Thursday, 27 January 2011

Five things I learned at Clarion: Science Fiction writers speak out

Clarion Writers' Workshop for fantasy and science fiction writers has launched many careers, including that of friend and fellow Madrid writer Sue Burke. Sue has had many short stories and poems published in top magazines like Asimov's and Interzone, and recently signed her first book contract with Edge. Clarion asked alumni to list five things they learned from the workshop. Here's what Sue had to say.

"Established in 1968, the Clarion Writers' Workshop is the oldest workshop of its kind and is widely recognized as a premier proving and training ground for aspiring writers of fantasy and science fiction. I attended in 1996, and James Patrick Kelly, one of my writers-in-residence, has challenged alumni to write about the five things we learned at Clarion to encourage applicants. Here are mine:

1. How to critique. I'm still using Maureen F. McHugh's format in my local critique group. As a corollary, why to critique: Because seeing how to strengthen someone else's work is a fast way to learn how to strengthen your own work.

2. Only one miracle per story, and the first sentence should point to it.

3. The person (or thing) that hurts the most is usually the best perspective for a story.

4. Landscape reflects character, and different characters will experience the same setting differently.

5. The first draft may have everything you need, but you might need to change it all. A good time to outline of your story might be after the first draft to identify these changes."

Some very good advice from a very good writer. You can read what other writers learned here. And don't forget to check out Sue's excellent blog! Clarion is accepting applications until March 1 for Clarion 2011.

[Photo courtesy user AdamBMorgan via Wikimedia Commons]

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