my work from peers and Dr. Dreadful.
  • Read and prepare for discussion assigned short stories or essays.
  • Access to Master Class Roundtable Sessions indefinitely.
  • Access to private Facebook community forum for fellow Scribonauts only.
  • Optional weekly virtual office hours with Dr. Dreadful.

Click here to register. (You can register to be a member of the site for free.)

If you have a Paypal account, you can use PayPal credit or BillMeLater to break the payment down into installments. Right now, PayPal credit has no interest on purchases for 6 months of $99 or more.


Due to the overwhelming interest in the workshop, I am currently planning on offering two courses for Spring 2015:

  • Science Fiction Fairy Tales
  • Short Fiction: Guest Speakers currently attached are Aimee Bender (The Color Master: Stories, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake) and Lise Quintana (owner/operator of Lithomobilius, Narrative Technologies, and publisher/editor of NonBinary Review, Zoetic Press).

I have started selecting texts and contacting guest speakers and will have announcements hopefully soon. I am looking for a mid-January start date.

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

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