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FICT 137 W — Reality Bites: Writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 9
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Units: 3
Tuition: $955
Instructor(s): Lauren Kate
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class the week of November 21
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Sep 26—Dec 9
10 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
3 Units
Lauren Kate
Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class the week of November 21
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Fantasy and science fiction may promise escape, but the great works in these genres use imagined worlds to illuminate the reader’s own real experience. In science fiction and fantasy, the writer’s task is to balance “escape” and “connection” through inventive character development, plot construction, point of view, pacing, tone, and the element of surprise—the new world, or world building, of the speculative story. 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, and we will examine what the new worlds of such fantasy writers as Catherynne M. Valente suggest about our old or real world and what tools writers like Garth Nix use to construct the strongest fictive world possible. By the end of the course, you will have a short story or a portion of a novel (up to 5,000 words) drafted, along with a clear plan for revision.


Lauren Kate is the author of nine novels, including The Orphan’s Song, the Fallen series, the Teardrop series, and The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove. Her books have sold over 10 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 30 languages. The feature film Fallen was released in the US in 2017. She received an MA in creative writing from UC Davis and is a former acquiring editor at HarperCollins.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Domink Parisien(ed) and Navah Wolf(ed), The Starlit Wood (ISBN 978-1481456135)
(Required) Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (ISBN 978-0385480017)
(Required) Madeline Miller, Circe (ISBN 978-0316556323)