Worldbuilding and other Workshops

Hey Everyone!  I’m doing workshops for the Manitoba Writer’s Guild
* World Building – May 15, 2021
* Creating Compelling Characters – June 19, 2021
* Copyright and the Basics of Publishing Contracts – July 17
The workshops will be held through Zoom.  Supporting materials and the workshop notes will be provided as pdfs through email.
To support the writing community, I’m donating my workshop fees back to the Manitoba Writers Guild.  Writing is a lonely craft, and it’s an uphill one for many of us. The Guild helps us connect with each other, it offers community, support, resources and programs.  If you’re a Writer in Manitoba, I’d happily recommend that you sign up for a membership with the Guild.  If outside of Manitoba, then I suggest you look up whatever exists for a local writers association or organization.
In the meantime, visit the Manitoba Writer’s Guild at their website.

About the Workshops….

WORLDBUILDING – May 15, 2021. 2:00 pm, Zoom

Recommended for Genre writers, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, Speculative Fiction, Graphic Art etc.  Writing fantasy or sci fi often involves creating new worlds for your characters to live in, realms of magic, alien planets, other places, landscapes, creatures and cultures.  Good worldbuilding creates rich landscapes and settings that come alive.  Bad worldbuilding can ruin the experience for the reader.

How do you do it? What are the techniques? The steps? Where do you start? What are your sources? Geography, history, anthropology? How does the geography function? How do societies work? How does your magic work?  How does the past history of this world shape its present? How is your society shaped by the world you build? How is your hero? Answering these questions, doing the research can be fascinating and rewarding in itself, and it can open up possibilities and opportunities for your writing.
There are risks: Beware the trap of spending so much time building your world, you forget to write your story.  Or the trap of the world building so elaborate that it overwhelms the story that you write in a morass of exposition and detail.  Is worldbuilding essential? Some of the greatest fantasy and science fiction contain terrible worldbuilding gaps and errors, from Star Wars parsecs to Westeros geography.
The truth is that there are all kinds of worldbuilding, from the ‘accumulated’ worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett, to the convenient settings of William Faulkner, or cartoon stylings of Adventure Time and Steven Universe.  There are opportunities – sometimes a world is no more than a backdrop for your characters and stories, and sometimes that’s all it needs to be.  But it can also be a fountain for your creativity, offering opportunities, ideas, choices and chances, that shape your characters and open up your stories.

WRITING COMPELLING CHARACTERS – June 19, 2021. 2:00 pm, Zoom.

We all want to write interesting and compelling characters. No one wants to write boring characters? So why are there so many boring characters out there? Why do we read novels and watch movies and find characters make to little impact that we don’t remember their names?  Why are heroes dull? Why is Jon Snow the least interesting character in Game of Thrones? Why are some villains intriguing and others fall flat?
If the target is compelling characters, why do so many professional writers who should know better, fail at it?  And if the pros fail, what can we do?  This workshop will be interactive, drawing on the participants own experiences of books and movies, and the characters that worked and didn’t work for them, to try and get to the root of the qualities that make characters interesting and dynamic.
We will explore not just characters and their personal dynamics, the strengths and flaws of a character that draw or repel. Whether a character has to be appealing or likable to be compelling. The role of story in engaging the character, and the way that characters fulfill or subvert their role in their story.  Does a character need to evolve to be interesting?  Do they need an arc?  What about a backstory? How much backstory do they need and how do we reveal it?
In the end, there’s a hundred different reasons why a character will stand out and become compelling. There’s no single blueprint. But this workshop will give you insights and tools in crafting your characters, and hopefully avoid the pitfalls along the way.

COPYRIGHT LAW & PUBLISHING CONTRACTS – July 17, 2021.  2:00 pm, Zoom.

Writing isn’t just art and technique, it’s also law and business. If you’re serious about the craft, you need to know more than simply how to write well. You need to know what your rights are, and how they work. You need to be able to read and understand a contract, to know what your opportunities and what your hazards are.  The bad news – these topics take up entire books and university sessions. There’s no way to give you everything in one workshop.
The good news is that this is a crash course in the basics and fundamentals that you need.  We cover the origins of copyright, it’s social and economic role, the international systems of copyright including the Berne Convention and Universal Convention, translation rights, moral rights, divisible rights, how to get copyright, registration systems, assignments, licensing, work for hire and independent contractors, derivative rights, distinctiveness, who owns what and how. Public Domain, Facebook and Creative Commons.  Basically, the essentials of what a writer needs to know.
The other side of the Course looks at Publishing Contracts, and even provides sample contracts.  Start with the basics, what is a contract?  From there, we go on to explore different kinds of contracts and the history and economics behind it, from newspapers and magazines, to book publishers, music and movies, games. We identify the elements of publishing contracts, what publishers want and what they actually need, relative negotiating positions and power inequalities, trade associations, standardized contracts and standardized terms, honest publishers and agents and fly by nights and vanities.
Right now, the world is rapidly changing.  New technologies, economic pressures, are changing the marketplace constantly, Publishers and Distributors, Writers and Free Lancers are continually looking for leverage to survive. This workshop offers the tools to at least appreciate the shifting landscape and to perhaps navigate it.