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This workshop puts forth a simple formula for genre-hopping -- or for creating “speculative fiction” that takes elements of genres including sci-fi, horror, literary, and others. The formula will be put forth in the lecture section, expound upon the research of tropes and ways to both take them literally and push back on them. (For example, if you decided to write a romance piece, you might take the “beautiful all along” trope we know from far too many teen movies and both play it straight (an “ugly duckling” character), and push it in ways that might include nods to social commentary (ways I have done this in the past include having our “ugly duckling” character be considered a dark horse contender for love interest because of struggling with mental illness when the character turns out to in fact be a better love interest than anyone else who is not struggling with these things)). Other examples will be used from literature, including Octavia Butler’s playing with the “grandfather paradox” in time travel literature in Kindred (the trope had, until that novel, dictated that you cannot go back in time and kill your grandfather because you would cease to exist, and Butler’s take was “Well, what if your grandfather was a slave owner who raped your grandmother, his slave?” The outcome, as we know, is a brilliant book).
We will discuss how to research tropes, chose the ones that benefit the stories we wish to tell, push back on ones that leave our particular demographics out, or are often used against us in stereotypical ways. We will fully discuss “literary fiction” not as a default or desired genre, but as one of many genres that we should also feel free to research and use to our own personal ends in creating the stories we want. The instructor (me!) will come to class with lists of potential tropes for each genre, but students, during the interactive writing section, will be encouraged to research deeper for ones that resonate with the story THEY want to tell. After writing, we will share both our research and what came out of it in terms of writing.
While this is a very craft-oriented class, it is also designed specifically to encourage students to find ways to write their own interests and demographics into stories they have felt left out of. The main take-away of this class should be that genre serves US, and that we, as writers, and especially as writers who may be struggling to break into the lit world, absolutely deserve to bend these stories to serve us.
This class takes place online via Zoom. Register to receive the zoom link and class instructions.
Alex DiFrancesco is a writer of fiction, creative nonfiction, and journalism who has published work in Tin House, The Washington Post, Pacific Standard, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Brevity and more. Their essay collection Psychopomps (Civil Coping Mechanisms Press) and their novel All City (Seven Stories Press), were published in 2019.