Interview with Brian Hodge (Part Two): It’s All the Same Road in the End

Part Two of my group interview with Brian Hodge continues, with his second story in The Best Horror of the Year—quite the accomplishment. Read on!

“It’s All the Same Road in the End”

(Originally in The Mammoth Book of Cthulhu, edited by Paula Guran, and reprinted in The Best Horror of the Year, edited by Ellen Datlow.)

QUESTION ONE: You begin with a cool, mysterious opening, then you proceed with a lot of backstory about the grandfather. Often, we are advised to not go too far into backstory, but in this case it really worked. Why did you decide to include so much, in a sense risking taking us out of the story? (And presume an editor/teacher would urge us to cut. So feel free to include any decisions you thought might be “breaking the rules.”) I’m wondering how you felt confident that it worked, and why you thought that as well.

ANSWER ONE: I don’t think you risk taking the reader out of the story when the past is so vital to the present that, without it, there wouldn’t be a present at all. It’s all the same story in the end, too. With this one, everything hinges on the events of fifty-odd years ago, so it’s imperative to understand what happened, or as much as the modern characters know of it. The reader has to know what drives them, what haunts them, what pulls at them and repels them. Without that, they’re just going through a set of prescribed motions that aren’t fully motivated. And even though Old Will, the grandfather, isn’t an active character, it felt important that he still be a presence and, ultimately, his voice be heard. History is repeating itself, generationally speaking … it’s just that nobody realizes that until it happens.

So the key is marbling the past throughout the active present, and optimally at the point at which its influence becomes most relevant, rather than front-loading things too heavily. Or trying to show things strictly chronologically. The onion metaphor is good here. You keep peeling those layers back. The past and the present continue to unfold together, and you see the membranes of connective tissue.

QUESTION TWO: How do you manage to make all that backstory interesting and “in the moment” even though it’s all memory? Are there techniques you suggest we try to avoid info-dumps but still feel vital to the story?

ANSWER TWO: I’ve addressed some ways of handling backstory in earlier questions, but another thing that occurs to me is that I try to render it in such a way that, instead of being dry, inert data, it’s more interactive for the characters. Like, it’s provoking some sort of emotional reaction or an intellectual conundrum, or it sets up a conflict in values. Anything like that. Ideally, you make it clear that this past stuff is something that strongly impacts the characters’ lives here and now. When it’s clear that what happened then matters to what happens now, or what happens next, it’s going to be more compelling.

QUESTION THREE: If you don’t mind, how long did this take you to write and edit? Do you plan it all out ahead of time, or pants through? Some writers might dance with a short story for months or more, how did this one unfold for you?

ANSWER THREE: I don’t remember how long it took, exactly. Somewhere between two and three weeks sounds about right. I didn’t plan everything out in advance, but I did have a decent idea of the general arc. With just about everything I tend to fall somewhere between plotting and pantsing. Like, I’ll have a sense of story or character arcs, and have in mind certain milestones, but there’s still room to figure other stuff out and surprise myself along the way, as most everything else develops more organically.

QUESTION FOUR: How much pre-planning and sketching do you do for characters in short stories? Do you give them more, or less, or different treatments than in a novel? For example, one brother starts out kind of a mama’s boy talking to her all the time, and the other seems more independent, yet their roles seem to invert at the end. Did you fully “know” these brothers, or did they evolve as you wrote?

ANSWER FOUR: It varies, but I give them a few paragraphs in my notes, at least, and more for characters in novels than in shorter works. I like to feel I know them well enough to get rolling, and then, as with any relationship, get to know them better as we spend more time together. That way, they have their own autonomy. They’re open to surprising me instead of being puppets that always have to do what I say. Like, with Young Will, the younger brother, I had no idea he was going to stay behind until right before he did.

The ideal place to reach—and it happens more with novels than with shorter stuff, because of the duration and investment of time—is where the characters start meeting you halfway and doing some of the work. I can usually count on it happening around 60 or 80 or 100 pages in. Sit down at the desk in the morning and it’s like calling a team meeting: “What’s everybody up to today? Really, you’re sure? Okay, I can get on board with that.” And off we go. That’s a great place to get to. Everything feels so warm and alive then.

