THIS PAGE IS ON HIATUS
The Pittsburgh Worldwrights is a science fiction, fantasy, and horror
writer's workshop. Our stories have appeared
in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Analog, Amazing Stories,
Asimov's Science Fiction, Cicada, F&SF, Interzone, Marion Zimmer
Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, Realms of Fantasy, Spectrum SF, Sword &
Sorceress, Writers of the Future, Year's Best SF, and many small press
- June 2003: Mary Soon Lee is departing the Worldwrights,
but the rest of the group will hopefully continue, perhaps
under a different name. Meanwhile this page is on hiatus....
Elizabeth Penrose sold a poem to Wicked Hollow.
- May 2003: Robert Nansel's poem "Tea with the Queen"
appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction, June 2003....
Barton Paul Levenson sold his story "Temple Cat" to
- April 2003: Alas, Timons Esaias and Tom Byers will both be
departing the Worldwrights :-( ...
Mary Soon Lee's story "Growing Pains" appeared online at
MarsDust, and she sold the poems "By the Numbers" and
"Drawback of Life Extension" to The Magazine of Speculative
Barton Paul Levenson's story "The Closet" appeared
online at Chiaroscuro....
Elizabeth Penrose's poem "The Prince Who Killed A
Dragon" appeared in EOTU Ezine.
The following Worldwrights have web pages that you can browse:
Barton Paul Levenson
The remaining Worldwrights are Flonet Biltgen (to whom we owe both our
name and the design of our logo), Ken Chiacchia, Chris
Ferrier, Robert L. Nansel, and Elizabeth Penrose.
The basic format follows the Clarion model.
People hand out copies of their stories to everyone else to take home.
Between meetings, members critique the stories, marking line edits and
writing down overall comments. At the next meeting, we go round in a
circle with each reader in turn giving their reaction to the story.
During this process everyone else, including the author, tries to
remain quiet. Once everyone has given their opinion, the author can
ask questions and people can add any further remarks. Then we proceed
to the next story.
We also exchange market information, chat, eat ice cream and potato
chips and candy, and generally have a good time.
We record all our story response times, and send the data to
to the Black Hole, a response time tracker maintained by Andrew Burt.
I joined a workshop almost as soon as I started writing short stories,
and have found them very helpful. But workshops are not for everyone,
and nor are all workshops equal.
To start with the positive aspects of workshops....
And some of the negative aspects....
- Workshops provide much-needed feedback on your stories. Not
every comment will be helpful to you, but the critiquing should allow
you to see your prose more objectively. You can also learn a great
deal from critiquing other people's stories.
- Writing is a lonely pursuit; workshops provide contact with other
people (often very friendly people!) who are struggling with the same
- You can exchange market news, magazine response times, discuss
the pros and cons of cover letters...
- Workshops encourage productivity. At least, this is true for me.
When I would otherwise be tempted to take a day off, I often write a
story to meet the next workshop deadline.
Look here for a complete list of
The most recent credits for each Worldwright are
- "The other writers will steal my ideas." If this worries you,
then you definitely shouldn't be in a workshop. If you get a dozen
writers to write a story based on the same idea, you will typically
get a dozen very, very different stories. Some ideas *are* better
than others, but almost all of them have been used before anyway. The
trick is to learn how to take a good idea and turn it into a good
story--learn how to craft your prose, how to create three-dimensional
characters, how to evoke a scene in a couple of phrases. A workshop
should be a stimulating environment where ideas meet and mutate in a
thousand interesting ways.
- Negative critiques hurt. There is a difference between
constructive criticism and viciousness, and the latter is
inappropriate. But even constructive criticism can hurt, especially
if in some dark corner of your mind you know that the critiquer is
correct. Remember that rejections hurt too! If you can learn to grin
and bear it while your work is critiqued, then you will be able to
improve your stories before they reach an editor's desk. If you find
it tough to receive critiques then I recommend only taking in
completed stories. I have seen several people abandon novels part-way
through because of negative feedback. It is much easier to revise a
completed manuscript than it is to continue one once you are
Credit for this effort belongs to Barton Levenson, who has
courageously stated ``If anyone is offended by this, I am
prepared not only to retract it, but to deny under oath that
I ever wrote it.''
- Flonet Biltgen: Enchanted Sword (poem), written with
Timons Esaias and N. Depoy, Star*Line 25.4, July/August 2002
- Kenneth Chiacchia: A Matter of Gravity,
Wondrous Web Worlds, Volume 2, May 2002
- Chris Ferrier: Coming Home, Weird Tales #329, August 2002
- Mary Soon Lee: Coming of Age, Analog, April 2003
- Barton Paul Levenson: The Closet, Chiaroscuro #16, April-June 2003
- Robert L. Nansel: Tea with the Queen (poem), Asimov's Science
Fiction, June 2003
- Elizabeth Penrose: The Prince Who Killed A Dragon (poem),
EOTU Ezine, April 2003
- Years from now, the PWs are at a science fiction convention,
and two PWs who have suddenly discovered an intense romantic interest
in one another -- no, I won't say who -- are making out in the con
suite. Suddenly, Barton Levenson walks in on them. What has just
- What does one really cool Wurrayna say to another at a party?
(Warning: will be baffling to anyone but a Worldwright.)
- Flonet waited till no co-workers were watching, then tried on the
helmet. At once she was trillions of light-years away, High Priestess
of the Five Galaxies Confederation. Every day she made life-and-death
decisions for millions of worlds.
Flash. She was a small, quivering fox-like creature,
a galley-slave in the feudal Twancrian empire. Here was no honor,
no courtiers to hang on her every word, only endless, mindless work
for the huge, blue, hippo-like Overlords.
Flash. She was a merchant space pilot, a dealer in
VR disks and algorithms along the Finger Nebula route, willing to
fly where the Patrol feared to tread in search of a quick profit.
Flonet took off the helmet, never wanting to use the weird alien
mechanism again. She had always hated ....
- Marked copies of Bill's novel, ``Saidiya,'' (pronounced
Sigh-dee-uh) are found without signatures. What's the best question
to ask the group? Answer.
While the Worldwrights regroup, membership is temporarily frozen. But
Diane Turnshek runs a workshop called Write or Die in the Pittsburgh
area, and there is also a third workshop called the Pittsburgh
South Writes.... I also recommend PARSEC, a Pittsburgh science
fiction club with monthly meetings. Lastly, PARSEC organizes Confluence, an annual
science fiction convention, which I heartily recommend.
Last updated 27 May 2005 by Mary Soon Lee