The Fairwood Writers are pleased to sponsor the writing workshop for Norwescon 41 during March 29–April 1, 2018. We accept both short stories and novel excerpts to be critiqued by professional writers during Norwescon 41, according to the guidelines below.

What We Accept

The Fairwood Writers will accept electronic submissions of short stories or novel excerpts in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. We do not accept scripts.

We are looking for manuscripts that you feel are your best work. If you have taken it as far as you can, and need outside review to move your writing forward, send it to us.

For 2018, we will offer one workshop session per author.  Please see the section titled “How Much We Will Accept” below for additional information.

For 2018, we will accept entries submitted by December 3, 2017. Please see the section titled ‘Deadline’ below for additional information.

If your manuscript has been critiqued at our workshop in a previous year and you’ve significantly revised it since, we will accept it for a second workshop. Once a manuscript has been through our workshop twice, it’s time to send us something new.

Who Can Submit

The writers’ workshop welcomes submissions from all adult and teen writers of speculative fiction, including writers from underrepresented populations.

Submissions must conform to the guidelines below and must be in English, from authors who expect to attend Norwescon in person.

If you have accessibility or access concerns, please contact us at  Alternately, you may contact the programming department ( or convention chair (

Cover Letter Requirements

Please include a brief cover letter as the body of your submissions email. Please do not attach your cover letter as a separate file. The cover letter should include:

  • Contact information: your name, email address, street address, and a phone number where we can reach you, if necessary.
  • Teen writers: email address for a parent or guardian and, in case of at-convention emergencies, phone number for a parent or guardian.
  • Attendance: the days you plan to attend the convention and are available for critique.
  • Submission information: title, genre, and format (short story or novel excerpt) of your piece. Please let us know if your manuscript is intended for a YA audience or could fall within any other genre (i.e., paranormal romance).
  • Critique preference: For short story, please indicate whether you prefer an individual critique session, round-robin session, or have no preference.
  • Brief biography for the workshop pamphlet: Tell us about your writing goals, writing experience, and workshop experience in around 150 words.
  • Survey information: To better help us prepare workshop spaces and materials, please answer the following questions:
    • Are you currently submitting your work to professional, paying genre markets?
    • The convention rooms we are usually assigned require participants to navigate a short flight of steps (about 4). Please let us know if you would have difficulty navigating the steps, or otherwise think you might have a need for special accommodations in order to participate.
    • And last but not least, which personal pronouns do you prefer we use in your bio in this year’s workshop handbook?

Short Fiction

  • Short fiction must total between 1,000 and 8,000 words per piece. But the shorter your work, the greater your opportunities to workshop!
    • Manuscripts of 1,000 to 3,000 words may be considered “short-short” stories. Two short-shorts totaling no more than 4,000 words together will be considered a single submission, and will be critiqued together in a single workshop session.
    • Manuscripts of 7,000 words or less may be submitted for round-robin or individual critique.
    • Manuscripts of 7,001 to 8,000 words may only be submitted for individual critique.
  • Short fiction must be complete.
    • To be considered for the short fiction category, a manuscript must be complete within the 8,000-word limit and must stand on its own.  Excerpts of longer works don’t belong in this category, even if they appear self-contained (such as flashbacks).

Novel Excerpts

  • Novels must be submitted only in part.
  • We will accept only one novel excerpt per writer.
  • Novels are not eligible for round-robin critique sessions.
  • Along with your chapter(s), please submit a synopsis of the entire novel, totaling no more than 1,000 words. Please include the novel synopsis in the same file as your novel excerpt. It may be included either before or after your excerpt, but it must cover the full scope of the novel: beginning, middle and end. You can find a number of excellent articles about synopsis writing online, including:
  • We will accept up to the first three chapters, or about 9,500 words, whichever is shorter.
  • The novel excerpt and synopsis together must total no more than 10,000 words.

