The barbarians are at the gates of literary fiction. It's time to think differently about “genre”. J.S. Breukelaar is here to guide you to the final frontier—where anything goes.
Your Instructor: J.S. Breukelaar, author of ALETHEIA
Where: Online — Available everywhere!
When: September 13, 2018 - October 11, 2018
Enrollment: 16 students
The walls are coming down.
Thanks to authors like George Saunders (weird ghosts), Jeff Ford (fantastical horror), Jeremy Robert Johnson (biznoirro), Angela Slatter (fairy tales with bite) and Kelly Link, whose stunning fantasy, “Stone Animals,” was included in Best American Short Stories, the lines dividing one set of genre conventions from another, can be blurred to stunning effect—and that’s what today’s publishers and editors are looking for.
The genre barbarians are at the gate, and getting all up in the guts of what used to be called 'literary fiction,’ and the result is dark fantasy with sf elements, crime fiction with ghosts, vampires with artificial intelligence—the sky is literally the limit, and the old rules no longer apply.
Of that sounds like you—fascinated with Japanese horror yet knee-deep in a western sf novel, or if your crime story draws from Norse mythology, or American folk tales, or your fairy tales features robot romance—consider yourself home. Some of the most in-demand fiction today includes the best elements from multiple genres and styles in one big mosh-pit of surreal Gothic hellraising.
J.S. Breukelaar is the acclaimed author of the futuristic wild west horror novel, American Monster; Aletheia, a noir ghost-story with a sci-fi twist, and the upcoming collection, Collision, which includes dystopian ghost tales, Halloween war stories, alien gender-bending, body-horror romance, and a zombie novella for the AI age.
And, over four weeks of intense writing, plus exposure to some of the ground-breaking genre-benders making waves today—you will discover new techniques to pull the most powerful elements from countless genres—into a story with the kind of heart and soul editors are looking for.
What This Class Covers
Week 1: Character
The heart of fiction—does your passerine detective have one? Learn how to hook your reader, and kick-start your story, with that one human moment impossible to turn away from. Learn—using techniques of dialogue, silence, action and stillness true to your story—how to make the reader care about your characters.
Week 2: World-building
Slipstream, steampunk, fantastika, twisted Grim, magical realism—if these are your worlds, how do you get to the subway? Learn how to build setting from “so there are three moons, you ride to work in giant worm and there’s an enchanted forest,” to totally convince your reader—and yourself—that wherever this place is, it always was.
Week 3: Plot and Structure
Complicated is one thing. Bewilderingly nightmarishly confusingly dense is another. Even the most imaginatively uncategorizable story can find its beginning, middle, and end—it’s just a matter of cutting the fat, trimming the loose ends, and saving some of those red herrings for desert. Learn to know what’s working and what isn’t—how to bend genre to work for your story.
Week 4: Revision and Style
It’s a mixed up muddled up shook up world, and there have never been possibilities exactly like these for finding your own way, your own voice, your own style. Whether you’re following in the footsteps of Poe, or jumping into the ring with Link, learn about all the new markets out there like Apex and Black Static, the kind of material they’re looking for, and why now is the time for you to take that stylistic leap into the void, where everyone can hear you scream.
ASSIGNMENTS: Each week will include a lecture and optional writing exercises, plus homework assignments for workshopping by peers and instructor toward the completion of a self-contained piece of writing. Along the way you’ll have the chance to ask questions, engage in discussions with your classmates and instructor about the material, about craft in general, and about how to market your work.
Goals Of This Class
- Be confident in the possibilities of your uncatagorizable fiction
- Learn how to put meat on the bones of cool ideas
- Learn to tell the difference between a mash-up and a mess
- Learn to trust your heart to find the soul of your story
- Learn to trust conflict and collision
- Complete/revise a self-contained story or chapter for possible submission to a market or anthology
LitReactor offers a unique approach to a writing education: You study what you want, when you want, at your own pace. We bring in veteran authors and industry professionals to host classes covering a wide range of topics in an online environment that’s interactive and flexible. You get detailed feedback on your work and take part in discussions in a judgement-free zone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced writer, our workshops are about working together to achieve your writing goals.
Where do classes take place?
Entirely online. So, anywhere you have Internet access.
Are there certain times when the whole class needs to "meet" online?
Nope. Our students come from all over the globe. Everything is posted online and accessible 24/7. (We do occasionally schedule phone chats, but try to reach a consensus on timing.)
What does a typical class consist of?
It varies, but nearly all our classes include weekly lectures, homework assignments, peer reviews, critiques from instructors, and discussion forums.
How much experience do you need to take a class?
Beginner or pro, everyone is welcome. We encourage all skill levels.
Got more questions? Click here for an extended FAQ.
And click here to explore a sample class that shows our layout and features.