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Create Amazing Worlds With Speculative Fiction

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Create Amazing Worlds of SPECULATIVE FICTION with Catherine Wilkins 2024

These classes are designed for both beginners and for more experienced writers to advance their particular speculative fiction skills. Each includes exercises and class discussion. Best results are achieved by sharing your work with the group, though this is optional.

SEMESTER 1

First Class: The power of speculative fiction

Speculative fiction is a genre that continues to grow in popularity. From the warnings of Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale to the technological visions of the original Star Trek, speculative fiction has a power to inspire. Where does this power come from? Why write in this genre? How do you use the amazing worlds of this genre to share your story?

Second Class: Fantasy vs Science Fiction

Speculative fiction tells world-spanning stories, but what’s the difference between fantasy and science fiction? And what’s with all the sub genres? What does hard and soft mean in spec fic? How do you know which sub genre fits your story? How do you use them to gain more story impact?

Third Class: Promises, promises

Spec fic has one of the strongest fan bases in modern fiction, but for them to become fans of your work they need to know what type of story you’re promising to tell. The most successful stories keep three important promises; tone, character arc and plot. What are these promises? What promises are you willing to keep? How can you create a satisfying twist while still keeping your promises?

Fourth Class: Lived-in experience

While a world can be a character (think Oz in The Wizard of Oz or Narnia) your story only comes alive when it’s inhabited. Your characters, whether alien, animal or human, tell your story. How do you create characters that are both relatable and natural inhabitants of your spec fic world? How does the relationship between your world and your characters help create your story?

Fifth Class: Being a god – or how to create a world

Worlds are vast and creating a world that comes alive on the page without losing your readers in overwhelming information is a necessary skill for spec fic writers. This skill presents challenges both big and small. How do you overcome them? And how does the way your characters overcome them influence your story?

Sixth Class: Welcome to wonderland – or leaving the familiar for the strange

One of the biggest challenges for spec fic is introducing a world that’s strange to your reader, yet the wonder of such a world is part of the enduring power of spec fic. How do you introduce your world so your readers become immersed? How can you lead your readers into mystery so they’ll want to live there?

SEMESTER 2

Seventh Class: World as plot

For a full immersive experience of your world, it needs to be more than a pretty or fascinating background. By creating your world so its structure is essential for your novel you can tell an authentic story that couldn’t be told in any other setting. What unique difficulties and challenges does your world represent? How do you make the difficulties your characters encounter intrinsic to your world?

Eighth Class: Culture as character arc

Your world and your culture are interlinked; for desert peoples hell is a fiery pit, while those who live through long, cold winters have a frozen wasteland as their hell. Where you locate your story in your world influences the culture of your characters, and that culture is the framework of your story. If your character is a street urchin, then it’s a world with no compulsory schooling for children. If your character is a prince or princess, then there’s some type of feudal system. What does your character want? What will they achieve? How does this intrinsically make sense in your spec fic world?

Ninth Class: Turn it up to eleven

The emotion of a story is arguably the most important element; readers read to feel something. Story arc is more than a list of activities for your character; it’s experiences forcing your character to such deep feelings they need to change. Without emotional depth your story risks feeling hollow with inauthentic character shifts. How can you increase the tension and emotion in your story? How do you create emotions that make the character’s transformation feel earned?

Tenth Class: Details as scene

It’s impossible to explain everything about a world without boring your readers, yet they need to know enough for it to be real to them. Specific details are a powerful tool; it’s ‘a medieval street’ versus ‘sewerage running down a cobblestone street liberally spread with horse manure’. What kind of details help keep your promises to your readers? What kind of details deepen your world-building and create pacing in your story?

Eleventh Class: How much is enough?

A world-spanning story requires a host of characters. It can be tempting to populate your world with many main characters all of whom get to tell their story, but each point-of-view character adds levels of complication to your story. How many characters are enough? How many protagonists do you need? How many antagonists?

Twelfth class: What’s next?

You’ve become the god of your own speculative fiction world. You’ve populated it with fascinating cultures and created relatable characters with tension-grabbing challenges. Now what? How do you take your writing to the next level? How do you continue your own writing journey?

Presented by Catherine Wilkins of The Soul’s Brain.

A twelve-week course designed to leave you with a world of your own making, a world that lives in your imagination and that of your readers, a world inhabited by vibrant characters and impossible challenges. Students will come away with the means to realise their passion for this growing genre, with a toolbox full of writing techniques fitted for their unique writing style. Classes contain writing exercises along with readings, feedback and general discussion. Participants are welcome to work on their own ‘works-in-progress’, to begin a new one or work with each exercise as a one-off.

Cost: $40 per session or $200 upfront for a six-class pass.

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About the Facilitator:

Catherine Wilkins is an author, artist, renovator, archer, bushwalker, chiropractor and small business owner. Her non-fiction book The Soul’s Brain was published by Hay House International. She’s working on several spec fic works and has made every mistake so you don’t have to. She runs on imagination and humour lubricated by coffee and a good pinot noir.


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