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Handbook for Students of Online Classes


The Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of helping writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror to improve their work, through workshops, critiques, podcasts, instructional information, and courses.

Odyssey's Online Classes strive to provide writers with a rigorous and challenging educational experience that will help them take their writing to the next level. To help students improve as much as possible in a short period of time, the classes place significant demands on them and encourage them to strive for excellence. Through lectures, discussions, critiquing, and assignments, Odyssey's Online Classes teach students the tools and techniques they need to improve their writing and guide them in the use of those tools and techniques through truthful and helpful feedback on their work.


Each student is expected to abide by the policies and rules set out in this handbook. Failure to do so may result in the expulsion of the student.

Any questions about the policies and rules should be taken to Director Jeanne Cavelos.

Class Behavior, Attendance, and Assignments

Students are expected to arrive on time for classes, to attend all classes, to complete all assigned work by the deadlines, and to behave in a professional and responsible manner, both in class and outside of it.

Assignments must comply with the length limits provided.

Once students post assignments to the class discussion group, they cannot be revised.

All assignments, unless otherwise noted, should be in Standard Manuscript Format.

Do not include any notes, pleas, requests, or apologies to the class in your assignment.

All critiques should follow the guidelines established in the Critiquing Lesson, which students receive before the course begins, and in class.

Class Materials

Class content, in any format, is for the individual student only. Such content includes handouts, assignments, emails, files, recordings of lectures, and the work of your fellow students. Class content may not be posted, copied, shared, or distributed. The copyright of class content belongs variously to the instructor, to Jeanne Cavelos, or to the Odyssey Writing Workshops.

Class Discussion Groups

Each student needs to join the class discussion group. Students must choose the individual email option when they sign up, so that they will receive all class communications. Students should also designate the discussion group email as an allowed sender, so messages will not be caught in the spam filter.

Because everyone in the class will receive every email sent to the discussion group, we limit emails to those that will enrich the class. We know that many students are taking the class at the same time that they are holding down jobs and dealing with many other responsibilities, so our goal is to make class interactions as focused and effective as possible.

The class discussion group is to be used solely to discuss class content with the instructor and classmates, post assignments, view assignments and handouts, receive class updates, and critique classmates' assignments.

The discussion group should not be used to ask the instructor individual questions, chat with classmates, argue with classmates, or flame classmates.

Students are expected to behave in a professional manner at all times on this group.

When the course is over, the discussion group will remain available, so classmates can stay in touch with each other and encourage each other in their writing efforts. Graduates will also be invited to join two additional discussion groups: OdysseyOnlineDisc, in which graduates of all online classes discuss writing, and OdysseyOnlineCrit, in which graduates exchange critiques. More information on special resources for graduates of Odyssey's Online Classes is here.

Email, Blogging, and Social Networking

Odyssey encourages an atmosphere focused on work, study, and writing. Email and other Internet activity tend to distract from this, so during the class term (the weeks during which the course is held), students are urged to minimize the time spent on email, blogging, social networking, computer games, and non-writing-related Web surfing

Because the classes are demanding and time is short, we ask that students refrain from sending out emails to the whole class. For the same reasons, we ask that students refrain from setting up email lists, email groups, social network groups, or any similar structure that facilitates and encourages electronic communication between multiple students in the class. If you have questions, problems, or a grievance, please contact the instructor or Director Jeanne Cavelos. If you have important information to convey, please give it to the instructor, and she will distribute it to the class. If you have jokes, save them until the class term is over. It's hard enough to keep up with the workload without an inbox full of things that are not related to your writing.

Though we cannot prevent people from blogging during the class term, we strongly discourage it. Blogging takes time away from your class assignments. Blogging can also cause a lot of difficulty and hard feelings in the class, and we ask students to think very carefully, and follow these rules, before posting anything on the Internet during and after the class term.

    • Critiques are meant only for those in the class and not for anyone else. It is not appropriate to describe what anyone said in a critique, or how anyone reacted to a critique. It is not appropriate to quote from a critique, nor to air personal grievances over a critique on the Internet. Critiques are valuable because students feel free to give their honest analysis of the work they critique. Violating the protected atmosphere of the critiques violates the trust of your classmates and can damage the honest evaluation of your work. If you have a problem with a critique, you should go to the instructor to resolve it, rather than vent uselessly to the world.

    • Details of student stories or novels should not be posted on the Internet. You may have just come up with the only original idea left in the universe. You don't want it plastered all over the Internet before you've had a chance to perfect and sell your story.

    • It should go without saying, but posting derogatory descriptions of your fellow students or mocking their writing is unprofessional in the extreme. Just don't.

Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment

Odyssey will not tolerate the harassment of any student or instructor on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability or other unlawful reason. Sexual harassment includes a wide range of behaviors from the actual coercion of sexual relations, to requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, offensive comments, jokes, innuendoes, and other sexually oriented statements and unwelcome emphasizing of sexual identity, when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's performance at work or in the classroom, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment in which to work, live or study. Sexual harassment may be indirect and even unintentional. If you believe you are being harassed, often a clear statement to the person engaging in the offensive behavior is all that is necessary to stop the behavior. You're encouraged to make such a statement, but not required to do so. What you must do is report any harassment immediately to the instructor or to Director Jeanne Cavelos. If you don't do anything about it, then it's not going to get any better. So act immediately.

If you are uncomfortable with someone's behavior but unsure if it qualifies as harassment, please discuss the problem with the instructor or with Jeanne Cavelos.

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Updated Oct 14, 2018
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