Courses

Introducing SLF Courses! Courses are virtual classes focused on helping writers master different writing methods and sharpen their understanding and use of the various elements of speculative fiction. These classes will range in duration from single weekend workshops to 6-8 week courses, covering a wide range of topics. 

The SLF decided to create these courses to continue fulfilling our goal of offering masters-level creative writing education through accessible online programming. To see this dream through, we’ve reached out to some truly exceptional experts in the field, including writers, editors, and more. 

We promise that our courses will be taught by experienced and passionate instructors.

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Writing the Taboo

In the hands-on workshop, we’ll explore a variety of taboo topics. We’ll look at how brilliant writers have delved into material that was forbidden for their place and time, and then work through a series of exercises designed to push you into challenging places.

1 Session (2.5 hours)
November 19, 2022
Saturday, 10:00 – 12:30 PM CST
Format: Zoom
Instructor: Mary Anne Mohanraj
Price: $60 (discounted rates for certain tiers of SLF membership)
Number of Students: 30

Full Course Description

Dorothy Allison suggests (in her book Skin: Talking about Sex, Class, and Literature) that the best writing happens when one is terrified, and writes through the fear. That’s great advice, but the question is *how* does one write through the fear? It’s often frightening when you’re trying write about subject matter that is in some manner taboo: material that violates social norms, that might upset family members, or that is simply personally difficult to confront.

In the hands-on workshop, we’ll explore a variety of taboo topics. We’ll look at how brilliant writers have delved into material that was forbidden for their place and time (some of which might seem quite tame by today’s standards), and then work through a series of exercises designed to push you into challenging places.

At the end of the session, you should have some tools to lead you to stronger, braver work that takes more risks. Maybe it’ll challenge your audience too! Important note: You won’t be required to share this work with anyone, though I may ask for volunteers to read bits of what they’ve written.

Instructor: Mary Anne Mohanraj

Mary Anne Mohanraj is author of Bodies in Motion (HarperCollins), the Lambda-award-finalist SF novella, The Stars Change (Circlet Press) and thirteen other titles. Bodies in Motion was a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards, a USA Today Notable Book, and has been translated into six languages. The Stars Change is a science fiction novella, and finalist for the Lambda, Rainbow, and Bisexual Book Awards.

Mohanraj founded the Hugo-nominated magazine, Strange Horizons, and was Guest of Honor at WisCon 2010. She serves as Executive Director of the Speculative Literature Foundation (speclit.org), has taught at the Clarion SF/F workshop, and is Clinical Associate Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. www.maryannemohanraj.com

Intro to Screenwriting

In this class, students will explore principles of narrative structure for use in writing a narrative screenplay. Students will also create a logline and short outline that clarifies the story of their script and aid in rewrites.

6 Sessions (Sessions are 2.5 hours)
September 20 – October 25, 2022
Tuesdays, 6 – 8:30 PM CST
Format: Zoom
Instructor: Ted Schneider
Price: $350 (discounted rates for certain tiers of SLF membership)

Full Course Description

In this class, students will explore principles of narrative structure for use in writing a narrative screenplay. Students will also create a logline and short outline that clarifies the story of their script and aid in rewrites.

Some examples of narrative structure terms:

  1. Protagonist
  2. Antagonist
  3. Rising Action
  4. Climax
  5. Reversal

NOTE: Students may elect to develop a full length screenplay or short film screenplay or television pilot. Note: For students wanting to produce their own work or who want to complete a script within the 6 sessions, short film scripts should be chosen as a focus.

Students will use five writer’s tools to focus their work and ensure they are making choices that develop their story toward the finish line.

Tools:

  1. Logline
  2. Outline
  3. Script Pages (scenes)
  4. Research
  5. Peer and Instructor Feedback

Instructor led feedback will focus class readings of student material and analysis and discussion aimed at aiding students in rewrites.

In addition to readings and discussions, students will look at professional, produced screenplays, loglines and outlines and screen examples from films during class.

Instructor: Ted Schneider

Ted Schneider is a director, writer, actor, consultant and teacher. His film “Early Light” won the Soldier’s and Sacrifice Award at the 2020 Flicker’s Rhode Island International Film Festival. His first short, “Nothing Happened,” won awards at Trenton International Film Festival March on Washington Film Festival, White House Screening. His current film, “Iqaluit,” is screening in festivals such as the 30th Annual Arizona International Film Festival (2022) Flicker’s Rhode Island International Film Festival (2022) Boston Short Film Festival (2022) Detroit Trinity International Film Festival (2022). Upcoming: “Tell Me Something Else” Short Film (post-production). Earlier this year, Ted became the story editor for an untitled feature film project from East2West Entertainment.

