Welcome to the Odyssey Podcasts. These podcasts are excerpts from lectures given by guest writers, editors, and agents at the Odyssey Writing Workshop.
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Kij Johnson was the writer-in-residence at Odyssey 2015, providing a week of great lectures, advice, and feedback on student manuscripts. This podcast is an excerpt from her lecture on description. Kij explains that description is all about the details. The author needs to keep the reader on the string of story by leading them from knot to knot. The story can't always have big plot moments, but details can build a sequential, immersive experience. With the right details, the reader will see and hear what the author wants her to see and hear. The author needs to find ways to thicken the reader's sense of the string. Consider different sensory input, and consider the point of view character. What she notices should be specific to who she is. If the point of view character is unfamiliar with the environment, she will notice more things. If the character is familiar with the environment, she will notice things that have changed or things relevant to her circumstance. The author needs to find ways--ideally exciting, compelling ways--to include information that the POV character wouldn't notice. It's often better to describe the environment as the character interacts with it. Details can be included as they become important to the character.
is widely considered one of the top fantasy/science fiction writing teachers in the country. She is the author of three novels—two fantasies set in classical Japan, The Fox Woman and Fudoki, and a Star Trek:The Next Generation novel—and a short story collection, At the Mouth of the River of Bees. Since 2008, her short fiction has won the Nebula Award (three times), the Hugo, and the World Fantasy Award. In the past she has worked in book publishing, comic books and graphic novels, RPGs and trading card games; managed development and tech-writing groups for Seattle-area tech firms; edited cryptic crosswords; identified Napa cabernets by winery and year while blindfolded; and bouldered an occasional V-5. She received her Master of Fine Arts from North Carolina State University, and teaches at the University of Kansas, where she is associate director for the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. She splits her time between Seattle and Lawrence.
The text of this recording is copyright © 2015 by Kij Johnson. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2016 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.
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Brendan DuBois was a guest lecturer at the 2015 Odyssey Writing Workshop, where he spoke on the Fantastic World of the Short Story. Brendan gives a brief account of the history of the SF short story and explains how developing writers can profit from starting with short stories. Writing short stories allows you to set goals and finish things. It allows you to experiment with all aspects of writing and learn from each one. Short stories can help you get used to rejection, which is a critical part of the writing process. Brendan has had 149 stories published and triple that number of rejections. Writing short stories is also a great way to make sales and get contacts with editors, agents, and other authors. Brendan explains his liquor store robbery theory of short fiction: know your target, hit them hard, don't waste time, and when you're done, get out. Brendan advises that if you have an idea for a story, figure out the plotline and characters before you begin to write. It's critical to limit your ingredients to keep the story from turning into a novel. Quickly get your character into trouble and worsen it with each paragraph. Making your character struggle emotionally, psychologically, and physically makes the reader identify with him. Once you've finished a draft, allow yourself to acknowledge what is working and what's not working, so you can make it better.
Award-winning mystery, suspense and science-fiction author Brendan DuBois
is a former newspaper reporter and a lifelong resident of New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife Mona, their hell-raising cat Bailey, and one happy English Springer Spaniel named Spencer.
The text of this recording is copyright © 2015 by Brendan DuBois. The sound recording is copyright ℗ 2016 by Odyssey Writing Workshops.
He is currently at work on his seventeenth novel, a variety of new short stories, as well as other writing projects. His latest Lewis Cole novel, Fatal Harbor, was published in May 2014. Last year, he published his science fiction trilogy, The Empire of the North, made up of The Noble Warrior, The Noble Prisoner, and The Noble Prince. His recent thriller, Twilight, received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly. DuBois has been published in ten countries by such publishers as St. Martin's Press; Little, Brown; Time Warner UK; Houghton Mifflin; Pegasus Books, and many more.
His most widely published suspense-thriller, Resurrection Day, has received world-wide acclaim. It takes place in October 1972, ten years after the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted into a full-scale atomic war, destroying the Soviet Union and decimating the United States. Called "one of the most inventive novels of alternative history since Robert Harris' Fatherland," Resurrection Day is a chilling tale of what might have been. At the 58th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, Resurrection Day received the Sidewise Award for Best Alternative History Novel.
DuBois has had more than 120 short stories published in such magazines as Playboy, Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, and the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, as well as in numerous original short fiction anthologies.
His short fiction has been included in many Year's Best anthologies. Most recently, his short story "A Ticket Out" was included in Best American Noir Stories of the Century, edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler. In June 2000, DuBois was honored when one of his short stories, "The Dark Snow," was published in the anthology Best American Mystery Stories of the Century. Other authors in that anthology included Raymond Chandler, O. Henry, Flannery O'Connor, and John Steinbeck. His work has also appeared in the 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1995 editions of The Year's Best Mystery & Suspense Stories, the 1995 and 1997 editions of Year's 25 Best Mystery Short Stories, the 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003 editions of Best American Mystery Stories, and the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 editions of The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories, published by Forge.
His short fiction has twice won the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, twice won the Barry Award for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year, won the Al Blanchard Crime Fiction Award for Best Short Crime Fiction Story, has been nominated three times for an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America, and has been nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year.
He is also a one-time Jeopardy! game show champion.