Tag Archives: writers’ workshop

WisCon 40 Writers’ Workshop — Announcing our fan fic special workshops

Marianne Kirby/The Rotund
Writers’ Workshop

Hey, fan fic writers! Have you considered the WisCon Writers’ Workshop but been put off by the requirement for original fiction? Are you interested in having conversations about the craft of writing fic? Do you want to connect with other fans who love it just as much as you do?

The WisCon Writers’ Workshop is so very pleased to offer a trio of workshops designed especially for folks who write fan fic. Unlike the workshops we’ve held in previous years, these sessions explicitly address the unique needs of fic writers, without anyone ever having to have a conversation about whether or not fan fic is legitimate. (Because, uh, OF COURSE it is.)

This year is your time. Fan fic facilitators Jackie Gross (ladyjax), Jess Adams (raanve), and Dira Sudis will be leading sections especially — and uniquely — designed for fic writers.

To sign up for a workshop section:

  • Simply email workshop@wiscon.net
  • Indicate which workshop you’d like.
  • Email by April 25 (11:59pm Central Time)!!

Two sections — restarting your fic and exploring tropes — do not require you to prepare a manuscript.  Just email us and we’ll sign you up — that’s it!

The beta reading section does require that you attach a 10k-or-less manuscript to your email.  To prepare your manuscript, please follow the guidelines on the main Writers’ Workshop page.

If you have any questions, email workshop@wiscon.net ASAP!

Each section is capped at four (4!) participants and is first come, first served!

Restart that fic!

Got an old fic that you love but that you just can’t seem to make any progress on? Jackie will be helping people figure out where the love went, where the fire went out, where the momentum was lost. Restart those abandoned fic projects with Jackie! You’ll need to send in your stalled work ahead of time, by the April 25th Workshop submission deadline.


Are you a fiend for a coffee shop AU? (I know I am.) Do you lose your inhibitions when contemplating sex pollen? Jess will help people explore how certain tropes can be used to reveal and explore character. No previously written manuscript will be required but you’ll still need to sign up by April 25th!

Beta reading

Finally, because what fic-focused workshop would be complete without an opportunity for folks to get some beta reading done, Dira Sudis will lead writers in a beta reading roundtable to make sure your fic is polished before you post it. Submissions should be ‘No Archive Warnings Apply’ and should not be heavily dependent on intricate knowledge of canon. You’ll need to send your 10k-or-less manuscript in by the deadline of April 25 to make sure everyone has time to read and prepare comments.

Workshop leaders

Who are these amazing fan facilitators? If you don’t already know them from your favorite fandom, check out their bios:

Jackie (aka ladyjax/LadyJ) lives in the Bay Area with the most awesome wife and cat.  She’s written fic for Space: Above and Beyond, Stargate Atlantis, Glee, Criminal Minds, and Leverage, among others. Rumors of the existence of a Twilight pastiche called “Sweet Potato Dusk” are totally untrue.

(Workshop department lead note: Jackie is lying about that “Sweet Potato Dusk” thing — it does exist. And it is MAGICAL.)

Known as raanve everywhere there’s an internet, Jess Adams is a teacher, writer, and fan from southwest Ohio. She holds a BA in creative writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and an MA in Composition & Rhetoric from Wright State University. Jess is the author of such MCU fanworks as “The Finest Organic Suspension Ever Devised” and Arthuriana fics as “Into Exile.”  She’s also a First-Year Composition instructor at a community college, so don’t think you’re going to get away with not reading the syllabus.

Dira is originally from Michigan (if you ask her which town, she will point to the location on her right hand) and after several years in Wisconsin she has just recently relocated to Chicagoland. Very recently. There is probably still unpacking awaiting her after the con, don’t ask about it.

Dira has been writing stories since she can remember, and has been publishing fanfic, mostly slash, for her entire adult life. She has accumulated influences ranging from her mom’s collection of Christian inspirational romance novels to 2am shame-browsing on AO3 kink tags and everything in between.

You can tell which character in a story is her favorite because he’s the one who all the really, really terrible things happen to, but of course she’s only mean to fictional people. Of course.

Special sections change from year to year — there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to run these sections in the future. Don’t miss out!

WisCon 40 Writers’ Workshop — Announcing our Comics Writing and Video Game Writing special workshops

Marianne Kirby/The Rotund
Writers’ Workshop

Critique sessions are awesome — but this year the WisCon Writers’ Workshop is shaking things up a little bit with craft workshops. Each craft workshop will focus on introducing a new skill — or a completely new format for your fantastical world creations. This year, we’re rolling out two special sections: Comics Writing and Video Game Writing.

