Novel in a Year Class

2019 IS FULL. WE ARE NOW SIGNING UP FOR 2020.

Instructor: Richard Thomas
Email: writingwithrichard@gmail.com
Skype: richardgthomas3
Class Hours: Fourth Thursday of each month, 3 hours, 7:00 to 10:00 PM CST.
Length: 52 Weeks
Class Size: 8 students

COURSE STATEMENT:

Are you ready to take the next step? I constantly talk about writing short stories, finding your voice, and developing as an author. That’s all very important. But the end goal for many of us is to write a novel (hopefully LOTS of novels). That’s probably the best way to access innovative small presses, and the most common path to acquiring an agent, and landing at one of the big five publishers (and selling your film rights). This class will cover pre-writing (development), writing, editing, and submitting. The end goal is to have a novel over 66,000 words by the end of the year. Not only have I written three novels, but I’ve edited and helped other authors get their work published. The reason I’m teaching this class is to be there to help others go through the process—surrounded by talented peers, and with a safety net and published author to help guide, nudge, push, and advise.

COURSE OBJECTIVE:

To outline, write, edit, and submit a novel in one year.

I’d add PUBLISH here, but we all know the submission process can take months, or even a year (or longer) not to mention the editing, marketing, design, and promotion that will come once you’ve sold that book.

BOOKS REQUIRED:

None. But if you’re looking for good books on the craft, here are my four favorites: On Writing by Stephen King, Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass, Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer, and Thrill Me! by Benjamin Percy.

OVERVIEW:

There are two ways you can come to this class—with a novel written, or not. I will accept students either way. I expect that MOST will come to class with nothing written yet (aside from some notes, ideas, and maybe a handful of scenes). Either way, here are my thoughts and notes on how the year will play out.

You will have daily prompts. Those will be on Facebook, in a private, secret group. We will meet via Skype once a month for about three hours, where each author will get 20 MINUTES to talk about any aspect of their novel. You can talk about what is blocking you, exciting you, or eluding you. You can toss out ideas about the plot, questions about clarity, or how you might subvert your genre—you name it. There will be 12 Skype calls a year.

January—Development and Outline (one month)

We will spend the first month using daily prompts to sketch out your book. We will talk about a wide range of topics, including but not limited to: narrative hook, inciting incidents, plot, character, setting, internal and external conflicts, tension, cast, genre, theme, expectations, innovation, structure, format, climax, resolution, and denouement. (Sound familiar?) If you already have a novel written, you will use the daily prompts to check your work, and go deeper. At the end of the month you will share your content with the class, and give feedback to your peers in a timely manner (a week for outlines, please).

February through June—Writing (six months)

This is where the rubber meets the road. I will give you daily prompts that will push you to write. The early prompts will be about the beginning of the novel—the hooks, the setup, the cast of characters, the pace, early foreshadowing, etc. Then we will look at how the plot unfolds, and how deep you go with secondary plots, themes, and characters. As the book grows we will continuously look at the development of your characters, how we feel about them, sympathy and empathy, how the protagonist/s resonate, the enemy and other villains, and overall voice, tension, and depth of story. As we approach the end, we will make sure this story is staying true to character, surprising us along the way, and being as innovating, fresh, and personal as is possible. All of this is leading to that powerful ending—the climax, resolution, change, and denouement. Does it all add up? Does it work? How do we feel? And what was the journey like? Did it give us everything it promised? If not, then that’s the next stage—editing. You will turn in 11,000 words a month (that’s only about 350 words a day). Our goal is to get you over 65,000 words for the year. Most presses want at least 60,000 for a novel. At the end of the month you will share your content with the class, and give feedback to your peers in a timely manner (a month for this writing and developmental editing, please, also known as a read and respond). If you already have a novel written, you will use the daily prompts to check your work, and go deeper.

July through November—Editing (five months)

Okay, this is not only the most painful part of the process (in my opinion) but also the most exciting. What, you doubt me? This is where you give your novel an honest evaluation, listen to your classmates, and trim the fat. There is something hypnotic and invigorating about looking at each chapter and seeing what works (which is probably MOST of it) and then tweaking, trimming, editing, and polishing—making each section sing. Then we get to go through a number of times to check the grammar, make sure the tense stays consistent, develop the setting (all five senses), enhance the feelings we have about our characters, and make sure their actions match their morality and abilities, while not only embracing the genre/s you are writing in, but subvert those expectations. If you promise us a cheeseburger, you better deliver, but the bun, the meat, the toppings—that’s where you can make it your own. You will not turn in edits each month, but will instead work toward a goal of a final, polished novel, which you WILL share with your peers. (Final feedback from YOU is another read and respond, talking about the overall experience, but from me, it will be a full line-by-line edit.)

