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Odyssey Writing Workshop

  Next Workshop:  June 1 through July 10, 2020  
Next Deadlines:  Early Action Application Deadline—Jan. 31, 2020
Regular Application Deadline—April 1, 2020
Details for the 2020 workshop will be posted in early November.
They will be similar to those for the 2019 workshop, which you can read about below.
To receive the latest updates, sign up for our free e-newsletter.

Odyssey Slide Show

A Message from Jeanne Cavelos, Director, on the 2018 Workshop:


Since its inception in 1996, the Odyssey Writing Workshop has become one of the most highly respected workshops for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror in the world. Top authors, editors and agents have served as guests at Odyssey. 59% of graduates have gone on to be professionally published. Among Odyssey's graduates are New York Times bestsellers, Amazon bestsellers, and award winners. The workshop, held annually on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, runs for six weeks, and combines an intensive, advanced curriculum with in-depth feedback on students' manuscripts. College credit is available upon request.

class in session Odyssey is for developing writers whose work is approaching publication quality and for published writers who want to improve their work. Those who attend must be ready to put aside all their other concerns and make a single-minded effort to improve their writing. This is a serious, demanding program. I'm constantly told by graduates that they learned more at Odyssey than they learned in years of workshopping and creative writing classes. You should not apply unless you are ready to hear about the weaknesses in your writing and ready to work to overcome them. Class meets for over 4½ hours, 5 days a week, and students use afternoons, evenings, and weekends to write, critique each other's work, and complete other class assignments. Students spend at least 8 hours on "homework" each weekday and 12 hours per day on the weekend. You should come prepared to write new material, either short stories or novel chapters. After the first two weeks, you will not be able to submit anything that was written before the workshop began, unless you have radically revised it since arriving at Odyssey. The only way to improve is to write new material that incorporates what you have learned.

You can find videos of Odyssey graduates describing their experiences here and here.

Jeanne Cavelos Odyssey is the only program of its kind run by an editor. I was a senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where I won the World Fantasy Award for my editing, and I serve as primary instructor at the workshop. Half of our class time is spent on lectures, writing exercises, and discussions. In my lectures, I provide an advanced, comprehensive curriculum, covering the elements of fiction writing in depth. To improve your writing, you need to understand the various tools and techniques writers can use to create a strong story. Many workshops, unfortunately, offer only brief, superficial lectures. We study some of the most beautiful and powerful writing in the field to gain understanding of what these tools can do when wielded with skill. I also explain the common failings of developing writers and how to avoid those pitfalls. You need to be open to learning and trying new techniques to strengthen your writing.

The other half of our class time is spent workshopping student stories. In critiquing stories, I give the same unflinchingly honest, concrete, detailed feedback that I provided as a senior editor. My typewritten critiques average over 1,500 words each, and my handwritten line edits on manuscripts are extensive. Everyone in the class learns to become a top-notch critiquer, providing insightful feedback on your work. Workshopping sessions are designed to maximize their helpfulness. You will not be coddled, and you will not be attacked. You will learn how to improve your writing and gain insight into why a story might or might not sell to a publisher. Anyone interested in applying should read "Workshopping at Odyssey" by David J. Schwartz, class of '96.

student at work Since I've worked with many writers over the course of my career, I understand that each writer works differently, so I also work individually with students. Over the six weeks, I chart each student's progress in a series of private meetings, where we discuss personal strengths and weaknesses. We target those weaknesses one by one and work to conquer them. The workshop is limited to fifteen students so that each student can receive significant individual guidance.

Guest lecturers come in once a week, for about a 24-hour period, to add their own unique insights and perspectives, and to give students feedback on their work. Lecturers for the 2019 workshop include some of the best teachers in the field: bestselling authors Holly Black and Sara King, award-winning authors Nisi Shawl and Fran Wilde; highly praised author/editor Paul Witcover, and award-winning editor/publisher Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld Magazine. We'll also have agent Joshua Bilmes, president of the renowned JABberwocky Literary Agency, and award-winning editor/publisher Scott H. Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skies as virtual guests via Skype.