To sign up for a workshop section:

  • Simply email workshop@wiscon.net
  • Indicate which workshop you’d like.
  • Email by April 25 (11:59pm Central Time)!!

The Comics Writing and Video Game Writing workshops do not require that you submit a manuscript. Just email us and we’ll sign you up — that’s it!

If you have any questions, email workshop@wiscon.net ASAP!

Each section is capped at eight (8!) participants, and both are first come, first served!

Comics Writing

If you’ve ever wondered how to break into the comics industry, this Comics Writing workshop is for you. Pro writer Mikki Kendall will be tackling writing for comics as a general topic. She’s going to cover everything from scripting to pitching, and then she’ll review protecting your rights so that you’re never left out in the cold when it comes to your own work. You won’t need a finished manuscript for this how-to session, where you’ll do some exercises, learn some of the business, and leave with a valuable chunk of insider knowledge.

Mikki has some surprises up her sleeve for everyone, too. No comics writing experience is required, and you’ll receive any information about what to bring to the workshop from Mikki before the workshop.

Video Game Writing

Are video games more your speed? If you love the feel of a controller in your hand then you’ll want to sign up for Ceri Young’s Video Game Writing workshop. Ceri will not only teach you about scripting and pitching a story in the video game world, she’ll review a basic rundown of how games work and how to apply that knowledge to game design. You won’t need a finished manuscript for this how-to session either. Instead, you’ll brainstorm ideas and leave with a framework for how game mechanics would fit that story.

Ceri has presented at GeekGirlCon in the past, to rave reviews. No video game writing experience is required, and you’ll hear about anything needed for your session directly from Ceri before the workshop meets.

Workshop leaders

Who are these amazing group leaders? Check out their bios!

Mikki Kendall is a writer who lives in Chicago. She is an accomplished cultural critic and vibrant Twitter personality. Her comics work includes writing for Swords of Sorrow, Princeless, Paths (a free comic about online harassment — Content Warning for non-graphic depiction of suicide), and a number of original projects. She might try to sell you one of her kids on grocery day.

Patrick aka PDillaTheGreat (aka, Mikki’s assistant during the Comics Writing workshop) has social media accounts that he shuns regularly. He illustrates comics, books, and random buttons for internet shenanigans. Despite claims to the contrary he is actually a figment of our collective imaginations.

Ceri Young has been writing video games for nine years. She currently works at Ubisoft Montreal where she’s worked on titles ranging from “Just Dance 3” to “Prince of Persia” to “Assassin’s Creed.” Most recently, she wrote Evie Frye’s storyline for “Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.” She can be found on Twitter as @toughlovemuse.

Special sections change from year to year — there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to run these sections in the future. Don’t miss out!

WisCon 40 Writers’ Workshop — Announcing the special sections of our critique-based workshops

Marianne Kirby/The Rotund
Writers’ Workshop

Sometimes it can be tough finding someone who understands your genre. That’s why the WisCon Writers’ Workshop is excited to add two very special workshop sections to the critique-based workshop offerings available at WisCon 40 — one focusing on speculative (paranormal / sci fi / fantasy) romance/erotica stories and one focusing on post-colonialist steampunk.

These workshops follow the format of our traditional Writers’ Workshop sessions, so be sure to look over the information on our workshop page so that you’re ready to send in your submission by April 25!

To sign up for a workshop section:

  • Simply email workshop@wiscon.net
  • Attach your manuscript (see next paragraph)
  • Indicate which workshop you’d like.
  • Email by April 25 (11:59pm Central Time)!!

All our critique-based workshops do require that you attach a 10k-or-less manuscript to your email.  To prepare your manuscript, please follow the guidelines on the main Writers’ Workshop page.

If you have any questions, email workshop@wiscon.net ASAP!

Both sections are capped at four (4!) participants and are first-come, first-served!

Speculative (paranormal / sci fi / fantasy) romance/erotica

Do you like your romance with a stroke of the other worldly? Love your urban fantasy with a generous touch of something sexy? Elizabeth Reeve will be leading a Workshop section focused on the needs of writers of paranormal/sci fi/fantasy romance/erotica. It’s time to show your manuscript some love that includes sex scenes. Particular emphasis will be placed on finding a balance between romantic/erotic elements and speculative elements, all of which advance your plot. Word choice will also be discussed so that your sex scenes make people laugh for all the right reasons. As a bonus, Elizabeth will discuss finding resources for finding publishers.

Be advised, this workshop section requires you to be comfortable reading material that will be sexually explicit to varying degrees.

You’ll need to send in your manuscript of 10k or less (either a short story or novel excerpt) by the April 25th submission deadline.

