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FICT 137 W — Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writing Workshop: Speculative World-Building

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 16—Mar 22
Refund Deadline: Jan 19
Units: 3
Tuition: $1000
Instructor(s): Lauren Kate
Limit: 19
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jan 16—Mar 22
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 19
3 Units
Lauren Kate
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Fantasy and science fiction may promise escape, but great works in these genres such as Circe by Madeline Miller and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin use imagined worlds to illuminate the reader’s own real-world experience. In science fiction and fantasy, the writer’s task is to balance the real world we're escaping from with the fictional world we're connecting to, through inventive character development, plot construction, point of view, pacing, tone, and the element of surprise.

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, examining the imagined worlds of fantasy writers such as Catherynne M. Valente and Naomi Novik to see what they suggest about our real world. From our reading, we will glean the tools that writers like Garth Nix use to construct the strongest fictive world possible. By the end of the course, you will have written and workshopped a short story or a portion of a novel (up to 5,000 words) and determined a clear plan for revision.


Lauren Kate is the author of 12 novels, including the Fallen series, the Teardrop series, and By Any Other Name. 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) Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (ISBN 978-0385480017)
(Required) Madeline Miller, Circe (ISBN 978-0316556323 )
(Required) Dominik Parisien, The Starlit Wood: New Fairy Tales (ISBN 978-1481456135 )