December—Submission

You didn’t think I’d abandon you after it was all written, did you? This is where we will do research on small presses, agents, and the big five publishers (and their imprints). We will use a variety of tools and resources to figure out where to send your work. And then you will SEND YOUR BOOK OUT! (My final edits are due back to you 30 to 60 days after the class ends. I need time to do my best work, but I also don’t want to hold you up.)

WHO IS THIS CLASS FOR:

  1. Advanced students who are looking to take their writing to the next level.
  2. Experienced authors who have penned many successful short stories, and/or published widely, and are eager to take on the long form. They should have a strong sense of their voice (including strengths and weaknesses).
  3. Authors who are firmly entrenched in one genre, and feel they have a strong understanding of what is expected and/or those looking to subvert the expectations of that genre.
  4. Authors who are writing cross-genre and/or hybrid fiction, and are looking to break the mold and innovate across those genres.
  5. Writers who have the time and discipline to commit an entire year of planning, writing, editing, and submitting this novel.
  6. Authors who are excited about THIS BOOK and are willing to put their blood, sweat, and tears into this narrative. Story should have the depth to go 66,000 words or more.
  7. Writers who have enjoyed my other classes.
  8. Author who have enjoyed my own writing, editing, and publishing (including Gamut and Dark House Press).

PAST SUCCESS:

Other authors and clients I’ve worked with have sold novels to Angry Robot Books, JournalStone, Crystal Lake Publishing, One Eye Press, Post Mortem Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Kraken Press, and Perfect Edge Books. Many writers have also landed agents after working with me. Work I’ve edited has been nominated for the following awards and prizes: Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, Thriller, Nebula, Folio, and Pushcart.

COST/FINANCING:

This was tricky, but basically what I wanted to do was look at my rates for a developmental edit ($4/page) of a novel, as well as a line-by-line edit of a novel ($8/page), and then the class. For 66,000 words, if the average page is 250 words that’s a 264-page novel. So those costs would be $1,056 + $2,112 = $3,168. My workshops are $800 for 16 weeks and my Dark Fiction Class is $1,200 for 16 weeks, so you COULD extrapolate those out to between $2,400 and $3,600 a year. That would put the grand total at somewhere between $4,268 and $6,768. I decided to price it at $5,000. Here are the discounts:

  1. Full Price (with payment plan): $5,000
    (12 months—$416/month; 24 months—$208/month)
  2. Past Student (10% off, with payment plan): $4,500
    (12 months—$375/month; 24 months—$187.50/month)
  3. Past Student (20% off, paid in full): $4,000

For payment plans, there are two obvious options—12 months or 24 months. If you’d like to have the class paid off in full before we start, do 12 months. If you need to stretch it as far as possible to get the lowest monthly rate, do 24 months. I’m willing to work with you all to make this possible. All payments are by Paypal invoice. Other means are possible as well.

NOTE: If your novel goes over 66,000 words, I will bill for the additional length. So, in the developmental stage, that’s at $4/page, which I will bill when we go over (billed in June). With the finished novel, that’s at $8/page, billed when I turn in the completed edits (January or February of 2020). So, if the developmental edit ends up at 70,000 words, I’d bill an additional $64. And if the final manuscripts balloons up to 76,000 that would be an additional invoice for $320 (due upon receipt of the full edit).  

FINAL THOUGHTS

I think this class will go a long way toward making your novel happen. Obviously, the heavy lifting is on your end—I can’t write the book for you. But by having my input and guidance during the conception, writing, editing, and submission, I think your chances for success are very high. And the input of your peers is valuable as well. I was part of a similar group, Write Club, for many years, and it helped me a lot when I was writing Transubstantiate and Disintegration. Also, I won’t accept any students that I don’t think are ready to do this. You must have the determination, the talent, and the imagination.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions!

Thanks,
Richard

2020 Richard Thomas Fiction Writing Course Guide

I’ve decided to teach and write full-time! So that means I’m expanding my catalog of classes, and opening it up to authors of all levels. If you’d like the complete University of Richard Fiction Writing Course Guideclick here to email me now! It includes more information on my classes such as rates, length, overviews, books, and testimonials.

What classes am I offering in 2020? Here is the list:

  • Short Story Mechanics (LitReactor.com) two weeks long (which still has 2019 slots open for April and October)
  • Keep It Brief: A Flash Fiction Intensive (LitReactor.com) two weeks long (which still has 2019 slots open for July)
  • Contemporary Dark Fiction (Skype, email, and Facebook) 16 weeks long
  • Advanced Creative Writing Workshop (Skype, email, and Facebook) 16 weeks long
  • Novel in a Year (via Skype, email, and Facebook) 52 weeks long (only one spot left!)

