The famous Writers of the Future workshop wrapped up Sunday morning with hugs and tearful goodbyes. Writers who arrived as strangers left as lifelong friends.
The Writers of the Future workshop is one of the most intensive boot camps for new writers in the industry. Many winners have commented that they value the workshop even more than the trophy.
This year’s workshop was delivered by New York Times bestselling authors and Science Fiction masters Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game), Tim Powers (On Stranger Tides), and David Farland (The Runelords).
History of the Writers Workshop
The Writers of the Future contest was started by New York Times bestselling author L. Ron Hubbard (Battlefield Earth) in 1983, after a long history of helping new writers. Mr. Hubbard published writing advice in several articles for writer’s journals like The Author & Journalist. These timeless tips form the core of the writers workshop, including such topics as: how to build suspense in a short story, where story ideas come from, the importance of research and realism, and things editors do that drive writers crazy.
“In these modern times, there are many communication lines for works of art. Because a few works of art can be shown so easily to so many, there may even be fewer artists. The competition is very keen and even dagger-sharp.
“It is with this in mind that I initiated a means for new and budding writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged.” —L. Ron Hubbard, in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume 1
The contest is open to aspiring writers from around the world. In accordance with the contest rules, entrants must submit an original, unpublished, science fiction, fantasy, or speculative horror story.
Writers Workshop Today
In keeping with L. Ron Hubbard’s example, the writers workshop continues to share his writing advice, along with several practical exercises for aspiring writers.
Writing tips included:
- Fantasy writing prompts
- Story ideas
- Story outline
- Rules for writers
- Writers block
- Short story prompts
- Realistic fiction
The workshop instructors this year included Orson Scott Card, Enders Game, Tim Powers, On Stranger Tides, and David Farland, The Runelords.
During the workshop they were interviewed for the Writers of the Future podcast, where they shared insights of the writing workshop and several writing tips. You can enjoy it here:
Writing short stories
The 24-hour story challenge is one of the workshop’s best-known highlights. Working with a random item and an interview with a stranger, the writer winners were given 24 hours to research, outline, and write a complete short story. Their stories were then critiqued by the other writers and judges.
David Farland presenting storytelling basics
Tim Powers giving out objects for the 24-hour story
Research at the library
Meeting a stranger
John Haas working on his 24-hour story
Writers turning in their 24-hour stories
The final days of the writers workshop were packed with candid writing advice from a blue-ribbon panel of judges, past contest winners, and publishing professionals. These guest speakers shared their wisdom and writing tips, giving the winners years of experience in just a few breaths. This year’s guest speakers included:
Nina Kiriki Hoffman, The Thread That Binds the Bones
Rebecca Moesta, Young Jedi Knights and Kevin J. Anderson, Spine of the Dragon
Dr. Robert J. Sawyer, Quantum Night
Eric Flint, 1632
Larry Niven, Ringworld
Dr. Doug Beason, The Officer
Dean Wesley Smith, Tombstone Canyon
Jody Lynn Nye, Moon Tracks
Dr. Gregory Benford, The Berlin Project
Dr. Beatrice Kondo of The Heinlein Foundation
Liza Trombi of Locus
Dr. Nnedi Okofor, Binti
Darci Stone, “Mara’s Shadow”, Eric James Stone, That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made, Kary English, “Totaled”, and Martin L. Shoemaker, Today I Am Carey
Delivered by Galaxy Press President John Goodwin and Vice President Public Affairs Emily Goodwin, the final workshop day focused on the business of writing: marketing and selling books. Special Guest, Bill Fawcett, American editor, anthologist, game designer, book packager, fiction writer, and historian, made a presentation on targeting one’s marketing and exceptions to the rules. Special guest, Dave Chesson, CEO Kindlepreneur, made a presentation about book-selling giant Amazon with advice to help new writers get a jumpstart.
- What is marketing
- Marketing strategy
- How to brand yourself
- Selling books
- Online marketing
- How to do media interviews
- Selling on Amazon
John Goodwin, President Galaxy Press and Emily Goodwin, VP Public Affairs
Bill Fawcett, author and editor
Dave Chesson, CEO Kindlepreneur
With the workshop at an end, this year’s winners are now ready to launch their careers from a foundation for success. Over the years, hundreds of contest winners have gone on to enjoy professional writing careers—the largest success rate of any writers workshop or contest. Just in the last year, they have published over 100 brand new science fiction and fantasy novels and short stories.
How to attend the Writers of the Future Workshop
How do you get invited to attend next year’s workshop?
The first step is to complete your short story and submit it. Only submitted stories have a chance of winning, and only winners and published finalists are invited to this exclusive writers workshop.
For an edge on the competition, read previous books in the series to learn what kinds of stories end up as winners. Good luck!
Contributed by Kary English, Writers of the Future First Reader and winner from WotF 31.
Kary English grew up in the snowy Midwest where she read book after book in a warm corner behind a recliner chair. Today, Kary still spends most of her time with her head in the clouds and her nose in a book.
Kary is a Writers of the Future winner and now the Contest’s First Reader whose work has been nominated for both the Hugo and Campbell awards. Kary’s fiction has appeared in Galaxy’s Edge, The Grantville Gazette, Daily Science Fiction, Far Fetched Fables, the Hugo-winning podcast StarShipSofa, and Writers of the Future, Vol. 31.