Writing Classes that Rock: Emotional Truth from Odyssey Writing Workshops

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In a never-ending quest to improve the quality of my own fiction writing, I enrolled in a class that opened my writerly eyes.

Emotional Truth from Odyssey Writing Workshops is a 5-week class that does a deep dive on techniques to heighten the emotional quality of your writing.

Like most writing classes, you have to submit a writing sample and be selected. If you’re lucky enough to get in, it’s a class that’s well worth the price.

The class is taught by Scott Andrews, publisher of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, an online magazine long known for its beautiful prose.

The class isn’t necessarily an easy one. The lectures alone aren’t difficult to understand, per se, but the homework offers a challenge.

Andrews is a steady, passionate instructor and the techniques he offers are clear and well-presented. Each lecture ends with a writing assignment — which amounted to about 12 hours of work per assignment for this writer.

The feedback you receive on your writing might be painful for more tender-hearted writers. It’s also where you will learn the most.

Let’s just say what you think you know about writing emotion, you don’t.

When it comes to emotions, Andrews is a forensic scientist.

Using a handful of stories featured on Beneath Ceaseless Skies or gathered in the wild, Andrews teaches specific ways to raise the emotional quality of your craft.

“Pop Squad” by Paolo Bacigalupi is a gut-wrenching tale of a bitter hitman in a futuristic world who is tasked with eliminating children for the benefit of society.

“Feral Attachments at Kulle Grand” is a work of fantasy about two academics who lose their child to a group of trolls while studying them in the wild.

Using these stories as examples, Andrews shows specific techniques writers can instantly apply to their work, all the way from the sentence level to scene-level emotional arcs for characters.

It can be challenging to learn how to rewire your brain like this — growth often is. But if you go into this class and put in the work, your writing will improve. Mine already has. For intermediate to professional writers, I can’t recommend this class enough.

Robert Stahl is a former bartender who left his bottle opener behind to follow his dreams as a writer. Now the Dallas-based freakazoid writes advertising copy by day and fiction in the evenings. He loves to connect with others about the craft of fiction. Click the link to find his blog as well as links to some of his stories: robertestahl.com.