Deep Dive Into Description

Deep Dive Into Description 2020 header

When: April 3 – 26, 2020
Where: Online — Available everywhere and at your own pace
Price: $350
Register Now

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, authors Nisi Shawl and K. Tempest Bradford dive deep into these language and description pitfalls…and how to avoid them! Nisi and Tempest 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 more…

Through lectures, short writing exercises, and feedback from students and teachers, writers will come away from the class knowing how to avoid descriptions that unwittingly reveal or perpetuate bias and oppression. Even after the class is over, students will have access to a plethora of resources for further study and practice, as well as the Writing the Other Sensitivity Reader Database.

Who Should Take This Class?

Prose writers of all genres — Literary, YA, Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Children’s Books, Romance — at any point in their career from newbie to professional. This class is designed so that any writer who wants to write inclusive fiction well will find it beneficial.

Course Format and Time Commitment

The class does not have set meeting times. You can access lectures, other class materials, and group discussions at any time from anywhere in the world as long as you have an Internet connection. All class discussions will take place in a private online forum and all class work is done on Google Drive. 

The time commitment each week will depend on your level of participation. The bulk of the class consists of discussion and writing exercises. Most exercises will take less than 20 minutes to complete, and not all of them will be turned in for feedback. Discussion threads tend to be wide-ranging, so students should try to check in at least once a day or every other day and set aside up to half an hour for participation. You may manage your time as needed based on your own schedule. 

Required Texts

Please acquire the following books before class begins.


The class takes place in a private WordPress forum with a theme designed for accessibility. Homework files will be available through Google Drive. The class mailing list will be through Google Groups. All of these services are accessible to students using screen readers.

If you have questions about potential needs, or if there are any other ways we can make a class accessible for you, please contact us before registering and we’ll answer within 24 hours.

Other than a computer, the only other technical requirement for the class is a Google account. If you don’t have one, you can create a free one just for this class.

Payment Plans, Financial Aid, and Scholarship Opportunities

If you can pay for the class but need to pay in installments we have payment plans available. Requirements:

  1. You must be able to pay at least $50 to secure your spot in the class.
  2. You must be able to pay in full by March 29th, 2020.

If you meet these two criteria, please email to register. 

If you do not have the financial means to pay for all or part of the registration cost for this class, we encourage you to apply for a Vonda N. McIntyre Sentient Squid Scholarship. We offer full and partial scholarships and have a broad definition of financial need that ranges from writers who do not have the money at all to writers who have the funds but can’t afford to use them for a writing class. Please don’t hesitate to apply wherever you exist on that spectrum.

If you can afford to pay for part but not all of the class, please apply for a partial scholarship. Under this financial aid plan you can pay any amount, but we do request that you pay at least $50.

If you cannot afford to pay at all, please apply for a full scholarship. (Still not sure whether you should apply? Read this post.)

To do so, please fill out this form by 11:59PM Pacific March 18, 2020. [DEADLINE EXTENDED] You’ll be asked to provide:

  • A brief (300 or fewer words) statement of financial need.
  • A brief (500 or fewer words) description of a work or works in progress that you hope the class will help you write.
  • A writing sample of 1000 or fewer words. This can be an excerpt from a longer work or flash fiction, from something published or unpublished, as long as it represents what you feel is your best work.
  • If you identify as a Person of Color, Native American, or First Nations, you may indicate that if you wish, though it’s not a requirement. (We set aside some scholarship spots specifically for students who identify as POC or Native, though we do not limit the number of scholarships we’ll give to POC or Native applicants.)

Deadline EXTENDED!: 11:59PM Pacific March 18, 2020. We will notify all applicants of their standing by March 22nd. If you have any questions, please use our contact form to ask!

Refund Policy

If you find that you need to drop the class, you may do so by contacting our GMail or emailing via the website.

If you drop by March 3rd, 2020, you will receive a full refund minus a service fee.

If you drop by March 8th, you will receive an 80% refund minus a service fee plus a chance to enroll in future Writing the Other Master Classes at a discount before general tickets go on sale.

If you drop by March 15th, you will receive a 40% refund minus a service fee plus a chance to enroll in future Writing the Other Master Classes at a discount before general tickets go on sale.

If you drop on March 22nd or after you will not have your registration fee refunded. However, you will be able to enroll in a future class for a discount.

Register Below

If you have a discount or code to access tickets, please click “Enter Promotional Code” in the box below before you begin the registration process.