Writing Workshop

FOGcon invites our members to participate in our popular writing workshop, which matches 3 to 5 participants with a professional author for a critique of manuscripts 5000 words or less. In 2021, this will be all-virtual, by email and Zoom.

The next virtual workshops will be held on Monday, May 24, 2021, 6:30-8:30 pm (Pacific time) via Zoom. See below for registration instructions. (However, it's now full and registrations have closed.)

The workshop fee is $20. (Scholarships are available.) Writers at any experience level are invited to apply. 

Places are limited, and we close registrations when we fill up or after a set date, whichever happens first. (After registration closes, we'll start a waitlist for future sessions.) Only registered members of FOGcon are permitted to attend the workshop. [Since FOGcon this year will be a series of virtual events, we aren't requiring workshoppers to be members of FOGcon.]

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 of their group, in a friendly and constructive atmosphere.

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

  1. Register for FOGcon if you have not done so already. [Not in 2021!]
  2. Email us as workshop@fogcon.org  with a cc to Keyan_Bowes@yahoo.com to let us know you're interested. Places are limited, and registration ends when all places are full. We will, however, create a waitlist in case of cancellations or for future Workshops.
  3. If you're admitted, we will confirm via email that a spot is available and provide a Paypal link for you to pay your $20 workshop fee. To complete your registration, send your manuscript and a brief bio to workshop@fogcon.org and cc Keyan_Bowes@yahoo.com (We cannot register you until we have the manuscript).
  4. You’ll receive your fellow students’ manuscripts in about a week after the May 3 deadline so that you can prepare a critique by the workshop date.

What you should send us:

  • Your manuscript of 5000 words or less as a doc, docx, or rtf file emailed to workshop@fogcon.org with a copy to Keyan_Bowes@yahoo.com (If you are working in other formats, please try to convert your manuscript if possible - Please no PDFs).
  • 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. Please note, these virtual workshops are not suitable for edgy material such as erotica or depictions of hate. (The stories may be good ones, but just not for this workshop.)
  • A bio with 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.
  • Payment via the 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 Literary Society. On the memo line, specify "FOGcon writing workshop." Mail your check to: FOGcon, PO Box 21027, Piedmont, CA 94620-1027. Scholarships are also available.

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.

FAQ

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 to 5 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.)