Writing Speculative Fiction

Course Description

Writing Speculative Fiction is, first and foremost, a writing class. Most of your work will be focused on writing and editing stories. Every night you will be assigned a short writing prompt to help apply the concepts we cover in class. In this way, our theoretical conversations are grounded in practice and you are given an opportunity to experiment with new ideas and techniques.

Class is divided roughly into three areas of focus: lecture, reading discussion, and workshop.

The short lecture serves as an introduction to a fundamental aspect of storytelling. Some of the topics that we will cover are:

• the importance of story structure for editing and plot development;
• the use of incidental detail to make the fantastic tangible;
• how to read for craft, learning the mechanics of storytelling by examining the work of others;
• and the limitations and opportunities that working within a genre provides.
The goal of our class discussion is to expose you to as many different writers, voices, techniques, concerns, problems, and opportunities as I can. The more you read, the more tools you will have at your disposal. I will ask you to articulate your thoughts about the stories. Often we can tell we like something, and we have vague feelings about why, but we can't quite put those feelings into words. Your job is to put things into words. And you can learn a lot by forcing yourself to explain.

Many of you are very good at first drafts: the art of writing quickly in response to a prompt has been ingrained in you since your first days at school. And while that is a beneficial skill, it tends to leave your ability to evaluate and refine your work undeveloped. To this end at the end of each class, we will workshop each other’s stories. Just as you will foster the ability to articulate your feelings about the work of established writers, I want you to be able to clearly identify what works and doesn't in a first draft, to focus on what details cause a piece to drag or what aspect makes a character unbelievable, and then to able to offer constructive ways of dealing with these problems.

By the end of this course, you will:

• be a stronger, more confident writer;
• become an active and critical reader, able to examine and discuss elements of craft in both classic and contemporary stories;
• be able to constructively critique your work and the work of others;
• will have produced a series of short stories that you can develop in the future as well as one long story that has been through significant revision.


No specific prior experience or knowledge is required.


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 20, 2022 - July 01, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: M-F 12:15P-3:05P
Status: Closed
Format: On-Campus
Instructor(s): Michael Stewart
Course Number: 10306