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Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction

Class Times:  Wednesday nights for 6 weeks
7 pm-8 pm U.S. Eastern Time Zone
January 6 - February 10, 2010
Applications Accepted:  October 10 - December 10, 2009
Tuition:  $295.00

For a description of the class, its assignments, requirements, and
schedule, see the syllabus below.
To apply, click here.

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

Showing versus Telling in Fantastic Fiction
Instructor: Jeanne Cavelos  Level: Beginner/Intermediate
Phone: (603) 673-6234  Email: jcavelos@odysseyworkshop.org


Class Hours:
Wednesday nights for 6 weeks, 7 pm-8 pm U.S. Eastern Time Zone, from January 6-February 10, 2010.

Course Description:
This course focuses on a key element of fiction writing. Knowing the differences between showing and telling, knowing the subtle degrees of showing and telling, knowing when to show and when to tell, knowing the various techniques for showing--all these are critical for strong writing. The skillful manipulation of showing and telling can make settings vivid, bring characters to life, put the reader in the middle of the action, and convey powerful emotions.

We will study examples of the successful and unsuccessful use of showing and telling. We'll also discuss the special necessity of showing in fantastic fiction, and the challenges of doing so. Students will practice showing and telling, will study works they love for examples of showing and telling, and will rewrite a section of their own work, putting these techniques into practice. Students will also comment on their classmates' work, and revise their work in response to feedback.

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

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

The course is intended for writers of fantastic fiction, which is an umbrella term I use to cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical realism, and anything in between. Many of the examples we discuss will be taken from fantastic fiction. Yet the issue of skillfully controlling showing and telling is important in all fiction writing, so fiction writers who focus on other genres could profit from this class and would be welcome.

Work will be assigned at each lecture session and must be completed and uploaded to the class Yahoogroup by the due dates. Any student who misses more than one 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.

Assignments will include reading, writing exercises, critiquing, and revising your fiction. You should reserve a minimum of 3 hours per week to complete the assignments.

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

Since we will have only 6 classes, 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 me.

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 make up any work.

Two late arrivals will be counted as an absence.

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:

Week 1
Introduction and orientation. Discussion of critiquing guidelines. What exactly is showing and what is telling? Why is this important?

Week 2
Discussion of homework. Choosing significant details. How much should you show and how much should you tell? Deciding when to show and when to tell. Degrees of showing.

Week 3
Discussion of homework. Techniques for showing. Similes and metaphors in showing and telling. The difficulties of showing in fantastic fiction.

Week 4
Discussion of homework. Different methods of showing characters' emotions.

Week 5
Discussion of homework. Designing a scene to show key aspects of your character or world.

Week 6
Discussion of homework. How you can tell the reader one thing and simultaneously show him something else. Assessing your progress and the challenges you still face concerning showing and telling. How to continue your progress.

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Updated Oct 16, 2009
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