…and you have two weeks to get it.
If you write science fiction or fantasy narratives–and that includes graphic novels or webcomics with story arcs instead of third-panel punchlines–you should consider applying to Viable Paradise. I wrote an informative, illustrated guest post for Inkpunks.com about the Viable Paradise experience, but here is some more information with photos of the participants & environs:
Viable Paradise is only one week, so the disruption to your regular life is minimal, but seven days of instruction, discussion, critique, and fun is enough to give you some powerful tools for building a career. Both short story and novel authors are welcome–the tools for building a narrative are similar, even if they’re applied differently for different project lengths.
The workshop takes place on Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts, arguably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.
There’s a beach near the workshop. Depending on the weather, it can look like this:
Or it can look like this:
I spent a lot of time on that beach, both writing and simply relaxing. Last year, I went down in the middle of the night and wrote the scariest part of my book under a fierce white moon, with wind whipping my hair and waves crashing up around the rocks. It was amazing. It’s important to remember that if this was just a writing workshop, they could have it at a hotel in Boston–it’s on Martha’s Vineyard because it’s also a writing retreat!
And the October weather is perfect. The workshop rents almost the entire inn, so the balcony belongs to the instructors and students…
Steve Brust liked the balcony so much he set up a desk and chair and remained in his outdoor office for nearly the entire workshop, except when we dragged him in to feed him or beg him to play us some music. (We didn’t have to beg hard.)
And speaking of music, the workshop facilitators actively encourage you to enjoy yourself and bond with the people who will someday become your professional contacts and colleagues. Several of the instructors are musically inclined, and every year it turns out some of the students are as well. You’ll be treated to impromptu folk concerts just about any time you ask.
There also may be some drinking–actually, on some nights, a lot! But I hasten to add that I don’t drink, and neither does Bart, another staff member, so there’s a guarantee that if you’re not much of a drinker either, you won’t be the only one. Viable Paradise does a splendid job of accommodating the students, and the staff go out of their way to make sure everyone feels as welcome as we can. Anyway, I’m going to say the alcohol is, um, to prepare you for the parties at conventions where you’ll network with other industry professionals!
And you will be an industry professional. No workshop can promise you that you’ll sell afterward, but I think VP can promise that they give you the tools to make it possible. I’m not the only one of my classmates who began making pro sales in the months following my time at VP, and some of them made their first sales.
At Viable Paradise, you learn from working professionals. Some of the instructors are award-winning authors or editors, and some of them are commercially successful writers who managed to pay mortgages and put children through college on a writer’s income–no small feat! “How to write well” is just one facet of a successful career–and the eight instructors have answers for your other questions, like how to write fast, how to write through a block, what kind of money you can realistically expect, whether you should look for an agent, and how to shop for one if you do… Many of these are questions that you can Google, but that means the answer was for someone else, and sometimes, that’s just not specific enough.
And on a personal note, and your mileage may vary: Viable Paradise helped me better understand narrative structure and the anatomy of plot. Before I attended, I wrote stories; afterward, I’ve crafted them. I also feel like I gained a better grasp of how to edit my own work, so that I’ve turned in higher quality stories to my critique group.
We always get a ton of last minute apps, so the sooner the better, but even if you send it in at five minutes to midnight we’ll forgive you.