This workshop aimed to provide a practical introduction on how to write fiction for professional philosophers. 45 philosophers sent applications, for a total of 27 places. Selections were made by the organizer on the basis of motivation letter, namely how useful the workshop would be for the participants. See here for the call for papers https://philevents.org/event/show/27673
The workshop consisted of two full days, with talks in the morning by Eric Schwitzgebel, Sara Uckelman, James Hawes, and Helen De Cruz. These talks were about the philosophical value of fiction (Schwitzgebel), how to write philosophical fiction (James Hawes), similarities in writing structure between philosophical argument and plot (Sara Uckelman) and philosophical fiction and the sense of wonderment (Helen De Cruz). In the afternoons, the participants met one-on-one with one of three mentors, Uckelman, Hawes and Schwitzgebel, to discuss a writing sample they had sent in advance. At the end of the second day, there was a panel session with workshop participants who had already successfully publish their fiction, including Frances Howard-Snyder (short fiction, genere: romance), Carol Quinn (novel), Sara Uckelman and Eric Schwitzgebel (short fiction, genre: Science Fiction and Fantasy). We also had one panelist who had published poetry in our panel (Mara Daria Cojocaru). Each panelist briefly talked about their experience in publishing, and this was followed by an hour of question and answers from the public.
We are working to have the talks online so that other philosophers can benefit from the advice offered in this workshop. Currently, there is an online version of James Hawes’ talk here: https://blog.apaonline.org/2017/06/13/a-novelists-tips-for-writing-philosophical-fiction/. The talks by the other speakers will appear online in due course.
The American Philosophical Association has also published two interviews by workshop participants.
Here is an interview with Bryony Pierce on her experiences with the workshop http://blog.apaonline.org/2017/07/26/bryony-pierce-on-writing-philosophical-fiction/
Here is an interview with Hugh Reynolds, another workshop participant http://blog.apaonline.org/2017/08/09/hugh-d-reynolds-on-philosophical-fiction/
To get a sense of how useful the workshop was, I conducted an anonymized survey with the participants a few days after the event. Of the 27 participants, 20 responded. Respondents gave permission for their answers to be used in this report.
Overall, 50% found the workshop extremely useful and 50% found it very useful (scale points ranged from extremely useful to extremely useless on a 5-point scale)
60% found the feedback on their work through mentoring very useful, 25% found it useful, and 15% slightly useful.
Some individual comments by the respondents are here (reproduced with their permission, and anonymized)
“Personally, I found the mentoring session to be excellent. The length allowed us to go into depth on broad themes in my writing without it becoming tedious or nit-picky. The pairing of mentors was also great, because my mentor was interested in my work, and did not seem to feel obligated to give feedback or comments, but was rather happy to do so.”
“James Hawes’s presentation was fabulous. He managed to give some really helpful expert advice on how to write fiction to a group of amateurs in the field. He used his experience reading some of their work to tailor this specifically to a philosophy audience. His presentation was the best aspect of the workshop.
The other three presenters were philosophers with an interest in writing fiction. All three raised interesting questions and suggestions about the intersection of fiction and philosophy. Getting to meet a bunch of other philosophers interested in writing fiction was fun and refreshing. Lunch and snacks were good.”