Writing Speculative Fiction

w/ Kaaron Warren and J.S. Breukelaar

Speculative fiction is a universe unto itself. How do you navigate this widely popular genre without losing your way? In this new and innovative course, you will learn from two leading writers in the genre as you discover the ins and outs of writing outside the realms of the ordinary.

Wednesdays 6.30pm – 8.30pm (AEDT), 6 March – 3 April 2024

$475 / $403.75 alumni

This is a past course.

Over five weeks, you will learn the foundational concepts of speculative fiction genres – including science fiction, horror and fantasy. The foundational lessons will lead into deeper cuts, covering all aspects of craft and structure as they pertain specifically to the speculative fiction writer.

What makes for effective world building? How do you craft characters that can move in these worlds? How do you craft an entirely fictional setting in a way that will convince readers that it is lived-in and real?

You will be provided with a diverse range of historical examples, as well as examples from contemporary international writing. Rich with successful texts from the canon, this course will get you reading widely in ways that will strengthen your own writing.

This is a chance to enhance your understanding of the speculative fiction genre, while receiving rolling feedback on your writing through targeted writing exercises. The course is designed for you to get ready to launch into working on a full-length project, venturing with confidence out into the unknown.

This program will also include the rare opportunity to have a sample of your work copy-edited by our Editor-in-Residence. You will work towards providing a 3000 word piece, which will receive two rounds of revisions returned to you following the conclusion of the course.

Writers you'll be working with:

Kaaron Warren

Shirley Jackson award-winner Kaaron Warren published her first short story in 1993 and has had fiction in print every year since. She was recently given the Peter McNamara Lifetime Achievement Award and was Guest of Honour at World Fantasy 2018, Stokercon 2019 and Geysercon 2019.  She has also been Guest of Honour at Conflux in…

J.S. Breukelaar

J.S. Breukelaar is an Australian-American author living in Sydney. She is the author of three novels, most recently The Bridge, and two collections of short stories, in addition to essays, poems and fiction appearing in numerous publications and several Years Bests. Her work has won or been a finalist for multiple national and international awards,…

Course outline

5 x Wednesday evening sessions, 6.30-8.30 pm ADST

Session 1: Wednesday 6 March

Introduction: Overview of genre, conventions, influences and approaches. Where do you fit in? Novels or short stories? Students will get an opportunity to discuss stumbling blocks in their practice or ideas, and to set their intentions for the next five weeks.

  • Course outline, goals, materials
  • Discussion of stumbling blocks in ideas and practice
  • Discussion of workshopping protocol

Session 2: Wednesday 13 March

Character is everything in Spec. Fic. And we mean everything.  We will look at how to put flesh on the bones of your great ideas and manage the relationships between your human characters and others to ensure your writing is believable.

  • Understanding your characters’ needs and desires
  • Making sure your secondary characters have impact
  • Point of view and dialogue

Session 3: Wednesday 20 March

Setting as character: World building at the intersection of place and time, at the crossroads of superstition and science, and at the juncture of fantasy and reality.

  • Establishing the logic of your world
  • When to stop researching and start writing
  • How to absorb description into story

Session 4: Wednesday 27 March

Plotting your speculative tales. All systems must go – especially the magical ones. Dramatic tension, anyone? We will consider why it’s lacking in some spec fic and how to fix your own loose beginnings, flabby middles, and weak endings.

  • Choice and consequence
  • Creating killer scenes to grab the reader by the throat (and heart)
  • Balancing action with description: the devil is in the detail

Session 5:  Wednesday 3 April

Revision, quick fixes and where to go now. Writing your next draft (but not your final one!). This week we will look at outlining, organisation hacks, self-editing and how to practice good habits to avoid having to do that extra draft. We will also consider next steps, professionally and take a look at markets, including flash fiction, poetry, comics, graphics, animation.

  • When do you stop writing the first draft and move onto the next one
  • Self-editing
  • Moving from short stories to novels.



Praise for this course

“The instructors were very supportive and positive and willing to share their real-life experiences.”

“Thank you for devising a course that caters to Speculative Fiction writers.”

“I love the Faber Courses. They are excellent value for money.”


How to Book

This is a past course.