Writers’ Workshops

VCON Writers’ Workshops


For over thirty years VCON has been offering writers workshops. For the last twenty years or so they have been conducted by the current moderator Polar Borealis Magazine publisher R. Graeme Cameron.

Current Workshop Status
Day Time Type Status
Friday   2021 1:00 PM – 4:00 PM Novel Writers’ Workshop Not accepting applications yet.
Saturday 2021 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM

Short Story Writers’ Workshop A 

Not accepting applications yet.
Sunday  2021 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM Short Story Writers’ Workshop B    Not accepting applications yet.
About the WorkshopsThe ProfessionalsHow to Apply

About the Workshops

There will be three workshops: a novel writers’ workshop on Friday afternoon, and two short story workshops – one each on Saturday and Sunday morning. Each workshop will be three hours long, albeit broken by three coffee breaks (coffee, tea, and munchies provided).

Each workshop will consist of seven participants (plus the moderator) including four writers who have submitted manuscripts in advance and three professional writers.

The workshops themselves are free but participants must be registered members of the VCON convention (registration information).

How They Work

Essentially, the workshops are conducted Clarion-style.

The purpose of the workshop is to determine if your story is free of all the beginner’s mistakes that usually ensure automatic rejection, and also if it is mature and original enough to stand out from the slush pile and guarantee a sympathetic full reading that could potentially lead to acceptance and publication. 

Your manuscript will be critiqued first by the three other participants and then by the three pros. In turn you will be expected to critique the manuscripts of the other three participants.

Each critique is limited to a maximum of five minutes duration (I ride herd with a stopwatch). The person being critiqued responds only after all the critiques have finished. Then a short break follows, during which you may ask the pros questions or indulge in general conversation, or go for a bathroom break (If we’re in the same room as last year, there is a washroom attached to the workshop room. Convenient, I say!). Then the process repeats with the next  submitted manuscript.

Time discipline is enforced in part to avoid lack of focus, but mainly to ensure that each submitting writer’s work is fully critiqued.

A three-hour-long workshop may sound grim, but in my experience these workshops are fast-paced, informative, and both exhilarating and inspiring. Great fun, in other words. 

Don’t delay! Contact me right away at writersworkshops [at] vcon [dot] ca while there are still positions available. I guarantee you’ll find the workshops useful, interesting, and down-right exciting.

Cheers!   Graeme


The Professionals

Each workshop will include three professional writers. 

2021 Friday Novel Writers’ Workshop professionals: To be announced.

2021 Saturday Short Story Writers’ Workshop professionals: To be announced.

2021 Sunday Short Story Writers’ Workshop professionals: To be announced.

How to Apply

Not currently accepting applicants since VCON 43 will not take place till 2021. But the person to contact once the time comes to apply for the workshop of your choice is me, Graeme, at writersworkshops [at] vcon [dot] ca. Applicants will be placed on a first come first serve basis.

These workshops are loads of fun and a great learning experience.

Deadline to Submit Manuscripts

Busy professionals need plenty of lead time to fit in reading submitted manuscripts, so the sooner a manuscript is submitted the better. That said, the official deadline to submit will probably be at least one month before the convention.

Submitting Your Manuscript

Stories and novel excerpts must be in the genres of speculative fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, or any related sub-genre thereof: slipstream, steampunk, urban fantasy, Lovecraftian horror, weird western, space opera, hard science, mythic fantasy, etc .

Submit your story in Word.doc format to me, Graeme, via email as an attachment to writersworkshops [at] vcon [dot] ca

All manuscripts will then be redistributed, along with the speaking schedules and Bruce Sterling’s Writers Lexicon offering critique points to ponder, to all pros and participants via email.

Submitted stories and novel excerpts must meet the following format requirements:

  • 3,000 words or less in length.
  •  Black ink on white, no colours.
  • Courier or Times Roman font.
  •  Point Size 12.
  • Double-spaced text.
  • Each page must have a header in the upper right corner containing:
    • author name
    • story title
    • page number

SUGGESTION:  If you think you won’t have a newly written story in time, consider submitting a story you’ve already submitted to markets but haven’t sold as yet. At least now you will get a detailed critique.