Come join the fun! And help take your writing to the next level. Class sizes are small, and payment plans are available, so drop me a note today!

(Note: The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eleven includes my co-written novelette, “Golden Sun.”)

Click HERE to get your free copy of the Writing Course Guide now!

I’m Teaching a 16-Week Advanced Creative Writing Workshop Class Online!

2019 IS SOLD OUT. WE ARE NOW SIGNING UP 2020.

Since my last class, Contemporary Dark Fiction, has done so well, I thought I’d launch a second class, an Advanced Creative Writing Workshop. How is this class different? Well, there will be less focus on craft, and teaching you the basics, and more time spent reading and writing. It’s essentially what I did when I got my MFA back in 2012.

What I loved in my MFA was reading contemporary short fiction to see what was going on, what was being published, and what was getting attention. I can’t think of a better way to do that than to read these three anthologies: The Best American Short Stories, The Best Horror of the Year, and The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. This is a great way to stay up to date, to research current markets, study with the masters, and find new voices. In my MFA we only focused on literary fiction (BASS), so adding in Best Horror and Best SF&F will really help you to expand your voice and learn from those genres as well. (If we publish a Best of Gamut in 2018, we may swap that out, down the road, for one of these titles.)

With class sizes small, a maximum of eight students, these will probably fill up quickly.

More information below.

OVERVIEW:

Each week, you will read two stories that I have curated from the three aforementioned anthologies, selecting the stories that I think are the most powerful, unique, and with the most to teach us. There will also be a weekly Skype call (2 hours), where we will talk about that week’s short stories, and what the authors did well, how they are innovative, and how you might apply that to your own writing. We will also workshop two of YOUR stories, applying the same level of critical analysis. (Two student stories per week, with each student workshopping a total of FOUR stories, overall.) We will have additional ongoing questions and conversations on Facebook (in a private, secret group). At the end of the month, you will turn in an original short story based on whatever inspired you over the course of our studies, up to 5,000 words. I will read, edit, and critique each story, and return it to you with advice on what to do next (keep editing, drop it, polish it up, send it out). In addition to commenting on each other’s work (workshopping) the stories in Skype, you will also read and give feedback on the other short stories in the class via email (and the Word docs). At the end of the semester you will get one hour of private Skype time with me to talk about anything you like—your work in class, other projects, the industry in general, markets, query letters, how to get an agent, what to do next, etc. (Note: You will have to come to class with ONE short story already written. You will write THREE in class, not turning in a story in the final month.)

WHO IS THIS CLASS FOR:

  1. Advanced students who are looking to take their writing to the next level
  2. Authors who write genre fiction and are looking to make their work more literary
  3. Literary authors who are looking to add some genre, or supernatural aspects, to their realism
  4. Authors who have published several stories already
  5. Authors who don’t need to be taught craft, or the basics of short story writing
  6. Anyone looking to expand their understanding of contemporary fiction
  7. Authors that are looking to publish in the top magazines, websites, and anthologies
  8. Writers who have the time and discipline to read every week, and write a new short story once a month

(This is not a class for beginning students or authors, unless you already have some study and experience. We will not teach the basics, but will already assume you understand that, and are looking to study contemporary masters, apply it to your own work, and then create new material on a monthly basis.)

TESTIMONIALS: 

“Opting to take Richard’s Advanced Creative Writing Workshop was certainly one of the best decisions I’ve made for my development as a writer. Richard is an enthusiastic class leader and guide who also allows ample time for student participation, questions, etc. He has excellent insight into plot, characterization, setting, and all the other factors that make or break a story. For the readings, he draws on a wide range of stories from the annual Best Horror, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Best American Short Stories anthologies. On a personal note, Richard’s feedback and guidance has made me a more confident and self-assured writer. Based on the interactions I saw with my fellow students (and me), it’s clear he has that rare ability to really zero in on what makes each writer tick—their strengths and the unique perspectives each bring to the craft. He pushes his students to take their work further in those directions, so that their individual creative visions and voices come to life on the page. I’ve taken several online writing courses, and this was easily the best.  It built up my knowledge and confidence, and I believe my writing and storytelling has improved. In addition, I had a great time with my fellow students, who also provided some excellent insights into my work. There were even opportunities to interact with some of the authors whose work we read in the above-mentioned anthologies.”—Dave B.