QUESTION FIVE: Regarding planning out a story…do you know you want to leave clues like the photo of the woman, the cattle call of the song as you wrote this, or did you pepper those in later, after a draft or two? We thought those types of clues were the primary reason we found the backstory interesting, little compelling bursts of weird and unsettling clues. Really, really well done.

ANSWER FIVE: None of those were later drop-ins. All of that I knew about before I ever started writing anything. That’s not to say I never go back and weave elements in later. But in general, I like to do as much of the heavy lifting upfront as possible, so that the revision process is more about refinement and pruning and fine-tuning things to as high a degree as I can manage. That’s just the way I work, what works best for me.

QUESTION SIX: Where did the idea of this story come from? And the woman, the hag, or alien, or Baba Yaga, or whatever she was—is that based on a story you heard, legend, myth? Ditto for the calling/culling song.

ANSWER SIX: It came from what turned out to be a Photoshop manipulation of an old picture I found online, tarted up with a caption that it was the last photo taken by some folklorist who went missing. But it was really evocative, and totally sparked my imagination, so I kept it around on my hard drive for a few years until I felt ready to use it as the springboard for something that could go way beyond what the caption suggested.

The cattle call? That’s a real thing…an ancient thing, actually. The Swedish word is kulning. You can find examples of it on YouTube. I first encountered it at the beginning of a compilation CD of Nordic folk music called Wizard Women of the North. And other places since then…like black metal artist Amalie Bruun, who records as Myrkur, did it at the beginning of her 2017 album, Mareridt. It’s a lovely sound, and I would imagine it’s quite haunting at a distance, lilting over the fields and through the trees. I thought it would be an obvious reference point for the descendants of Swedish settlers in the area—they’re hearing something that’s sort of like it, but not really, and they can tell something’s wrong with the woman doing it, because the intensity of it is absolutely terrifying.

QUESTION SEVEN: There were some haunting moments in here that really were dependent on setting and sensory details. This is always important in my work. I’m thinking of how you show Daisy, the meteorite, and how they change after touching it. Is this a conscious choice, and do you consider yourself a maximalist? A choice of genre? Just your style? Or do you pick the moments to unpack and slow down, to immerse your readers? (Or all of the above! LOL). I’d love to hear your thoughts on the role of setting and sensory detail, especially in horror.

ANSWER SEVEN: A few years ago I began regarding the dichotomy of minimalist and maximalist as personally irrelevant, and started thinking of myself as a muscularist. Yeah, it’s a made-up word. I guess it was in a review, although I don’t remember of what, or where I saw it, and someone used the phrase “tight, muscular prose” to describe whichever work of mine they were covering. And I really liked that. I liked the metaphor of words as muscle tissue. It was also appealing because I’m avid about working out, with an emphasis on things like functional fitness and strength and movement.

If you think about a well-toned body, you recognize that muscle density isn’t the same everywhere. In some places it may be very lean; in other places it may be bigger and bulkier. It’s what it needs to be according to its function within the whole system, and ideally, going from one area to another, it’s all nicely contoured. There’s a visual flow.

So if you apply that metaphor to prose, then you start thinking about the functional fitness of lines and paragraphs. If you have something that’s necessary but easily conveyed, or transitional, you keep it streamlined. But if you need to, say, take the reader inside an intense emotional state, or weave various setting and sensory details that work together to create a mood or atmosphere, which in turn affects the psychological state of the reader, you go heavier, and build up a passage that flexes harder, so it can hit harder.

Ideally, too, whatever the word volume is, it’s tight and compact, not flabby. Even before the muscularist term occurred to me, I was already thinking of the later revision process, looking for more words to cut, as sweating off ounces. My ultimate goal is that, however many words there are, they all survived, and are there, for a reason.


Visit Brian at his WEBSITE or TWITTER or AMAZON.

