World Building: Writing Speculative Fiction

Terry Dowling

Sunday 20 October, 10am-4pm

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

Do you dream of the impossible? Do you want to create worlds that live and breathe on the page, that readers will never forget? Then get ready to immerse your imagination in the genres of science fiction and fantasy with one of Australia’s most awarded and internationally acclaimed speculative fiction writers, Terry Dowling.

This one-day course will explore the exciting and lucrative genres of fantasy and science fiction, with an emphasis on the key elements of imaginative storytelling and producing what sells. Terry will focus on the special requirements of the field: creating worlds that are consistent and logical, characters that are believable and interesting, and situations that will intrigue the modern reader. The course will involve both aspects of latest genre theory plus practical exercises for achieving such essential storytelling techniques as invisibility of delivery and the ‘voice of truth’. There will be special attention given to current local and international markets, the presentation of professional manuscripts, and important strategies for developing both style and suspension of disbelief essential for success in the field. Participants will have the chance to receive feedback on their writing.

Expected Learning Outcomes

Participants will gain:

  1. A clear and practical understanding of the field’s current requirements and what the leading editors are looking for;
  2. An introduction to the art of successful world-building using ‘the 14 things’;
  3. An introduction to such essential writing skills as logic-testing, brainstorming and the use of both dialogue cues and narrative cues to establish characters and believable dialogue;
  4. A clear understanding of the importance of ‘invisibility’ and the ‘voice of truth’ in the presentation of narrative;
  5. A practical insight into how manuscripts should be presented for the current international market; and
  6. The chance to apply the above elements in (a) a practical manuscript evaluation exercise and (b) anonymous evaluation of their own writing.

Participant Requirements

Essential: please bring a printed writing sample of between 200 and 2000 words that reveals an exotic and otherworldly setting as much as possible through (1) your characters’ actions and reactions and (2) dialogue, rather than through description of a place. See what you can do.

Bring three copies of your piece, typed and stapled, without your name anywhere on the text.

Recommended reading:

Stephen King, On Writing, Hodder & Stoughton, 2002
Frank Herbert, Dune, 1965 (any edition)
JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 1954-1955 (any edition)
Jonathan Strahan and Charles N Brown, The Locus Awards, Voyager, 2004 (check libraries for this title)

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