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Learn to Write Good

Judging by the emails I receive, there are a lot of aspiring writers among my readership.

I wanted to make mention of a couple of summer writing programs that might be of interest to you.

First, the legendary Clarion workshop, which began with Damon Knight in Clarion College, Pennsylvania, and is now in scenic San Diego. An intensive six-week writer's boot camp that will make you, break you, maybe change your life. I will be one of the instructors at this year's Clarion, along with Delia Sherman, Dale Bailey, Samuel R. Delany, Jeff Vandermeer, and Anne Vandermeer. For more details, check out


Applications for Clarion are being accepted now, and will close on March 1... so if you've ever wanted to have me read and critique your work, and learn the secret handshake and the diagonal relationship, speak now or hold your peace until the next time I do a workshop (which probably won't be for a few more years).

[[ I do NOT read unpublished manuscripts that are mailed or emailed to me, so don't even think that. I do my teaching and critiquing only with a workshop context. And sorry, no, I won't be your mentor.]]

Clarion has been helping to turn out professional SF and fantasy writers since the 60s. Maybe you're the next one. You'll never know unless you apply. But be warned, only a few are chosen. Admissions are extremely competitive, with only one of five applicants getting in.

For writers who are already published, but are looking to take the next step in their careers, there is the Taos Toolbox, founded and run by my friend Walter Jon Williams and held right here in scenic New Mexico.


Walter Jon's pitches his Toolbox as more of a "graduate study" program, for writers with a bit more experience. Graduates of Clarion, Clarion West, and Odyssey, neopros with a few sales under their belts, even journeymen looking to improve. I am not connected with the Toolbox, but I did a guest lecture there a few years ago, and it struck me as a great program. This year Nancy Kress will be assisting WJW with the teaching, and Carrie Vaughn (of Kitty and Wild Cards fame) will be giving a guest lecture. And when you're not writing, reading, critiquing, or listening to lectures, hey, you'll be in Taos.

Clarion Workshop and the Taos Toolbox. If you want to write, check 'em out.


Jan. 7th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the head's-up. I'd try to make it, but right now the application fee is all I can muster.

For those who are considering it, I recently read Donald Mead's interview with Glenn Cook, in which Cook said this when asked if Clarion was important to him:

"Early on, very important. I learned a lot there. Clarion can’t teach you talent, but it can show you what you’re doing wrong. I learned not to overwrite, to keep things simple as far as sentence structure is concerned. My early attempts at writing were very much influenced by classical British fantasy writers who tended to be very flowery and ornate and lapsed into classical Greek as they were going along and expected you to follow it. I learned that modern American readers aren’t interested in that. I learned a number of valuable lessons at Clarion."

William Shunn also mentions his time at Clarion in this advice for beginning writers.
Jan. 8th, 2010 02:08 am (UTC)
Just browsed about and found Shunn also has these memoir excerpts about his time at Clarion.

Also, the Clarion Ex Machina site he links to isn't up anymore, but someone put together this collection of people's blogs on their experiences there.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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