It’s spring and the Trent Continuing Education creative writing class I teach with the charming and brilliant Derek Newman-Stille is up and running again. It’s an eight week class with a new topic every week. You can register for one, three or seven classes, as many or as few as you like.

I love the folks at Tin Can Forestso I am going to post one of their images below. I bought an Inanna T-shirt from them recently. Please stop by their site.

Here is the registration link for our classes. We’re a little low on enrollment, so if you feel like signing up for a couple of classes, you might just keep the course going.

It’s also possible to register by dropping the Traill office. If you register online and decide to cancel, you will lose a small administration fee to the third party registrar.

We won’t turn you away if show up on Thursday night, but it’s best to sign up in advance, as Trent requires advance enrollment to keep the course going.

Writing Speculative Fiction

Writing Speculative Fiction is a way of imagining the world in new and creative ways, using your full imagination to see the world through a speculative (questioning) lens. In this course, award winning author Ursula Pflug and award winning academic and blogger Derek Newman-Stille will work with you to bring out your creative potential and give you the skills to find your own voice and turn it into written work.

Using the techniques of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror), we will work on imagining possibilities and new magical, futuristic, or horrifying ways of seeing and envisioning the world around you. We will explore a variety of forms of writing, with a general focus on writing short fiction. Our techniques will vary from class to class, bringing out different ways of imagining new possibilities.

Students will have the opportunity to engage in workshops related to areas such as character development, dialogue, descriptions and the senses, constructing metaphors and similes, and techniques for seeking inspiration, as well as techniques specifically related to speculative fiction such as speculative futurisms, engaging with the mythic, and creating speculative twists to ordinary experience.

This course is open to creative writing beginners, those wanting a refresher, and established writers wanting some new techniques for writing.

Thursdays, March 16 to May 4, 2017, 7 – 9 pm.
Location: Scott House Room 102.1, Traill College. Map to Traill (PDF).
Cost: $20.00 per class (+HST).
Register online at or in person with cash or cheque at Scott House Room 102.4, 300 London Street, Traill College.

Thursday 16 March – Character Development

Students will be asked to create a character, thinking about that character’s motivation, needs, desires, description, and pre-occupations. They will then create a short monologue from the character’s perspective. Students will then interview each other’s characters, putting themselves in the position of the character. This activity will help potential authors to think through how to develop a character and create strong, meaningful personalities and motivations for their characters.

Thursday 23 March – Dialogue

Students will be asked to listen to conversations between people in coffee shops, taking notes about the parts of the conversation they can hear. They will then be asked to fill in the blanks, adding in the parts that they didn’t hear, creating a bit of background for the conversation, and speculating about how the conversation fits into the wider lives of the individuals involved. Students will then be asked to add a speculative twist onto the dialogue. This activity will assist students in thinking through the construction of conversations and the background that shapes dialogue. It will also provide a technique for story inspiration.

Thursday 30 March – Collective Storytelling

Students will engage in a collective story-telling activity. One student will begin the story and then another will take up the story where they left off. This activity teaches dynamism in story creation, the ability to shift a story and deal with a story when it throws obstacles at them.

Thursday 6 April – Perceptions, Senses, and Different Ways to Describe a Scene

Constructions of settings are generally heavily visual. Students will be led through a process of looking into their other senses to try to create a scene that encompasses the aural environment, scent, touch, and even taste. To help to facilitate this process, students will be asked to blindfold themselves to decrease their reliance on the visual.

Thursday 13 April – Speculative Futurisms

Students will be asked to look at a new technology that either has been developed or is being considered for development. They will then ponder how that technology may change humanity’s engagement with the world around them. This activity will help students to consider techniques for creating powerful speculative fiction, imagining different worlds and the social changes that come about through changes in technology.

Thursday 20 April – Change the Point of View

Students will have an opportunity to take a story and re-write it from the perspective of a character other than the protagonist. As a group, we will examine the potential motivations, desires, needs, wants, and feelings of this character and their interaction with and (perhaps more importantly) their distance from the events of the main story. This activity will assist students in considering the motivations, desires, needs, and wants of non-primary characters, examining how to create well-rounded supporting characters.

Thursday 27 April – Seeking Inspiration 1: Word Associations

Students will be asked to choose 10 random words from the dictionary and then construct a story based on the associations between these stories. Students will then have a chance to share their stories and explore the ways that those words featured in their creative work. They will be asked to look at how these words align with story elements like character, setting, and plot.

Thursday 4 May – Seeking Inspiration 2: Mythic Worlds

Students will explore a traditional myth and then shift it for a modern audience. They will consider questions like: What changes in the story? How do we make a myth relevant to modern pre-occupations, ideas, and issues? What needs to change? What can stay the same? How do we add substance to the characters?

About the instructors:

Ursula Pflug is the award winning author of the novels Green Music, The Alphabet Stones, Motion Sickness (illustrated by SK Dyment for Inanna) and the story collections After the Fires and Harvesting the Moon (PS, Great Britain). She edited the anthologies They Have To Take You In and The Playground of Lost Toys (with Colleen Anderson). A YA novella, Mountain, is forthcoming. She has taught creative writing at Loyalist College, Trinity Square Video, the Campbellford Resource Centre, Trent University (with Derek Newman-Stille), The San Miguel Writers’ Conference and elsewhere. Her short stories have been taught in universities in Canada and India, and have been appearing for decades in Canada, the US and the UK, in genre and literary venues including Strange Horizons, LCRW, Now Magazine, Tesseracts, Bamboo Ridge, Postscripts, Lightspeed, Fantasy, Leviathan and many more.

Derek Newman-Stille is the Aurora Award Winning creator of the Speculating Canada website and runs the reading series ChiSeries Peterborough as well as a radio programme on Canadian speculative fiction. Derek has taught courses on Graphic Narratives, Fairy Tales, werewolves in literature, and witchcraft in the Greek and Roman world. Derek has published academic articles on speculative fiction in venues like Quill & Quire, Mosaic and The Canadian Fantastic in Focus. He has given academic papers at conferences such as the Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy, the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association, and the Canadian Popular Culture Association.

Online registration is provided through RegOnline, a third-party registration service. An additional charge will be applied by RegOnline in addition to the course fee.

Avoid additional charges by registering in person with cash or a cheque.

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