As an actor, Ted has appeared alongside F. Murray Abraham, Amy Irving, Lynn Cohen, Bill Irwin, Michael Shannon, Reed Birney and Dierde O’Connell: Shakespeare, Chekhov and new works by Clare Barron, Naiomi Wallace and Lanford Wilson. He is a member of the theater and film group The Chekhov Project at Lake Lucille and holds a BFA in Theater Arts (Acting) from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and an MFA in Cinema Arts (Directing) from the Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, Brooklyn College.

Intro to Fiction

This course will focus on strategies for saving our lives through fiction: how to cultivate a convincing voice; how to extract strength from our writerly weaknesses; and, ultimately, how to forge a home for ourselves in our own words.

6 Sessions (Sessions are 2.5 hours)
Dates and times are being reworked
Format: Zoom
Price: $350 (discounted rates for certain tiers of SLF membership)

“All writers are exiles wherever they live and their work is a lifelong journey toward a lost land.” So wrote Janet Frame, a singularly talented author who was institutionalized at the age of 21, then saved from a lobotomy only because she won a literary prize. In keeping with Frame’s reflection, this course will focus on strategies for saving our lives through fiction: how to cultivate a convincing voice; how to extract strength from our writerly weaknesses; and, ultimately, how to forge a home for ourselves in our own words. Through a combination of creative exercises and workshops, we will explore and examine the components of strong, singular fictions, including character development, descriptive detail, compelling dialogue, and rich sentences. We’ll also learn how to read the works of published writers for creative inspiration, mining texts by masters such as Janet Frame, Julio Cortazar, Sofia Samatar, Carmen Maria Machado, and Amparo Dávila.

Instructor: Meghan Lamb

Meghan Lamb is the author of COWARD (2022), Failure to Thrive (2021) All of Your Most Private Places (2020) and Silk Flowers (2017). She served as the Philip Roth Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, and teaches creative writing through the University of Chicago, Story Studio, and GrubStreet. Her work has appeared in Quarterly West, DIAGRAM, Redivider, and Passages North, among other publications. She runs the shadow text reading series Significant Others, a project dedicated to elevating new books and the “behind-the scenes” texts that inspired them. In addition to being the fiction editor for Bridge (a Chicago-based literary arts publication), she serves as the nonfiction editor of Nat. Brut, a Whiting Award-winning journal of art and literature dedicated to advancing inclusivity in all creative fields. She is also the frontwoman of Kill Scenes: an 80s horror film-inspired darkwave band.

Maram Makerspace Courses

In 2020, the SLF expanded its mission to arts and literature; as part of that, we partnered with the nascent Maram Makerspace, which is currently offering a variety of in-person arts classes in the Oak Park, IL area. We’d hoped to open a physical space, but the pandemic intervened; we may pick that venture up again in the future. The courses listed on this page are Maram Makerspace projects. You can learn about Maram Makerspace here: http://marammakerspace.com

Intro to Flower Pressing

Curious about flower pressing? In this 90-minute workshop, you will learn the basics of the ancient craft of flower pressing and create your own flower card. Local pressed flower artist Ana Constantinescu will review the equipment and basic steps to preserve your favorite blooms. She will share a variety of pressed flowers from her own garden to design unique 8×6” cards.

Materials provided: Pressed flowers, 8×6” handmade cotton paper cards, archival glue and brushes

1.5 Hour Session
September 24, 2022
Saturday, 4 – 5:30 PM CST
Age: Adults and Children 10+
Location: Oak Park, IL (Address given upon registration)
Price: $35 + $5 for materials (discounted rates for certain tiers of SLF membership)

Instructor: Ana Constantinescu

Ana was inspired by her grandmother’s flower garden to create Bloom & Make, one of Chicagoland’s very few flower preservation studios. Most of the flowers she uses in her work come from her own front yard cutting garden. Her specialty is fine art and jewelry, as well as wedding and special occasion flower preservation. See how Ana uses flowers in her work on her Instagram handle, @bloom.and.make.