Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writing Workshop: Speculative World-Building

Fantasy and science fiction may promise escape, but great works in these genres such as Circe by Madeline Miller and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin use imagined worlds to illuminate the reader’s own real-world experience. In science fiction and fantasy, the writer’s task is to balance the real world we're escaping from with the fictional world we're connecting to, through inventive character development, plot construction, point of view, pacing, tone, and the element of surprise. For the first three weeks of this course, students will complete writing exercises, approximately 750 words per week, to develop the rules of their imagined worlds. In the fourth week, when workshops begin, students may present either new material or material that developed out of the previous weeks’ exercises. We will read from The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales, examining the imagined worlds of fantasy writers such as Catherynne M. Valente and Naomi Novik to see what they suggest about our real world. From our reading, we will glean the tools that writers like Garth Nix use to construct the strongest fictive world possible. By the end of the course, you will have written and workshopped a short story or a portion of a novel (up to 5,000 words) and determined a clear plan for revision.

Lauren Kate

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Online, instructor-led
Jan 16 - Mar 22, 2024
Stanford Continuing Studies