How Much We Will Accept

We will accept two pieces if they are “short-short” stories according to the guidelines above. Together they must total no more than 4,000 words.

Otherwise, we will accept only one piece per writer: a short story of no more than 8,000 words or a novel except plus synopsis that together total no more than 10,000 words.

We will accept manuscripts for the workshop until all available slots are filled.

Manuscript Format

  • We will accept manuscripts in .docx, .doc, .rtf and .txt. Please, no PDFs.
  • Name your file with your last name, the title of your work, and the word “short” or “novel,” as follows:
    • Short stories: Lastname_Title_short
    • Novel excerpts: Lastname_Title_novel
    • If the title of your work is more than a couple words long, feel free to abbreviate.
  • All submissions must be in proper manuscript format. Please note, since manuscript format is an important part of the process of submitting fiction to markets, your manuscript format will be considered when your story is read for the workshop. You can find excellent examples of proper manuscript format online at SFWA’s Information Center and here.
  • General format should include:
    • 1-inch margins on all sides
    • Type must be double-spaced
    • Font no smaller than 12-point size (Courier 12-pt or Courier New 12-pt preferred; Times New Roman 14-pt is also acceptable)
    • Use underlining instead of italics
    • Do not use boldface
  • First page must include:
    • Author’s name and address in upper left corner
    • Approximate word count in upper right corner
    • Story title and byline (start halfway down page)
    • Story starts double-spaced (at least) under byline
  • Upper right corner of second page (and all following pages) must include:
    • Story title (shortened, if necessary)
    • Author’s last name
    • Page number

How the Workshop Works

Manuscripts are scheduled for critique by up to four professional guests attending the convention.  Most “pros” are professional writers, but we may opt to include other professionals, such as scientists or editors, as appropriate. Each session is led by a Fairwood Writer acting as moderator.

All workshop participants must purchase a convention membership. If you are planning to purchase a day membership only, plan to arrive at the convention early enough to pick up your badge before attending your critique. We recommend purchasing a membership ahead of time whenever possible.

Individual Sessions

In individual critique sessions, workshop participants meet with up to four pros who have read their manuscript. Participants receive feedback from each pro.

Novel excerpts may be critiqued in the individual session format only.

Round-Robin Sessions

In a round-robin critique session, two to three workshop participants meet with up to four pros who have read their manuscript. In this session, each workshop participant also reads each manuscript scheduled in the session. Workshop participants receive feedback from both their peers and pros, and offer critique to their peers.

Only short stories of 7,000 words or less may be submitted for round-robin critiquing.

If you are scheduled to participate in a round-robin session, we will send you information about how to prepare a critique along with manuscripts to critique, usually 6-8 weeks prior to the convention. You may find useful information for composing a critique online at the section of SFWA’s Information Center focusing on workshops and critique groups.

How to Submit

E-mail your cover letter and manuscript submission to the workshop at:

NOTE: This address is for submissions ONLY.

Whenever possible, please send only one email with all submissions included as file attachments.

Your cover letter should be the body of your submission email. You do not need to attach your cover letter as a separate file.

Include each work as a separate file. If you are submitting a novel excerpt, include your synopsis in the same file.

Please use the file naming convention and file format listed in the “Manuscript Format” section of the guidelines.

You will receive an email confirming that we have received your manuscript. Please query if you do not receive a confirmation within 3 days.

We reserve the right to reject submissions which are clearly outside the scope of the workshop due to genre, quality, length, or extreme objectionable content.


The deadline for submissions is December 3, 2017. We will accept submissions on a first-come, first-served basis.

Our goal is to include as many writers as possible in the workshop. If we receive a large number of submissions or believe we will not have enough reviewers to critique all submissions, we will give priority to submissions received early over submissions that arrive later.


E-mail your questions or comments to us at:

The Fairwood Writers, and all writers from the Con who participate in the workshop, look forward to reading your stories and meeting you at Norwescon!