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All About Milford SF Writers' Conference
Minimum Qualification * What Happens * Milford Rules * Outline of the Week * Preparation *
Venue * Inclusion / Equal Opportunities policy * How do I sign up and what does it cost? * The smallprint about cancellations
Cut the explanations, I already know all I need to know. Take me to the booking page.
MILFORD is a gathering of authors who write speculative fiction (in its widest sense). It is not a school for beginners; there are no "teachers" or "students". It is not an elitist in-group. Invitations are extended to any SF author - from relative newcomers to those may only dimly recall what rejection slips look like. Generally the workshop includes some writers who have not attended a previous Milford, and they are particularly welcome. The language of the conference is English, so all work must be submitted for critique in English.
The conference is the longest-running SF writers' event in the UK. It has been a regular and almost annual occurrence since 1972, drawing members from Britain, Europe, America and Australia. Over the years it has moved venue several times, but has been in its current location since 2004. It has settled into a comfortable, workable format: demanding and exhausting, but also convivial. In short, it's a social as well as a literary event--a chance to connect with other writers.
Many famous names have passed through Milford in its (more than) four decades: Anne McCaffrey, Brian Aldiss, Bruce Sterling, Charles Stross, Chris Priest, Diana Wynne Jones, George R.R. Martin, James Blish (the founder of Milford in the UK), John Clute, Neil Gaiman and Samuel R Delaney. More recently Alastair Reynolds, Gaie Sebold, Jaine Fenn, Karen Traviss, Kari Sperring and Liz Williams.
Some attendees are novel-writers, others specialise in short stories
Minimum qualification for attending Milford
Minimum qualification for attending Milford is one fiction sale to any recognised professional, semiprofessional market as long as your work has been selected by an editor for publication. Please note that though self-published works do not generally count, if you have self-published on a large scale with some success, it may be worth contacting the secretary to see if this can be counted. Anyone who is unsure as to whether they are qualified or not should contact the secretary. Talk to us if you're not sure. The committee's decision is final.
The authors are there to give and receive critique of ongoing work and to workshop ideas relating to that work.
Each participant submits up to 12,000 words in one or two pieces (short stories or novel excepts) for critting. A timetable is drawn up and the pieces slated for discussion on specific days. Mornings are free (for reading or whatever) and the formal critting takes place in the afternoons.
Milford rules apply.
In the evenings the library at Trigons available for socialising and for occasional silly games if the mood takes anyone (not obligatory).
Milford rules allow even the shyest member's voice to be heard.
Constructive rather than destructive criticism is strongly encouraged. It's the work being critiqued, not the individual authors, so no ad hominem attacks.
The group meets in a comfortable room with chairs drawn up in a circle.
Each participant, in rotation, spends up to four minutes (timed) giving their critique of the work at hand.
Everyone gets the opportunity to open the critting.
No interruption, whether by the author or anyone else, is allowed during this stage of the proceedings.
After everyone has spoken the author gets an uninterrupted right of reply.
This is followed by a more general discussion.
It's customary for the critee to scribble copious notes, but the critter normally gives the crittee a written version of their crit or maybe their original MS with notes, or emails it afterwards.
Outline of the Week
- Beforehand — Participants are encouraged to distribute their manuscripts by email before the workshop begins. This gives people the chance (if they wish) to read MS in advance, reducing the workload during the week itself.
- Saturday — Arrive any time from mid-afternoon. There's no programme, just dinner at Trigonos and getting to know each other. The week's timetable is posted (if it hasn't been emailed already) setting out when each MS will be discussed.
- Sunday to Thursday — These are the main working days. Mornings are free, and can be used to read manuscripts and prepare notes or go walkabout in North Wales if you're ahead on reading. Coffee and biscuits are served at 11.00 a.m. Lunch is served at 1.00 p.m. Workshop sessions occur in the afternoons, from 2.00 p.m. until we finish (though rarely later than 6.00 p.m. (with a coffee and cake break at 4.00). Here the stories are discussed one at a time as forthrightly and constructively as possible, sticking to the Milford Method of critique as described above.
- Wednesday — Milford is legally constituted so that the current 'members' (i.e. this year's attendees) are obliged to hold an AGM and elect officers for the coming year, thus each Milford provides for the next one. It usually only takes a few minutes after dinner.
- Thursday — The evening generally includes a markets session, discussing where the week's MSS could usefully be submitted on completion.
- Friday — Usually this is a free day, in which the group may undertake excursions to nearby places of interest, but it's always a fall-back day in case the workload is too heavy and additional critting time has to be scheduled.
- Saturday — Depart after breakfast.
- Afterwards — Groups often keep in touch and pass round useful information. If your story is subsequently published please let us know for our Success Stories page.
- Our one truly inflexible requirement is that you must bring (or send in advance) one or two pieces of unpublished work for discussion..
