Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel Writers Workshop
Multiple award-winning author Kij Johnson
helps you transform your book idea into a successful project.
For 2015, the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction again offers the Science Fiction & Fantasy Novel Writers Workshop, plus a short follow-up "Repeat Offenders" workshop for those who have already taken the full-length workshop. Award-winning author Kij Johnson has taught this workshop since 2004.
The novel workshop fills up fast! If you're interested in applying, read this page and respond by the dates listed.
The Science Fiction Novel Writers Workshop will meet from May 31 - June 12, and the Campbell Conference, June 12–14. If you are coming from out of town, plan to arrive on Sunday, May 31, by 6:00pm in our residence hall where we'll be meeting, and stay through the end of the Conference. We will have an informal get-together with the short SF Writers Workshop on Sunday evening to get acquainted.
The Campbell Conference plans to bring the winners of the Campbell and Sturgeon Awards to the campus as special guests, as well as others. Several SF-writer guests, editors, and more join us for the special Campbell Conference each year. Several of our writer and editor guests to come and talk to us on Friday afternoon about "The Secrets of Successful Science Fiction" - always a great experience! Workshop participants may register for the Conference for free as part of their experience.
Housing information is available below. Participants will have time for writing, for recreation, for socializing, and for individual conferences.
2015 Novel Writers Workshop
This summer, in conjunction with the Center for the Study of Science Fiction
and the SF Writing Workshop, Kij Johnson teaches a two-week intensive
workshop on writing novels. The goals of this workshop are to generate the best possible chapters and an outline for a writer's submission packet;
to learn what will be necessary to complete or revise the novel with an eye toward publication; and to
This workshop is targeted at the new novelist with a novel begun but not completed. The minimum coming in is a solid working outline or synopsis (probably 5-10 pages or more) and the first 15-30 pages. It seems to work best for people who have somewhat more than the minimum but less than half of the work they want to workshop.
The Workshop typically runs each morning from 9:00am–noon, and the rest of your time is free for writing, study, consultation, and recreation.
The Workshop is in two segments. We workshop the novel chapters or segment in traditional round-robin workshop style, with the emphasis on writing and characterization. We also do what Kij calls, for want of a better term and in the tradition of kit-bashing, novel-bashing: Starting with an outline, synopsis, or scene breakdown, we deconstruct and reconstruct the plot, looking for holes or flaws and for ways to deepen the novel's structure and storyline. Then, taking these notes, workshoppers revise either the outline or the chapters and resubmit the material to the workshop for further discussion.
We may also select a published SF/F novel, read it before the workshop, and analyze it for insights into successful novel plotting. We are likely to turn to Sock Monkey Action Theatre™ as a blocking tool.
"Repeat Offenders" Novel Writer's Workshop June 14 - 26, 2015
Return to the scene of the crime to reinforce the lessons from your last workshop, and reconnect with other alums. Since 2010.
Kij again offers an informal two-week workshop for people who have attended one of her novel workshops before this. It runs from June 14–26, but because the workshop starts on Sunday afternoon, as the Campbell Conference winds down, we strongly encourage you to consider showing up on Friday, June 12, for the conference.
Repeat Offenders is basically a chance to work with similarly trained writers on whatever project is underway. Kij often leads a few discussions and works on fishbowling and development as needed.
By April 19, contact Kij at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure you:
Enrollment and Registration
Workshop enrollment is eight attendees. The novel workshop always has more applicants than slots for them, so not everyone gets in. Kij is interested in putting together a group of writers who are talented and (she hopes) will mesh productively and positively. Its imperative that people work well together.
Applicants for admission must contact Kij Johnson (email@example.com) between February 1 and March 1. Be sure you:
You may be asked for additional information. Those applying early will be informed of acceptance by March 15. Deadlines for housing and so forth come up after this.
If you are accepted, we'll contact you with registration instructions. To attend the Campbell Conference, be sure to register for that, as well - just because it's free for Workshop attendees doesn't mean you don't have to register! Your registration is not complete until you have sent your check by the deadline.
Those applying early will be informed of acceptance by March 15. Your packet will be due May 15 at the latest. This deadline needs to be firm, since workshop participants may be reading and preparing notes on 400 or more pages of material. This packet can be electronic and will include:
To clarify: The workshop is designed for writers in the early stages of a novel: 25-100 pages of first draft, and an outline or synopsis of 5+ pages (or a spreadsheet; we had one of those, too). With very rare exceptions, it's not as effective for the later stages.
