Dragons, ghosts, and aliens, oh my! This speculative fiction workshop will be a home for the strange creatures that roam outside of the zoo of the “real.” The class is open to both genre writers and literary fiction writers who are curious about exploring the unreal in their work. We’ll interpret “speculative” broadly to mean anything from near-future science fiction and epic fantasy to magical realism and Kafkaesque surrealism. In class, we might reference Lord of the Rings and Black Mirror alongside Shakespeare and Toni Morrison.
This is a space to discuss your strange ideas and wondrous visions. As a workshop, the class with be centered on your work. Each student will have two stories (or excerpts of a longer project) workshopped. Because genres can be thought of as conversations between artists, we’ll also dissect and discuss a published story at the start of each class from writers such as Octavia Butler, Donald Barthelme, Carmen Maria Machado, and Ursula K. Le Guin.
Additionally, we’ll discuss speculative craft techniques and concepts such as worldbuilding, fairy tale structure, and “the weird” to better understand how different speculative fiction works—and how we can deploy and subvert these techniques in our own writing. Although concepts like worldbuilding may be associated with speculative fiction, we’ll discuss how they are applicable to any type of fiction you want to write in the future from satire to realism.
- Two workshopped pieces
- Peer and instructor feedback on your work
- A one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss your writing goals
- Advice on the publishing industry and literary magazine submissions
- Increased understanding of genre tropes and craft concepts specific to speculative fiction
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Lincoln Michel is the author of the genre-bending collection Upright Beasts (Coffee House Press), co-editor of the Shirley Jackson Award-nominated anthology Tiny Crimes (Black Balloon Press), and the former Editor-in-Chief of Electric Literature. His fiction and poetry have appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, American Short Fiction, Terraform, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. His criticism and essays appear in journals such as The New York Times, Lit Hub, BuzzFeed, and The Guardian. He teaches in the MFA programs at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College.
“These stories are mighty surrealist wonders, mordantly funny and fiercely intelligent, and Lincoln Michel is a writer that will leave you in awe.”
"[UPRIGHT BEASTS] reminded me of the absolute wonder great fiction creates.”
“If you were taking the pulse of American short fiction circa now, you might begin with Lincoln Michel’s UPRIGHT BEASTS.”
"Lincoln created an environment wherein class discussions were lively, and every class member felt free to express their opinions on the pieces being workshopped. I think that each writer felt encouraged, supported, and most importantly a sense of the strengths and weakness of the piece that they had brought in to class. Furthermore, each writer walked away from class with several good ideas about how to improve their work."
"Lincoln is an excellent and caring professor. His readings and insights were always useful. He went above in beyond multiple times-in handouts and out of class notes."