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Comments from Odyssey Online Graduates


Showing Versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction, 2015, Instructor Jeanne Cavelos

"The mantra 'Show don't tell' rings from lips of every teacher in every writing class that I've ever attended but I've never understood what they meant: how to write 'showing', when to write 'showing', or why. Odyssey has changed all that. Now I get it. In this class, Jeanne explains first the psychological underpinning of 'Show don't tell', and from that she teaches us how to write in ways that engage the senses. And engage our readers. Now I get it. I understand the rationale. I see it in the writing of respected authors. And my new understanding and developing skills bring clear direction and impetus for improving my own writing. Brilliant. Thank you Jeanne."
--Jack Calverley

"Most graduate-level writing workshops I've attended have been tolerant of speculative fiction. But Odyssey provides a singular experience that so many other classes simply do not. Jeanne encourages you to analyze writing with a penetrating and honest editorial gaze, explore fictional elements both subtle and straightforward, and crucially--she provides tangible steps and techniques that help you strengthen your writing. I've heard it said that great writing cannot be taught, but Odyssey instills writers with an Art of Good Practice so they can become great, with integrity. That's very empowering."
-- Larissa Glasser

"When I applied for Odyssey's Showing versus Telling class, I expected to learn ways to sharpen my writing. What I actually gained in the one-month online class was a whole new perspective on both my short fiction and my novel—breaking down each scene to determine its most important points and making sure the most vivid showing is saved for the critical elements. Jeanne Cavelos's lectures gave us the principles; homework and critiques drove home the lecture topics. In my opinion, the class was worth every penny of the tuition cost."
--Leoma Retan

"I have taken other on-line classes where the only feedback I received from the instructor was that my writing was 'good'. THIS is not like one of those courses. Jeanne critiques the work with a critical eye. She provides honest feedback about what is working and what is not working in the story. In addition, she gives helpful suggestions about how to improve the writing. Jeanne is very knowledgeable and approachable as an instructor."
--Teresa Marchi

"The Odyssey online course on Showing versus Telling taught me a lot, and not just about the title topic. The course offered powerful insights into scene structuring, conveying emotion and creating meaningful dialogue. The course challenged me, and the interaction with other students was invaluable. Using the Critiquing Worksheet was an education in itself!"
--Tim Armstrong (writing as Timothy Gwyn)

"After six weeks of hard work, I feel a bit reborn as a writer. Top notch workshop. Top notch instructor. No matter what our genre or what the level of our proficiency was beforehand, in just five weeks of hard work, all of us were much more skilled writers. I can't recommend it highly enough."
--Gigi Vernon

"An Odyssey Online Class is a great way of making major improvements in your writing in a short period of time. It is rare that writers receive any useful feedback with rejections of their work. In an Odyssey Online Class, the critiques of fellow students and the instructor show you how others view your work, the first step to real improvement. The instructor for Showing versus Telling, Jeanne Cavelos, is a thoughtful, truthful, kind and encouraging teacher."
--Tom Fisken

"I've taken several writing workshops, some with famous writers, and while I learned something from each one, I never imagined I could get so much out of a workshop until I took Odyssey's online class on showing versus telling. It's given me much greater control over my writing and taught me to let the reader experience a scene instead of just hear about it. Jeanne Cavelos is the best close reader I've ever seen, and she treats all writing with respect. Take any course she teaches; you'll work harder than you expected to and make major advances."
--John Askins

One Brick at a Time: Crafting Compelling Scenes, 2015, Instructor Barbara Ashford

"This course was amazing. I feel like I can navigate writing a scene better now because I have the tools and vocabulary to do it! Thanks Barbara and Jeanne for a wonderful course!"
--Danielle DeLisle

Effective Endings in Speculative Fiction, 2015, Instructor C. C. Finlay

"The Odyssey Online course on Effective Endings gave me plenty of material to make my stories better. The class fit into my busy schedule, and I loved that I could relax at home while learning. The online class feels a lot like being in a 'live' class. Charlie was an enthusiastic teacher with wonderful insights that I've already applied to my writing. I would definitely take another Odyssey Online course."
--Rebecca Roland