Post-colonialist steampunk

Are you in love with the intersection of history and speculative fiction, powered by fantastical technologies that never were but should have been? The gears of fortune are turning in your favor then because steampunk postcolonialist Jaymee Goh will be leading a Workshop section devoted to steampunk. This workshop will be especially useful for and welcoming to people who do not center white Western narratives in their steampunk universes.

Preference will be given to writers of color or those with other often marginalized voices. The Workshop regrets that it may not be able to accommodate all applicants to this specific section; however, space will be provided in one of the other critique-based sections provided all materials are received in a timely fashion. There are four slots available, and you’ll need to send in your 10k or less manuscripts (also either a short story or novel excerpt) by the April 25th deadline, so get your submissions in today!

Workshop leaders

So who are the fantastic group leaders taking charge of these adventures? Check out their bios!

Elizabeth Reeve writes speculative romance and erotica with a comedic bent. She lives in Arizona with her husband, two little boys, and an increasingly disgruntled cat. When she’s not writing — or chasing small children and trying to clean their faces — she likes to read, complain about genre television, and sew amusing animal hats.

Jaymee Goh writes fiction, poetry, and academese. Currently a PhD Candidate at the University of California, Riverside, she has contributed to Tor.com and Racialicious.com and been published in Science Fiction Studies, Strange Horizons, and Stone Telling. She recently co-edited The Sea is Ours: Tales of Steampunk Southeast Asia (Rosarium Publishing).

Special sections change from year to year — there’s no guarantee we’ll be able to run these sections in the future. Don’t miss out!

WisCon 40 Writers’ Workshop — Announcing the leaders for our critique-based workshops

Marianne Kirby/The Rotund
Writers’ Workshop

This year the WisCon 40 Writers’ Workshop is so very proud to announce the following authors and editors who will serve as group leaders for our traditional, critique-based workshops:

Aren’t sure if the critique-based workshop sections are for you? Check out more information (and then sign up by the deadline of April 25th) on our Workshop page! Or check out our other offerings via the blog’s Writers’ Workshop tag!

Aren’t sure who some of our group leaders are? Check out their websites (linked above) and their bios below.

To sign up for a workshop section:

  • Email workshop@wiscon.net
  • Attach your 10k-or-less manuscript (instructions are on the main Writers’ Workshop page)
  • If you have a preference for a workshop leader, please indicate whom
  • Email by April 25 (11:59pm Central Time)!!

If you have any questions, email workshop@wiscon.net ASAP!

Each section is capped at four (4!) participants and is first come, first served!

Our illustrious workshop leaders

Chesya Burke has written and published nearly a hundred fiction pieces and articles within the genres of science fiction, fantasy, noir and horror. Her story collection, “Let’s Play White,” is being taught in universities around the country. In addition, Burke wrote several articles for the African American National Biography in 2008, and Burke’s debut novel, The Strange Crimes of Little Africa, garnered critical praise from writers such as Tananarive Due and Kiese Laymon. Poet Nikki Giovanni compared her writing to that of Octavia Butler and Toni Morrison.

Burke’s thesis was on the comic book character Storm from the X-Men, and her comic, “Shiv,” is scheduled to debut in 2017.

Burke is currently pursuing her PhD in English at University of Florida. She’s Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Charis Books and More, one of the oldest feminist bookstores in the country, and she is co-editor of the upcoming anthology “Hidden Youth.”

Karen Healey writes young adult science fiction and fantasy, including the “When We Wake” duology, The Shattering, and the short stories “Careful Magic” and “Mrs Beeton’s Book Of Magickal Management.” She traces the start of her professional career to the WisCon Writers’ Workshop. She likes sundresses, spies, and women who save the world.

David D. Levine is the author of novel Arabella of Mars (Tor 2016) and over fifty SF and fantasy stories. His story “Tk’Tk’Tk” won the Hugo, and he has been shortlisted for awards including the Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, and Sturgeon. Stories have appeared in Asimov’s, Analog, F&SF, Tor.com, numerous Year’s Best anthologies, and his award-winning collection Space Magic.

David J. Schwartz writes novels, short stories, and essays. His novel Superpowers was nominated for a Nebula Award. His work has appeared in Uncanny Magazine, Asimov’s, The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Paper Cities, and Twenty Epics. He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Delia Sherman writes short stories and novels for adults and young readers. Her most recent short stories have appeared in Jonathan Strahan’s “Under My Hat” and on Tor.com. Her collection of short stories, “Young Woman in a Garden,” was published by Small Beer Press. A middle-grade novel, The Evil Wizard Smallbone, will come out this September from Candlewick Press. She has taught many writing workshops, including Clarion, the Hollins University Program in Children’s Literature, and previous Odysseys. She has also worked in a bookstore and as a contributing editor for Tor Books. She lives in New York City with her wife, Ellen Kushner, and many books, most of which at least one of them has read.

