Writer’s Toolkit

Writer’s Toolkit: Taking Your Story from Idea to Manuscript

January 18-February 15, 2024

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Deadline: December 5, 2023


Gregory Ashe



Live Class:

7 pm-8:30 pm U.S. EST*

Thursday, Jan. 18
Thursday, Feb. 1
Thursday, Feb. 15



Course Description

Are you struggling to finish drafts? At a loss for how to start? Do you find yourself muddling through the middle? Bottom line: do you have a great idea (or part of an idea), and you need the tools to turn it into a story?

The right toolkit can help with all these issues.

This course covers a range of tips, tricks, hacks, and (of course) tools for storytellers. Students will learn techniques to identify and develop story ideas, to build those stories into full drafts, and to revise their work for publication. The course will start by discussing the promises genre fiction makes to readers and how to generate ideas with the end in mind of delivering on those promises. Students will practice prewriting strategies that allow them to expand on their ideas by brainstorming and constructing characters, plots, premises, settings, and more. Next, students will learn tips and tools for turning their prewriting into a fleshed-out draft with the building blocks of fiction—such as goals, obstacles, story questions, story turns, plot points, and more. Finally, the course will cover techniques for self-revision, working with editors and beta readers, setting and maintaining realistic project schedules, and sustaining their creativity as they work toward publication.

This course will help students hone their ability to dissect other authors’ work, particularly with regard to the tools and techniques presented in class. This practice will help students to continue mastering these techniques independently after the conclusion of the course.

The course is intended for writers of fantastic fiction, an umbrella term encompassing fantasy, science fiction, horror, magical realism, and anything in between. Fiction writers who focus on other genres could also profit from this class and would be welcome. The course will cover issues relevant in middle grade, young adult, and adult fiction.

It will be most valuable for beginner to intermediate writers.

Students must be ready to hear about the weaknesses in their writing and to work to strengthen them. Students must also be ready to give feedback to their classmates that is both truthful and helpful.

Our goal as a class is to provide a supportive yet challenging environment that will help students improve their writing.

Each student will have a private meeting with Greg


Students will have some homework assigned before the first meeting, and will also be assigned homework during the course.

The first assignment will have a due date of January 17, the day before our initial meeting.

Homework will be assigned on January 18 and February 1, with due dates, respectively, of January 24 and February 7. You will also be required to provide critiques of some of your classmates’ work, which will be due on January 31 and February 14. Any student who misses a deadline may be expelled from the class and will receive no refund.

All assignments should be properly formatted and should be submitted as MS Word files or rich text files.

You should reserve a minimum of 5 hours each week to complete homework.

Assignments will include reading and analyzing assigned texts, critiquing, completing exercises to practice techniques, writing new material, analyzing your previously written material, and revising previously written material. Students will also be required to reply to online discussion questions during the course.

Greg will return students’ homework with his feedback by the day before the next class session.

Students are expected to follow the policies about assignments and class materials established in the Odyssey Online Student Handbook.


Students will be required to complete several readings before the course begins. Additional readings may be required during the course. All required readings will be provided to students.


Since we will have only 3 class meetings, attendance at every class is necessary for students to get the most out of this course.

You are expected to attend all classes, except in cases of emergency. In such cases, you should notify the instructor.

Classes will be recorded and made available to students for a limited time.

Any student who misses more than one class may be expelled from the course and will receive no refund.

It is your responsibility to find out what happened in any classes you missed and to complete homework by the deadlines.

Students are expected to follow the policies about attendance and behavior set out in the Odyssey Online Student Handbook.

Technical Requirements:

Technical requirements for all Odyssey Online Classes are covered on the Online Classes page.

Tentative Schedule:

January 18:
First class meeting. Introduction and orientation. The promises of genre fiction. Identifying and developing ideas you want to write. Assignment of homework.

January 24:
Homework is due.

January 31:
Critiques are due. Homework is returned with Greg’s feedback.

February 1:
Second class meeting. Discussion of previous homework assignment.
From idea to draft. Building blocks of fiction. Common difficulties and ways of dealing with them (writer’s block, I’m looking at you!). Assignment of new homework. Some students will have private meetings with Greg after class.

February 7:
Homework is due.

February 8:
Some students will have private meetings with Greg between 7-8:30 PM EST.

February 14:
Critiques are due. Homework is returned with Greg’s feedback.

February 15:
Third class meeting. Discussion of previous homework assignment. Self-revision. Editors and beta readers. Goals, mindset, and the well of creativity. Working toward publication. Some students will have private meetings with Greg after class.

Gregory Ashe

Instructor: Greg Ashe

Gregory Ashe is a bestselling author and longtime Midwesterner. He has lived in Chicago, Bloomington (IN), and Saint Louis, his current home. He primarily writes contemporary mysteries, with forays into romance, fantasy, and horror. Predominantly, his stories feature LGBTQ protagonists. When not reading and writing, he is an educator. He is a graduate of the Odyssey workshop, taught at Odyssey 2021, and taught the Odyssey Online Classes Scene & Sequel: How to Generate Character-Driven Momentum, Control Pacing, and Write a Page-Turning Story in 2022 and Angled Dialogue: Crafting Authentic-Sounding Dialogue to Convey Information, Escalate Conflict, and Advance Character-Driven Stories in 2023. For more information, visit his website: www.gregoryashe.com.