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Odyssey Writing Workshop

  Next Workshop:  June 8 through July 17, 2015  
Next Deadlines:  Applications for Early Action due Jan. 31, 2015
Regular Application Deadline--April 8, 2015
Odyssey Slide Show

A Message from Jeanne Cavelos, Director, on the 2014 Workshop:


Since its inception in 1996, the Odyssey Writing Workshop has become one of the most highly respected workshops for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror in the world. Top authors, editors and agents have served as guests at Odyssey, and 58% of graduates have gone on to be published. The workshop, held annually on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, runs for six weeks, and combines an intensive, advanced curriculum with in-depth feedback on students' manuscripts. College credit is available upon request.

class in session Odyssey is for developing writers whose work is approaching publication quality and for published writers who want to improve their work. Those who attend must be ready to put aside all their other concerns and make a single-minded effort to improve their writing. This is a serious, demanding program. I'm constantly told by graduates that they learned more at Odyssey than they learned in years of workshopping and creative writing classes. You should not apply unless you are ready to hear about the weaknesses in your writing and ready to work to overcome them. Class meets for 4 hours minimum in the morning, 5 days a week, and students use afternoons, evenings, and weekends to write, critique each other's work, and complete other class assignments. Students spend at least 8 hours on "homework" each weekday and 12 hours per day on the weekend. You should come prepared to write new material, either short stories or novel chapters. After the first two weeks, you will not be able to submit anything that was written before the workshop began, unless you have radically revised it since arriving at Odyssey. The only way to improve is to write new material that incorporates what you have learned.

Jeanne Cavelos Odyssey is the only program of its kind run by an editor. I was a senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where I won the World Fantasy Award for my editing, and I serve as primary instructor at the workshop. Half of our class time is spent on lectures, writing exercises, and discussions. In my lectures, I provide an advanced, comprehensive curriculum, covering the elements of fiction writing in depth. To improve your writing, you need to understand the various tools and techniques writers can use to create a strong story. Many workshops, unfortunately, offer only brief, superficial lectures. We study some of the most beautiful and powerful writing in the field to gain understanding of what these tools can do when wielded with skill. I also explain the common failings of developing writers and how to avoid those pitfalls. You need to be open to learning and trying new techniques to strengthen your writing.

The other half of our class time is spent workshopping student stories. In critiquing stories, I give the same unflinchingly honest, concrete, detailed feedback that I provided as a senior editor. My typewritten critiques average over 1,500 words each, and my handwritten line edits on manuscripts are extensive. Everyone in the class learns to become a top-notch critiquer, providing insightful feedback on your work. Workshopping sessions are designed to maximize their helpfulness. You will not be coddled, and you will not be attacked. You will learn how to improve your writing and gain insight into why a story might or might not sell to a publisher. Anyone interested in applying should read "Workshopping at Odyssey" by David J. Schwartz, class of '96.

student at work Since I've worked with many writers over the course of my career, I understand that each writer works differently, so I also work individually with students. Over the six weeks, I chart each student's progress in a series of private meetings, where we discuss personal strengths and weaknesses. We target those weaknesses one by one and work to conquer them. The workshop is limited to fifteen students so that each student can receive significant individual guidance.

Guest lecturers come in once a week, for about a 24-hour period, to add their own unique insights and perspectives, and to give students feedback on their work. Lecturers for the 2014 workshop include some of the top teachers in the field: award-winning authors Elizabeth Hand, Catherynne M. Valente, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, and Alexander Jablokov; and editor Gordon Van Gelder.

I'm excited to report that our 2014 writers-in-residence are award-winning authors Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem. Melanie and Steve served as writers-in-residence at Odyssey 2005, and the result was an amazing, insight-filled week that the class still talks about to this day. I'm so happy they're coming back. Melanie's work has received the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards. She has published numerous short stories, eleven solo novels, two collaborative novels with Nancy Holder, and two with her husband Steve. She is also a published poet, an oral storyteller, and a playwright. Steve is widely considered one of the top short story writers working today. He is the author of over 400 published short stories and winner of the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards. He has had numerous short story collections published as well as six novels. Melanie and Steve are amazing teachers and mentors. They will be lecturing, workshopping, and meeting with students for the entire fifth week, a wonderful opportunity for the class. The other weeks will be structured as described above.

Those who apply by January 31 will be considered for early action. We created the possibility of early action to help those who, if admitted, need several months to arrange their affairs before the workshop begins. Applicants will be notified by February 28 whether they have been admitted under the high standards of early action or whether their applications will be held over for consideration for regular admission. Those who apply by the regular application deadline of April 8 will be informed of their status by May 1.

Prospective students must apply and include a 4,000-word writing sample by April 8.
Note: We must receive your application by April 8. This is not a "postmark" date.