“I would definitely recommend this class to a friend—in fact, I’ve already recommended it to several. This course has changed me. I’ve taken quite a few classes, workshops, and retreats, but none of them has had the effect on me that this one has. I see writing through a different lens now. It’s as though I’ve gone through a battle and come out a seasoned soldier. I’m more confident, more aware, more educated than I was before.”—Brenda T.

“This workshop offers a great balance of reading the masters, critiquing and being critiqued, and time for writing new material. Just having completed the workshop, I’ve already received a few comments from beta readers that the depth of my characters and attention to setting have improved. Richard is an expert at designing workshops, and he’s very responsive to individual questions throughout the 16 weeks. In addition to being incredibly knowledgeable about the craft and the business side, he’s a fun and engaging person to learn from. At least based on the workshop I took, he draws some of the best emerging writers to his courses. Far from a chore, critiquing the other writers’ manuscripts work was a pleasure. Richard and the other writers offered creative, smart ideas for improving each of my manuscripts. Not only that, Richard is open to giving feedback on more than one draft of the same manuscript. I highly recommend the workshop. It’s a terrific experience.”—Matt F.

“Richard’s Advanced Creative Writing Workshop is perhaps the best writing course I have ever been in, and I’ve completed a 3 year Creative Writing degree with a Man Booker Prize long-listed author! The 16 weeks of the course will provide you with the same level of insight, depth and challenge as an MA degree, exploring celebrated contemporary writers alongside the work of your fellow students. The literature covered here is broad in terms of genre: from The Best American Short Stories, Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and Best Horror anthologiesso there’s a huge amount to be learned from these genres and apply to your own work in interesting ways. Quite apart from the astonishing insights and editing you’ll receive from your fellows, you also get a chance to receive feedback from Richard, who is an incredible teacher in terms of his insight into storytelling, his attentiveness, and his willingness to allow you to blossom as your own writer, rather than forcing you into a prescriptive model as so many big name authors do. I can honestly say that I’ve found my voice as a writer from going on this course and it’s already lead to two professional sales and a competition win with a cash prize. If you want to step up your game, take this course. You seriously won’t regret it.”—Joseph S.

“This class is the logical next step for authors on the cusp of breaking out. If you’ve already published a few pieces and want to take your writing to the next level, this is the class for you. Richard forces you to read more, write more, and critique more while interacting with like-minded writers who want to improve their game. Highly recommended!”—Repo K.

“Richard is passionate about helping you become a better writer, and that translates into a class environment that is supportive, irreverent, and creates lasting relationships with cool new people with similar goals. And it will kick your writing up several notches.”—Kris M.

“Richard’s Advanced Creative Writing Workshop moves beyond the basics of the short form, looking at how components come together to form a polished work. He utilizes the Best of the Year anthologies to look at not only what’s been published, but what has stood out that year, and why. Using these same techniques, you break down your own work highlighting what works, and what doesn’t. Richard’s honesty paired with his supportive nature is invaluable during this process. He encourages you to reach beyond the comfortable, and you can always trust he’ll be there to guide you if you misstep. The in-depth analysis and encouragement really makes for a fantastic experience. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to move beyond short story basics. “—Shaw C.

“Taking this class was the best writing decision I made in a long time. I’ve been writing short stories seriously for years but was drowning in the waters of editing my stories to near death. This class was the kick in the ass I needed to get me out of my creative slump. With Richard and my amazing classmates, we broke down the best short stories of 2016, going beyond the mechanics of storytelling or craft and looking at all level of a stories effectiveness and impact. We built those stories back up examining what made them work (or sometimes not work). We did the same with our own fiction examining each other’s stories each week and looking at how we could apply the lessons we’d learned to our own work. With Richard’s guidance’s our class was an enthusiastic, supportive and fun environment that I already miss participating in each week. Richard will take the talent, craft and skills you already have and challenge you to rise to the next level. If you’re thinking about taking this class, I’d advise you to stop thinking about it and go for it, you won’t regret it.”—Brandon P.

“Richard Thomas’ Advanced Creative Writing Workshop expanded my understanding of current fiction, released my writing from the sole designation of horror, and freed me to explore and incorporate other genres. If you’re ready to add dimension and depth to your stories, I recommend Richard’s Advanced Creative Writing Workshop.”—Dona F.

“I feel like I broke through some internal membrane that held me back as a writer in this class. Reading “best of” genre stories and the in-depth discussions while receiving Richard’s trained analytical eye on my own pieces was unbelievably helpful. I’d take any writing class by Richard—he cuts to the clever, the sublime, and the profound unlike any other teacher I’ve encountered—-and I’d recommend this to beginning and intermediate writers everywhere.”—Ian V.