Participants often exchange full manuscripts during or after the Workshop, so bring the entire manuscript if you have one, and be prepared to share more if you find interested readers!
Contact us for any logistical help you might need in getting settled for your
stay. More logistical information is available on the
Diversity and Disability
Everyone enjoys equal access to the Gunn Center's offerings, and we actively encourage students and scholars from diverse backgrounds to study with us. All courses offered by Gunn Center faculty are also available to be taken not-for-credit for professionalization purposes by community members (if space is available). Click here to see the Center's Diversity Statement.
The Academic Achievement and Access Center (AAAC) coordinates accommodations and services for all eligible KU students. If you have a disability for which you wish to request accommodation and have not contacted the AAAC, please do so as soon as possible. Their office is located in 22 Strong Hall; their phone number is (785)864-4064 (V/TTY). Also please contact us privately about your needs in this course.
Tuition for the Workshop is $600, exclusive of meals and housing, payable to University of Kansas. Those also taking the Speculative Fiction Writers Workshop (short form) must pay tuition for that Workshop, as well. Meals vary in cost depending on where you eat. Please send a check payable to KU Housing before you arrive.
Tuition for the "Repeat Offenders" Workshop is $300, payable on acceptance.
Thanks to a generous donation from a friend of the Center, a limited number of scholarships are available for KU graduate students and outstanding writers in financial need. To be considered, please request it and explain your need when contacting us. Details on this page.
Our official dorm housing for out-of-town attendees is likely to be one of the lounges in Rieger or Krehbiel Scholarship Hall at 1323 Ohio Street, a new residence located near the Kansas Student Union, Oread Hotel, and downtown. Rooms share a bathroom, either with an adjacent room or down the hall (3 stalls and showers/bath per 6 rooms), and have a sink and counter space for a microwave or other small kitchen equipment. Other building amenities include a lovely wraparound porch with seating (including a chair-swing or two), basketball court, refrigerator, coffee and tea equipment, and many private study areas. They are conveniently located just down the hill from the KU Student Union and a few blocks' walk from lovely downtown Lawrence. Be sure to let Lydia Ash know if you have special needs.
Dormitory rooms are available at the following rates. These may vary slightly each year.
Note: Prices have gone up
dramatically this year, but we do not wish to pass on the increase. If you'd
like to help keep housing prices low for future attendees, please consider
making a donation to help the Gunn Center cover our losses! Click the button
below to give using a credit card, or write a check made out to CSSF and mail it or bring it
with you. Thanks!
If you wish to stay in a dorm, you must make dorm reservations by early May. Please pay for your room in advance once you hear from Lydia Ash about this year's final rate. Check-out is at noon.
Check out VisitLawrence.com for local hotel information.
Meals are available in a variety of places, including the Kansas Union and a myriad of local restaurants. Check out Lawrence.com for a list of just a few of the local eating establishments.
The SF Novel Writing Workshop of 2005
Check out VisitLawrence.com for local hotel information.
Meals are available in a variety of wonderful restaurants, and Lawrence
offers at least one fine micro-brewery. Check out
Lawrence.com for a list of just a
few of the local eating establishments. We head downtown each evening for
a diversity of group dinners for all those interested!
Transportation from Airport to Lawrence
Many transport services offer rides between the Kansas City International (MCI - the "M" is for "Mid-Continent") airport and Lawrence, including:
Here's a map showing where KU is located in Eastern Kansas:
Kansas Union map (in .pdf format).
Google Maps centered on the KU Kansas Union.
Lawrence in the Summer
For anyone who hasn't visited, Lawrence is wonderful, a lively small city in the Kaw River valley, filled with art, events and activities. The location of the University of Kansas, Lawrence is situated about 40 miles from Kansas City and 20 miles from Topeka. Summers can be hot, but classrooms and housing are air-conditioned.
Among its many amenities, the University of Kansas has a large science-fiction collection and good reference collections; museums of natural history and art; and sports, theater, and concerts. Lawrence has many excellent restaurants and shopping and recreational opportunities. Kansas City is less than an hour away. Nighttime opportunities include movies, dinner, concerts, star-gazing sessions, and more.
The nearest major airport is Kansas City International, about 55 miles from
Lawrence. Transportation to Lawrence from Kansas City International can be
arranged through one of several airport shuttle services. By car, Lawrence is at
the intersection of U.S. 59 and
Contact us for any logistical help you might need in getting settled for your stay:
Lydia Ash ( firstname.lastname@example.org ) or Kij Johnson ( email@example.com )
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