Great writing advice from this year's Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy writing workshop

Sam J Miller sez, "I just graduated from the amazing Clarion Writer's Workshop, and transcribed over 300 great pieces of advice and guidance from my instructors and fellow students. I did it for the benefit of myself and my Clarion Comrades, but hoped other folks would find it helpful."

I'm a Clarion grad, teacher, and board member -- I'll be back teaching next summer, in fact, after a five-year fatherhood hiatus. This is a great collection of the kind of stuff you learn at the workshop.


“Whenever you think you’re going to create a really strong character by putting “I” at the beginning of every sentence, you’re digging yourself a hole. It’s actually harder to bring “I” to life.”

“When it’s broken, you don’t always have to fix the whole thing. You can fix half—you just have to know which half. And that’s not always easy.”

“The problem with people is they have beer and they want egg in it. Things are good and they’re unsatisfied.”

“Opening the vein is where the best writing comes from.”

“You have to write things you genuinely are not sure about.”

“Frequently, your back brain is wiser than your front brain.”

“You left yourself a lot of hints that I don’t think you even know about.”

(Thanks, Sam!)

Clarion 2012: Every Brilliant Piece of Writing Advice*


  1. I got in one good punch before the rest of his thugs came down on me.

    He pulled them off after a couple minutes. Acting like he was the stronger character. “First person’s dead. When are you going to get that through your skull, Marlowe?”

    “You think you know me, but you don’t even realize you’re dealing with Jay McInerney.”

  2. Good advice, but stuff like “Opening the vein is where the best writing comes from.” is pure schlock.

    1. it’s true that some of it might be advice we’ve heard before, maybe once and maybe a million times, but the context of the workshop helps you hear things and evaluate their applicability in a whole new way.

  3. Those are some nice quotes and useful advice! A lot of people need to keep those pieces of advice in mind. At the same time, a lot of people know some of it, but not all of it. It’s nice to have multiple useful things clumped together like this!

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