Writing Advice from Clarion Workshop

Writer Sam Miller attended the famous Clarion Writer’s Workshop, geared towards science fiction and fantasy writing, and had this to say about it:

“Last week, I graduated from the 2012 Clarion Writer’s Workshop. And everything people tell you about it is true—it’s incredible, it’s transformative, it will make you into the writer you were meant to be, it builds unbreakable bonds with a ton of other brilliant writers. AND you’ll be devastated when it’s over.”

But more importantly, he jotted down a ton of advice from instructors and fellow students alike, and has shared it on his blog here. It’s a copious amount of pithy statements, and your mileage will vary, but it’s worth perusing. A few favorites:

“TV/film’s lean mean 5-page scene doesn’t work in fiction—you need depth, fiction is what’s below the surface. As fiction writers we can’t use Hollywood shorthand.

In-cluing, AKA Heinleining, is when you don’t infodump, you just show the tech or whatever working.

In a short story, you get ONE of the following three things to be complex: structure, character, world. Unless you’re [FAMOUS AUTHOR]. [FAMOUS AUTHOR] gets two.

A complete shit would be someone you can at some point ALMOST identify with, who’d then surprise you with some heinous shit.”

That last one is a particularly good description of great villains.