Friday July 24 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM PDT

WHAT WRITERS MUST DO TO WRITE ALTERNATE HISTORY: A No-nonsense Fiction Workshop with Jack Dann
This 90-minute interactive workshop with Nebula, World Fantasy, and Shirley Jackson Award winner Jack Dann can change the way you approach the craft of creating alternate histories. It offers participants a hands-on, step-by-step writing strategy and a unique opportunity to broaden their working understanding of this popular genre.

Jack will provide an overview of the nature of alternate history, review the special problems involved in the craft of creating counterfactual fiction, and recommend a ‘counterfactual toolbox’ of craft solutions, which include:

• How to choose a ‘divergent point’ that the average reader can recognize.
• How to utilize the technique of Heinleining, which involves providing concise but necessary details in the form of clues without distorting the narrative.
• How to bring a story to life by selecting and emphasizing certain specific details of an imagined world to create an illusion of coherence and complexity that is experienced as ‘real’, rather than a ‘dump’ of information.
• How to use paratextual elements, such as chapter quotes, maps, and fictional documents to create authenticity.
• How to describe familiar places and characters which may have different characteristics and functions in your counterfactual story world.

Lastly, in order to create a ‘visceral’ understanding of the craft, Jack will illustrate exactly how these techniques work. As mentioned above, this intensive workshop is interactive, in that Jack will respond to participants’ questions and direct himself to their craft issues.

Your Zoom session information will be sent in your confirmation email. Please look for it at the bottom of your confirmation email. If you do not see your Zoom information or have other questions, please email us at

By participating in any activity available in the Write-a-thon, you are agreeing to our Write-a-thon Code of Conduct, the Clarion West Harassment Policy, and our Zoom Guidelines. Thank you! We look forward to writing with you this summer!

Writing Sessions are Free and Online for everyone. 

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Clarion West is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, all of your donations go to support more programs like these for emerging writers in speculative fiction. Please consider making a donation in support of the Write-a-thon!