Interview with Brian Hodge (Part One): On These Blackened Shores of Time

Last year I taught two of Brian Hodge‘s stories in my Advanced Creative Writing workshop, online. They were both pretty amazing. One of my students (Ian Vogel) reached out to Brian, and the next thing I knew we were sending him questions, and talking in depth about his stories. This is something I do with my Contemporary Dark Fiction class, but not so much with the ACWW (because our two-hour slots are usually full, and I don’t know all of the authors in the anthologies). But when we had an opening in our schedule, we decided to send him some questions. And we got some amazing answers in return.

I’ve become a huge fan of Brian’s work over the last couple of years, and he has really pushed me to write better—to take chances with my stories. (Note: funny story—my first professional sale, “Stillness,” was to Cemetery Dance for Shivers VI, and I just happened to publish alongside…you guessed it…Brian Hodge. (As well as Stephen King, Peter Straub, Kealan Patrick Burke, Brian Keene and a bunch of other hacks.)

I hope you enjoy the Q&A here.

“On These Blackened Shores of Time” 

(Originally in Children of Lovecraft, and reprinted in The Best Horror of the Year, Volume Nine. Both were edited by Ellen Datlow.)

QUESTION ONE: I love how you handle backstory, with the history of coal counties sprinkled in throughout the story. You don’t over describe the protag but give us enough to know him. But the weight of history was masterful. Is there a decision tree you use or a set of “filters” you use to choose meaningful backstory? Such as you might construct something meticulously for specific reasons, whereas some of us stumble into ways of handling backstory. (Speaking only for myself, hah.)

ANSWER ONE: It primarily comes down to what’s relevant, and what’s intrinsically connected over time. You have to know the history of your world, however small it may be, or discover it for yourself. If there’s any filter, it’s answering some form of this question: “If I didn’t include this, or if I pulled this out, would things stop making sense? Would they weaken, or not hang together as well?”

In this piece, it’s two tragedies that are linked over nearly a century, through cause and effect. There’s one timeframe in which competing agendas, and baser emotions like prejudice and anger and greed end up creating one tragedy. Even 90+ years later it’s not completely over and done with…the original tragedy is still unfolding when it breaks through into the modern day and creates another tragedy among people who had no idea about the first one. Then, underneath them both, there’s this mystery that goes back maybe hundreds of millions of years, and exerted its own mechanistic influence.

I think of backstory, a lot of times, as answering fairly simple questions and providing logical motivations. Like, here’s why Character A has this phobia; here’s why Character B hates Character C. It provides context so their actions don’t seem arbitrary. But with this particular novelette, I think the past goes beyond backstory, because it’s more complex, with a lot of different elements that are integrated and interrelated. Anywhere you go on this planet, the same geographical location encompasses vast layers of time, some of which have left a residue. And in this particular spot, they happened to line up and interact with each other not just across decades, but over geological timescales. So that requires a lot of detail.

QUESTION TWO: The ending was heartbreaking. I think most authors would have tried to save the boy and kill the grub-man. You did the opposite. Why did you make those choices?

ANSWER TWO: Oddly enough, perhaps, I don’t consider that a choice I consciously made. I’ve seen written works described as creations that are less constructed from scratch than unearthed like artifacts. That’s what this was like, so where it ultimately went seemed like a foregone conclusion to me. It felt all along like, hey, this is what happened—now, how can I relate it with as much feeling as possible?

A couple of clarifications. The sole surviving miner you call the grub-man…his form has actually become that of a labyrinthodont. That’s a general subclass of amphibians that were some of the more dominant forerunners to the dinosaurs. And nobody’s saving him. He’s asking for death and Trevor is about to deliver, although not out of anger or vengeance, but compassion.

QUESTION THREE: You avoid a lot of tropes with both Lovecraft’s oeuvre and your own backstory and character choices in your stories. How consciously do you make those decisions? This might be one of the most “humane” Lovecraft-inspired stories I’ve read.

