pbray: (Default)
This summer I was a guest lecturer at the annual Odyssey Writing Workshop. My talk was on writing a series, spanning everything from why you might want to write a series, the pros and cons of doing so, the various types of series, to plotting techniques for both individual book arcs and series arcs. Along the way I shared bits of wisdom from my own experiences and those of fellow writers on how to (and how not to) write a successful series.

The lecture has now been distilled into a two-part podcast at the Odyssey Podcasts website here. Look for podcast 67 (Part 1) and podcast 68 (Part 2).

And my thanks again to Jeanne Cavelos for inviting me back to Odyssey, and to the students who made it such a great experience.
pbray: (Default)
Five things I learned while teaching at Odyssey

Last month I was a guest lecturer at the annual Odyssey Writing Workshop. It's a truism that a teacher learns as much if not more than her students, so I thought I'd share what I learned from the experience. Some were new, while others were things that I already knew, but needed to be reminded of, much in the same way that every New Year's Eve I relearn why champagne and I don't mix.

- The best way to learn something is to teach it
- Deadlines and real life don't always mix
- There is no one true way
- Avoid the trap of comparing yourself to others
- There is no substitute for the energy you get from being around other writers

Click here to read the full essay )
pbray: (writer)
When I was at Odyssey last week, one of the comments I kept hearing from students was how much they enjoyed the in person aspect of critiquing, and how they struggled to find suitable writers groups in their hometowns. I sympathized with their struggles-- in Binghamton I'd been part of an active critique group that had started with my best friend and then our primary recruiting ground was Waldenbooks employees who were also writers (I'm looking at you Joshua, Tracy and April...) But when I moved to New Hampshire, it was only through the kindness of a mutual friend that I connected with local genre writers. Strangely enough we found that we'd all been at Boskone just a few weeks before, but hadn't run into each other. The next time I go to a con, I'm wearing a shirt that says "I'm from New Hampshire" to make these connections easier.

But rather than relying on cons, what we need is an online matchmaking tool that hooks writers up with potential critique partners. Modeled off eHarmony, where you begin by entering your geographic location and genres and then answer compatibility questions such as:

[Poll #1921053]

Really the only surprising thing is that no one has thought of this before.
pbray: (Default)
When I was at Odyssey last week, one of the comments I kept hearing from students was how much they enjoyed the in person aspect of critiquing, and how they struggled to find suitable writers groups in their hometowns. I sympathized with their struggles-- in Binghamton I'd been part of an active critique group that had started with my best friend and then our primary recruiting ground was Waldenbooks employees who were also writers (I'm looking at you Joshua, Tracy and April...) But when I moved to New Hampshire, it was only through the kindness of a mutual friend that I connected with local genre writers. Strangely enough we found that we'd all been at Boskone just a few weeks before, but hadn't run into each other. The next time I go to a con, I'm wearing a shirt that says "I'm from New Hampshire" to make these connections easier.

But rather than relying on cons, what we need is an online matchmaking tool that hooks writers up with potential critique partners. Modeled off eHarmony, where you begin by entering your geographic location and genres and then answer compatibility questions such as:

Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 0


The new member describes her work as the next Twilight, only better since her vampires not only glow in the dark, they each have a guardian unicorn. Do you:

View Answers

Run very far, very fast
0 (0.0%)

Smile politely and hope you'll be able to influence her style and taste
0 (0.0%)

Resolve to judge the work on its own merits
0 (0.0%)

Squee loudly and proclaim yourself BFFs
0 (0.0%)



Really the only surprising thing is that no one has thought of this before.
pbray: (bike)
Went bike riding with friends this morning at 5:30 AM. It seemed like a good idea last night, but when the alarm went off this morning I had second thoughts. But it was too late to wimp out, so off we went, and had a great ride, even though it was on the chilly side. Stacey and I did about 24 miles, meeting Carolyn along the way.

Life's been busy-- trying to enjoy the weather and get miles in on the bike, getting ready for my guest instructor stint later this week at the annual Odyssey Writing Workshop, and of course the day job is crazy. We're down a couple of headcount so that makes things even more fun, as more stuff lands on my desk and nothing ever gets taken off. I keep thinking that at some point life is going to slow down, but maybe that's something that happens to other people. Still better to be busy than bored.
pbray: (Default)
I'm very pleased to announce that I'll be a guest instructor at next year's Odyssey Writing Workshop, held in Manchester, New Hampshire. I really enjoyed my first time as a lecturer in 2009, and was excited when they invited me to return for next year.

