Consulting & Teaching

“Vylar Kaftan is a talented writer and a fantastic teacher. She is organized, communicates clearly, and has a knack for helping writers generate story ideas–I’ve sold over two dozen stories that were inspired by her writing prompts.” –Caroline M. Yoachim, Nebula-nominated author of 50+ short stories and the collection SEVEN WONDERS OF A ONCE AND FUTURE WORLD AND OTHER STORIES

I love writing and I love teaching! How can I help you? Some possibilities:

  • Plot: how does it work?
  • Editing skills, both macro and micro (i.e. both how to make large changes to a story, and how to make your paragraphs flow efficiently).
  • Why your stories aren’t selling, and how close you are to breaking through (note: I’m not psychic, so I can’t force your stories to sell. But you’d be surprised what I can see.)
  • What your strengths are. You need to remember those and play them up! It’s easy to get discouraged, and forget what you’re good at.
  • Where your weaknesses are. I can usually find 3-5 elements of writing that you should focus on–a personalized recommendation.
  • What editors see when they read your story.
  • How to find places where you’re unclear or leaving the reader with the wrong impression.
  • How to avoid getting killed. (Pro tip: don’t play with fireworks.)

“Vylar Kaftan is a master of inspiration and motivation for short fiction. If you’re feeling stuck, adrift, or wondering what to work on next, she will get you writing again! Her toolkit ranges from providing creative, wide-ranging prompts, to sharing her own inspiring experiences, with plenty of cheerleading along the way. I’ve had multiple professional sales after participating in Vylar-led writing exercises, and I wholeheartedly recommend her services.” –S.B. Divya, author of the novella RUNTIME and 6+ other stories

About me: I publish lots of stories and I’m flexible with genre. While I’m known primarily as a writer of character-driven science fiction, historical fiction, and horror, I’ve also published comedy, magical realism, secondary-world fantasy, and hard science fiction (i.e. focused on the science more than the characters). I can handle anything that qualifies as science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, alternate history, mainstream fiction, and more. See my Biography for more details.

“I’ve sold at least seven stories as a direct result of Vylar Kaftan’s encouragement, wisdom and insights. She’s a generous writer, an excellent critique partner and a professional-level editor. I would highly recommend working with Vylar.” –Matt Mikalatos, author of SKY LANTERN, six other books, and 10+ short stories

“Vylar was invaluable in helping me see not only what needed work in each of the individual stories we worked on, but in my writing as an overarching whole. She is perceptive, concise and has a good grasp of both character psychology and writer psychology, so her advice not only improved my writing but improved my sense of myself as a writer. I ended up not only knowing better ways to plot and tweak, but also where to go from here as a person striving to get somewhere in the writing world. Truly, I needed that. Yay, Vylar! She is my hero.”–Heather McDougal, author of the novel SONGS FOR A MACHINE AGE

My rates:

  • Critique: $3/page for stories in standard manuscript format. (12 pt Courier font, double-spaced, 1-inch margins). Any number of stories within reason is possible. For best results, I recommend giving me 4-6 stories. What you’ll get is a summary critique with my notes on your stories, plus a 1-hour Google Hangouts voice chat with me where we talk about your work as a whole–strengths, weaknesses, and where to focus your efforts. My turnaround time is approximately 2-4 weeks, and we’ll schedule the chat when I accept your work.
  • Full line-edit: $4/page, but I only recommend this for the most advanced writers who want to focus on their prose.
  • Speaking/presentation rate: $200/hr plus travel costs from the Berkeley, CA area.
  • Teaching/tutoring: $120/hr plus travel costs from the Berkeley, CA area.
  • Videogame writing: $70/hr. I can provide references on request.

For a non-profit organization, please ask about special pricing.

“Vylar knows an incredible amount about story. She’s generous with her time and advice and seems to genuinely enjoy helping other writers deconstruct their drafts and get to the root of their problems.” –Alisa Alering, author of 10+ short stories

Query for my availability: web AT vylar kaftan DOT net. All payment is due upon story submission. If you aren’t ready to go for paid services, check back for free essays on craft.

“I’ve had the opportunity to learn from Vylar over five years in the same writing group. She has a rare combination: keen insight into what makes stories tick, and a remarkable ability to translate that insight into practical advice and feedback. For example, her ‘three positions of power’ observation was very helpful to me in understanding how opening scenes work — and why mine weren’t.” –John Murphy, author of the novellas THE LIAR and CLAUDIUS REX

Vylar came in [to the school], having never met the kids before, and immediately had them engaged. The teachers told me that many of the students were nervous, having a ‘real’ author see their work. She met with them in a group setting and then spoke with students individually. The teachers told me that within a few minutes of talking with them as a group, the students relaxed and began to have fun. They felt comfortable asking questions and, more significantly, able to take significant feedback. She didn’t sugar-coat her input, but she provided it in a way that ‘felt like teamwork.’ Later, one student said, ‘It was a pretty cool experience because she is this real expert.’ From a tween, that’s high praise. Another student added, ‘She really helped me improve my story; I felt like I could really write.’ The staff and teachers at Helios were very impressed with Vylar’s work with the kids and how well she worked with kids who are diverse in background, interest, and ability. We’re looking forward to the next opportunity to have Vylar come to the school to work with our students. ” –Ina Roy-Faderman, librarian at Helios School, Sunnyvale, CA