Crafting the Fantastic: Writing Speculative Fiction

Cat Sparks

Saturday 17 November 2018, 10am-4pm

Full Price: $195
Member: $135
Conc Member: $120

What’s so special about speculative fiction? Does it require a different set of skills to writing about the real world? This one-day workshop will focus on the importance of the particular tools, knowledge and understanding required for conjuring worlds beyond our own, starting with a brief historical overview of speculative fiction itself, its cultural relevance, and its positioning in today’s literary landscape.

Short or long form – what’s best for the story you wish to tell? Is research required if you’re inventing your own world from scratch? Are you a pantser or plotter? This workshop will guide you through the key considerations of speculative fiction, from the minute to the structural. We’ll look at how to avoid redundant phrases, distracting adjectives and unnecessary adverbs, and how to convey information about character and backstory through small detail rather than clunky exposition. We’ll talk about the value of research when it comes to credible world-building, and we’ll consider how to recognise and avoid cultural appropriation, including how to find good advice about writing the ‘other’.

Participants will learn about ‘writing to discover’ and ‘writing off the page’, mind maps and brain farts, and how to find the best place to get started, whether it’s with a character, a theme, a concept, or something else entirely. Participants will be provided with a handy online resource list, tips for writing query letters and advice about how to handle rejection and success.

Expected Learning Outcomes

  1. Participants will come away with the confidence to complete their future projects (novel or short story), having gained a comprehensive knowledge of the core elements required and how to execute them, including structure, worldbuilding, theme and research.
  2. Participants will gain a realistic perspective on the SF publishing landscape, the obstacles to publication and the ways an author can present themselves positively and professionally, giving their work the best possible chance of being published.
  3. Participants will have learned about aspects and elements of forms of speculative fiction beyond their personal initial areas of interest and may be encouraged to extend themselves in new directions, for example, fantasy writers dabbling in gothic horror, space opera writers considering cli fi, etc.

Participant Requirements

You may bring along the opening paragraph of a speculative story you’re working on, either from a novel or a short story. Time permitting, the tutor will offer a brief critique. This is optional – only for those who wish to be critiqued.

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