For those who aren’t aware, I teach a course entitled “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” at Brigham Young University. The course is focused on the nuts and bolts of having a writing career. Characterization, worldbuilding, plotting, and publication. In previous years, a graduate student recorded my lectures as a personal project, and posted them online.
I want this course to be available to as many people as possible. This year, that became easier than it has ever been, and many of you who live locally have signed up until the class is once again at seating capacity. If you don’t live locally, then know that I intend to get the class filmed this year and release it online (details yet to be arranged).
I get asked this question more than I expected that I would, so I’ll address it here. People are curious why I don’t:
A: Teach the class on my own, like David Farland does, or
B: Teach the class at a state university, rather than a place like BYU, which has a more difficult enrollment policy.
Addressing the first, I think the resources (such as Dave’s courses) that already exist in this realm are very good, and see no need to go that direction myself. Dave’s aforementioned classes are excellent, and I’d refer you to him. Clarion has an excellent reputation, and my friends who have attended have spoken very highly of their time. Orson Scott Card’s literary boot camps likewise have excellent reccomendations from people I trust. Mary Robinette Kowal also hosts writing retreats, like the one this summer focusing on Writing the Other. I would point you those directions.
I like having my class where it is. I took this class in 2000, when it was taught by Dave, and feel that it offers an excellent resource in a much-needed setting. BYU does have its quirks (even aggravations), but I owe this school, and its community, payback. In 2001 and 2002, I applied to some dozen or so creative writing programs around the country, submitting Elantris as my writing sample. Of them, only one—BYU—agreed to let me in. (Even going so far as to name me their #2 applicant to that department for the year, and waiving all fees.)
I like BYU. My time there was wonderful. I support it and the LDS church, which administers it. It is possible that, in the future sometime, some situation will require me to go elsewhere. For now, however, we’re doing it here. That’s why I want you to know about the following.
My course is part of Evening Classes, which means it is much easier to take than a regular BYU class. The mission statement of BYU evening classes is to offer courses for continuing education and improvement to the entire community, without the need for people to have to apply formally to BYU.
I believe I started this class in 2004, making this year number ten. We’ve made some changes this year. The most relevant one to you is that we added a special “Lecture Only” version that students could sign up for. It gives you one credit hour, and basically involves coming each week, listening to the lectures, and getting an A. (The only requirement is that you sign your name each week saying you attended, and write a short paragraph on what you thought of the lecture. And if you were wanting to get into the main class, but didn’t make it this year, having taken the lecture-only course gives you a leg up on getting into the class next year.)
You should be aware, though, that even this lecture-only class has proven very popular and has essentially filled the big classroom they gave me. I wasn’t expecting that and was going to give you all the info on why you should apply to Evening Classes and come down tonight, but instead I’m going to recommend that you keep this in mind for next year. All of you in the community who want to take the class next year can do so (space allowing!) for a small fee. (Ranging between $257 and $680, depending on your student status.) That means you can sign up and attend the lecture portion from 5:10 to 6:25, once a week, for minimal cost—and do so even if you have a full-time job.
This year the university has given me a very large classroom to fit all of the extra students who want to take the class, and I’m filling every seat with an enrolled class member. If you’d like to be one of those students next year, please keep this in mind for when registration opens in the fall of 2014. I’ll try to do another blog post then to remind you. I’d like to thank all the students who have enrolled and shown the university how important a class this is to the community.