Bizarro Fiction 101 with J. David Osborne

Think Bizarro is just weird for the sake of weird? Think again. Learn to utilize weird elements to engage the reader in this four-week workshop with J. David Osborne.

Your Instructor: J. David Osborne, editor of Broken River Books, winner of the Wonderland for Best Novel

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: Limited to 16 students

Price: $325

Class Description

Bizarro fiction, according to the Greatest Source of All Internet Knowledge (Wikipedia), is a contemporary literary genre, which often uses elements of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive works that are as weird and entertaining as possible.

Skim through Amazon for bizarro titles and you'll find stuff like Time PimpPus JunkiesArmadillo FistsShatnerquake, and The Haunted Vagina.

And you know what? As a genre, it's really taking off. We did a piece on it. So did The Guardian. So did Flavorwire. So did Cracked...

But bizarro fiction isn't weird for the sake of being weird. There's a method to the madness. 

Welcome to Bizarro Fiction 101, an introduction to the genre led by J. David Osborne. He's the editor-in-chief at Broken River Books, and the author five novels, including By The Time We Leave Here, We'll Be Friends, which won the Wonderland Award for Best Novel—the top prize in bizarro fiction. 

And in this four-week workshop, he'll teach you how to write weird fiction that connects with an audience. Because the weird elements in bizarro fiction should serve the story—they should build character, create conflict, and establish the setting. Over the course of four weeks, Osborne will critique your work, answer your questions, and show you what it takes to get weird. 

What This Class Covers

Week 1

Lecture: The Not-Knowing: Surrealism and Bizarro's Untapped Potential for Humanity

An introduction/primer on Bizarro, including examples pertaining to how Bizarro is able to get at certain human truths through surrealism.

Week 2

Lecture: Weirdly Specific: Focusing on the Sentence

We get under the hood for a nuts-and-bolts lesson on how to create compelling, entertaining sentences. Like a nice curry, too much spice can ruin the flavor, while too little leaves you with nothing but mush. We'll be learning how to balance your sentences out to keep the reader turning the page.

Week 3

Lecture: Eight Legs, Nine Eyes, and One Heart: Developing Your Weird Character

Whether your character is a chair who has fallen in love with a cushion, or a space alien who needs to acquire health insurance for his squid-children, your characters are your most important tool in your big bag of tricks. We'll focus on how to find the soul of your hero, regardless of whether or not they have a spine.

Week 4

Lecture: The Blob: How to Sculpt Your Piece Into a Compelling Narrative

If bizarro fiction had one rule above all others, it would be: MAKE SURE YOU'RE ENTERTAINING. In this lesson, we will pull together all of what we've learned to craft a short outline/pitch. By this point, you will be ready to write your novel. Show the world just how weird you can be.

Each week will include writing assignments to put your new skills to the test, to be critiqued by your instructor and fellow students, as well as opportunities for Q&A with your instructor. 

Goals Of This Class

  • Leave with a deeper understanding of how to write engaging Bizarro Fiction
  • Make the weird elements in your story serve a purpose
  • Ground your story with a strong setting
  • Create characters the reader can engage with—despite the madness
  • Find a compelling narrative within your story
  • Connect and network with like-minded students
About Our Classes Class FAQs