2020 Writing the Other Class Schedule

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Core Classes | Part of the Year of Writing Inclusively

Note: Dates subject to change.

Deep Dive Into Diverse Characters header image showing instructors Nisi Shawl, Piper J Drake, and K Tempest Bradford

Deep Dive Into Diverse Characters

Dates: January 31 – February 29
Where: Online
Price: $400
Registration Opens: November 28, 2019

Creating characters that reflect of the diversity of the world we all live in is important for all writers and creators of fictional narratives. But writers often find it difficult to represent people whose gender, sexual orientation, racial heritage, or other aspect of identity is very different from their own. This can lead to fear of getting it wrong–horribly, offensively wrong–and, in the face of that, some think it’s better to not even try.

But representation is too important to ignore. And it is possible to write characters who represent the “Other” sensitively and convincingly. This four week course will provide authors with a solid foundation in how to craft characters from any background, no matter how different they are from you.

Deep Dive Description

Deep Dive Into Description

Dates: April 3 – 26
Where: Online
Price: $350
Registration Opens: February 5, 2020

Creating inclusive fiction with characters that come from different identities is important. But when writers start describing people from marginalized groups, they’re sometimes overcome by anxiety over getting it right. What words and phrases should you use? Which ones should you avoid?

In this three week craft-centric class we’ll dive deep into these language and description pitfalls…and how to avoid them! Go beyond the basics of eliminating food metaphors and other tired/inaccurate clichés and explore:

  • How to make conscious, respectful, and inclusive language choices.
  • Person-first vs. Identity-first language.
  • When it is and isn’t okay to use slurs.

and much more.

Deep Dive Into Dialogue and Dialect header

Deep Dive Into Dialogue and Dialect

Dates: July 10 – August 2
Where: Online
Price: $350
Registration Opens: May 10, 2020

An essential part of creating a character is understanding how that individual speaks or communicates. For writers who are working to create inclusive fiction with diverse characters from races, cultures, and backgrounds different from their own, crafting appropriate dialogue is more than just idealizing and compressing speech to make it seem natural. It may also mean figuring out how to get across the nuances of language, accent, or dialect without Othering or exoticizing characters or the real cultures and identity groups they represent.

In this 3 week craft-focused class we’ll help you sharpen your dialogue skills through lectures, hands-on exercises, and feedback.

A Writers Guide to Research for Fiction

Research Skills for Fiction Writers

Dates: September 4 – 27
Where: Online
Price: $300
Registration Opens: July 1, 2020

Writing great fiction often requires research. Whether you’re a writer who creates whole new worlds or futures, a writer who uses historical settings or events, or a writer crafting characters whose identities or cultures are very different from your own, you need to learn this skill. But if you’ve never formally been taught how to research, you may find it daunting, or think that it’s just for the scholarly, or see research as a never-ending slog.

In fact, research can be an engaging and exciting process–one that every writer can engage in regardless of your academic background. 

In this course, reference librarian Melody Steiner will walk you through the How Tos of research techniques starting with a question you want to answer for your own fiction. Writers will leave this course confident in their understanding of research techniques and will be more comfortable navigating the resources available to them. 

building inclusive worlds heade

Deep Dive Into Building Inclusive Worlds

Dates: October 2 – November 1
Where: Online
Price: $500
Registration Opens: August 1, 2020

Worldbuilding for speculative fiction can be a daunting task; even moreso for authors who want to create inclusive cultures that don’t unconsciously replicate colonialist structures and viewpoints filled with diverse characters that aren’t stereotypes or caricatures. This class offers writers a deep dive into key aspects of building inclusive worlds — Creating Cultures, Ideology, Religion, Cosmology, Sociobiology, Research, and more — with outstanding builders of speculative worlds.

This four week class includes video lectures and interviews plus extensive discussion and Q&A on each topic. Students will leave the class with a deep worldbuilding toolset and resources for further study.

Instructors TBA

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Master Classes

  • Writing Fat Characters with Meg Ellison and Marianne Kirby [Date TBA]
  • Writing Characters with Mental Illnesses with Rachel Swirsky [Date TBA]
  • Writing Bisexual Characters with Rachel Swirsky and JoSelle Vanderhooft [Date TBA]

Price for each class: $100


Horror Writing Workshop with Nino Cipri and Jaymee Goh [Date TBA]


Hollyhock Retreat Center

Writing the Other Retreat @ Hollyhock

Dates: September 11 – 16
Where: Hollyhock Retreat and Learning Center, Cortes Island, British Columbia, Canada
Package Price: $1,150 – $1,190 / 5 nights. Includes tuition, room, all meals, and Hollyhock activities (depends on accommodation choice). Taxes and fees are additional.
Discount: Get 10% off listed prices if you register before Jan 31, 2020.
Scholarships: Full and partial scholarships are available. A $195 refundable deposit is required, please apply within your registration form.
Registration Open

An in-person retreat with Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford on beautiful and remote Cortes Island. This workshop will cover all the core WtO teachings, from creating characters different from yourself to describing “the Other” to dialect to worldbuilding. Beyond the lectures there will also be games, conversations, and fun activities.

The workshop is appropriate for all writers (fiction, plays, graphic novels, screenplays, and games included) from all backgrounds and any skill level. You need an interest in writing, but you do not need to have published anything yet.

Classes by Date

  • Deep Dive Into Diverse Characters | January 31 – February 29
  • Deep Dive Into Description | April 3 – 26
  • Deep Dive Into Dialogue and Dialect | July 10 – August 2
  • Research Skills for Fiction Writers | September 4 – 27
  • Writing the Other Retreat @ Hollyhock | September 11 – 16
  • Deep Dive Into Building Inclusive Worlds | October 2 – November 1


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