Brit Mandelo is a writer, critic, and editor whose primary fields of interest are speculative fiction and queer literature, especially when the two coincide. They have two books out, Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction and We Wuz Pushed: On Joanna Russ and Radical Truth-telling, and in the past have edited for publications like Strange Horizons Magazine. Other work has been featured in magazines such as Stone Telling, Clarkesworld, Apex, and Ideomancer. They also write regularly for Tor.com and have several long-running column series there, including Queering SFF, a mix of criticism, editorials, and reviews on QUILTBAG speculative fiction.

Writers’ Workshop open to applications for WisCon 40

Writers’ Workshop

Hey authors — yeah, I mean you there with the manuscript of original fiction. Do you know about the WisCon Writers’ Workshop?

Here’s the short version: The WisCon Writers’ Workshop is an opportunity to share your work with a small but dedicated critique group. You and your group members will be led by a pro writer who will also offer feedback.

Here’s the slightly longer version: The WisCon Writers’ Workshop is a unique opportunity to be grouped with other folks who are working in a similar genre and also take it seriously. No one is going to argue with you about the validity of space opera here. Every writing pro is there to coach their group through the critique process and also to provide valuable feedback on the work.

Workshops are currently designed for fiction. Our complete submission requirements (so hot right now) are on our website. We are always happy to offer the potential of a special section of the Workshop for teen writers if there’s sufficient interest. We also offer a section of the workshop for poetry. Please see the link for more information.

This year’s pros include writers like Chesya Burke and Karen Healey and more.

And what, you might ask, is the cost of attending this magical Workshop? It’s free with the cost of your WisCon registration.

So please be sure to submit your manuscripts by April 15, and join us at 9am on Friday, May 27.

Writers’ Workshop

  • contact:  workshop@wiscon.net
  • WisCon 41 deadline for applications:  April 25, 2017

WisCon is a great place to take some time to focus on your writing with our Friday morning Writers’ Workshop sessions.  Scheduled before the convention starts, you won’t have to worry about missing any panels.  And all workshops are open to any registered member of the convention.

Jump to: Submission details | Critiquing | Resources

Regular sections

The regular workshop sessions focus on critique of original fiction — ranging from short stories to novels — in a collegial, small group environment of only four people.  Participants submit their material (details below) to the workshop coordinator ahead of the convention.  The coordinator groups everyone into workshop sections led by an established writer currently active in the field.  Each member of the workshop group gets a copy of everyone’s submitted material and writes a critique to present during the workshop.  Friday morning of the convention the groups meet for about two hours to discuss and critique everyone’s work under the guidance of the workshop leader.  Each participant leaves the workshop with the notes and critiques on their manuscript from all their fellow workshoppers.

We announce  our slate of workshop leaders each spring so that you can request a specific workshop when you send in your submission.  Keep an eye on our blog for the announcement!

Will this be your first time offering a critique on someone else’s writing?  The resources section at the bottom of this page provides links where you can read up on the fine art of critiquing or try out an online critique group to get your feet wet.

Special sections

We also strive to offer a variety of special workshop sections.  Sometimes these sections follow the same workshop format as our regular sections but with a special focus on a certain area — poetry, for example, or romance/erotica.  Other times, these sections move away from the critique format to present material in a different way or to cover more ground — we’ve had special sections about comics and video games that covered the overall process.  As with our regular workshop sections, all special workshops are led by established writers currently working in their area.

Special sections tend to change every year depending upon availability of workshop leaders, and they may have special submission requirements.  We announce our slate of special workshop sections, leaders, and submission details each spring.  Keep an eye on our blog for the announcement!

Are you interested in leading a special workshop?  We would love to hear from you!  Please contact our workshop coordinator at the email address at the top of the page.  It’s best if we hear from you by March 31 so that we can finalize our sections well in advance of the convention.

Interested in writing workshops for teens?  When we’re able to offer those, they’re coordinated through our Children’s and Teens’ Programming.  Please visit that page to check for information on the current convention!

Submission details for regular workshop sections

Joining the Writers’ Workshop is as simple as emailing your submission to the workshop coordinator by the deadline advertised at the top of the page.  Our workshop welcomes any material that you would submit to a typical speculative fiction market.  Your work need not be explicitly feminist.  However, your work is unlikely to receive an ideal response if it is misogynist or otherwise offensive in its content or execution.

