The Glorious “What If?”: Writing Fantasy Fiction

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  • Session A: July 10 - July 22, 2017
  • Session B: July 24 - August 5, 2017


  • 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.


  • English and Writing


  • Melissa Jensen

This is a module for anyone who is still waiting for the Hogwarts owl to arrive, who inhabits otherwordly places, or just wants to write about them. Fantasy fiction takes many forms, from ordinary life with a little twist to hard sci-fi, alternate histories to imagined futures, children's fairy tales to grown-up horror...with some Grimm intersections. 

We will read, listen, and watch—novels, excerpts, tv—as writers, learning and discussing what makes a story compelling, appealing and, if we’re very lucky, important. Students will learn about honing their voice, creating believable story, characters, and language, all with a fantastical element. They will write several very short, “flash” pieces, as well as a longer one which we will discuss as a group in the second week, offering (guided) insights into what is appealing and works well, and what might benefit from revision. Our goal by the end of the course is for students to have not only the tools to build a good story, but to have a solid foundation laid down—and a fierce desire to start building upward.

Each session will begin with a focused lecture from the instructor on the day’s topic: plot, character, dialogue, etc. We will read topical excerpts aloud from assorted novels, view segments from film and television, and discuss as a group what we’ve read and seen as works of fantasy fiction: not just whether we like (or dislike) it, but why? What has the author achieved (or not) through plot, character, dialogue, etc. to compel, entertain, illuminate? In the second week, we will discuss students’ work as a group, offering (guided) insights into what is appealing and works well, and what might benefit from revision.

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