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Continuing Education

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Continuing Education

Writing Speculative Fiction Part II

Writing Speculative Fiction Part II

Thursdays, October 19th to December 7th, 2017, 7:00 - 9:00 pm.

Location: Traill College, Wallis Hall 226

Cost: $20 per class (+ HST).

Register online at https://www.regonline.com/writingspeculativefiction or in person with cash or cheque at Scott House Room 102.4, 300 London Street, Traill College

Writing Speculative Fiction is a way of imagining the world in new and creative ways, using your full imagination to see the world through a speculative (questioning) lens. In this course, award winning author Ursula Pflug and award winning academic and blogger Derek Newman-Stille will work with you to bring out your creative potential and give you the skills to find your own voice and turn it into written work.

Using the techniques of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror), we will work on imagining possibilities and new magical, futuristic, or horrifying ways of seeing and envisioning the world around you. We will explore a variety of forms of writing, with a general focus on writing short fiction. Our techniques will vary from class to class, bringing out different ways of imagining new possibilities.

Students will have the opportunity to engage in workshops related to areas such as character development, dialogue, descriptions and the senses, constructing metaphors and similes, and techniques for seeking inspiration, as well as techniques specifically related to speculative fiction such as speculative futurisms, engaging with the mythic, and creating speculative twists to ordinary experience.

This course is open to creative writing beginners, those wanting a refresher, and established writers wanting some new techniques for writing.

Thursday 19 October - What Ifs

Students will begin with the general question "What If" and its relationship to speculative fiction and the imagination. Science fiction has been called the literature of ideas, always asking the next question. What if aliens come to earth? What if the nazis had won the second world war? What if artificial intelligence becomes more powerful than human intelligence? What if our genders altered according to the season? What if there were more accepted genders? What if dragons were/are real? Students will draw up possible What If scenarios, describing the future, alternate realities, or alternate versions of history. How do we people these scenarios to make them engaging for the reader? Students will explore the power of questions to guide their fiction and evoke new imaginings.

Thursday 26 October - Being Inspired by Place:­ Fantastic Geographies and Setting

Using images from various fantastic locations, students will explore the way that geographies and certain spaces create an atmosphere for a story. Experiencing different locations, students will imagine stories that arise from these settings, determining the types of plots that could happen in them, the types of characters who would use those locations, and the way that the spaces themselves are storied (filled with potential tales).

Thursday 2 November - Fan Fiction: Subverting Literature

Students will be asked to bring in a favourite book, short story, film, or television series. They will be asked to imagine these stories from the perspective of a different character ­ an under- represented character, a villain, etc. Students will be asked to use their imagination and critical thinking skills to subvert this narrative, imagining possibilities that the writer of the original material didn't think about or couldn't write about because of public pressures. Students will operate in the mindset of "what if", exploring new perspectives and opportunities. This will also provide students with the skills to flush out an existing world and explore the power of writing to change narratives.

Thursday 9 November - Apocalypses: Imagining the End

Students will be asked to think of a possible end of the world scenario and flesh out this apocalyptic world while imagining how protagonists can survive. Students will have a chance to explore what the character will need to change in order to respond to a changing world, explore what kinds of characters could adapt to an apocalyptic scenario, and examine how the character is emotionally changed by the experience. Students will also have a chance to consider the ways that apocalyptic stories can tell us a lot about the issues and anxieties we have in the present and the way that we invest these ideas with notions about the impact they will have on the future.

Thursday 16 November - Life Is Stranger Than Science Fiction

To help students to explore the way that the real lives of authors can inspire stories, students will have a chance to share their own stories of the strange and unusual (those moments that no one would believe were real) and then expand on the oddity of these stories, examining their potential for truly strange fiction.

Thursday 23 November - Cli-Fi: Climate Fiction

Climate change is a key factor that shapes our lives. As much as we see our human selves as separate from nature, we are natural creatures embedded in our ecosystems. This workshop will examine methods for expressing the science behind climate change and issues of ecological justice in our fiction.

Thursday 30 November - The Art of Speculative Fiction­­: Ekphrastic Writing

Students will have the opportunity to bring in their favourite piece of fantastic art and then imagine that art piece in motion, populated with characters, each with their own stories. Students will be able to think about the way that art can inspire the telling of stories.

Thursday 7 December - Epistolary Stories

The letter has been an important media for conveying stories. Students will have a chance to explore the power of the letter for telling a story through correspondence. Students will then be given a chance to collaborate on an epistolary story by writing the first letter and then having another student assume the character of the person who is being written to and then write back.

About the instructors:

Ursula Pflug is author of the novels Green Music, The Alphabet Stones, Motion Sickness (a flash novel illustrated by SK Dyment) and the story collections After the Fires and Harvesting the Moon. She edited the anthologies They Have To Take You In and Playground of Lost Toys (with Colleen Anderson). Her award winning short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Fantasy, Strange Horizons, Postscripts, Leviathan, LCRW, Now Magazine, Bamboo Ridge and elsewhere. Her books have been endorsed by Tim Wynne-Jones, Candas Jane Dorsey, Charles De Lint, Mathew Cheney, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and Jeff VanderMeer. Pflug has been shortlisted or nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Sunburst and Aurora Awards, the 3 Day Novel, Descant Novella, KM Hunter  and ReLit Awards; visit her on the web at ursulapflug.ca. Pflug has taught creative writing workshops throughout Ontario and in Mexico since 1985.

Derek Newman-Stille is the 5 time Aurora Award winning creator of Speculating Canada. He is currently editing an anthology called Over the Rainbow: Folk and Firy Takes From the Margins. He has been published in venues like Quill and Quire, Accessing the Future, Uncanny Magazine, and The Playground of Lost Toys. Derek has taught courses on werewolves in literature and witchcraft in the Greek and Roman world. Derek has published academic articles on speculative fiction in venues like Mosaic and The Canadian Fantastic in Focus. He has given academic papers at conferences such as the Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy, the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association, and the Canadian Popular Culture Association.

Online registration is provided through RegOnline, a third-party registration service. An additional charge will be applied by RegOnline in addition to the course fee.

Avoid additional charges by registering in person with cash or a cheque.