“A great value for the amount of reading and working that is involved. Richard knows his stuff and that knowledge alone is worth taking the class.”—Dan M.

“I really appreciated Richard’s focus on what was good from both a literary and a commercial perspective and enjoyed being in, and learning from, a community of talented writers. I believe Richard’s critiques have had a salutary effect on my writing—my stories have become tighter, more consciously structured, and layered.”—Margot S.

“I would absolutely recommend this for writers wanting to level up—I got a lot out of the interactions. “—Carolyn C.

“ACWW exceeded my expectations from the very first week. I finished this class with greater confidence and a stronger sense of the direction I want to take as a writer, thanks to a well-designed program delivered by an exceptional instructor. Richard’s commitment to our goals, his enthusiasm and energy, generous mentorship and deep knowledge of the creative writing process made this workshop an absolute standout.”—Cynthia S.

“If you want to take your writing to the next level, if you want to write like the big name authors publishing today, this class will help get you there. Richard is a coach, mentor, professional, and personal trainer for your writing all in one.”—Scott H.

“I thought this course was a terrific learning experience and one of the best things that I could do for my writing. I learned a great deal from reading the work of my classmates and the stories in the anthologies, and from the helpful comments and suggestions from Richard and the others on the course. Wonderful!”—Ronnie S.

COST/FINANCING:

$800, via Paypal to wickerkat@aol.com. $100 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your spot. If you are a returning student (from ANY of my classes, anywhere) take 10% off. If you pay in FULL at the time of deposit, take an additional 10% off. Otherwise, it’s $100 upon registration, $350 before class starts, and the balance of $350 due prior to the start of the second month. You are required to purchase the three anthologies (or feel free to check them out at your local library) for extended discussion. (Additional payment options are available, if needed.)

Returning student + paid in full: $640 ($40 a week)
Returning student, not paid in full: $720 ($100 down + $310/$310; $45 a week)
Paid in full, not returning student: $720 ($45 a week)
Not returning student, not paid in full: $800 ($100 down + $350/$350; $50 a week)

Drop me a note at richardgamut@gmail.com to register, to request a full syllabus, or if you have any questions.

Thanks,
Richard

SESSIONS:

January 1 – April 30, 2017 Session One FULL
May 1 – August 31, 2017 Session Two FULL
September 1 – December 31, 2017 Session Three FULL
January 1 – April 30, 2018 Session One FULL
May 1 – August 31, 2018 Session Two FULL
September 1 – December 31, 2018 Session Three FULL
January 1 – April 30, 2019 Session One BOOKING FULL
May 1 – August 31, 2019 Session Two BOOKING FULL
September 1 – December 31, 2019 Session Three FULL
January 1 – April 30, 2019 Session One BOOKING FULL
May 1 – August 31, 2019 Session Two BOOKING
September 1 – December 31, 2019 Session Three BOOKING

I’m Teaching an Online Creative Writing Class, 16 Weeks Long, About Contemporary Dark Fiction

CDF_2019

2019 IS FULL. WE ARE CURRENTLY BOOKING STUDENTS FOR THE 2020 CLASSES.

Hello everyone! I’m going to teach a creative writing class online called Contemporary Dark Fiction. It’ll be SIXTEEN WEEKS long (I know!) essentially the same length as your average semester.

This is the class I’ve always wanted to teach, taking the best aspects of the classes that I’VE TAKEN online, as well as my MFA, and focusing on books that I love (and think are important) as well as stories I’ve curated. Class sizes are going to be small (a maximum of eight students). Here is a little more information, but if you’d like to sign up, or ask for a syllabus, please drop me a note at richardgamut@gmail.com.

OVERVIEW:

Each week, you will read one column that I’ve written at LitReactor.com, and we will talk about how to apply that to your own writing. You will also have at least one short story to read each week, which will relate to that week’s column. You will then have a writing assignment for that week that utilizes what you’ve learned from the column and story—anywhere from 200-1,000 words. In addition to that, you will have a section of a novel to read. You will read four books in four months, so that means a book a month. There will also be a weekly Skype call (1.5 hours), where we will talk about that week’s short story, the column and subject, as well as the novel section that you have read. We will have additional ongoing questions and conversations at Facebook (in a private, secret group). At the end of the month, you will turn in an original short story based on whatever inspired you over the course of our studies, up to 4,000 words. I will read, edit, and critique each story, and return it to you with advice on what to do next (keep editing, drop it, polish it up, send it out). At the end of the semester you will get one hour of private Skype time with me to talk about anything you like—your work in class, other projects, the industry in general, markets, query letters, how to get an agent, what to do next, etc.