- Works may be science fiction, fantasy, horror, or of ambiguous genre such as slipstream, alternate history, steampunk etc. (for adults or children). Complete stories, partial stories and novel excerpts are acceptable; extracts should be accompanied by leading and/or trailing synopses where appropriate.
- Aim for around 10,000 words in one or two pieces. The maximum allowance is 12,000 words inclusive of all synopses. This may be split between more than one work, e.g. a 5,000-word story and a 6,000-word novel chapter. However, we prefer no more than two separate works please. Of course if your submissions are less than 10,000 words, that's fine. A 3,000 word story coupled with a 1,000 word flash piece is perfectly acceptable, or you can choose to submit one longer item.
- If you have not previously circulated your MS by email, please bring sufficient paper copies for all participants. Correct double-spaced manuscript format isn't necessarily required, especially if you need to save weight in your suitcase. No one is going to crit the format as long as it's clear and readable. You will be informed beforehand how many people are expected to attend the workshop. Even if you have distributed your MS in advance, a spare paper copy can be useful.
- Please inform the secretary beforehand of the titles and lengths of your manuscripts, so that the workshop schedule can be organised/fine-tuned..
Trigonos is situated on the shores of Lake Nantlle in Snowdonia, among the mountains of the Snowdonia National Park. It is about 6 miles from Caernarvon, and is accessible from Bangor railway station by bus service or taxi (pre-book to get the best deal). Full travel details are on the Trigonos website.
The centre is comprised of a Victorian house and converted outbuildings, and has a committed approach to sustainable land development and environmental restoration.
Previously not all the rooms at Trigonos have been ensuite, but from 2017 onwards they have added four more ensuite rooms, so no one should have to share a bathroom. There are eight rooms in the main house (all upstairs) and a further seven rooms in the converted buildings, many on the ground floor and including one room with level access and a wet-room shower facility suitable for anyone with access problems.
Milford has a dedicated conference room for formal crit sessions with a huge window (this one) looking up the Nantlle Valley to Mount Snowdon on a clear day.
The centre runs many courses and workshops, and there may also be individual guests or smaller groups during the time that we will be there, however this doesn't usually impnge on our privacy.
Accommodation is full board (breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and hot drinks on demand) and has a vegetarian/organic ethos though will cater for non-vegetarians, special diets, and can cater for vegan guests also. The centre grows much of its own organic produce. (There's a weekly price difference of £35 between vegetarians and meat-eaters as they source their meat from organic and local producers, which is expensive.)
Inclusion and Equal Opportunities
(From our constitution)
STATEMENT OF INCLUSION. Milford shall be open to all professionally published writers of SF/F, over the age of eighteen and writing in English. Writers under the age of eighteen may attend at the discretion of the committee if accompanied by a parent or guardian or designated responsible adult (with written permission of parent or guardian).
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES POLICY. All writers of SF/F are welcome, regardless of gender, marital status, race, ethnic origin, colour, nationality, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or planet of origin. Milford will always do its very best to select venues with level access for writers with mobility problems and to comply with all the laws of the land regarding physical access.
- Milford itself is run on a non-profit basis, and the only fee payable to Milford is a small charge to cover general administration - currently £10 per person.
- All other costs are payable to the venue for accommodation, food and the use of a meeting room for the workshopping sessions. The cost for the week is on the website here; this is all-inclusive and covers all meals during the week.
- There is a ceiling of 15 members with a deposit payable on initial booking of £150. This is your deposit for Trigonos and you should note that it's not held by Milford and it's not returnable in the event that you decide to cancel. [See below*]
- The deposit is paid to Milford on booking. The balance must be paid directly to Trigonos during the Milford week.
- Once the event fills up, there is a waiting list (in case someone drops out) which you can join by paying the deposit. This is held by Milford. The treasurer will hold this until the booking is either confirmed or cancelled. If no one drops out and you don't get a place you will get a full refund or you can take a place on the following year's Milford (or the next available Milford if that's already booked) and carry your deposit over.
- A few places will be ring-fenced for Milford first-timers until the Easter weekend. (Though it can book up earlier than this.) Once that deadline has passed places are open to everyone on a first come, first served basis. If we already have a waiting list of Milford returners at that point they will be at the front of the queue when places open up. Please note that due to high demand we ask writers not to book more than two years in a row without taking a rest of at least one year. Writers wishing to take a place for a third year running will only be accepted if there are still places available two months ahead of commencement.
- Go here for booking details
* Cancellation - The Small Print Writ Large
We advise Milford attendees to take out cancellation insurance to protect themselves from loss in the case of lost deposits. We regret that we can't refund deposits once paid. Trigonos has a cancellation policy which could charge Milford up to 75% of the full cost of your stay (over and above your lost deposit) if you cancel at the last minute and we can't fill your place. Even with a waiting list we would be unlikely to be able to fill your place on 7 days or 24 hours notice - besides anyone stepping in that late wouldn't have time to read the subs!