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Writing in Scenes

Instructor:  Nancy Kress
Level:  Beginner/Intermediate
Class Times:  There will be two class meetings.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011 and
Wednesday, February 23, 2011,
7:00 pm-8:30 pm U.S. Eastern Time Zone
Application Deadline:  January 10, 2011
Tuition:  $229.00

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.

Writing in Scenes


Course Description:
For award-winning author Nancy Kress, one principle made all the difference in her writing, transforming it from promising but unsalable to compelling and published. That one principle was writing in scenes. Nancy is now willing to share her secret in this unique mini-course. She will explain how to determine the purpose and shape of a scene. She'll discuss the five modes of expression used in a scene, how to find the optimal balance between these five modes for a particular scene, and the importance of dialogue as the heart of almost all scenes. Nancy will explain the critical role of the "surround" in determining meaning, developing viewpoint, evoking vivid images, and creating tension in a scene. She'll show how the choice of viewpoint determines the emotional impact of a scene. She'll discuss strong ways to open scenes, strong ways to end scenes, information you should know before writing your scene, and methods to get the most out of revising your scene. She'll also discuss the special challenges of writing science fiction, fantasy, and horror in scenes. Students will study and discuss examples, perform exercises to practice techniques, and write a new scene that incorporates all the concepts discussed.

Students must be ready to hear about the weaknesses in their writing and to work to strengthen them.

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

The course is intended for writers of fantastic fiction, an umbrella term encompassing fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical realism, and anything in between. Yet the concept of writing in scenes is important in all fiction writing, so fiction writers who focus on other genres could profit from this class and would be welcome.

Homework will be assigned at the first session on February 9 and must be completed and turned in by February 16. Any student who misses the 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 2003 files, rich text files, or ascii files.

You should reserve a minimum of 3 hours per week to complete the assignments.

Nancy Kress will return your homework with her critique by February 23.

Students are expected to follow guidelines about postings to the Yahoogroup in the Odyssey Online Student Handbook.

Since we will have only 2 class meetings, attendance at every class is necessary for you 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 Jeanne Cavelos.

There is no method for making up any missed classes.

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 here.

Tentative Schedule:

February 9: 

First class meeting. Introduction and orientation. Discussion of major concepts. Study and discussion of examples. Students perform an in-class writing exercise. The homework, to write a scene incorporating these concepts, will be assigned.
February 16: 
Homework is due.
February  23: 

Second class meeting. Discussion of more advanced concepts. Study and discussion of more examples, including examples from student work. How to further incorporate these concepts into your work and continue your progress. Homework is returned with Nancy's critiques and suggestions.

Nancy Kress Nancy Kress is the author of twenty-six books: three fantasy novels, sixteen SF novels, four collections of short stories, and three books on writing fiction. She is perhaps best known for the "Sleepless" trilogy that began with Beggars in Spain. The novel was based on a Nebula- and Hugo-winning novella of the same name; the series then continued with Beggars and Choosers and Beggars Ride. The trilogy explores questions of genetic engineering, social structure, and what society's "haves" owe its "have-nots." In 2008 three Kress books were published: a collection of short stories, Nano Comes to Clifford Falls and Other Stories (Golden Gryphon Press), and two novels, Steal Across the Sky (Tor) and Dogs (Tachyon).

Kress's short fiction has won three Nebulas and a Hugo, and her novel Probability Space won the 2003 John W. Campbell Award. Her work has been translated into eighteen languages. She lives in Rochester, New York, with the world's most spoiled toy poodle.

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Updated Oct 17, 2010
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