Collins House Falvey House Odyssey is funded in part by donations made by graduates and other supporters, and in part by the fees students pay. To help you budget your money, here is a review of the costs associated with attending Odyssey. The application fee is $35. Tuition is $1965. All students are required to purchase a custom textbook with readings, which costs $100. If you would like to receive college credit, there is an additional processing fee of $550. Unless students prefer to make other arrangements, they stay in Saint Anselm College apartments. These apartments are in two small buildings next to each other, Falvey House and Collins House (#50 and #51 on the campus map). Each apartment has 2 or 3 bedrooms and can house a total of 2 to 4 people (with each bedroom holding 1 or 2 students). The cost to share a bedroom in an apartment for six weeks is $812. The cost to have your own bedroom in an apartment is $1624. The apartments are equipped with kitchens, so you may buy and prepare your own food, which is a money-saving option, or you may eat at the college's Coffee Shop. Food on campus is reasonably priced. Students should budget between $450-$600 for food for the six weeks.

students studying The tuition and housing costs quoted above are the discounted rates for US students paying by check or money order, and for international students paying by bank draft in US dollars.

Students have the additional option of paying both tuition and housing through PayPal which allows you to charge the costs on a credit card. Those using PayPal need to pay the full rates, which are about 4% higher.

For those interested in financial aid, several scholarships and one work/study position are available.

Odyssey graduate Sara King is sponsoring the Parasite Publications Character Awards to provide financial assistance to three character-based writers wishing to attend this summer's Odyssey Writing Workshop. The Parasite Publications Character Awards, three scholarships in the amounts of $1,965 (full tuition), $500, and $300, will be awarded to the three members of the incoming class who are deemed extraordinarily strong character writers, creating powerful, emotional characters that grab the reader and don't let go. Judges will base their decision on the quality of the short story or novel excerpts sent with the applications; no separate application is required. The decision of the judges will be final. Scholarship monies will be applied directly to tuition for the 2014 workshop.

Applicants from the New York Metropolitan Area who are accepted into Odyssey are eligible to apply for a scholarship from the Donald A. and Elsie B. Wollheim Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund was created in 1989 by the New York Science Fiction Society--the Lunarians, one of New York's oldest and largest science fiction and fantasy clubs, to help developing writers attend major science fiction/fantasy writing programs affiliated with higher institutions of learning. The amount of the scholarship is variable depending on need and the availability of funds. Scholarship monies will be applied directly to tuition for the 2014 workshop. If you are accepted into Odyssey and would like to pursue this possibility, contact me immediately upon your acceptance.

If you are a member of the Horror Writers Association, you are eligible for one or both of the scholarships they offer, each worth $2,500, which can be applied toward Odyssey tuition and housing. Their application deadline is December 31.

One work/study position is also available. The work/study student spends about six hours per week performing duties for Odyssey, such as photocopying, sending stories to guests, distributing mail to students, and preparing guest receptions. Odyssey reimburses $750 of the work/study student's tuition.

The work/study student will be expected to fulfill the regular requirements of Odyssey in addition to these duties. This will make for a very demanding six weeks, but for a student who needs the financial assistance, the work/study position offers a good opportunity. Contact me for more details and a special work/study application. Work/study applications are due April 30.

Saint Anselm College We're very fortunate to be able to hold Odyssey on the campus of Saint Anselm College. Saint Anselm was recently rated the seventeenth most beautiful campus by Princeton Review and tenth best campus food. Odyssey students love the Coffee Shop, the peaceful grounds, and the friendly, efficient staff. Saint Anselm is one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country, dedicated to excellence in education, and its campus provides a beautiful setting and high-quality facilities for the workshop.

writers in development I love working with developing writers, helping them to realize their potential and make their work the best it can be. My experiences over Odyssey's eighteen previous years have been incredible. Talented writers of all ages, some already published, have come from all across the US, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Israel, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore, and embarked on this epic journey of discovery with me. I've watched students make major breakthroughs during the six weeks, and I've followed their progress after the workshop as they've submitted their work, piled up the rejection slips, made sales, and built wonderful writing careers for themselves.

support to writers Odyssey provides a supportive yet challenging, energizing environment for authors. Attending the workshop is a great way to focus on your writing, giving it the time and attention it needs. If you'd like to spend six weeks hanging out and partying with people who love fantasy, science fiction, and horror, please don't apply to Odyssey. It's not for you. If you'd like to dedicate all your energy for six weeks on improving your writing, and collapse with exhaustion on the last day, I hope you'll apply. Odyssey is for you.

Please check out the Frequently Asked Questions page about the Workshop. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact me.

If you want help improving your writing but applying to a six-week program isn't a practical option, or you feel you aren't yet ready to apply, or you'd like a taste of the Odyssey experience to see if it's right for you, we offer two other possibilities.

The Odyssey Critique Service allows you to receive professional-level feedback on your writing. You may submit several stories or chapters, or an entire novel.

Odyssey's Online Classes provide a great way to improve your writing skills from home. Each class is focused on a particular element of fiction writing and is designed for writers at a particular skill level, from beginners to professional writers.

Our site also provides a variety of free resources to help you build your writing skills. You can find a review of these resources on our home page.

In 2010, Odyssey became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust. Please consider supporting Odyssey's mission to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror improve their work by making a donation. All donations are tax deductible.

To receive the latest updates on all Odyssey programs, sign up for our free e-newsletter.

In the meantime, I hope you'll find this site a useful resource for your writing.

Best wishes!

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