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Emotional Truth: Making Character Emotions Real, Powerful, and
Immediate to Readers

Instructor:  Scott H. Andrews
Level:  Intermediate to Advanced
Class Times:  There will be three live class meetings.
Thursday, January 10, 2019
Thursday, January 24, 2019, and
Thursday, February 7, 2019,
7:00 pm-8:30 pm U.S. Eastern Time Zone
Application Deadline:  December 12, 2018
Tuition:  $239.00

For a description of the class, its assignments, requirements, schedule, and a biography of the instructor, see below.

To apply, click here. Note: If you wish to apply for more than one class, you must apply for each class with a separate application.

For more information on Odyssey's Online Classes, click here.

Reactions from Scott H. Andrews's Students

"Scott Andrews did an amazing job of analyzing works with that elusive sense of "spark" and distilling the reasons why certain stories stay with us for life. He provided numerous insights and examples of how Concept, Voice, Emotional Resonance, and Theme contribute to a story that hooks the reader. Additionally, he sourced suggestions from numerous craft books and his own personal experience to provide solid techniques for generating spark within our work.

The most valuable insights of his class, however, could be found in the impeccably detailed critiques that he provided for students' assignments. The general principles emphasized within all his critiques, as well as the specific comments on my work, have changed my writing process. His class has both widened my perspective as an author (looking beyond my initial choices for story), as well as narrowed my focus within scenes (making sure character's emotional reactions are unambiguous, vivid, and clear). While I have a lot of practice ahead to take my writing to the next level, I finally have an understanding of the methods that make certain stories leap off the page."
            —Christine Row

"The "Standing Out" course with Scott Andrews really helped me identify the specific sources of "spark" in a story, and the methods for generating it. Armed with this knowledge, I can more consciously work towards writing narratives that grab a reader, rather than fumbling for that "spark" on intuition."
            —Alexei Collier

"Scott has put together a treasure chest of ideas and exercises to help bridge the gap between "good" and "great" in speculative fiction. Although I feel that I've only scratched the surface of what it takes to excel in writing, Scott's course has definitely helped me on my way. The subject matter is ambitious, but all the more valuable as a result. Overall, a very positive experience."
            —Derrick Boden

Emotional Truth: Making Character Emotions Real, Powerful, and
Immediate to Readers


Course Description:
A hobbit is unable to drop a ring into molten lava. A "fireman" whose job is to burn books watches a woman step into the fire to die with them. A writer's wife discovers that the manuscript her husband has been working on all winter repeats a single line. A lord confesses to a crime to save himself and his family, only to find he has saved no one.

Feel anything? Not yet, because these situations are missing one key element: the emotions of the character.

Reading a great story is, above all, an emotional experience. The characters' emotions draw us in--powerful, immediate, real. We may feel a bond to the character, the character's emotions resonating inside of us. Or we may feel an aversion to the character, the character's emotions generating an opposing reaction inside us.

Line by line, moment by moment, scene by scene, a great story conveys those emotions, creating an authentic and evocative experience.

This course will delve into different techniques to convey character emotions realistically and powerfully on the page, strategies for developing situations and stories with strong potential for emotional resonance, and methods to execute those approaches to make your readers actually feel those emotions.

We'll study

  • The connection between character backstory and motivation and character emotion
  • The importance and role of character reactions
  • Sentence-level techniques to portray emotion authentically, originally, and evocatively
  • Techniques for point-of-view characters and for non-point-of-view characters
  • Common pitfalls in conveying character emotion
  • Different types of storytelling emotions
  • Different ways to create emotion in the reader
  • How to handle multiple emotions, conflicting emotions, and complex emotions
  • How to create emotional situations
  • How to dig deep into your own emotional reservoir
  • Making your character's emotions and the emotional core of your story resonate with your readers
  • Using character emotions to make every page a gripping read

Students will analyze examples, practice techniques, and write or revise scenes.

Students must be ready to hear about the weaknesses in their writing and to work to strengthen them. Students must also be ready to give feedback to their classmates that is both truthful and helpful.

Our goal as a class is to provide a supportive yet challenging, energizing environment that will help students improve their writing.