BOOKS: (required)

The New Black (Dark House Press) edited by Richard Thomas (signed, included)
Exigencies (Dark House Press) edited by Richard Thomas (signed, included)
After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones (PDF, included)
The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers (PDF, included)

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville $15.12 710 pages 978-0345443021
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer $8.12 208 pages 978-0374104092
Come Closer by Sara Gran $5.98 168 pages 978-1569473283
Bird Box by Josh Malerman $22.15 272 pages 978-0062259653

WHO IS THIS CLASS FOR:

  1. Advanced students who are looking to take their writing to the next level, as well as beginners who have no fear, and an open mind.
  2. Authors who write genre fiction and are looking to make their work more literary.
  3. Literary authors who are looking to add some genre, or supernatural aspects, to their realism.
  4. Anyone looking to expand their understanding of contemporary dark fiction.
  5. Authors that are looking to publish in the top magazines, websites, and anthologies.
  6. Writers who have the time and discipline to read and write every week for the next sixteen weeks.
  7. Authors who enjoy my writing, and/or the work I’ve published at Dark House Press, and/or the four anthologies I’ve edited.

(There will be some minor overlap with previous classes I’ve taught, but we will get into the novels and anthologies in much greater detail.)

TESTIMONIALS

“This class is easily the best thing I’ve ever done for myself as a writer. I’ve grown so much and now have a much clearer vision of the directions I want to keep growing towards.”—Austin J.

“What is ‘Contemporary Dark Fiction?’ It can mean everything from noir to new weird, slipstream, horror and more. In 16 weeks, Richard Thomas takes you through stories about the absurd and grotesque, the horrific and unexpected. You will write over 50,000 words and you will test the boundaries of your own writing voice. It’s an honest-to-god thrill ride and you will enjoy the trip.”—Richard W.

“This is the class I wish I’d had while studying creative writing in college. This is how you teach writers how to produce strong literary fiction. Not by barring them from speculative or genre elements, but by studying stories with those elements at their best, discussing what they do right, and giving clear, specific, and thorough feedback on students’ own attempts at it. What I love most about Richard as a teacher is that he respects and encourages your own tastes and interests rather than trying to foist his preferences onto you. But that doesn’t stop him from challenging you as a writer. When it comes to feedback, he’s simultaneously direct and encouraging, and I feel like this is the first time I’ve really grown as a writer in years. At university, my professors and classmates mostly focused on how my stories sounded, but Richard really gets down to the meat of a story, commenting on structure, character, setting, etc. As for the class as a whole, it was higher quality than pretty much any class I took at university. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it. I’d say just the exposure to and discussion of new stories and novels from various realms of dark fiction, alone, made it worth the price. I have so much more to draw from, a clearer understanding of where I fit as a writer, and am excited about where I want to go from here. But on top of that, I’ve written more than I have in years, have met some awesome new writers, got excellent feedback on my writing, and a lot more. So if you’re a writer who wants to improve your craft or figure out where you fit within the wonderful underworld of dark fiction, I highly recommend this class.”—Tara N.

“Yes, the short story reading list is fantastic and enlightening. Yes, the weekly columns will teach you or remind you of incredibly useful aspects of storytelling and technique. And yes, the novels are great, too, and ones you really ought to read. But the most valuable and important part of this class is how much Richard cares. He cares that you become a better writer, he cares that you are exposed to writing that makes you think, and he cares that you pursue and level up when it comes to your passion. There is no dollar amount you can put on that amount of caring, and its impact will last you far beyond this class.” —Becca J.

“One of Richard’s strengths is his commitment to diversity. He offers a safe, honest place to explore the art, and expand your talent no matter where you’re coming from, or your level of expertise. He’s knowledgeable, and approachable. I’d recommend his classes to anyone seeking to learn more about writing, or the genre of contemporary dark fiction.”—Shaw C. (NOTE: You can read this BLOG POST BY SHAW as well.)

“This class really helped me push my limits and learn new ways of writing and approaching different areas of my craft, while helping me to define my focus. The columns inspired me to write better. The content of your courses is fabulous and I always learn a lot.”—Erin C.

“I encourage everyone to take Richard Thomas’ Contemporary Dark Fiction Class. For sixteen weeks he leads a small group through a specially curated program of readings followed by Skype lectures and discussions. He will personally read and comment on your weekly and monthly writings. You will leave the class with a new appreciation of contemporary dark fiction.”—Dona F.

“This class was transformational for my work. It took my literary and genre navigation game to a new level.”—Daniela T.

