Introduction to Writing Speculative Fiction with Ashley blooms

May 2021

Every genre—from literary realism to high fantasy—must build a world that invites the reader to explore. But for writers of speculative fiction, who often bend or outright break the rules of our shared reality, world-building poses unique challenges. This class will look at the basics of building a world through character, setting, and language. We’ll consider the expectations of various genres, how they impact a writer’s goals, and how we can meet or subvert these expectations in our stories. Students will utilize close readings, group discussions, craft worksheets, and writing assignments to explore how worlds are built in horror, science fiction, fantasy, fabulism, and more. All this will culminate in a final speculative manuscript that will be marked by the instructor. 

Whether you’re a writer who has never written genre and are curious to try or you’re an emerging genre writer who’d like to brush up on the fundamentals, this class is designed to generate new ideas and blur our definition of what genre means. 

This three week class is completely asynchronous so you can work on it on your own time. 

Course Begins May 3rd and ends May 21st

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Meet your instructor

Ashley Blooms is the author of Every Bone a Prayer, which NPR says “bears within its pages striking beauty and strangeness in equal measure.” She’s a graduate of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop and received her MFA as a John and Renee Grisham Fellow from the University of Mississippi. Her fiction has appeared in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Strange Horizons, among others. Her nonfiction has appeared in the Oxford American. She currently lives in Kentucky with her partner and dog, where she is at work on her second novel. She tweets occasionally @ashleyblooms.


Ten-year-old Misty has always had a special connection with the world—an empathic ability that allows her to speak to the crawdads in her creek, to the barn, and to almost everything around her. Except her family. Misty hopes to find a way to speak to them, too, and this need grows even stronger when her parents separate and strange things begin to happen. A statue grows in her landlord’s yard and secrets from his past are brought back into the present; her mother becomes obsessed with a green light that appears suddenly in their home but seemingly has no source; and when her neighbor, William, takes their friendship too far, Misty’s need to connect with the people around her becomes greater than ever.

“Every Bone a Prayer is beautifully written and absolutely harrowing from first page to last. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever read before, and you will be mesmerized by it. Misty is among the most endearing characters I’ve met on the written page in a long while and I won’t forget her anytime soon. This haunting debut announces the arrival of one of the most original and exciting new voices in literature.”
— Silas House, author of Clay’s Quilt and Southernmost