Each student will have a private meeting with Scott.

The course is intended for writers of fantastic fiction, an umbrella term encompassing fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical realism, and anything in between. Yet character emotion is important in all fiction writing, so fiction writers who focus on other genres could profit from this class and would be welcome. The course will cover issues relevant in middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction.

The course will be most valuable for intermediate or advanced students, since it will assume students already understand the basics of fiction writing.

Students will be required to complete several readings before the course begins. Additional readings may be required after the course begins.

Students will have some homework assigned before the first meeting, and will also be assigned homework during the course.

The first assignment will have a due date of January 9, the day before our initial meeting.

Homework will be assigned on January 10 and January 24, with due dates, respectively, of January 16 and January 30. You will also be required to provide critiques of some of your classmates' work, which will be due on January 23 and February 6. Any student who misses a deadline may be expelled from the class and will receive no refund.

All assignments should be in standard manuscript format and should be submitted as MS Word files (NO .docx FILES) or rich text files.

You should reserve a minimum of 5 hours each week to complete homework.

Assignments will include reading and analyzing assigned texts, critiquing, performing exercises to practice techniques, writing new material, analyzing your previously written material, and revising previously written material. The instructor will return students' homework with his feedback by the day before the next class session.

Students are expected to follow the policies about assignments and class materials in the Odyssey Online Student Handbook.

Students will be required to read a lesson on critiquing before the course begins.

Since we will have only 3 class meetings, attendance at every class is necessary for students to get the most out of this course.

You are expected to attend all classes, except in cases of emergency. In such cases, you should notify the instructor. It is your responsibility to find out what happened in any classes you missed and to complete homework by the deadlines.

Classes will be recorded and made available to students for a limited time. On rare occasions, students' computers do not allow them to access the recordings, so we cannot promise that this will work for you.

Any student who misses more than one class may be expelled from the course and will receive no refund.

It is your responsibility to find out what happened in any classes you missed and to complete homework by the deadlines.

Students are expected to follow the policies set out in the Odyssey Online Student Handbook.

Technical Requirements:
Technical requirements for all Odyssey Online Classes are covered on the Online Classes page.

Tentative Schedule:

January 9: 
Pre-class assignment is due.
January 10: 
First class meeting. Introduction and orientation. General concepts on character emotion, sentence-level techniques for portraying, avoiding common pitfalls and making character emotion feel authentic and evocative. Assignment of homework.
January 16: 
Assignment 1 is due.
January 23: 

Critiques are due. Assignment 1 is returned with Scott's feedback.
January 24: 
Second class meeting. Discussion of homework. Types of character emotions, schemes for conveying them, creating concepts and situations with strong potential for emotional resonance. Student questions. Assignment of homework.
January 31: 
Assignment 2 is due.
February 3: 
Seven students will have private meetings with Scott between 7:00-9:20 PM EST.
February 5: 
Seven students will have private meetings with Scott between 7:00-9:20 PM EST.
February 6: 
Critiques are due. Assignment 2 is returned with Scott's feedback.
February 7: 
Third class meeting. Discussion of homework. Portraying complex emotions, leveraging reader expectations, using character emotions to make every page a gripping read. Student questions. How to continue your progress.


Scott H. Andrews Scott H. Andrews lives in Virginia with his wife, two cats, nine guitars, a dozen overflowing bookcases, and hundreds of beer bottles from all over the world. He writes, teaches college chemistry, and is Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of the six-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online fantasy magazine Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

Scott is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop; his literary short fiction has won a $1000 prize from the Briar Cliff Review, and his genre short fiction has appeared in Space & Time, Crossed Genres, and Ann VanderMeer's Weird Tales.

Scott has taught writing at the Odyssey Workshop, Writefest, and online for Odyssey Online Classes and Cat Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers. He has lectured on short fiction, secondary-world fantasy, editing, magazine publishing, audio podcasting, and beer on dozens of convention panels at multiple Worldcons, World Fantasy conventions, and regional conventions in the Northeast and Midwest. He is a six-time finalist for the World Fantasy Award, and he celebrates International Stout Day at least once a year.

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