Writing the Other ®

Bridging Cultural Differences for Successful Fiction
A Fiction Writing Workshop


Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward's Writing the Other: A Practical Guide, the companion book to the Writing the Other workshop, is now available! You can find book details and order directly from Aqueduct Press.

Are you afraid to write about characters whose racial heritage, sexual orientation, or religion differs from your own? Do you think you'll get it wrong — or cause offense? In this intensive four-hour workshop, authors Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward will teach you to write sensitively and convincingly about characters of diverse backgrounds and cultures. Appropriate for all fiction writers, the workshop combines lectures, discussions, and writing exercises in a safe, supportive atmosphere. Students should bring a current story or novel chapter to use in some of the exercises (the exercise results will not be shown to the class).

For further info, or to schedule "Writing the Other" for your conference, organization, or school, contact Ms. Shawl at Nisis (att)aol (dott) com.

Read Nisi Shawl's essays on "Writing the Other"


Nisi and Cindy

Nisi & Cynthia at WisCon 35

Image ©Josh Lukin 2011. Used by permission.

Praise for the Workshop

"Many writers live in fear of making offensive mistakes. This workshop is crucial for understanding how that fear can lead to
marginalization or elimination of characters that challenge the status quo. And it's fun, too."

— A Seattle student

"Prejudice, whether we are aware of it or not, is part of our character...for all of us. It colors how we see the world, made up of our expectations, our cultural and family mythologies, our sense of ourselves. Only by becoming aware of what our prejudices are, of how we filter the world around us, can we transcend the barriers, great and petty, that they create between ourselves and other beings on this planet."

Mary Freeman Rosenblum
Member SFWA, Member MWA
The Drylands
Devil's Trumpet
Portland, Oregon

"Thoughtful, insightful, and yet utterly unthreatening to sensitive writerly egos, this is the best workshop I've attended in ages."

Lori Selke
Oakland, California

"The workshop was one of the highlights of the Potlatch science fiction convention last February. It's a Don't Miss."

— Christie Maurer
Scotts Valley, California

"Nisi and Cynthia's workshop helped me to confront and overcome my fear of offending people by getting other races 'wrong' in my writing."

David D. Levine
2003 Finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer
Second Place Winner of the Writers of the Future Contest
Portland, Oregon.

"A lively, entertaining, and above all stimulating experience, proving yet again that even the examined life benefits by being re-examined from time to time, all the more so in the case of writers."

— Suzy McKee Charnas
My Father's Ghost
Walk to the End of the World

Albuquerque, New Mexico

"This class mentally stimulates thoughts about what it is to live in an alternative, minority worldview. It also provides opportunities to discuss issues surrounding character development of unique non-mainstream characters which could engender qualities of hightened realism and color to your story, thus triggering greater understanding of minority issues in the broader culture."

— Sonja Bolon
Creative Therapist

"This is a very good, condensed, well balanced and presented mix of information and practice on writing about difference."

— SK
Queensland, Australia

Copyright © 2005-2018 by Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward
Updated 8/8/2011

First published: August 2003