Have you noticed a splash of magic or a hint of the surreal worming its way into your writing? Are your stories beginning to hover at the edge of the known world? Then you're in the right place!
This is a 12-week workshop for writers who already have a handle on the fundamentals of writing and want to hone their skills in speculative genres such as science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural, alternate history, etc. Each participant will have the opportunity to submit three stories/excerpts of up to 5,000 words each, as well as a revision of one of their three workshopped drafts. There will be some time devoted to writing prompts early in the class, but ideally participants will come to class with at least one story or excerpt ready to submit for workshopping.
Each week we'll read and discuss a published story by authors like N.K. Jemisin, P. Djèlí Clark, Rebecca Roanhorse, Ursula Vernon, and Nalo Hopkinson, examining them from craft perspectives such as worldbuilding, adapting myth/legend, the hallmarks of horror, working technology into fiction, and engaging in formal experimentation. Each participant will deliver a 15-minute presentation on a speculative fiction topic, either from a provided list, or in consultation with the instructor. We’ll also discuss publication opportunities and best practices for submission.
To apply for this class, please submit a writing sample of up to 3,000 words. Your sample does not have to contain speculative elements, so submit your strongest writing regardless of genre.
*No class October 18th
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- Three workshopped stories (up to 5,000 words each), and feedback on a revision
- The authority of a deep dive into one area of speculative fiction of your choice, gleaned by preparation for your presentation
- The freedom of knowing that science fiction and fantasy are about so much more than just the technology or the magic--the most satisfying stories are those that focus on the human desires and narratives behind the altered reality.
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
You will be responsible for reading two student stories per class, submitting a brief written analysis of each one (guidelines will be shared in class). You will deliver one 15-minute presentation about a topic of speculative fiction, either chosen from a provided list, or in consultation with the instructor. Participants will also be assigned one published work of speculative fiction per week for class discussion. You should be prepared to submit three of your own stories/excerpts for workshop (up to 5,000 words each), as well as a revision at the end of the workshop.
Week One: What is Speculative Fiction, and how does it intersect with our reality?
Week Two: Worldbuilding Without the Infodump
Week Three: Horror: It’s not all Blood and Guts
Week Four: Engaging the Science in Science Fiction
Week Five: What If...
Week Six: Twisting Tropes
BREAK WEEK: October 18 - NO CLASS MEETING
Week Seven: Straddling literary and genre worlds
Week Eight: Myths/Legends
Week Nine: Blending Genres
Week Ten: The Reimagined Past
Week Eleven: Epistolary
Week Twelve: Wrap up
Tara Campbell is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse. She received her MFA from American University. Previous publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Wigleaf, Jellyfish Review, Booth, CRAFT, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod/Artemis Rising. She's the author of a novel, TreeVolution, and four collections: Circe's Bicycle, Midnight at the Organporium, Political AF: A Rage Collection, and Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection. Connect with her at www.taracampbell.com or on Twitter: @TaraCampbellCom
"Tara Campbell’s MIDNIGHT AT THE ORGANPORIUM (Conversation Pieces: Volume 67) is a more eclectic collection, showcasing an array of moods and story-telling techniques. ... By far my favourite story, the one that I think best highlights the breadth of Campbell’s imagination and her askew view of the world, is ‘Speculum Crede’. It begins with a cracking opening paragraph..."
"Equal parts surreal and wickedly droll, Campbell’s collection of 12 stories traverses reality in a way that highlights the extraordinary within everyday life. ... Though this may sound like a mashup of unrelated oddities, the stories have been cleverly arranged to maintain a coherent and alluring tone, and Campbell’s versatility is impressive. Each tale is dryly funny, poetic, poignant, dark, and trippy. Readers who are hungry for a quick visit to somewhere left of reality will gladly immerse themselves in this profoundly avant-garde book."
"Tara’s classes always stimulate a host of unique ideas, as well as unexpected new ways to approach speculative writing. She curates a fantastic breadth of story examples, sparking in-depth discussions that often reveal hidden layers of meaning. Tara’s teaching style is warm, welcoming, and fun."
"Coupling a leisurely pace with horrifying tension, these eerie stories feel designed to be shared in the dark around a campfire...the imaginative scenarios and alluring voice never waver. Readers looking for bite-size horror will be delighted."
"The class was excellent, and we had lively discussions about the stories. Tara is a first-rate instructor, with great insight into the work presented."
"Tara’s instruction, prompts, and written feedback inspired me to publish my first piece of speculative flash fiction. She’s an empathetic and insightful editor who is an expert in the craft and cares deeply about her students and their writing. "