English (ENGL) 387

Writing Speculative Fiction (Revision 3)

ENGL 387 Course Cover

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: ENGL 381 (or equivalent) and professor approval.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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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 will learn to perform expert critiques and write informed revisions. Above all, they will 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
  • 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 400–500 words 10%
Short Story and Reflections 2,000–2,500 words 15%
Short Story 2,000–2,500 words 20%
Markup and Critique 250–300 words plus markup 10%
Short Story Introduction  600–800 word 10%
Story Revision 250 words, plus revision 10%
New Short Story Final Draft 3,000 word max, and 250 words of reflection 25%
Total   100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Delaney, Samuel R. About Writing: 7 Essays, 4 Letters & 5 Interviews. Wesleyan University Press, 2005. (eBook)

Wilhelm, Kate. Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop. Small Beer Press, 2005. (eBook)

Other Materials

All other materials are available online. They include an extensive study guide, short stories, and resources on writing.

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 3, July 9, 2020.

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