Those who apply by January 31 will be considered for early action. We created the possibility of early action to help those who, if admitted, need several months to arrange their affairs before the workshop begins. Applicants will be notified by February 28 whether they have been admitted under the high standards of early action or whether their applications will be held over for consideration for regular admission. Those who apply by the regular application deadline of April 1 will be informed of their status by May 1.

Prospective students must apply and include a 4,000-word writing sample by April 1.
Note: We must receive your application by April 1. This is not a "postmark" date.

Benedict Court Odyssey is funded in part by donations made by graduates, grantors and other supporters, and in part by the fees students pay. To help you budget your money, here is a review of the costs associated with attending Odyssey. The application fee is $40. Tuition is $2060. All students are required to purchase a custom textbook with readings, which costs $195. If you would like to receive college credit, there is an additional processing fee of $1000. It is strongly recommended that students stay in Saint Anselm College apartments to get the full Odyssey experience. These apartments are in Benedict Court (#25 on the campus map). Each apartment has 2 bedrooms and can house a total of 2 to 3 people (with each bedroom holding 1 or 2 students). The cost to share a bedroom in an apartment for six weeks is $892. The cost to have your own bedroom in an apartment is $1784. Note that most students will be housed in single rooms. The apartments are equipped with kitchens, so you may buy and prepare your own food, which is a money-saving option, or you may eat at the college's Coffee Shop or Dining Hall. Food on campus is reasonably priced. Students should budget roughly $600-$700 for food for the six weeks. Wireless internet access and use of laundry facilities are provided at no cost. Students with cars will receive a campus parking permit.

students studying The tuition and housing costs quoted above are the discounted rates for US students paying by check or money order, and for international students paying by bank draft in US dollars.

Students have the additional option of paying both tuition and housing through PayPal which allows you to charge the costs on a credit card. Those using PayPal need to pay the full rates, which are about 4% higher.

For those interested in financial aid, several scholarships and one work/study position are available.

Bestselling author George R. R. Martin is funding a horror-writing scholarship for a student attending Odyssey. The Miskatonic Scholarship will be awarded to a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. It will cover full tuition, textbook, and housing. A separate application is required to demonstrate financial need. A panel of three judges will select the winner from among the applicants who have demonstrated financial need, using the short story or novel excerpts sent with the workshop applications. As George notes, "we are not looking for Lovecraft pastiches, nor even Cthulhu Mythos stories. References to Arkham, Azathoth, shoggoths, the Necronomicon, and the fungi from Yuggoth are by no means obligatory...though if some candidates choose to include them, that's fine as well. What we want is the sort of originality that H. P. Lovecraft displayed in his day, something that goes beyond the tired tropes of werewolves, vampires and zombies, into places strange and terrifying and never seen before. What we want are nightmares new and resonant and profound, cosmic terrors that will haunt our dreams for years to come." Contact me for the Mistakonic application, which is due April 1.

study group Odyssey graduate Sara King is sponsoring the Parasite Publications Character Awards to provide financial assistance to three character-based writers wishing to attend this summer's Odyssey Writing Workshop. The Parasite Publications Character Awards, three scholarships in the amounts of $2,060 (full tuition), $500, and $300, will be awarded to the three members of the incoming class who are deemed extraordinarily strong character writers, creating powerful, emotional characters that grab the reader and don't let go. Judges will base their decision on the quality of the short story or novel excerpts sent with the applications; no separate application is required. The decision of the judges will be final. Scholarship monies will be applied directly to tuition for the 2019 workshop.

New this year, the Chris Kelworth Memorial Scholarship will be offered to a Canadian writer admitted to Odyssey. Chris, a 2013 Odyssey graduate, was an inspiration to many Odyssey alumni and a strong believer in creating systems and participating in events to increase his productivity, such as setting goals, attending workshops, and participating in NaNoWriMo. This scholarship, funded by alumni and friends of Chris, will cover $900 of tuition. A separate application is required and due April 1. Contact me for the application.

group in class Applicants from the New York Metropolitan Area (including New Jersey) who are accepted into Odyssey are eligible to apply for a scholarship from the Donald A. and Elsie B. Wollheim Memorial Scholarship Fund. This fund was created in 1989 by the New York Science Fiction Society--the Lunarians, one of New York's oldest and largest science fiction and fantasy clubs, to help developing writers attend major science fiction/fantasy writing programs affiliated with higher institutions of learning. The amount of the scholarship is variable depending on need and the availability of funds. Scholarship monies will be applied directly to tuition for the 2019 workshop. If you are accepted into Odyssey and would like to pursue this possibility, contact me immediately upon your acceptance.

picnic table If you write horror, you are eligible for one or both of the scholarships the Horror Writers Association offers, each worth $2,500, which can be applied toward Odyssey tuition and housing.

