Writing Speculative Fiction (Revision 1)
ENGL 387 develops speculative fiction (SF) writing skills through a combination of strategic study and writing activity. Students learn key definitions, important history, traditions of the field, essential features of SF, and principles and standards of fiction writing in general. Strategic reading throughout the course, along with analysis of professional working methods, contributes and reinforces insights. Students learn to perform expert critiques and write informed revision. Above all, they write and revise short SF with increasing skill and confidence.
- Unit 1: What Is Speculative Fiction?
- Unit 2: Preparing to Excel at Speculative Fiction
- Unit 3: Elements of Story and Special Problems of Character
- Unit 4: Worlds and Wonders
- Unit 5: Themes and Tropes of Speculative Fiction
- Unit 6: Critique and Self-critique
- Unit 7: Final Draft
To receive credit for ENGL 387, you must achieve a minimum grade of 50 percent on each assignment and a composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent). There is no final examination. The weighting of the assignments is as follows:
|Assignment for Credit||Length||Weight|
|Analysis and sample writing||400-500 wds||10%|
|Short story & reflection||1,500-2,000 wds||15%|
|Short story||2,000-2,500 wds||20%|
|Markup and critique||250-300 wds & markup||10%|
|Case study report||500-750 wds||10%|
|Self critique and markup||250 wds & markup||10%|
|Short story final draft||3,500 wds max||25%|
To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.
Delaney, Samuel R. About Writing. Middleton: Weslyan University Press, 2005.
Le Guin, Ursula K. and Brian Attebery, eds. The Norton Book of Science Fiction. New York: Norton, 1993.
Wilhelm, Kate. Storyteller. Northampton: Small Beer, 2005.
Other Materials: Readings and Short Fiction
Clute, John. "Fantasy" (essay) in The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, Clute and Grant, eds. London: Orbit, 1996)
Delany, Samuel. "About 5,750 Words" (essay)
Dorsey, Candas Jane. "Farewell to the Literature of Ideas."
Imaginative Fiction Writers Association. "The Critique, Our Reason for Being: Critique Guidelines."
McIntyre, Vonda. "The Straining Your Eyes Through the Viewscreen Blues" (essay)
McIntyre, Vonda. "Pitfalls of Writing SF and Fantasy."
Shainblum, Mark. "Endogamy Blues." (first draft, published draft, and case study of revisions)
Shaw, Robert. "Light of Other Days" (short story)
Sterling, Bruce, et al. "The Turkey City Lexicon" (cautionary list) by Bruce Sterling
Pflug, Ursula. "Airport Shoes" (first draft, published draft, and case study of successive revisions)
Runté, Robert. "Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy" (essay)
Runté, Robert. "Why I Read American SF" (essay)
Strange Horizons. "Stories We've Seen Too Often."
Strange Horizons. "Horror Stories We've Seen Too Often."
Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.
Opened in Revision 1, June 19, 2013.
Updated May 11 2016 by Student & Academic Services