ANSWER THREE: It feels less about making conscious decisions than about my fundamental approach. I’m not trying to mimic, or replicate, either in content or style. I’m just trying to be as authentically myself as possible, even when what I’m working on is like coming over to play in someone else’s yard. So that means carrying in my usual fascinations and obsessions and concerns and sense of aesthetics and so on. Several years ago I was hired to write a novel in the Hellboy universe, and after it came out, I remember seeing reactions like, “It feels like one of his other novels,” as if there was some surprise about that. Well, yeah. Because I’m trying to give you the best version of what I’m uniquely capable of, rather than an imitation of someone else that would probably miss the mark.

QUESTION FOUR: You nail some major universal themes in this story: familial loss, loneliness, the primal fear of the dark and the power of nature. Did that happen organically or was it more constructed?

ANSWER FOUR: It’s hard to establish themes upfront, like a checklist. It’s more likely that you recognize them in hindsight, once you have a completed work. In this instance, these themes arose naturally out of taking the core ideas and pursuing them where they led and massaging them into shape.

There was more real-world stuff that fed into this than you might’ve guessed. Five years ago, here in Colorado, we really did have a 1000-year flood. More than a year later, right in front of a friend’s house, the street really did collapse beneath one of his neighbors, as the guy was leaving for work. The entire neighborhood really did have no idea they were living over a mine from the 1920s, and it really had been closed in the shoddiest possible way, and the shaft really was washed out from below by floodwaters. Plus both my grandfathers were miners back in Illinois, and the brother of one of them really was involved in violent riots when scabs were brought in during a strike.

So that was a lot of raw material already, and it was easy to start asking the kind of fruitful questions that take you somewhere: What if Don’s neighbor hadn’t come safely out of the hole? What if the hole was much deeper? What if there was a whole mutant ecosystem down there? What would be the worst-case scenario of losing someone down a shaft like that, and what would it do to everyone involved?

But after you start coming up with answers for yourself, it’s real, thinking, feeling beings that have to embody the experience, and find out these answers for themselves. It becomes a matter of going as deep as you can to weave as strong a tapestry as possible out of all the sorrow and hope and grief and fear and longing and anger that would inherently arise out of such a situation. No matter how fantastical the premise may be, to me, it still has to be grounded in plausible human experiences. Does that part feel genuine? If it does, then I think it goes a long way in selling the rest.

QUESTION FIVE: I wrote in my notes, “Goddamn it, Brian can make mine history tense, how does he do it?” So…do you have any techniques you can share as to how you create tension and build the intensity in your stories?

ANSWER FIVE: The biggest favor you could do for yourself is to Google the concept of “micro-tension” as proposed and expounded upon by Donald Maass, and read whatever you can find that he has to say about it. Or, better yet, get some of his books on fiction writing, because he really does know his stuff. He’s a literary agent, but before that, he was a published author and an editor, so he’s in the unique position of being able to analyze how fiction works, and understand the whole business aspect of it all, from three different professional perspectives.

In a nutshell, micro-tension is the continual infusion of unease within a scene, that will pull the reader along because of the sense that all is not right. It doesn’t have to be anything overt. It can verge on the subliminal. It can be implemented with elements as granular as word choice, observations about the setting or environment, dialogue that implies things that aren’t being said…so many ways of doing it, really, and the beauty of it is that it can be applicable to any genre you happen to be writing in.

So I definitely rely on that, along with a grab bag of other approaches. In this particular piece, there was an escalating sense of what was at stake, and what was waiting to be found at the end of the parents’ search. Throughout, there were layers of mysteries, as things continued to unfold. And I strived to use those techniques to build a mounting sense of dread, that whatever was coming, it couldn’t be good … and then ultimately tried to make it even worse than you might have expected.

You’ll also notice that I broke that extensive mine history into two chunks. I initially wrote it as a single scene, a story-within-a-story, but then it seemed too long, too much at once. So I found a good split point, and put a family scene in between them, which itself ended on a cliffhanger of sorts: “What have you done?” So, as the reader, you keep leapfrogging through.

QUESTION SIX: Picking up on [the previous] questions about universal themes, one thing that really impressed me about this story was how it put the concepts of deep time and old ones into a human context. How did you hit these cosmic notes while at the same time keeping the story focused on the bonds of family and real human emotion? That is something I have not seen much of in cosmic horror. The last line really sealed this as a story about real people.

