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Diversity and Narrative: A structured approach to diversity in fiction.

Mary Robinette Kowal

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 at 7:00 PM (CST)

Diversity and Narrative: A structured approach to...

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Many authors want to create more diverse worlds for their fiction, but struggle to write beyond what they know. While conventions are tackling this material, there is frequently not enough time to delve into this tricky and nuanced skill. The Diversity and Narrative workshop uses lectures and exercises in a structured approach to adding diversity to your fiction. This five week online course is taught by K. Tempest Bradford and Mary Robinette Kowal

Classes will be taught via G+ on Wednesdays from November 19 - December 17th. Each two-hour session runs from 7pm-9pm Central Time.

Each week, you will be given an assignment that builds on the previous week. Classwork will be uploaded to a shared Google Drive folder visible only to you and your classmates. The class will be divided between lecture and group critique. The class is capped at eight students, to create a class size that allows the most interaction, feedback and personal attention for each of you.

Class requirements: You need an interest in writing fiction, but you do not need to have written or published anything yet. You also must be able to use G+ Hangouts (Note: You don’t need a web camera, although they’re useful. The only real requirement is a G+ account, the internet, a microphone, and some speakers so you can hear us).

There will be homework, so expect to allot an additional three to five hours per week for reading, critique, or writing.


Week 1. The Groundwork - Colonialism, cultural appropriation and fairy tales
Before writing begins, a writer can find themselves already in trouble when the idea at the core of their story is problematic. In this opening session, we'll discuss how to spot trouble before you even begin writing by looking at historical examples of colonialism, cultural appropriation, and fairy tales and the problems they represent.

Week 2. Diversity and Representation
When casting your story, why does representation matter? Diversity isn't always about race. We'll look at how to create a diverse cast of characters even within the confines of a short story.

Week 3. Gender, sexuality, and narrative
Gender is more complex than the Western cultural norm of binary gender (female and male); there are more sexual orientations than just the L and G in LGBT. People who don't fit into narrow conceptions of binary gender and monosexuality exist in our present, have existed in our past, and will exist in our futures. In this discussion we'll explore how this affects character creation, common plot pitfalls, and the use of language.

Week 4. Plot structure and -isms
Once your story is cast, it's time to begin writing. There are a host of tropes surrounding various "isms," such as sexism, racism, and ableism, that perpetuate myths. We’ll discuss those, and how to avoid them at a plot structure level. Using exercises and discussion, we’ll look at how to represent diversity in narrative. 

Week 5. How to Fail Gracefully
So, you’re worried you will fail. You will, at some point. That fear isn't a sufficiently compelling reason not to write. This is how to handle failing when it happens. Also, how to handle it when someone fails at you.



K. Tempest BradfordK. Tempest Bradford is a speculative fiction writer living in New York City. Her fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines,including Interfictions, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod. Tempest is also a media critic with a focus on the representation of marginalized people in media. Her critical work can be found on io9, The Angry Black Woman blog, Chicks Dig Time Lords, and Chicks Unravel Time. When she's not writing fiction or harshing everyone's media squee, she writes about and reviews technology.



Mary Robinette KowalMary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey,Glamour in Glass, Without a Summer. In 2008 she received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2011, her short story “For Want of a Nail” won the Hugo Award for Short Story. Her work has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. Her stories appear in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor, recording fiction for authors such as Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. She is a cast member of the Hugo-award winning podcast Writing Excuses

Have questions about Diversity and Narrative: A structured approach to diversity in fiction.? Contact Mary Robinette Kowal

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