First Classes: Tutorial and Dystopian

Advanced Tutorial

This is a small class of six graduate students where the emphasis will be working on individual writing projects and critique.  We will be submitting 10-20 pages per week for critique as well as complete two presentations on aspects of the craft of writing that we are mystified by or struggling with.  I’ve chosen to do my presentation on point-of-view, specifically choosing third person or first person.

We also had a discussion on the high concept novel.  There were twenty-five principles that we looked at as being part of a high-concept novel.  A few of them are: original and unique concept, appeals to wide audience, a quintessential protagonist, a sweeping landscape, and a life-changing event.  The discussion and twenty-five principles definitely gave me some things to consider when plotting/outlining and some new writing terms to add to my craft vocabulary.

Genre Study: Dystopian and Science Fiction

I was incredibly psyched for this class, and I was not let down at all by the first class.  This class is larger at 12 students, but also has a creative emphasis.  We will be submitting 5-10 pages each week for critique, and the pages should be some form of science fiction.  We will be reading five novels (Across the Universe, Ender’s Game, Feed, Adoration of Jenna Fox, Matched) and using one writing handbook (How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card).  We will have discussions about the books and keep a reader response journal that is focused on craft.  Our journals should show that we are reading the novels as a writer and examining how an author was successful or unsuccessful in their novel by looking at aspects of their craft.

For the first class, we defined science fiction as a whole, and then defined many different sub genres of science fiction.  Here are the sub-genres we discussed:

  • Utopian
  • Dystopian
  • Ecotopian
  • Feminist Utopian
  • Hard Science Fiction
  • Soft Science Fiction
  • Cyberpunk
  • Time Travel / Time Slip
  • Steampunk
  • Alternate History
  • Superhuman
  • Military
  • Space Opera
  • Parody / Comedic
We finished class with a writing exercise, where we had to pick one of the sub-genres above that we would never normally touch… the sub-genre we would normally avoid.  We then had to come up with a protagonist, problem, reason for urgency to solve problem, something terrible in protagonist’s past, the worst thing that could happen to them, and how they would get themselves out of that lowest moment.  It was actually a fun exercise, that I’d like to repeat.
Two more classes this week, with first critiques!
I have to finish Across the Universe by Beth Revis this weekend because that’s the first book up for discussion, so a review of that book should be up on the blog soon!

9 comments on “First Classes: Tutorial and Dystopian

  1. fakesteph says:

    I'm so jealous right now! This sounds amazing!!!!!!!!!! Seriously. I start school again in September (just some undergrad to fill in my background for the masters program I'm hoping to get into, but still) I am so excited! I love school. I love reading and analyzing and discussing. It's why I started blogging. I want to find a class like this.

  2. These sound like some really interesting classes. I'm glad they are going well and I hope you continue to love them. I've read Adoration of Jenna Fox and it's a goodie!-Lauren

  3. LHughes says:

    If you can ever afford to come to this program, it's amazing. It's in Virginia… You would seriously love it…But good luck starting school again!!! I'm just like you in that I love being a student back in school 🙂

  4. LHughes says:

    I absolutely LOVED Adoration of Jenna Fox!!! Soooooo good!

  5. Marybeth P. says:

    Wow! This class actually sounds really fun! I am so jealous of you, but it also sounds like a lot of hard work. I hope you had enjoyed ACROSS THE UNIVERSE. And ENDER'S GAME is hands down my ultimate favorite sci-fi book. It's the only alien book that I have ever read that is NOT fully focused on aliens. Good luck with all your work. Sounds like you'll need it!

  6. MegTao says:

    what…is a space opera o_o

  7. LHughes says:

    I did enjoy Across the Universe! It was such a fun blend of sci-fi and murder mystery!Ender's Game is in my top five favorite books of all time 🙂

  8. LHughes says:

    Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles will be a space opera 🙂

  9. Oooh, I really like that exercise! Sounds very cool! I'm going to have to write it down for future reference!

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