“Richard has a wealth of knowledge and insight, and this class expanded and deepened my understanding of contemporary dark fiction to an extent that I don’t think I could have achieved on my own. “—Katherine W.

“Imagine your radiator exploding in the middle of a drive in the California desert. You need water, you need a fix, and you have no tools. Take your car to the franchise loaded with dull mechanics collecting the next paycheck? Or take it to the warlock in the dark alley who not just fills your radiator, but communes with your engine? Richard Thomas is that warlock, who not only pulls aside the curtain on some of the magical aspects of writing and gives you an understanding of the craft you can apply immediately, but he loads up your car and brain with a dozen tools that leave your mind spinning and your creativity in high gear. Whether through learning new tools, dissecting and analyzing new techniques, reading his columns, or his providing inspiration through unique story selections, this workshop is nuclear energy for creativity and craft. New writers often feel trepidation or overconfidence when in uncharted waters, and Richard’s lessons constantly surprise and engage, while at the same time encourage chances and risks along the journey. From flash fiction to short stories to novels, from novice to intermediate, Richard’s classes provide a lighthouse in a dark storm for writers who want to up their game and get published. This gave my writing career a nitro boost and an overloaded toolbox for the road ahead.”—Ian V.

“An intensive and deep study of modern dark fiction, including neo-noir, new weird, transgressive and contemporary horror. Highly recommended.”—Matthew B.

“Having taken a number of classes with Richard, I found his manner of teaching allowed for a safe environment, where students could tap into their creative process immediately, whether they were beginners, of an intermediate-level, or accomplished. Richard’s classroom is absolutely refreshing, and worthy of the trust necessary in becoming a successful storyteller. His Contemporary Dark Fiction class offers an MFA-level experience that cannot be found just anywhere outside of university, if at all. He may just be the only writing teacher out there who is this accessible. If you’re looking to become a great storyteller, then please don’t miss out.”—Neil S.

“Want to be a better writer? Want someone to provide shock absorbers to help you glide smoothly over the bumps in the road? Want to have your work read by someone with a discerning eye? Then take one of Richard Thomas’s fiction classes. He is capable, caring, inspiring, and he provides compassionate, in-depth critiques of your work. He can give you the ammunition you need to get to the head of the class.”—Denise C

“This class allowed me to read my favorite sorts of books and immerse myself in the craft of writing while getting valuable feedback from a phenomenal instructor and great colleagues. I highly recommend it. It’s a good deal of work and a lot to read, but the inspiration and understanding that the lessons and stories generate are worth the investment. “—Wendy M.

“Richard Thomas is an excellent teacher and a talented writer. His workshops help fiction writers to polish their craft and explore writing in new genres. Highly recommended.”—Alicia H.

“A great mini MFA class to refresh your writing and help you work on aspects of your craft with other well seasoned writers.”—Dan M.

“I just finished 16 weeks of the best writing class—ever! I’m feeling similar to the way I did in college when I’d finished my semester finals–and the next day there was NOTHING to do. Do you know that feeling? It’s that mixture of satisfaction you’ve accomplished and learned something, pared with sadness the class is over. I’ve written 16 weekly assignments, written four one page papers over the four books we read and analyzed, read and discussed sixteen writing articles, same with sixteen short stories, and critiqued the six other classmates’ work. All this besides reading recommended materials–books, articles, etc. I now have four complete short stories, nine flash fiction pieces, and a tremendous appreciation for everything Richard has taught me. Thank you, Richard.”—Brenda T.

“I would definitely recommend this class to a friend. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn in depth about writing tools and apply them both to novels and short stories. It is very useful even if you are not into dark fiction, like I am. Thanks to the class, I have learned a lot about different kinds of dark fiction. I discovered I even liked some of it. And I would consider writing certain types too. A class is a big success when you discovered something new about yourself.”—Irina S.

“I really can’t recommend Richard Thomas’s classes enough. I took a couple of the shorter ones before building up to Contemporary Dark Fiction, and I’ve learned so much in all of them. There’s pretty much no way taking an RT class won’t make you a better writer. The amount of material and feedback you’ll get is way beyond the dollar value of the course, and Richard is incredibly generous with his time and support. Go for it!”—Matt H.

“I’ve taken four classes with Richard and I’ll take four more and four more after that. He gets the best from his students, because he has true passion for his craft. He knows how to challenge you to challenge yourself. Richard always delivers his guidance in the most positive ways. He’s a motivator, a subject matter expert, and that rarest of beasts—a teacher.”—Ray G.

