Women of Color Short Story Intensive Grant

I regularly teach Short Story Intensive workshops and they have been predominately populated by white writers. The ability to register on short notice for a workshop is something that is tied to having ready funds lying around. Because income is often linked to color and gender due to the economic disparities in the United States, women of colour are frequently caught in the intersection of race and gender. That means that many women of color are less likely to be able to register for a workshop on short notice.

photo by Elvert BarnesAnnalee Flower Horne has offered to help me set up a grant for women of color (including cis, trans, and genderqueer) to help balance the playing field. She’s covering the first one, but after that I’m going to keep offering one seat per session for a women of color. Hopefully I’ll be able to offer other grants or scholarships for other disadvantaged groups as well, but for the moment, this is who we are reaching out to.

With thanks to Annalee, here’s the information you need to move forward.

How to apply:

Fill out the form below.

Request for scholarship for Short Story Intensive

If you are a woman of color (including cis, trans and genderqueer) this scholarship is for you.

Full name, please
Really double-check this to make sure you have it right.
This is just so that if your email breaks, I can still reach you.
Tell me a little about yourself and why you'd like to take the workshop. Please note that I'll make the selection by drawing a name randomly, this is just because I want to know a little about who I'm helping out.
Twitter, FB, your blog, whatever you want to share


The selection process

On June 17th at midnight Central, I will draw a name randomly from the list and contact the recipient. They will have 24 hours to accept the invitation.

What is the workshop?

Think you never have time to write? Think again. Mary Robinette Kowal wrote her first Hugo-nominated short story “Evil Robot Monkey” in ninety minutes. If you have ninety minutes, you can have a story — all it takes is understanding how to make every word work double-time. In this workshop, learn the same techniques she uses to create new fiction. Through exercises focusing on viewpoint, dialogue, and plot, you’ll learn how to let nothing go to waste. By the end of this three day workshop, participants will be given a writing prompt and complete their own short story.

Classes will be taught via G+ from June 26 – 28

Each session, you will be given an exercise that builds on the previous session. Classwork will be uploaded to a shared Google Drive folder visible only to you and your classmates. The class will be divided between lecture and group critique. The class is capped at eight students, to create a class size that allows the most interaction, feedback and personal attention for each of you.

Class requirements: You need an interest in writing short stories, but you do not need to have written or published anything yet. You also must be able to use G+ Hangouts (Note: You don’t need a web camera, although they’re useful, but you do need a working microphone, a G+ account, the internet and some speakers so you can hear us).

This is an intensive workshop, so do not plan anything else that weekend.

Schedule (all times are Central time)


Introduction, discussion of POV using specificity, and focus. Exercise 1: Context


Post assignment.

Critique of homework. Second POV assignment

Post assignment/meal break

Discuss nature of dialog, use of rhythms to distinguish character. In class exercise, followed by homework.

Post assignment/meal break

Plot structure.  Plot homework

Sunday – Daylight Savings begins

Discuss plot exercise, unpacking, and outlining for short fiction. Outline homework 

Post homework/meal break

Discuss outlines. Recap of plot structure. Final exercise.

Write a story in ninety minutes.

Post story/meal break

Critique of stories/recap


Q. Why is the selection process so simple?

A. Because my classes are normally first come first serve, and I don’t ask what your writing background is. Asking the scholarship applicants to justify it seems like saying that they have to be better than other people in order to just get in the door.

Q. When is the workshop?

A. The first one is June 26-28 and is all weekend.

Q. Why are you calling it a grant instead of a scholarship?

A. Because a reader pointed out that a scholarship is earned based on proving one’s excellence.  This is open to entry-level writers and doesn’t require proving abilities first, just a willingness to learn.

Did you know you can support Mary Robinette on Patreon?
Become a patron at Patreon!

14 thoughts on “Women of Color Short Story Intensive Grant”

  1. I know this scholarship is just getting off the ground, but will interested parties be able to donate to the scholarship fund? Thank you.

      1. I’d like to donate when you figure out how it’ll work (or I can also help you figure out how)

      1. I mentioned on Twitter, but I put myself on the wait list for the upcoming class (since I’m fortunately able to pay for it) but would love to pay it forward to help someone else get into a future class as well!

  2. As one of those anglos who benefited from the workshop, I would love to chip in for the scholarship for others to take it. This course is fantastic and I am still unpacking all the things I learned.

  3. It’s great that you’re offering a scholarship for women of color, but why not just say ‘women of color’? gender issues and racial equality are not actually the same thing. they are similar but many women of color are not happy to hear their “struggles” and or the civil rights movement equated to gender equality.

    If you are intent on opening it up to men of color as well, why not just say “men and women of color”?

    Your phrasing confuses the issue. If this is about racial disparity, make it about racial disparity.

    By the way, not all women of color are disadvantaged. What about poor white women? What do they do if they want to attend? Unless this is about marketing for your latest book (gorgeous cover by the way), why not make this about ANY man or woman who wants to attend?

    1. Gender and race issues aren’t the same thing, but there is an intersection between them that disproportionately affects women of color. So while I have offered a sliding scale workshop in the past to help people who were economically disadvantaged, this is the specific group that I am reaching out to now.

      I’m aware that not all Women of Color are economically disadvantaged, but I’m trusting that people who don’t need the scholarship won’t apply for it.

    2. Hi Janey,

      I asked Mary to use the funds specifically for a woman of color.

      I sold my first story off the workshop, and I’ve seen other alumni go on to make sales as well. The workshop has served as an on-ramp into the community of professional genre writers. I asked Mary to let me buy a seat because I wanted to help make room for women of color in that community.

      Why did I want to focus on women of color specifically? Why not women of all races and people of color of all genders? Because I’ve witnessed in my diversity advocacy that when we try to make space for “diversity” writ large, that space will disproportionately be taken up by privileged white women. We end up being centered in these efforts to the extent that we crowd out other marginalized groups. In tech, this has reached such a level of absurdity that companies will crow about their “diversity” when every single member of their staff is white, so long as more than 15% of them are white women.

      Centering women of color in a diversity initiative like this one creates room for all women in a way that centering white women (which is what will happen by default) does not. As we make a community more welcoming and inclusive to women of color, it naturally becomes more welcoming and inclusive of white women as well. The reverse cannot be assumed.

      So, because I want to make professional genre writing more welcoming and inclusive of all women, I chose to center women of color, to ensure that my contribution would have a bigger impact.

      You’re right that class can be a big barrier to entry for writers. I applaud Mary’s efforts to address this with sliding-scale workshops (she’s also offered free workshops specifically to disadvantaged communities before, like in Ferguson, MO). I encourage folks who are passionate about increasing diversity along other axes of oppression to look at ways they can contribute to lowering barriers and making their spaces more welcoming.

      But women of color are frequently told that they need to wait their turn–that because they’re no more deserving than anyone else, they need to wait in line behind everyone else. In this particular case, they get to come to the front of the line. Given how many white women have been nominated for (non-gamed) genre awards these last few years, I don’t think white womanhood will suffer over this one tiny effort to see the rising tide of gender equality lift more boats.

  4. I agree on helping with donations. I’m not a writer, but love to increase my new author base.

  5. Will these scholarship opportunities be offered monthly or yearly? I wanted to apply for this, but I have a prior school related event on that Sunday. I would love to have another chance to apply.

    1. Go ahead and sign up. If you can’t do this time, then I’ll keep your name in the pool for the next time. When? That’s a little trickier, because I schedule them when there’s a hole in my calendar, which is unpredictable. The next one is likely not until late August or September.

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