Your submission should include:

  1. Cover letter. The letter will be shared with everyone in your workshop group including the workshop leader.  Your letter should include: a thumbnail description of your manuscript (e.g.: lesbian vampire novel, slipstream space opera story, et cetera), any particular elements of the manuscript that you want your fellow group members to pay attention to during the critique, any preference you have for a workshop leader, a brief statement of your writing credits if any, and any other information that will help us get to know you.  The cover letter should be no more than one page.
  1. Your manuscript. You may submit a work up to 10,000 words in length — either a short story or the first few chapters of a novel.  More detailed discussions on length are below.  Please follow standard manuscript format guidelines when preparing your material.  You can find guidance for formatting your manuscript in the resources section at the bottom of this page.

Your materials must be submitted as attachments to your email — please do not copy/paste your submission into the email itself.  Attachments should be either RTF or MS Word documents.  Once you’ve been assigned to a workshop group, you will receive materials to critique in similar email attachment format, so we strongly encourage you to use an email address for the workshop that can accept large attachments without filling up your inbox.

In the email itself, please confirm that you are registered for WisCon.  If you are not registered for the convention by the deadline for workshop submissions, you will not be eligible to participate in the workshop.

  • Novels

You will be submitting the first chapter (or more) of your novel.  Do not submit chapters out of sequence — it’s difficult for people to critique a later chapter of a work they’ve never seen.  Your total manuscript should be no longer than 10,000 words.

If your chapters are short, you may submit more than one, but the total word count should not exceed 10,000 words.  If your first chapter is longer than the word limit, you may submit the whole thing, but your group members are responsible for critiquing only the first 10,000 words.  Do not submit the whole novel.

You may also submit a synopsis (not part of the 10,000-word limit).  However, the synopsis is an optional read for the members of your group.  They will not be expected to critique this portion of your submission.

  • Short stories

You will be submitting a short story manuscript.  The story must be a complete draft, with an ending.  Your manuscript should be no longer than 10,000 words.

If you have a novellette or novella which is longer than 10,000 words, you may submit the whole thing, but your fellow group members are responsible for critiquing only the first 10,000 words.

If your manuscript is longer than 50,000 words, look at the guidelines above for novels.

  • Flash fiction

If you wish to submit flash fiction (complete stories under 1000 words), you may submit more than one.

The total word count must be no more than 7,500 words.  Do keep that it can often be more work to critique multiple short pieces so the word limit is more stringent.

The critique — before and during the workshop

Our Writers’ Workshop is built around the idea that everyone critiques everyone’s work.  Your critique should be ready when the workshop starts, so be sure you can set aside some time before the convention to read and comment on the manuscripts from your fellow workshoppers!  During the workshop itself you’ll give a five-minute summation of your critique on each manuscript.

  • Before the workshop

You must do a complete read and critique of each manuscript in your workshop group before the convention.  The author may ask you to look at particular elements of the manuscript; this will be noted in the cover letter.  At minimum, critiques should focus on “hook,” characterization, and plot/pacing.

Prepare a summary or overall critique for each manuscript.  The clearest critiques are typed and use complete sentences — this makes it easiest for authors to review and consider your critique after post-workshop.  You will bring printed copies of your critiques to the workshop to give to each of your fellow authors.  Printers are available in the Concourse’s business center if you would like to print your critiques once you arrive at the convention.

If you like, you may also make comments in the body of the manuscript — either electronically or on hard copy (i.e., a printout with handwritten notes).  If you do make comments directly in the manuscript, you must return the manuscript with commentary to the author along with your summary critique.

If this is your first time offering a critique on someone else’s writing, the resources section at the bottom of this page provides links where you can read up on the fine art of critiquing.

  • During the workshop

Workshops typically last about two hours, although they may run longer at the discretion of the workshop leader.  Usually groups critique each author’s work in turn — everyone offers their five-minute critique, with the workshop leader going last.  At the end of this, the author may offer a short response of about five minutes.  Then the group moves on to the next member’s manuscript, and so on.

Each workshopper should walk away with a marked-up manuscript, a bruised-but-optimistic ego, several useful new contacts for their professional network, and copious notes on how to improve their work.

  • After the workshop

A small, casual reception follows the Writers’ Workshop (more information will be provided in your workshop section).  Relax, let your mind stop thinking about your manuscript for a little while, and spend a few minutes making friends and networking with your fellow workshoppers!


The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) website features many resources on critiquing, standard manuscript preparation, synopsis writing, and more.

Critters is an online writing workshop that contains many articles on how to critique. Also great practice if you’ve never participated in a crit workshop before!

The Online Writing Workshop is another place to get critique practice ahead of WisCon. A small fee is required for participation.