Writing Speculative Fiction

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Creative Writing
Course Code
CRWR 2203
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course focuses on the process of writing in the genre of speculative fiction (including science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and a range of sub-genres). It includes instruction in the use of compositional elements such as imagery, point-of-view, characterization, dialogue, setting and structure as they specifically relate to speculative fiction. Students will learn to utilize allegory, symbolism, extended metaphor and other literary devices frequently found in speculative fiction to further their creative intentions. The course will introduce students to a range of published speculative fiction, but the emphasis will be on student work, discussed in a workshop.
Course Content

Selected reading of and from texts.

Students’ manuscripts will form the bulk of the course content.

Methods Of Instruction

The following methods may be combined with the workshop format:

  • in-class writing exercises
  • lectures and discussions
  • small group work
  • assigned readings and class presentations
  • interviews with instructor
Means of Assessment

A minimum of 35 to 40 pages of fiction is required as well as the revision of at least one short story or novel excerpt. Each story or excerpt must be accompanied by a brief self-evaluation. Student work will be discussed by both the instructor and students in the workshop. Students will also complete assigned readings (for example, two short stories and one novel), and will produce written responses to these. The instructor may also require an essay response to one of the pieces assigned. A grade will also be assigned for class participation, the terms of which will be explained in the instructor’s course outline/syllabus.

Students are required to attend 80% of the workshops. A student missing more than 20% of the workshops without receiving prior permission from the instructor will receive a zero in class participation. Leaving or arriving at the break is considered one-half an absence.

Learning Outcomes

General Objectives:

Students will learn to identify and use various components of speculative fiction and its sub-genres, such as post-apocalyptic fiction, alternative historic fiction, to write stories and/or novel excerpts that also observe the narrative elements of literary fiction.

Specific Objectives:


  1. Students will develop a general understanding of the forms and components of speculative fiction.
  2. Students will learn to access story material and approaches through controlled classroom exercises.


  1. Students will learn the stages necessary to draft completed works of speculative fiction.
  2. Students will explore the use of imagery, point-of-view, characterization, dialogue, setting and structure as it specifically relates to speculative fiction. 
  3. Students will learn how to avoid imitation or clichés of the genre.
  4. Throughcareful attention to narrative elementssuch as theme, motif, and plot, students will learn how these qualities relate to the writing of speculative fiction.


  1. Students will learn to adapt and use the narrative techniques found in published works of speculative fiction.
  2. By reading and discussing contemporary texts, students will develop anunderstanding of how speculative fiction both reflects and differs from other literary fiction.
  3. Students will develop the ability to read the work of their peers for the purpose of recognizing narrative techniques, and to aid their peers in the effective revision of their work.


  1. Students will learn to make use of insights gained from their instructor’s and peers’ workshop comments to revise their writing.
  2. Students will develop their skills in giving and receiving constructive criticism in the workshop.
  3. Students will learn to present their work in a professional manner.
Textbook Materials

Sample Textbooks:


  • Anosh Irani, The Cripple and His Talismans (Magical Realism)
  • Nalo Hopkinson, Brown Girl In The Ring (Soft Science Fiction/Fantasy)
  • Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West(Parallel Fiction/Fantasy)
  • Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale  (Science Fiction)

Short Fiction

  • So Long Been Dreaming: Post-Colonial Science Fiction and Fantasy, ed. Hopkinson and Mehan
  • The Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy: 2010 Edition, ed. Rich Horton

Non Fiction

  • Orson Scott Card, How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy



A “B” in CRWR 1103, or satisfactory result on College Writing Assessment (or substitution/equivalent as stated in College Calendar) plus instructor permission.


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
Athabasca University (AU) AU ENGL 2XX (3) 2012/01/01 to -
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU ENGL 2XX (3) 2004/09/01 to -
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU CRWR 2XXX (3) 2012/01/01 to -
Langara College (LANG) LANG ENGL 2XXX (3) 2012/01/01 to -
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU GE 1XX (3) 2012/01/01 to -
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU ENGL 2XXX (3) 2012/01/01 to -
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU ENGL 208 (3) 2012/01/01 to -
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO CRWR 2nd (3) 2012/01/01 to -
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV CRWR 2nd (3) 2012/01/01 to -
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC ENGL 271 (3) 2012/01/01 to -
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV ENGL 212 (3) 2012/01/01 to -
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC WRIT 1XX (1.5) 2012/01/01 to -
Vancouver Island University (VIU) VIU CREW 221 (3) 2012/01/01 to -

Course Offerings

Fall 2021

Start Date
End Date
Tue Thu
- 08-Dec-2021
Tue Thu
New Westminster - North Bldg.
12:30 - 14:20