Beyond Earth, Wind, & Fire: The Unsung Elements of Craft

Event Date:

November 20, 2021

Event Time (Pacific):

9:00 am


We are thrilled to welcome back the Voodoonauts, a grassroots Afrofuturist collective promoting connectivity & craft within the global Black SFF community, with a unique workshop experience for all writers.


How do stories germinate from idea seeds to entire forests on the page? What tools can writers use to render interiority that captures the spirit of characters? What is the equation behind building a compelling villain who jumps off the page? Can osteomancy teach us about story structure and editing the speculative with the eye of a poet? In this two-day panelshop, the Voodoonauts founders will decentralize what we consider the classical elements of craft, to begin a conversation about reimagining approaches to writing. 

Beginning, intermediate, and advanced authors can use these workshops to refine existing drafts or craft new material for future projects. Students will come away from the panelshop equipped with a methodology of seeing an idea through from seedling to forest.


Day 1
(November 20 – 9 am-2 pm)

Welcome Panel 9-10 am

The writing workshop as we know it has roots in McCarthyism—both anti-communist and nurturing rugged individualism—when individualism only represented Straight, White Men. As such the workshop and writing craft, as taught to us, have an agenda of fostering isolation and conformity to anachronistic western narratives. “Avatar: the Last Air-bender,” for example, is lauded for its centering of Asian- and Inuit-coded characters, but ignores the Chinese elements (wood-metal-fire-water-earth), in favor of Greek Classical elements, once again assuming White Perspective as ubiquitous and universal.

In our opening panel, we discuss the subversion of expectations that amount to craft, the difference between deus ex machina and living with magic, what a decolonized workshop looks like, exploding the agenda, and how equitable space reaps furtive and revolutionary creativity. 

After a short break we will move into workshops. Workshops will be from 90-120 minutes long with breaks between. 

Workshop #1 Lost in Transition

Wind & Trees 

Do you have a hundred possible story threads but no idea where to start? Does the prospect of research seem daunting, especially in speculative fiction? Sometimes the hardest aspect of storytelling is the act of translating the idea to the page. In this workshop, Shingai will give alternative methods of grounding and rooting stories in experimental processes that make it easier for the story to come together.

Participants should bring a story idea or a stuck story, and the goal of the workshop will be to generate worlds around the stories.


Workshop #2 Build-A-Beast


Just because it’s natural doesn’t mean it’s good for you—Hugh “H.D.” Hunter will dive into the elemental underside by exploring antagonists, villains, and the way we write and understand them in this workshop. Participants will gain character development prowess and writing strategy, aimed at creating complex, captivating characters that propel stories. This workshop is designed to:

  • Explore and create structure for antagonistic character motivation, action, and communication.
  • Expand narratives by constructing more robust characters, better preparing work for serial potential.
  • Offer participants dedicated writing time to channel generative energy into WIPs or new stories.
  • Offer participants expansive ideas on how to dodge cliches and subvert/convert tropes in order to make their fiction more distinct.

Day 2

(November 21 – 9 am-2 pm)


Workshop #3 Throwing Bones, Poetic Compression, & Osteomancy: Editing with the Heart of a Poet Shaman


Yvette Lisa Ndlovu approaches the formation of fiction by addressing the magic and science of its smallest units: lines and sentences. Combining southern African osteomancy and poetry into her writing practice, in this workshop Yvette is going to teach participants to craft the bones of their stories in a way that brings out the “writer’s voice.” We’ll learn how to take the literary techniques of poetry and employ them in fiction editing.

This session will be an editing workshop, so bring those pages you’ve been meaning to clean up or that first sentence or ending line that you aren’t satisfied with yet. Participants can expect to walk away with a methodology of editing their work before sending it out into the world.

Workshop #4 Spirit in Flesh, Spirit in Space


In science fiction, the depth of dimensions of space ships and their long-range scanners tend to get primacy over our first scanner — soul in a body. LP Kindred draws a direct line between a character’s inner landscape and the way vulnerability, awareness, and their absence/presence affect the way they experience the world and interact with other fleshships. This workshop will incorporate performance exercises; the Story Engine™ excerpts to infuse existing drafts and new stories with an interiority-first approach to showing and telling characters’ emotional landscape; character relationships/interactions; and describing physical spaces.

Closing (1-2pm)
The Reading: Dropping Bars, Volume 3

After committing two days to thinking about interiority, antagonism, story bones, and taking root, we know your inquisitive minds will have plot bunnies, snippets of world building, snatches of dialogue, and scenes in progress. Participants will have the opportunity to read their writing on the last day in community with other workshoppers.