Since Odyssey is a member of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, those accepted into Odyssey can apply for AWP's three Kurt Brown Prizes, scholarships of $500 each for emerging writers. Applications are accepted from December 1 to March 30.

One work/study position is also available. The work/study student spends about six hours per week performing duties for Odyssey, such as photocopying, sending stories to guests, distributing mail to students, and preparing for guest visits. Odyssey reimburses $800 of the work/study student's tuition.

The work/study student will be expected to fulfill the regular requirements of Odyssey in addition to these duties. This will make for a very demanding six weeks, but for a student who needs the financial assistance, the work/study position offers a good opportunity. Contact me for more details and a special work/study application. Work/study applications are due April 30.

Saint Anselm College We're very fortunate to be able to hold Odyssey on the campus of Saint Anselm College. The 2019 rankings of the Princeton Review placed Saint Anselm among the top colleges and universities in the nation for best campus food (#8) and happiest students (#6). Odyssey students love the Coffee Shop, the peaceful, beautiful grounds, and the friendly, efficient staff. Saint Anselm is one of the finest liberal arts colleges in the country, dedicated to excellence in education, and its campus provides a beautiful setting and high-quality facilities for the workshop.

writers in development I love working with developing writers, helping them to realize their potential and make their work the best it can be. My experiences over Odyssey's twenty-three previous years have been incredible. Talented writers of all ages, some already published, have come from all across the US, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Spain, France, Germany, Israel, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore, and embarked on this epic journey of discovery with me. I've watched students make major breakthroughs during the six weeks, and I've followed their progress after the workshop as they've submitted their work, piled up the rejection slips, made sales, and built wonderful writing careers for themselves.

support to writers Odyssey provides a supportive yet challenging, energizing environment for authors. Attending the workshop is a great way to focus on your writing, giving it the time and attention it needs. If you'd like to spend six weeks hanging out and partying with people who love fantasy, science fiction, and horror, please don't apply to Odyssey. It's not for you. If you'd like to dedicate all your energy for six weeks on improving your writing, and collapse with exhaustion on the last day, I hope you'll apply. Odyssey is for you.

If you'd like to know what Odyssey students thought about the workshop, visit the Class of 2017 page (our Class of 2018 page is still under construction). You can also read the personal accounts of Odyssey graduates here.

Please check out the Frequently Asked Questions page about the Workshop. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact me.

If you want help improving your writing but applying to a six-week program isn't a practical option, or you feel you aren't yet ready to apply, or you'd like a taste of the Odyssey experience to see if it's right for you, we offer several other possibilities.

The Odyssey Critique Service allows you to receive professional-level feedback on your writing. You may submit several stories or chapters, or an entire novel.

Odyssey's Online Classes provide a great way to improve your writing skills from home. Each class is focused on a particular element of fiction writing and is designed for writers at a particular skill level, from beginners to professionals.

To provide you with maximum flexibility in your learning experience, Odyssey now offers webinars. You can view the recording at your convenience.

For those feeling discouraged, blocked, overwhelmed, or unable to maintain a consistent writing schedule, Odyssey offers coaching. And you can try it out with a complementary 60-minute session.

Finally, if you'd like help with a specific writing problem, you may find an Odyssey Consultation helpful.

Our site also provides a variety of free resources to help you build your writing skills. You can find a review of these resources on our home page. Our mission is to help you improve your writing, so I hope you'll find some of these programs and resources useful.

In 2010, Odyssey became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Odyssey Writing Workshops Charitable Trust. Please consider supporting Odyssey's mission to help writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror improve their work by making a donation. All donations are tax deductible.

To receive the latest updates on all Odyssey programs, sign up for our free e-newsletter.

In the meantime, I hope you'll find this site a useful resource for your writing.

Best wishes!

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This page modified Oct 17, 2019
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