"This class helped me become a better reader of my own work. I now have analytical tools to use, and the confidence to apply them to craft better beginnings and endings. And, thanks to this class, I'll never look at titles the same way! The learning environment was very supportive and the individual critiques were on point and instructive. Thanks for a great course!"
-- Nadya Duke

The Heart of the Matter: Bringing Emotional Resonance to Your Storytelling, 2014, Instructor Barbara Ashford

"Barbara is an incredibly knowledgeable and effective instructor who completely blew away all my expectations for the course. In addition to discovering how to bring emotions to the page in a stronger and more precise manner, I learned more about theme, story structure, characterization, and world building than I'd thought possible for three short classes. Her analysis of my novel excerpts has helped me redirect my wandering plot issues, and every critique I received has been detailed, analytical and thought provoking. This course over-delivered and will be something I refer back to for many works to come."
--Christine Row

"The subtitle for this class is 'Bringing Emotional Resonance to Your Storytelling.' At first I didn't get it, and resisted it, but during the course something clicked inside for me. Now I see it so clearly it's hard to imagine why emotional resonance had been such a mystery. The teacher is outstanding, bringing her own emotional resonance into her teaching technique."
--David Ballard

"The instructor's enthusiasm matched her expertise as she led us through the course material in logical steps. By the end of the course, I had increased my understanding of what is meant by emotional resonance and how it really is the core of a satisfying reading experience. I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to increase the depth and emotional impact of their writing."
--Holly Schofield

"I feel that I have a new lease on the novel I've been working on--I was lost, but have been found because of skills gained from Barbara's information, comments, and other student's feedback. By focusing in on the key to the novel, I can look at one part (inciting incident, for example) and get an understanding of what my own writing is about. In giving me an analytical understanding of my own writing, Barbara helped me to break some writer's block, and I feel that I can now complete the novel successfully."
--Chris Propst

Powerful Dialogue in Fantastic Fiction, 2014, Instructor Jeanne Cavelos

"Odyssey is a precious resource for aspiring writers. Instruction that goes beyond the basics, that teaches how to write compelling, not merely competent stories, is hard to find. Since 2010, I've done two Odyssey online courses as well as the six-week summer workshop. I can affirm that the online courses are a fantastic way for developing writers who can't take six weeks out of their lives to experience Odyssey's magical combination of lecture, practice, and critique.

"Jeanne Cavelos's course in 'Powerful Dialogue' was an eye-opener. I'd never realized how much dialogue can accomplish for a story. Now I have tools to plan, analyze and edit my dialogue to strengthen it in everything I write. My characters will never speak the same way again."
--Lorraine Heisler

"Dialogue is the heart and soul of modern prose--at least in my opinion. In the Powerful Dialogue in Fantastic Fiction class we had the chance to explore and learn about a whole array of excellent tools to make your dialogue more meaningful and unforgettable.

"It was an awesome course with a steep learning curve."
--Regina Glei

"Imagine a Boot Camp for writers, but fun! If you are looking for clear ideas on improving your writing, strenuous practice of those ideas, and an enjoyable writing experience, then I would strongly recommend taking a writing Odyssey with Jeanne Cavelos as your guide."
--John Berks

"Having taken the six-week Odyssey Workshop, I have to say that the online courses are just as intense, only with a more narrow focus. Jeanne over-delivers on the lecture material, helps you apply everything that you're learning with thorough assignments, and the critiques from everyone are top-notch. My writing process is always transformed by the experience."
--Christine Row

