Centre for Continuing Education

Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction Course

Creative Writing. Express yourself with the written word.

Develop your creative style the smart way with Creative Writing courses at the University of Sydney.

Do you harbour a love of the fantastic? Is science fiction your obsession, or fantasy, grim fairy tales, Gothic, steampunk, slipstream, and more? Is your climate change/urban fantasy/ghost story novel begging to be written—or finished—if only you knew how? Have you got a bunch of amazing ideas but are not quite sure how to get them on the page? If so, you’re in good company.

Designed to give participants the practical skills to approach their speculative writing projects with confidence, this creative writing course is built around specific issues that often plague the fantasy or science-fiction writer—world-building, over-plotting, dialogue quandaries, multiple viewpoints, and avoiding cliché. Above all we look at creating believable protagonists (and antagonists)—the best way to make your own work stand out in an increasingly competitive market. We discuss genre conventions and how to push against them, current trends in small and large presses, podcasts, comic books, TV series and more. A blend of craft basics and speculative fiction specifics, this creative writing course is an invaluable way to find your place in today’s golden age of fantastic fiction.

Aims

This course aims to develop your speculative fiction writing skills and equip you with one completed short story as well as a portfolio of writing within a framework of knowledge that will become the basis of your writing practice.

Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, participants should be able to:

  • apply literary craft to their speculative fiction with more confidence and skill
  • locate their work in terms of genre, audience and influence
  • extrapolate science into futuristic technology, conjure new forms of magic, imagine beauty amid the ruins of fantastic urban terrains or bring nightmares to life
  • build believable characters in imaginary worlds that feel wondrously or terrifyingly real
  • plan, structure and revise their work to make it the best it can be
  • identify and submit to market opportunities most receptive to their work.

Content

This course covers the following topics:

  • Introduction to conventions and expectations of speculative fiction genres.
  • Skills-based learning of fiction writing basics necessary to make the imaginary seem real.
  • Voluntary workshopping in which students give and get constructive criticism from peers and instructor on an original work.
  • Weekly practice in character building, world building, scene construction and all elements of craft both in class as well as through extension activities for those who wish to go further.
  • Weekly instructor feedback on individual work.
  • Introduction to self-editing and to market opportunities.

Intended Audience

This workshop targets writers of all levels, ages and backgrounds, whether you have just a germ of an idea or are an experienced writer looking to complete a final draft.

No assumed knowledge or experience is required.

Delivery Style

This workshop is taught through a variety of methods including:

  • Group discussions
  • Shared and individual writing exercises
  • Tutor and participant feedback
  • Weekly instructor feedback on individual work

Materials

Writing implements/laptops and a binder or folder for additional weekly handouts. All participants receive a free reader crammed with craft essays and some of the best speculative literature of our time chose by J.S. Breukelaar.

Recommended Reading

Bradbury, R 2008, Stories: Volume 2, Harper Voyager, London, UK.

Fantastic Women, 2011, 18 Tales of the Surreal and the Sublime, ed. Rob Spillman, Tin House, Or.

Gardner, J 1991, The art of fiction: notes on craft for young writers, Vintage Books, NY.

Gardner, J 1971, Grendel, Vintage Books, NY.



Hill, J (ed.) 2015, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NY.

King, S 2000, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Hodder & Stoughton, London, UK.

Le Guin, U 2015, Steering the craft: a twenty-First century guide to sailing the sea of story, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, NY.

Link, K 2015, Magic For Beginners, Text Publishing, Melbourne.

Slatter, A 2015, The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings, Tartarus Press, London, UK.

VanderMeer, A & VanderMeer, J (eds) 2015, The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories, Corvus Books, London, UK.

Features

  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • Fantastic teaching and course content.
  • Great course on creative writing. Very hands on and practical. Learnt a lot about writing in the speculative fiction genre.