2021 Writing the Other Class Schedule

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Core Classes

Note: Dates subject to change.

Research Skills for Fiction Writers

Research Skills for Fiction Writers

Dates: April 2-25, 2021
Where: Online
Price: $150
Registration Ended

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.

deep dive intensive - creating diverse characters

Deep Dive Intensive: Creating Diverse Characters

Dates: June 12 – 20, 2021
Where: Online
Price: $200 – $300
Registration Ended

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 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 Intensive Description header

Deep Dive Intensive: Description

Dates: August 14 – 22, 2021
Where: Online
Price: $150 – $250
Registration Open

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 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

CANCELLED: Deep Dive Intensive: Dialogue, Dialect, and Narrative Voice

Dates: September 18 – 26, 2021
Where: Online
Price: $150 – $250

Unfortunately, we have to cancel this year’s class. Please join our announcement mailing list to get a notification when we give it again in 2022.

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 craft-focused class we’ll help you sharpen your dialogue skills and show you how to apply those same skills to the narrative voice. We’ll analyze ways familiar and unfamiliar cultural assumptions are embedded in texts and talk about alternative techniques for conveying difference via voice–yours and your characters’.

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Webinars, Workshops, and New Classes

Cultural Appropriation - What It Is and How To Avoid It

Cultural Appropriation: What It Is & How To Avoid It | Webinar

Date: April 10, 2021, 10AM – 2PM Pacific Time
Where: Online via Zoom video conference
Price: $20 – $30 or Whatever You Can Afford
Registration Ended

Most writers want to avoid Cultural Appropriation but worry that they don’t fully understand what it is or how to ensure their work does not include it. They wonder what the difference is between appropriation and exchange or between appropriation and influence. And they hope avoiding cultural appropriation doesn’t mean only writing stories about people from their same race, culture, or ethnic group.

In this 4 hour webinar, authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford will offer concrete answers to those questions and a set of resources to help authors navigate these tricky waters. The webinar includes two short lectures and a lengthy Q&A.

are you my ally

Are You My Ally? A Webinar for Writers and Creators

Date: May 1, 2021 – 10AM – 1PM Pacific Time
Where: Online via Zoom video conference
Price: $20 – $30 or Whatever You Can Afford
Registration Ended

Got privilege? Want to know what it’s good for? Want to make use of your advantages without insulting those who may not share them? There are so many ways creative people can help each other. With suggestions ranging from practical tips to aspirational dreams, this seminar empowers would-be allies to support Black creatives and #ownvoices work plus boost the presence of marginalized genius.

In the lecture portion of this three hour webinar, authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford will offer real-life examples, general guidance, and a host of resources to help creativity workers walk their talk. The webinar concludes with an hour of Q & A.

Charting Your Character's Arc Webinar and Workshop

Charting Your Character’s Arc Webinar and Workshop

Webinar: July 17, 2021 — 9AM – 3:30PM Pacific
Workshop (Optional): July 18, 2021, — 9AM – 4PM Pacific
Where: Online via Zoom video conference
Price: $75 – $275
Registration Ended

Riveting, evocative storytelling hinges on the choices your characters make. These pivotal choices are not necessarily the high action moments in your plot, but they are the moments that define who your character is and becomes. By charting a handful of critical moments of choice in your story, by examining the pressures and risks at each moment, by taking into account how your character’s identities inform their actions, and by understanding deeply how your character pushes against their history and environment at each step, you can create a powerful mini-outline. This character arc outline can empower you to ask more strategic questions about your plot, pacing, sequence of scenes, your dramatic tension, what clues you provide the reader and when, and about your character’s agency, identity, and journey.

In this webinar, author Stant Litore will walk through how to chart your character arc in a way that allows you to use that arc as a potent tool for revision. By the end you will be in a better position to identify where you’ve left gaps, where you’ve taken too long, and where there are additional opportunities for both nuance and suspense in your character’s journey as they struggle to become (or remain) who they need to be.

In the workshop portion, writers will get the opportunity to share and refine their character arc with peers and with one of our esteemed workshop leaders.

The Heroine's Journey

The Heroine’s Journey – A Webinar with Gail Carriger

Date: September 11, 2021, 10AM – 5PM Pacific Time
Where: Online via Zoom video conference
Price: $50 – $75
Registration Open

We’ve all heard about the Hero’s Journey, but how often do we hear about the Heroine’s Journey, Western culture’s other prominent story structure?

In this webinar, New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger provides a full break down of what aspects of the heroine’s journey make for compelling narratives and voracious readers, where these elements originate, why they’re successful, and how to write them. She’ll help you take control of story structure by delving behind the scenes for hidden messages and gain insight into under-studied narrative conventions and modern publishing markets.

After this webinar you’ll have the tools to craft narrative beats, steps to write a compelling journey, and an understanding of why these are appealing based on history and mythology. You’ll also gain an understanding of why genre fiction (and romance in particular) is dismissed, vilified, and disregarded, and how to combat this negative stereotyping.

You’ll leave with a solid and powerful alternate model to the overused and chronically discussed Hero’s Journey that is guaranteed to have you looking at and discussing plot structure in pop culture differently for the rest of your life.

Diverse Relationships

POSTPONED: Crafting Diverse Relationships: Family and Friends, Lovers and Life Partners

Dates: October 1 – 24, 2021 Postponed to 2022
Where: Online
Price: TBD

Full description coming.

Instructors: Piper J. Drake, Jacqueline Koyanagi, and Lauren Jankowski

Interested in our classes but can’t afford them? We offer full and partial scholarships or a Pay What You can Afford option for EVERY class. Application directions are included on the class registration page and also in the announcement emails from our mailing list.


Hollyhock Retreat Center

POSTPONED: Writing the Other Retreat @ Hollyhock

Dates: September 30 – October 4, 2021 Postponed to 2022
Where: Hollyhock Retreat and Learning Center, Cortes Island, British Columbia, Canada
Package Price: TBD

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

  • Research Skills for Fiction Writers | April 2-25
  • Cultural Appropriation: What It Is & How To Avoid It Webinar | April 10
  • Are You My Ally? A Webinar for Writers and Creators | May 1
  • Deep Dive Intensive: Diverse Characters | June 12 – 20
  • Charting Your Character’s Arc Webinar and Workshop | July 17 – 18
  • Deep Dive Intensive: Description | August 14 – 22
  • The Heroine’s Journey – A Webinar with Gail Carriger | September 4


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