Last June, I went on a Summer Teaching Tour at various writer’s workshops, and one of the highlights was my return as guest lecturer to the Odyssey, The Fantasy Workshop, run by Jeanne Cavelos annually at St Anselm College, in New Hampshire. My guest lecture topic at Odyssey was “Making the Reader Squirm: Sensory Immersion,” which they have just released as a podcast on the Odyssey Podcast page (it is also available through iTunes).
In this lecture, I discuss ways that science fiction/fantasy and horror writers appeal to the reader’s “sensorium” to generate a visceral effect. The class analyzed examples of how two very different writers went about describing an autopsy (one was from Michael Shea’s “The Autopsy” and the other was from Dr. Ed Uthman’s Description of an Autopsy), and though it’s not on the podcast, the class also examined the tropes of horror in Black Sabbath’s song, “Black Sabbath,” in terms of how the song structures a horrific mood. It was a lot of fun.
I was also a guest at Odyssey back in 2007, when I lectured on “Humor in Speculative Fiction.” You can still listen to that podcast here.
Writers who are looking for more instruction of this ilk should be on the look-out for Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, a large compendium of advice that I co-edited with Heidi Ruby Miller for Headline Books. It will be in print next month, and I’ll be announcing preorder news shortly. It includes my article, “Tuning Up Your Writing,” which expands on the ways that language can set a mood, through sonic effects…and several other pieces. Yesterday I shared the introduction on scribd.com.