The Secrets of a Satisfying Short Story, 2014, Instructor Nancy Holder

"Before I signed up for Odyssey's 'The Secrets of a Satisfying Short Story' course, I had been struggling with ways to pull my stories together into integrated wholes. I was forever tacking bits onto a story and filling in cracks. However, for every word I added or changed, I simply created more problems for my story. What I got from the Odyssey course was a way to approach my writing that pulled the story together as I wrote. I have yet to master this art (perhaps I never will) but at least I now have something to aim for instead of flailing around in a vacuum. The course was very intensive--at times I put in twice the hours they suggest--but it was very well organised by Jeanne, and our tutor, Nancy, has an immense breadth of experience and depth of knowledge and was enthusiastic in sharing her craft with us. If you're serious about your writing, seriously consider signing up for this course (but don't expect an easy ride)."
--Jack Calverley

"The Secrets of a Satisfying Short Story with Nancy Holder opened the doors to new horizons for my writing--giving me greater perspective and new tools to apply to my efforts. I already feel I am a better writer with only one course under my belt."
--Darin Hlavaz

"The experience of taking Secrets of a Satisfying Short Story with Nancy Holder was fun and illuminating! Writing 'short' and creating stories that are focused is not easy. In particular I gained awareness around the idea of the single effect, learned a variety of structural tools, and how to engage readers on an emotional level. The online class environment was perfectly done--handouts and lectures with plenty of opportunity for discussion. Getting feedback on my stories from Nancy and my classmates was the best part. And becoming a part of the Odyssey family is awesome!"
--Karen Rochnik

Bodies and Heartbeats: Crafting Character from the Inside Out, 2013

"An excellent class that equipped me with good ideas and useful techniques for creating viable characters. Receiving very detailed critiques by fellow students and by the class instructor Elaine let me see my work from multiple angles, sometimes confirming my own views, sometimes surprising me greatly, always in helpful and informative ways. A very rewarding experience altogether."
--Frank Hagelberg

"Before my characters began their existence as plain-vanilla and I tried to develop them as the story progressed. Bodies and Heartbeats gave me the tools to create characters that engage from the moment they step on the page, characters ready for conflict, adventure, and suffering."
--Scott T. Barnes

Three-Act Structure in Fantastic Fiction, 2013

"I came away from this course with increased confidence in my ability to see a story as a whole. It was an enriching experience."
--Erin Wilcox

"Although I have taken online classes and workshops before, I have not worked so hard on class assignments since I was in college. This class will not only make you work, it will make you into a critical reader and a better writer."
--David Ballard

"This is the second Odyssey online course I have done, and it was every bit as good as the first. Highly recommended. Short, but like an Italian espresso, sweet--and charges up your creative brain."
--John Berks

"This class has made a big difference in the way I write. After the first lecture itself, I had an "Aha!" moment. I now look at movies, novels and short stories in a fundamentally different way. Not only has my writing improved, the way I analyze and critique stories has undergone a positive change too. I am able to identify possible weaknesses in a plot and I am able to structure my stories better.

"The lectures notes, recordings and the group message board helped me learn at my pace. Jeanne's thorough evaluation of the assignments was very insightful."
--Geetanjali Dighe

Getting the Big Picture: The Key to Revising Your Novel, 2013

"Odyssey Online provides a great opportunity for intensive learning in an international environment from the comfort of your home--wherever it may be."
--Regina Glei

"I am in the outlining stages of a novel. The Odyssey online class Getting the Big Picture helped me focus in on the true nature of my story, what lies at its heart. The class has given me the tools to improve both plot and characters and tie the two more strongly into the theme. These are the most useful three class sessions I have ever attended."
--Scott T. Barnes

Secrets of Literary Agents, 2012

"Odyssey Online is a great way for busy people to enhance their writing skills."
--Regina Glei

"The Odyssey program has done it again! Not only do they offer some outstanding courses, but they are taught by some of the best in the business. The one-on-one attention you get in the Odyssey program has helped me take my writing to the next level. Working with an agent really helped me find my strengths and my weaknesses in my query and synopsis. Every writer trying to break through should consider taking an Odyssey class. The quality of instructors and the talent of other students made me feel like I was part of an elite group. It was a grand experience. Thanks again Jeanne!"
--Peter Simonson

Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction, 2012

"Are you are tired of telling tales? Do your readers seem uninvolved in your stories? Then Odyssey's Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction is the course for you! This course gave me the tools to build up my showing, whether I was tackling emotions, actions, thoughts or setting. And I had a chance to try out these new tools under the eye of Jeanne Cavelos, our enthusiastic but rigorous instructor. The on-line delivery made it a convenient way to learn."
--John Berks

"Jeanne's Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction was another amazingly effective Odyssey Online course that I had the privilege of participating in. As Jeanne's brilliant teaching guided the discussions and led me through passage after passage of great writing examples, revealing their subtleties, rendering their secrets and the techniques responsible for their emotional impact, and as her amazingly designed assignments led me to experience such effective revision tools, study them, apply them, make them my own, and as it all took place among the propelling enthusiasm of such a diversely talented group, I saw my weaknesses and learned to treat them; I saw my strengths and learned to enhance them. I felt the gigantic leap of improvement, and so did my readers. Now after the class has ended, I sit in eagerness for what's in store for next year. I can't imagine a better class than the one I just had, and yet experience tells me that for sure it will be."
--Anahita Ayasoufi

"I started out not understanding showing vs. telling and offering resistance to the idea of showing. In the last assignment I felt like I GOT IT. I'm calling it a breakthrough. My post-Showing versus Telling writing was so much better than the passage my pre-SVT writing. Like 100 times better. You can see, sense, feel the scene that I am writing."
--Tambi Harwood

"Jeanne's teaching gets at a level of sophistication and nuance in writing that's hard to find in other courses. These are the questions that writers want answered, even if they haven't articulated those questions in their own minds yet. I especially like the way Jeanne highlights tools and best practices and working principles. The lessons are easy to capture and remember.
--Peter Simonson

"This class gave names to writing concepts I've struggled with for a while, and provided the guidance and practice I needed to improve. Thank you, Jeanne, for the insightful lectures, challenging assignments, and individualized support."
--Jen Hansum

"Thank you, Jeanne, for the in-depth discussion of how to engage the reader with more showing and less telling. I finally get what so many people say 'show, don't tell!' My fiction has already improved. Great class!"
--Carol March

"Odyssey Online is an invaluable resource to any writer who is serious about writing the best fiction they possibly can. Each class is intense and will make you look at your writing in a whole new way, but when you are done you will be glad you took the journey."
--George Weiss

Narrative Structures in Fantastic Fiction, 2012

"This course was brilliant. It was intense, stimulating and demanding. I could not have asked for more!"
--Katie Lavers

"Bruce's Narrative Structure class exceeded my expectations and I'm very glad I tried out an online class. We got meaty information to think about, challenging homework to complete, and support from an instructor who is caring and insightful."
--Liz Argall

"The Narrative Structures in Fantastic Fiction course was the first online class I've ever taken, and I was pleased with the organization and overall quality. The homework was challenging, which I appreciated because I intended to learn. I have many more tools at my disposal when I write and edit. On top of that, I am now connected with other writers who have received similar instruction and can help me improve in a more specialized way."
--Carrie E. Stemrich

Three-Act Structure in Fantastic Fiction, 2011

"Most fantastic (and other) fiction follows the three-act structure. Thanks to the Odyssey Online Course, the nature of three-act structure has become much clearer to me, which will be a great help for my future writing."
--Regina Glei

"I was wonderfully surprised by how much I could learn in such a compact course. I feel like a key element of writing has been forever inscribed in my mind, in my writing process. This may prove to be the single most important learning moment in my development as a writer."
--Peter Simonson

"WOW! This course was incredible. Jeanne Cavelos is not only an expert in her field but also a wonderful teacher, a truly rare combination! I learnt so much. I can't recommend this course highly enough."
--Katie Lavers

"This class has changed the way I write. Before, the words 'plot and structure' would make me recoil in anxiety and frustration. Now, I see plot and structure as exciting tools to help me create the kind of stories I want to write."
--Tom L. Waters