COST/FINANCING:

$1,200, via Paypal or check. $100 non-refundable deposit is required to hold your spot. If you pay in full at the time of your deposit, take 10% off ($1,080). If you are a returning student (from any class, anywhere) take an additional 10% off ($960). Otherwise, it’s $100 upon registration, and half of the remaining balance due before class starts, and the remaining half due prior to the start of the second month. Paperback copies of The New Black and Exigencies are included with your fees, as well as PDFs of After the People Lights Have Gone Off and The Lineup: 20 Provocative Women Writers) for short story analysis. You are required to purchase the other four novels (or feel free to check them out at your local library) for extended discussion.

SESSIONS:

January 1 – April 30, 2017 Session One FULL
May 1 – August 31, 2017 Session Two FULL
September 1 – December 31, 2017 Session Three FULL
January 1 – April 30, 2018 FULL
No summer session
Sept 1 – December 31, 2018 FULL
January 1 – April 30, 2019 Session One FULL
No summer session
September 1 – December 31, 2019 Session Three FULL
January 1 – April 30, 2020 Session One FULL
No summer session
September 1 – December 31, 2020 Session Three BOOKING


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I’m Teaching Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror & Beyond—ONLINE

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I’m teaching a six-week class, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror & Beyond, over at Story Studio Chicago (online) this October. Come join the fun. Here’s more information:

Description of Class

If you love the incredible, futuristic, supernatural, and fantastical—this is the class for you.

Whether you’re working on a project or just starting out, this six-week online course is perfect for writers who want to explore science fiction, fantasy, horror, and related sub-genres such as magical realism, new weird, and surrealism. We’ll discuss the conventions of these genres and explore the boundaries between them—and what happens when you cross them.

Students will explore craft elements such as character and setting, and how they operate in stories that challenge the imagination. You’ll practice creating alternate realities that may have a hint of magic, explore a dystopia or utopia, or even build an entirely new world.

We’ll read and study classic and contemporary examples by authors in various genres to learn what works, and explore the publishing world of speculative markets such as Cemetery Dance, Tor.com, Nightmare, Shimmer, F&SF, and Clarkesworld.

The class is perfect for writers who are curious about these genres, or writers who are already familiar with them and want to stretch the boundaries of their stories. Students will leave the class with new story starts and scenes, and share their work for feedback from the instructor and fellow writers.

What to Expect

Students can expect to spend two to three hours per week writing and interacting with classmates and the instructor. New lessons become available each Tuesday but can be completed anytime during the week.

This work will be supported by:

  • a weekly video from the instructor introducing the topic
  • an interactive lesson, moderated by the instructor
  • new exercises and materials available every week
  • full participation from every student to give and get feedback
  • email for one-to-one interaction with the instructor

Students will begin the week with a lesson containing reading and discussion materials, along with specific exercises to reinforce craft elements. No long lectures or text. Just the important points and fun, imaginative exercises.

During the week, students will post their work and comment on the work of the other participants. The instructor will also provide feedback on the exercises.

The only requirement is a reliable internet connection!

Back from UC-Riverside. What a blast.

So I just got back from being a visiting author at UC-Riverside, which is held at a fantastic resort in Palm Springs.

Tod Goldberg runs this program, and he does a great job with this low-res MFA—supporting his teachers, understanding his students, and being contemporary and current with his approach to fiction. He also made me laugh a lot, the guy is hilarious—I can’t remember having so much fun at an MFA program before. His program is very open to genre fiction, as well as literary fiction, and it was refreshing in so many ways. My lecture was about dark fiction, and how I feel we’re in a bit of a golden age for tragic storytelling. I was very happy to see a lot of nodding heads at my talk, the students well-read, getting all of my references, eager to read more, and apply their own voice to various genres.

I also had a great time hanging with my old friend Stephen Graham Jones. If you aren’t reading him, you are really missing out of one of the most interesting, innovative and powerful voices in fiction today. I’ve known Stephen for about nine years. I’ve taken classes he has taught, he blurbed my first book, I published a story of his in The New Black, as well as his latest collection, After the People Lights Have Gone Off (Dark House Press) which was nominated for both a Bram Stoker and Shirley Jackson Award, and he has written the introduction to my next short story collection, Tribulations, out in 2016. It’s funny to see how much we have in common, from our youth, to our influences, to our processes. Also, I figure if I just sit next to him often enough, I should evolve through osmosis alone.

I also got to see a lot of old friends such as Jason Metz (published a story of his in Exigencies), Xach Fromson, Gina Frangello, and Rob Roberge, which was great, and meet other authors I really enjoy, such as David Ulin and Tara Ison.

If you are looking for a contemporary low-res MFA program that is open-minded, innovative, and a lot of fun, apply—this is a unique place, that is doing amazing work. I hope to return soon.