The Anthology Workshop

Because Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) is frequently one of the editors for the WMG “Fiction River” Anthology workshop, I don’t write into it. There are other reasons, not least of which is I mostly work as a novelist these days, and shifting my brain back into that mode for a third of the year is not something I want to pursue right now.

But I’m also connected with a very broad network of folks who have never heard about the WMG workshops, so I wanted to take a moment to let the rest of you know about it.

Starting in December each year, they send out the first assignment at zero dark whatever Monday morning. This is a short story, to theme, to length, turned in by midnight the following Sunday. Seven days, write a story. Do it again the next week. Take a short break off for Xmas. Do it again in early January. Each of six weeks, find out the assignment and write a story for it.

This is for the Fiction River anthology, and is just about the only way in. (They do invite in BIG NAMES who are friends of theirs, occasionally.)

If you are a short story writer, you should consider signing up for the 2020 workshop. (The 2019 is happening in Vegas as we speak. I’m home with the kitty, Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) is there being an editor this year.

You write up to six stories. Then you read ALL of them. That turned out to be 1.3 million words this year, across a messy, complicated thing.

Where the magic occurs is during the Vegas week itself. Each day, one of the editors is buying. All of them are at the front of the space, and they all six of them go through every single story submitted, talking about why this story worked or didn’t. What might have made it better. Etc. These editors include Kristine Kathryn Rusch (F&SF, and others), Dean Wesley Smith (Pulphouse magazine), Mark Leslie Lefebvre, and others. A tremendous amount of experience as editors, talking to you about your story and your craft.

You don’t get to talk. You listen. You learn. You see how the sausage it made. I’ve gone several times with my wife, just so I could be there in the evening and watch. You get to see that editing is not personal.

My favorite story was several years ago. The editor buying had written his maybes on the board, by genre, and was reviewing them. He had one SF and five Thrillers, so the one SF was just in, while he sorted through the five based on other criteria. All good stories, but he was filling in slots and flavor at that point.

They go through every single story. Rate it. Critique it. And then they buy some of them. Right there while you watch, they assemble that issue of Fiction River. I cannot stress enough how much you will learn about your craft by sitting there and taking notes.

Moreover, you will learn craft. After several years of doing pulse pounders for Kevin J. Anderson, this crew knows how to do them. I like to refer to it as an Arms Race, with these forty or sixty people stepping their craft up year over year.

If you write short fiction, you should consider taking this class.

Additionally, you will meet professionals. Folks doing what you’re doing, and hoping to network with one another. I was able to build Boundary Shock Quarterly because I knew about half the folks in my Syndicate as a result of bribing them with baked goods at previous anthology workshops.

(Sideline: When we did it in Lincoln City, Or, I had a day job, and took a week off. While they were at the workshop, we had filled the entire Anchor hotel up, every room, so they would lock the front doors and left me alone with my own industrial kitchen. Plus a fantastic bar I could stand behind while writing. Cookies, brownies, whatever I felt like making, and the hauling over for the workshop to eat. Don’t do that in Vegas, for all the normal reasons. Planning to go next year, just to see folks.)

If you want to meet pros, you need to be in Vegas with them. These are Hugo winners, Derringer winners, Rita winners. Big time folks that you can learn from, even as you get together to write.

Share the word with your friends, because folks will be signing up for next year starting this week and the class fills by summer. If you have questions, or they do, send them my way and I’ll find you answers.

There are not many opportunities you will ever get to be part of something like this, and to learn so much along the way.