Consent in Fiction:
For Writers and Editors in Romance and Beyond
This course will run 13 March – 16 April 2023.
Use a smart approach to consent to hone and enliven characters, scenes, and stories.
Consent matters! But it isn’t always represented effectively in fiction.
Consent in Fiction is an interactive and content-rich course designed to help editors and writers:
- Understand consent within and beyond sexual contexts, in real life and in storytelling—particularly in romance novels and other fiction with romance elements.
- Articulate why representations of and messaging about consent matter, and analyze the messages being communicated.
- Use a nuanced understanding of consent to craft interesting, meaningful, hot sex scenes and to enhance—and fix problems in—narrative elements such as character development, conflict, tension, romance resolution, and messaging.
Focusing primarily on positive representations of healthy consent, the course aims to help students recognize and lean into strong, effective depictions, and notice and fix accidentally harmful ones.
Consent in Fiction is for writers, developmental editors, line editors, copyeditors, and sensitivity/authenticity readers who work with romance fiction, or with sex scenes and romantic elements in any genre. People of all experience and skill levels will find a lot to learn, enjoy, and ponder here: although it is beginner-friendly and does not assume prior knowledge, the course is also designed for folks who are very into both romance and consent and who want to keep diving deeper into the possibilities and sharpening those narrative tools. Let’s get together to learn and grow!
This 5-week course is limited to 20 students. Each week offers a lecture (audiovisual content, with captions and transcripts available), written content, a worksheet, exercises and discussion, and links to additional resources. Students do not need to access the course at any particular time, except (optionally) to participate in instructor-hosted chat sessions, which will be scheduled twice during the course and accessible via Discord: think of them as drop-in office hours or group hangouts. Cost: $250.
Some important heads-ups:
- Content warnings:
- Course materials refer to the existence of nonconsensual experiences and discuss "rape culture" in general terms, but do not include depictions of sexual violence or abuse.
- We will look at and discuss explicit sex scenes. Student discussion may also refer to on-page sex in published works or writers’ own manuscripts.
- Course materials, including lectures and linked resources, are NSFW!
- This is a queer-inclusive and queer-led space where everyone’s identities and experiences are respected, and where LGBTQIA+ romance is a central part of the conversation.
- Because I discuss examples from novels—and link to blog posts and other resources that do the same—there be spoilers ahead. (I mean, sort of: Is it a spoiler to disclose that the main characters of a romance novel navigate desire together and act like utter disasters while falling in love?)