ANSWER SIX: Characters have always been my top focus. I’ve always considered them Priority One. I consciously made that decision at the very beginning, when I got serious about writing, my first few months out of college. I figured that if the reader was invested in the characters, that’s the thing I could always count on that would pull them through, regardless of what genre I was writing in. It would be universally transferable. So even though I may be hitting those cosmic notes, they’re still seen through the eyes, and challenging the perceptions, of the characters.

QUESTION SEVEN: What prompted some of your choices about the family—the jobs the parents have, the role reversal with the mother, and the ways they handled the situation?

ANSWER SEVEN: Over the past decade, I’ve trained in and practiced Krav Maga, the hand-to-hand combat system of the Israeli Defense Forces. For a couple of more advanced weekend intensives, one of our guest trainers brought in was a body language expert and special squads operator from the California Highway Patrol. Fascinating guy, and the stuff he imparted was riveting. I usually find that with training like that, I want to know more, and one thing leads to something else, and further resources.

So, for these characters, the father’s career path was loosely inspired by a former FBI agent and nonverbal communication specialist named Joe Navarro, and over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some badass women instructors. Drawing on all that, I thought these two would make an interesting couple, with a promising dynamic, and not a pair you’re likely to have seen before in this context. They could plausibly get shit done, because they wouldn’t be rendered helpless by an overpowering situation. Plus I liked the idea of Ginny, the mother, being the true prime mover here, because, being purely into defense and counter-offense, she actually feels less bound by the law than Trevor, the father. She’d be the one to tell you that it’s better to be judged by twelve than carried by six, so for the sake of those you love, always respond accordingly.

QUESTION EIGHT: You do a great job with the inciting incident and narrative hook at the start (both broadly intriguing and appealing, as well as relating to the specific incident, and how it personally resonates) as well as the ending, the climax, resolution, change, and denouement. Do you have any advice on how to connect those elements? What’s your process? (Start with hook, write it later, when it all comes together, plot ending, or organically let it develop?)

ANSWER EIGHT: Really, I can’t improve on the way Trey Parker and Matt Stone broke down the way they approach their scripts for South Park. Instead of “this happened, and this happened, and then this happened,” they think in terms of “this happened, so this happened, and therefore this happened.” Or “this happened, but then this happened, so this happened.” These may look similar, but there’s a vital distinction. Instead of a string of events that you hope connect, it’s that as a storyline progresses, everything emerges as a consequence of the actions and the decisions that have gone before. So there’s a logical through-line, even if it doesn’t seem obvious as you’re first encountering it. Everything else is mainly world-building and being true to the characters.


PART TWO tomorrow: “It’s All the Same Road in the End.” Visit Brian at his WEBSITE or TWITTER or AMAZON.

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

Complete List of Online Interviews by Richard Thomas

images

This is a list of interviews that I’ve conducted over the
years, all in one place. More coming soon. Enjoy!

With Noir at the Bar (Jed Ayres) at Walrus Publishing 7/2013

With xTx at The Rumpus 7/2013

With Amelia Gray at The Nervous Breakdown 10/2010

With Kevin Guilfoile at What Does Not Kill Me 3/2009

New Column: THE WORD is now live at ManArchy Magazine

So, I always leap at the chance to work with brilliant and talented people. So when Pela Via asked me to do something for ManArchy Magazine, I said, “Sure. Watchoo want?” We talked a little bit about it. I already do book reviews for The Nervous Breakdown, and a column on writing for Lit Reactor. So what else could we do? I still wanted to talk about books, if possible, as well as other cool things that have been informing and infecting my life, and my writing. We ended up with THE WORD. The first column talks about Sriracha, The Olympics, Adventure Time, Justified, and The Rumpus Letters. I hope you enjoy it, and while you’re at it, spread THE WORD. Ha, see how that worked out?

Storyville Column Seven is Up: Dissecting a Story.

And, now my seventh column is live up at Lit Reactor. It’s about the process of writing, what I go through when writing, editing and finishing a story. I dissect my Pushcart nominated story “Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave” which was originally published at Metazen. Hope you enjoy it.