Writing Workshop

FOGcon invites our members to participate in our popular writing workshop, which pairs 3-5 participants with a pro author for a Clarion-style critique of manuscripts 7,500 words or less.

Registration for our writing workshop will be open from Nov 15 through Jan 31. The fee is $20.

If you are interested, please email us at workshop@fogcon.org any time after Nov 15. Places are limited, and we will close registrations when we fill up or after January 31, whichever happens first. Only registered members of FOGcon are permitted to attend the workshop.

The participants will be divided into small groups, each moderated by an instructor. Participants will submit manuscripts to be read and critiqued both by the instructor and by fellow members in their group.

Workshops will be held on the Sunday afternoon of FOGcon, starting at 2.30 or 3 p.m. and running until 5 or 5.30 p.m.(exact time to be determined).

If you wish to attend the Workshop, follow these steps:

  1. Register for FOGcon if you have not done so already.
  2. Email us as workshop@fogcon.org any time after November 15 to reserve a place. Places are limited, and registration ends when all places are full or by January 31 at the latest.
  3. We will confirm your registration via email and provide a special Paypal link for you to pay your $20 workshop fee. Please use the same email address you used for FOGcon Registration, so we can correlate the membership and workshop.
  4. Send your manuscript to workshop@fogcon.org by Jan 31. You’ll receive your fellow students’ manuscripts after the deadline so that you can prepare a critique by the workshop date.

What you should send us:

  • Payment via the special Paypal link included in your workshop registration confirmation email. If you do not use Paypal, you can send us a check or money order for $20, made out to Friends of Genre. On the memo line, specify "FOGcon writing workshop." Mail your check to: FOGcon, PO Box 21027, Piedmont, CA 94620-1027.
  • Your manuscript as a rich text file emailed to workshop@fogcon.org. If you are working in other formats, please try to convert your manuscript to .rtf if possible. Please use professional manuscript format, which is explained here: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html We’re not terribly fussy for this workshop, but you should at least format your manuscript in double-spaced Courier or Times, list the number of words, and include your name in the header and on the first page. Since we may have minors attending the workshop, please mention if your manuscript contains explicit sex/violence/swearing that might make parents uncomfortable.
  • A few sentences about your experience level and any publications. (We don’t have a minimum; all levels are welcome.) This is to help arrange the groups so that participants have the best possible experience. You can introduce yourself to other participants later.

Special note for younger participants:

We've always had (and welcome!) a small number of teenagers in our workshops. For anyone under 18 who wishes to attend, we need the permission of a parent or guardian. We also expect the parent or guardian to review the manuscripts we send for the child to critique. Some manuscripts may have adult material. We do our best to ensure that manuscripts are age-appropriate, but we may not catch everything -- or we may have a different understanding of age-appropriate.


Q: Do I need to be published to participate?
A: No. We’re fine with all levels of expertise.

Q: Does my manuscript have to be speculative fiction?
A: No, but you’ll probably get more out of the workshop if it’s genre-related.

Q: Short story or novel chapters?
A: Either, but please let us know which you are sending. The other readers will want to know which they’re reading. If a novel chapter, please provide a very short synopsis so readers are not left hanging and have a context.

Q: Do I have to critique the other manuscripts? How many?
A: Yes, all participants have to read and critique manuscripts for their group (typically around 3 or 4 people). It’s usual to make notes as you read the manuscript, and give that to the author after the discussion. If you’ve never critiqued a manuscript, here’s one approach:

Summarize the story in 1-4 sentences.
Describe what worked for you in the story.
Describe what didn’t work for you.

If you want a little more guidance on giving (and taking!) critique, you can check out How to Train Your Internal Editor by Mary Robinette Kowal.

If a story doesn’t work for you at all, there’s a formula Greg Frost used at Clarion 2007: “Every story has an idiot reader, and I’m it for this story.”  Some stories really work for one kind of reader but not at all for others. The workshop is meant to provide constructive criticism. (More critiquing resources here.)