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Writing Speculative Fiction

Course Code: CRWR 2203
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Creative Writing
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15 weeks
Learning Format: Tutorial
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

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.

course prerequisites

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

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.


If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.