The 2013 workshop runs from June 10th through July 19th. Early applications are due January 31st, 2013, and regular applications are due April 8th, 2013. Lecturers include Nancy Holder (writer-in-residence), Holly Black, Patricia Bray, Adam-Troy Castro, Jack Ketchum and Sheila Williams.

Fun fact-- during my first stint as a guest lecturer at Odyssey, I explained to the students that I was a novel writer, and had no recent experience with short stories. I've since gone on to publish a short story and co-edit two fantasy anthologies, so I'll have a new skillset to bring to the table.
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This summer I was a guest instructor at Odyssey, where I focused on the role of sidekicks as part of an overall discussion of characterization. The first half of the lecture was posted as a podcast last month, and they've just made the second half available on their website here.

Podcast #32: In this podcast, the second of two parts, Patricia Bray explains how the sidekick's characteristics can balance those of the protagonist, or contrast with those of the protagonist. She discusses the requirements for a good sidekick, and describes how the sidekick's character arc can complement or contrast with the protagonist's character arc. She explains the difference between a sidekick/protagonist story and a story with multiple protagonists. She also lists some of the very useful purposes a sidekick can serve in a story, such as making your protagonist more believable, providing an embodiment of the protagonist's motivation, and serving as the external conscience of protagonist. She also reviews the various mistakes an author can make in creating a sidekick. Patricia discusses sidekicks in short stories as well as novels, and explains when you might want to use the sidekick's point of view. You can find part 1 of Patricia's discussion of sidekicks in Podcast #31.
pbray: (Default)
This past summer at the Odyssey Workshop I discussed the role of sidekicks in fiction, as part of an overall discussion of character-driven writing. The talk went over so well that they turned it into a two part podcast. The first part is now up on their website here.

Once I got past the kneejerk reaction to hearing my own voice (OMG! Hyperactive squirrel!) I was pleased with how it turned out.

Sidekicks

Jun. 16th, 2009 10:49 am
pbray: (Default)
Next week I'll be giving my guest lecture at the 2009 Odyssey Workshop.. My topic is on characterization, specifically the hero/sidekick relationship in fantasy. I've been working on my talk for the past couple of weeks (so far I've resisted putting together Powerpoint slides, but given my corporate training I may inevitably succumb.)

I'll be starting the discussion with examples of sidekicks, and have come up with some of my favorites:

Gilgamesh / Enkidu (gotta love the classics)
Frodo / Sam
Holmes / Watson
Spenser / Hawk (Robert B. Parker series)
Batman / Robin (or Batman / Alfred, depending on which universe/version)
Dr. Who / Companion
Devlin / Stephen (as the author I know what I was trying to do with this one)

So, any suggestions? Favorite hero / sidekick pairings I should be sure not to overlook? Fantasy works best, but I'm open to all genres/mediums.
pbray: (Default)
They've posted my interview at Odyssey Writing Workshop's blog.

And for those considering attending Odyssey this year, the deadline to apply is April 8th. You can find out more at www.odysseyworkshop.org.
pbray: (Default)
What could be cooler than this?*

Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop 2009
Odyssey is one of the most highly respected workshops for writers of fantasy, science fiction, and horror writers. Top authors, editors, and agents serve as guest lecturers, and fifty-three percent of graduates go on to be published. The workshop, held annually on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, NH, combines an intensive learning and writing experience with in-depth feedback on students' manuscripts. Odyssey is for developing writers whose work is approaching publication quality and for published writers who want to improve their work. Director Jeanne Cavelos is a former senior editor at Bantam Doubleday Dell and winner of the World Fantasy Award.

This summer's workshop runs from June 8 through July 17. Guest lecturers are bestselling author Jeffrey A. Carver; award-winning authors Melissa Scott, Patricia Bray, and Jack Ketchum; and Ace/Roc Editor-in-Chief Ginjer Buchanan. The writer-in-residence is New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn. The application deadline is April 8. For more information, visit www.odysseyworkshop.org or call (603) 673-6234.


*And, of course, you'll get to meet me :-)
pbray: (Default)
As announced on the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop's webpage I'll be one of the guest lecturers for the 2009 workshop. Odyssey is well-known for both the quality of the program and the success of their graduates, and as you can imagine I was honored when Jeanne Cavelos approached me about participating. I'm looking forward to a great time.

Other lecturers for 2009 are writer-in-residence Carrie Vaughn, and fellow guest lecturers Jeffrey A. Carver, Melissa Scott, Jack Ketchum and Ginjer Buchanan.

If you're interested, the workshop runs from June 8 through July 17th, 2009. Early admission deadline is January 31st, 2009, with regular admission applications due by April 8th, 2009. Details are on their website.

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