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Calling all writers! Free Writing Workshop

For authors, this recent stay-at-home international mandate may not be so different than usual, as writing is often done at home in a solitary fashion.

However, for aspiring writers who dream of this being the norm, a new international free writing workshop was created by the Writers of the Future Contest, with presentations by New York Times and International bestselling authors Orson Scott Card, Tim Powers, and Dave Farland.

While international in scope, there are local benefits. In fact, when we heard about it we wanted to let the aspiring writers in our community in on this.

Free Writing Workshop

This online Writers of the Future writing workshop was designed as an intermediate-level writing course. Authors of all levels will find it helpful with the story structure, the formulation of story ideas, character development, and the business of writing.

While, the workshop will expand and be updated over time, currently there are 13 video presentations featuring Contest judges: David Farland, Tim Powers, and Orson Scott Card. There are also essays from Contest Founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and Founding Contest Coordinating Judge, Algis Budrys.

There are practical exercises that will take you through writing a story. And if you are still an aspiring author, they will prepare you to enter a story in the Contest itself (which is free to enter).

Writers of the Future Contest

The L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Contest is the most enduring and influential contest in the history of SF and Fantasy for new talent.

It provides an opportunity for new writers of science fiction and fantasy to have their work judged by some of the of the genre and discovered. This can be a real boost to you career.

The Contest has been running for 35 years. There have been over 425 past winners, who have published 1,150 novels and nearly 4,500 short stories, with nearly 100 new sci-fi books published recently. These authors have 32 New York Times bestsellers and have sold over 60 million copies. Almost every year there is a winner from Great Britain, including Stephen Baxter. This could be you.

It is a free to enter writing contest. There are no restrictions on nationality, gender, age, etc. It truly supports diversity (but stories must be in English, even if translated into English, as the judges are English speaking). The winning authors retain their publication rights. Also, the stories are judged blind, meaning that the identifying marks are removed so the story is judged on the merit of the story alone (not where the author is from, etc). Everyone entering is on equal ground. Refreshing.

In addition to getting your story published in the annual anthology, there are prizes of $1000, $750 and $500 awarded every three months to the quarterly 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. From the four 1st Place winners, the judges select the grand prize winner, who receives the L. Ron Hubbard Golden Pen Award and an additional $5000 cash prize (USD).

Also, and almost as equally coveted, is the annual that the winners are flown in for. This is a scholarship program, where the Contest covers the travel and hotel expenses of the winners to attend and the cost of the judges to fly in and deliver a unique 5-day workshop that covers both the craft and business of writing. I would love to be a fly on the wall during those 5 days!

Contest History

L. Ron Hubbard, author and Contest creator, has 19 New York Times bestsellers and more than 350 million copies of his works in circulation. We was a leading light of American Pulp Fiction through the 1930s and ’40s, and is further among the most influential authors of today. His perennial and New York Times bestsellers include Battlefield Earth (one of my favorites), Mission Earth, Fear, Final Blackout, and To the Stars. Throughout his career, he freely passed along his knowledge of the craft. The creation and endowment of the Writers of the Future Contest was, as he put it, “initiated as a means for new and budding writers to have a chance for their creative efforts to be seen and acknowledged.”

At the inception, renowned author and critic Algis Budrys was the first coordination judge. The early Contest judges, a blue-ribbon panel of science fiction authors, included: Dr. Gregory Benford, Anne McCaffrey, Robert Silverberg, Theodore Sturgeon, Jack Williamson, and Roger Zelazny.

Other judges (past and present) are among some of the most loved names in science fiction: Kevin J. Anderson, Dr. Doug Beason, Hal Clement, David Farland, Eric Flint, Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Dr. Yoji Kondo, Nancy Kress, Katherine Kurtz, Todd McCaffrey, Rebecca Moesta, C.L. Moore, Larry Niven, Andre Norton, Jody Lynn Nye, Dr. Nnedi Okorafor, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, Mike Resnick, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Brandon Sanderson, Dr. Robert J. Sawyer, Dr. Charles Sheffield, K.D. Wentworth, Dean Wesley Smith, and Dr. Sean Williams.

The Contest was created for a purpose greater than giving of awards—it was intended to help foster the next generation. With this in mind, Algis Budrys developed the world-class writers workshop.

Within a few years of starting the writing contest, an illustration contest [imbed link: ] was started to discover and foster aspiring illustrators as well. L. Ron Hubbard sensed what he defined as a “creative synergy” between the written word and the art that illustrates it.

From the early beginnings to the fulfillment of L. Ron Hubbard’s vision, the Contests have grown into the most prestigious of their kind: competitions based on merit alone.

Algis Budrys wrote, “To me the impressive thing is not so much that L. Ron Hubbard chose this way to impart a lasting, fruitful legacy to the field in which he had done so much significant work. It is that he did it so well.”

Recommended Book

Whew. I did not expect to write such a long article about this. I hope you have found it informative, and most of all, if you are a writer, I hope you take advantage of the workshop and enter a story in the contest. I would love to have a local winner! I guarantee a dedicated post on our site if you win.

I also wanted to recommend that you read a copy of the Writers of the Future. If you intend to enter the contest (or just want a fun read) you should be familiar with your market. The latest volume is Writers of the Future 36.

Also, I would suggest reading Battlefield Earth, one of L. Ron Hubbard’s classic science fiction novels. While it is non-stop action-adventure, it is also inspiring. At a time when the pandemic has put a cloud over most of our world, it is more important than ever for us to keep positive—to know that despite the overwhelming odds, the Human Spirit will prevail. This is a book that does inspire.

“I wrote Battlefield Earth for those who enjoy adventure, the will to survive and the basic spirit of the individual against impossible odds.” — L. Ron Hubbard

By Stephen

Additional resources:

Enroll in the free online writing workshop

Post-apocalyptic books, the pandemic, and power of the human spirit

Survival tips: something positive

Book club books and discussion questions