Clarion West is the world pinnacle of f/sf workshoppery. Every year, emerging writers from all over (Africa, Japan, the UK, US, Australia…) undergo a competetive selection process to be one of the eighteen chosen for a six-week immersive experience taught by the best writers in the business. (This year? Hiromi Goto, George R.R. Martin, Chuck Palahniuk, Mary Rosenblum, Kelly Link & Gavin Grant, Connie Willis.)

It’s a life-changing experience. It’s six weeks of nothing-but-writing, nothing-but-learning. It costs $3,600.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like?

Well, the fabulous people who run that workshop have started a series of taster classes: one-off, one-day workshops right here in Seattle. They’re a kind of literary salon, with a leader. They last six hours. They cost $125. They’re for all writers, not just f/sf. And they’re first-come, first-served. This is your chance to take a Clarion West for a test drive.

Each one-day workshop has a laser-sharp focus. Each is taught by writers with years of experience and multiple books under their belt.

Here’s the line-up for the first quarter of this year:

★ Avoiding Rejection
Louise Marley
Sunday, January 15, 2012
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Agents often only read the first ten pages of a novel before deciding if they want you as a client. Slush readers for magazines decide within a few paragraphs whether your short story is right for them. We’ll practice techniques to make your manuscript grab the attention of an agent or editor from the first paragraph on.

★ Bringing the World to Life (Without Killing the Story)
Richard Paul Russo
Sunday, February 5, 2012
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

How do you provide enough information about the physical, social, political, and other aspects of the story’s environment to fully engage your readers without distracting from or slowing down the story? Accomplishing this is one of a writer’s biggest challenges. Through discussion and written exercises, we’ll explore different approaches to scene-setting and description that bring the world of the story richly to life without losing the readers’ interest or engagement.

★ Creating Your Urban Fantasy World
Kat Richardson
Sunday, March 4, 2012
10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

This special-focus workshop will help you learn how to choose, establish, and write a setting (real, alternate, historical, or allegorical) appropriate for Urban Fantasy. You’ll learn how to block out and write action that utilizes whatever magic, occult, or paranormal system you’re establishing, and how to develop and write characters for Urban Fantasy by integrating their power(s) and skills–or lack of them–with their setting and interactions.

If you want to get into Louise Marley’s workshop, you have exactly one week to get your application in (apply here by January 8). Louise is a great teacher, and whether you write litfic, urban fantasy, or gritty Napoleonic war fiction, it all begins with the first page. Start your engines…