Tag Archives: workshops

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.

WisCon Workshops

There will not be any Workshops taking place as part of the virtual WisCon 44.

  • contact:  workshop@wiscon.net
  • Deadline to suggest a special session: March 1
  • Deadline for critique session application:  April 25

WisCon is a great place to take some time to focus on your writing, art, and other post-apocalypse skills with our WisCon Workshops sessions. With a schedule beginning before the convention starts, you can even take advantage without missing any panels. And all workshops are open to any registered member of the convention.

Have an idea for a session you’d like to see as part of the Workshops? Email us at the address at the top of the page at any time!

Special sessions

We strive to offer a variety of special workshop sessions. Sometimes these sessions follow the same workshop format as our critique sessions but with a special focus on a certain area — poetry, for example, or romance/erotica. Other times, these sessions 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. We are also proud to offer workshops that address skills that range from life drawing to handspinning. As with our regular sessions, all special sessions are led by established facilitators currently working or practicing in their area.

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

Are you interested in leading a special session? We would love to hear from you! Please contact our WisCon Workshops coordinator at the email address at the top of the page. It’s best if we hear from you by February 28 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 Teen Programming. Please visit that page to check for more information!

Critique sessions

The critique sessions, offered on Friday morning before WisCon officially begins, focus on review 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 sorts everyone into groups facilitated by an established writer or editor currently active in the field. Each member of the group gets a copy of all submitted material and writes a critique to present during the session. The groups meet for about two hours to discuss everyone’s work under the guidance of the workshop facilitator. Each participant leaves the session with the notes and critiques on their manuscript from all their fellow workshoppers.

We announce our slate of workshop facilitators each spring so that you can request a specific session when you send in your submission.

Submission details for critique sessions

Joining a WisCon Workshops critique session 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.
  2. 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.


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, please see 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 in mind 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 session

Our critique sessions are built around the idea that everyone reviews everyone’s work. Your critique should be ready when the session 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 session 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 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 the session. You will bring printed copies of your critiques to the session 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 facilitator. Usually groups critique each author’s work in turn — everyone offers their five-minute critique, with the facilitator 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.


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.