"It was somewhere in the pre-class assignment that I felt the onset of a purposeful build up of skills, skills that developed into the ability to analyze the artistic yet mathematical structure behind stories. Understanding strengths and weaknesses of structures including my own; a new way of reading stories to learn from them; resources to improve my writing; a new group of people to belong to, one that shares the same passion yet provides different strengths; viewpoint and expert advice of a great teacher on my work; all do their part in making this experience a huge leap forward in my writing. I am looking forward to being in future Odyssey classes."
--Anahita Ayasoufi

Worldbuilding in Fantastic Fiction, 2011

"For those who lack the time or resources to attend the full six-week Odyssey Writing Workshop in New Hampshire, Odyssey Online is a cost-effective way to explore specific writing topics in an environment of peers and professionals."
--Stace Johnson

"Odyssey's Worldbuilding in Fantastic Fiction gave me the tools to transform a set of disjointed notes & ideas into a coherent & engaging 'world' for my story. And, it was great fun into the bargain!"
--Emma Munro

"Odyssey Online is a fantastic way to learn for all those writers who live outside the US."
--Regina Glei

"After completing Odyssey's Worldbuilding course, I have realized my world needs a backstory as much as my characters do. The lecturer presented material and exercises which immersed me in the job of creating a world and society with internal integrity, rich with possibilities for storytelling. I highly recommend this course to any writer of speculative fiction."
--Pete Aldin

Writing in Scenes, 2011

"Nancy Kress is not only a brilliant author, but a fantastic instructor. I can't recommend this course more highly. It is an aspiring writer's goldmine. Where else but Odyssey can you find this kind of knowledge sharing with such a global reach?"
--Paul Kuncl

"A fantastic course from a top-notch professional writer who gave information and ideas with wonderful, inspiring generosity."
--Katrina Lavers

"Writing in Scenes gave me the tools to take a step back and analyze and improve my scenes — excellent course!"
--Regina Glei

"I was thrilled by the level of care, thoroughness, and honesty my classmates showed in their critiques. As a result of this course, I'm more attentive than ever to providing clarity, interest, and enjoyment for my audience."
--Jen Hansum

"The Odyssey Online Class not only changed the way I tackle my writing, but also taught me to read others' work more closely. What you learn here will help you continue to improve long after the last session."
--Sara Ellis

"The Odyssey Online Classes provide an exceptional evaluation of your skills as a writer as well as the tools to advance them to the next level. The instructors are beyond compare, the lectures are insightful and thought-provoking, and the assignments will challenge students to exceed their own expectations."
--Christine Row

Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction, 2010

"Every single part of this course was invaluable. I have never before enjoyed working so incredibly hard at my craft while thinking that I was having the time of my life!"
--Christine Row

"This course really does teach how to makes settings vivid, bring characters to life, and put the reader right into the story through the skillful manipulation of showing and telling."
--Emma Monroe

"Fun, dynamic, a great class for brushing up on your skills and learning new ones."
--Jordan Summers

"Odyssey Online can help anyone who is serious about improving his or her fiction writing. You get in-depth lectures, detailed critiques, tools to make your writing stronger, talented classmates, and Jeanne's expertise and individualized attention, while you work in your home office."
--Keith Sen

"The Odyssey Online workshop far exceeded my hopes. As a developing fantasy writer living in a small town, I was at a loss to find mentoring and fellowship in my genre. Jeanne's expert, engaging lectures and thorough critiques made every moment spent on the work worthwhile. Now I have tools to take my writing to the next level and a budding community of fellow writers with whom to grow."
--Lorraine Heisler

"Odyssey Online changed the way I write and read. It is a great opportunity for all those who cannot participate in the 'real' workshop due to family, day job, distance, etc. issues. For me the online form of Odyssey was a blessing: despite living in Japan, I could participate in this excellent class, which took my writing to the next level."
--Regina Glei

"This class exceeded my highest expectations. Excellent barely begins to describe the quality and quantity of learning in this class for writers. The instructor was caring, enthusiastic, and recognized us as individuals. She knew us and our writing. That is unbelievable in today's world of college classes of hundreds of students."
--Tom Kappel

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