Shared Worlds at Wofford College

Chant’e, one of the students–really hard worker (and who owes me for moving her refrigerator from the dorm to her mom’s car the last day!)

Shared Worlds at Wofford College (Spartanburg, SC) was a great experience: two weeks of helping about 20 teens from as far away as Japan build unique settings and then write fiction in them. Along the way, guests like Kathy Sedia, Tobias Buckell, and Will Hindmarch dropped by to do workshops and answer the students’ questions. Director Jeremy Jones was working 24-7 behind the scenes to make it all happen, and managed to pull it off seamlessly. Not to mention the great work of everyone involved, including the management/ admin from Boyce Lawton on down, the two teachers, Christine Dinkins and Steve Zides, the resident director Shanna Hughes, the TAs Stephyn, Zach, and Ben, and the RAs Ellen and Katherine.

You’ll hear more about the camp soon on’s book blog, io9, and at, but for now I’d just like to direct you to my (admittedly amateurish) photos from the two weeks, which include alien baby photos that’ll eventually be posted here. I’d also like to say that these kids worked their butts off the entire time and just did a phenomenal job. I really love the fact that this was also kind of like a teen think tank because the problem-solving went well beyond the idea of a writing workshop.

Thanks also to SF Signal and io9 for their support, as well as Dot Lin at Tor and Sean Wallace for free books for the students, and the artists (John Picacio, Heidi Estey, Bruce Jensen, and Catherine Cheek) who contributed to the “artifacts” aspect of the camp. (On the first day, each student got an artifact, most of them from our house, and had to incorporate it into their world in some way.)

Stephyn and Zach, two of the teaching assistants

Here’re a couple of videos from Wofford about the camp:

I’m happy to announce that my position as Assistant Director has been confirmed for next year, and I also will be working as Wofford’s liaison with the SF/F community, among other responsibilities. Next year, it appears that both Ann and I will be teaching at Shared Worlds. There’s also talk of a three-pronged approach to the second week to accommodate creative writing, game development, and visual arts tracks. It’s an exciting and fairly unique opportunity to help create a program from the ground up, and I want to thank Jeremy for thinking to include me. If all goes well, this will be at the very least a five- to ten-year commitment. And a very, very rewarding one.


  1. says

    Teaching motivated students is such an awesome thing, isn’t it? :D From the clips, looks like you had some wonderful students to work with there.

  2. says

    Sounds like it was a great experience for everyone. I’m looking forward to hearing what more you have to say about it at Omnivoracious. (I’m teaching a prose workshop on 23 April to students about this age, so your thoughts will be educational as well.)

  3. says

    Mixing it up is the main thing. Kids that age don’t like just lecture or just workshop, and mixing it up in terms of visual/non-visual, their participation/your participation, silly-fun/serious is good. On the critique side, emphasizing their strengths while getting them to focus on one or two things they can improve in the manuscript works much better than a standard critique. And giving the whole group standard things to look for in revising their stories allows them to test for other possible flaws. Since the most important thing kids this age can do is just write a lot and read a lot, sustaining their enthusiasm and passion is paramount.


  4. says

    My daughter was already signed up for another awesome camp by the time we heard about Shared Worlds, but it’s definitely on the list for next year! (She writes. A lot. Mostly comics.)

  5. says

    Oh, good! We will be able to accommodate comics, too, I believe as part of the visual arts track. Please drop me a line and I can sign you up for a mailing list to make sure you get all of the information as early as possible.


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