General Timing and Logistics:

Workshops will be from 90-120 minutes long with short breaks between. Workshops will be recorded for registered attendees. Recordings will be available after the event. Other questions: email

Clarion West is introducing a Helping Hand Discount for our online classes and workshops. 

The Supporting Tuition rate is shown for each class or workshop, for folks who are able to pay it. Paying the Supporting Tuition rate enables us to continue to pay our staff and instructors equitably, as well as support access to classes for others who may be in a different financial situation. 

Limited Free Registration: We reserve a percentage of free seats in every class for writers who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or Persons of Color (BIPOC) on a first-come-first-served basis, regardless of financial need. Please email us with the name of the class you would like to enroll in, even if the class appears full: We ask that you limit your request to 3-5 classes maximum, listed in order of your first choice. Read more about our equity and inclusion policies here.

Helping Hand Discount (Enter Code at Checkout): If you are under more limited economic circumstances and/or identify as from a marginalized background, we offer a 26% discount. Enter this code at checkout: CWDISCOUNTS4WRITERS. You are invited to use this discount code for all online classes and workshops if this will help you take the class. Read about why we offer this discount here.

Register Now:

To register, click on the button below and enter attendee information. Apply the discount code in check-out.

Supporting Tuition
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Event F.A.Q

Unless otherwise noted, all times listed are in United States Pacific Time (PT).

PT is seven hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC–7) for most of the year, from the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November. During the remainder of the year, PT is shifted back one hour, to UTC–8.

Clarion West is using Zoom for our online classes and workshops. We always make Zoom’s auto-generated closed captions available for all of our online sessions. If the class is discussion-intensive or uses features that make the auto-generated captions impossible (for example, if a class uses breakout rooms), a live captioner can be requested. We ask that students request a live captioner 3–5 business days before the class date. For live captioners, we are currently partnering with VITAC Internet Captioning Services.

Chat and closed caption transcripts can be sent to you after the class. We ask our instructors to provide reading materials and slides in advance, whenever possible. If you have specific needs or requests for your instructor, please send in your request 3–5 business days before the class date.

If you have questions about the accessibility of the workshop or have other concerns, please contact

This class will be held online via Zoom. Students should plan to test their video and microphone in advance. Click here for more information about our Zoom policies. If you have difficulty logging into an online class email

Your link will be sent to the email address you used to register for class. Sometimes SPAM or junk mail filters out emails from us. 

Once you have your Zoom link, we recommend that you click it and follow the Zoom registration instructions at any time prior to your class. 

Be sure to add to your list of safe contacts. If you still can’t find the link, please reach out to us at (206) 322-9083 or at least one hour before class begins. Be aware that if you contact us after class has started, staff may be introducing the instructor and getting the class underway; they will respond to your request as soon as they are able. 

Yes. One day before the class begins, we will send a reminder  to the email you used to register.

Please be sure to add your class to your personal calendar when you register, with reminders if needed. Unfortunately, we are not able to refund class fees if you miss a class.

Unless designated for teens, all online classes and workshops are recommended for anyone aged 18 or older. If you have a question about the minimum age requirement, please email us at 

Clarion West will refund all class fees if the request is made 30 days prior to the class date. Refund requests made within 30 days of the class will be honored if we can fill the seat. Any exceptions are subject to approval by our workshop staff. Please email

Please enter the name and email address of the person you are purchasing the class for under the first step of the registration process, “Attendee info.”

If you want to buy a gift certificate for a friend, please send an email to and tell us your information and the name, email, and contact information for the person you wish to send a gift certificate to. 

Clarion West does not share contact information with any other organization.

We reserve a percentage of seats in every class for writers who identify as Black, Indigenous, or Persons of Color (BIPOC) on a first-come-first-served basis, regardless of financial need. Learn more about our Equity & Inclusion policies. Please email us with the name of the class you would like to enroll in:

For folks who are under more limited economic circumstances, no matter your background, we offer a discount code for reduced pricing: CWDISCOUNTS4WRITERS. If this will help you take the class, you are invited to use this code for a 26% discount on all online classes and workshops. 

How to use the code: register for any class you are interested in. When you get to the check-out portion of the class, you will find a place to enter the discount code in the upper left area of the check-out section. Enter the code and it will be immediately applied to any classes you have registered for. Then follow the instructions to complete your order. Please enter your discount code before completing your payment. 

Read about why we offer this discount here

By participating in any Clarion West activity, you are agreeing to our Code of Conduct, the Clarion West Harassment Policy, and our Zoom Guidelines.


Total Seats: 40 (29 Left:)

Event Schedule Details

  • November 20, 2021 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
  • November 21, 2021 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
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