Online | Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Online Fiction Workshop: Introduction to Speculative Fiction

Have you noticed a splash of magic or a hint of the surreal worming its way into your writing? Are your stories beginning to hover at the edge of the known world? Then you're in the right place! In this six-week speculative fiction workshop, we'll celebrate and hone the element of the fantastic in your stories.

The term "speculative fiction" encompasses science fiction, fantasy, and other ways of working with fantastical elements in fiction. But this class does not center on warp drives or the clan structures of best-selling mythical empires. Instead, we’ll keep our focus on the human emotions, lives, and relationships that are at the heart of fiction—regardless of genre.

This workshop is designed to accommodate those who are new to speculative fiction, but not new to writing. The class is not intended as an introduction to fiction writing in general, so participants should already have experience with the fundamentals (character, plot, setting, etc). Prior workshopping experience would be helpful, but is not required. Prior knowledge of science fiction and fantasy is not required, but a willingness to step outside the bounds of our current reality is essential.

The primary focus of the class will be workshopping participants' work (two stories per participant over the course of the workshop). Readings of published speculative fiction will also be assigned for discussion (works by women and POC will be highlighted).

By the end of this class, writers will have an understanding of the breadth of speculative fiction and the subgenres it contains (science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, supernatural, horror, etc). Students will learn how to incorporate speculative elements and worldbuilding into their stories, whether the setting is realistic or fantastical, and will receive feedback on two stories of up to 15 double-spaced pages. 

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.


- Two workshopped stories (up to 15 double-spaced pages each)

- Science fiction and fantasy are about so much more than just the technology or the magic--the most satisfying stories are those that focus on the human desires and narratives behind the altered reality.

- Speculative Fiction is for everyone: Developments in science and technology affect people of all genders, races, and nationalities, so we should all have a voice in exploring the changes we'll face.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


You will be responsible for reading 2-3 student stories per class, and be prepared to submit a brief written analysis of each one (guidelines will be shared in class). You should also be prepared to submit two of your own stories for workshop (up to 15 double-spaced pages).


Week One:

1) Introductions

2) Definition of terms (speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy, etc)

3) Discussion of first two stories (submitted ahead of time), including introduction to holistic discussion approach

Weeks Two through Five

1) Discussion of that week's stories (either workshopping 3 classmates' stories, or workshopping 2 classmates' stories and discussion of 1 published story)

2) Writing prompt and writing time

3) Sharing of excerpts/ideas/inspirations gained from writing time or discussion

Week Six

1) Discussion of that week's stories

2) Sharing of question/ideas/inspirations gained from class

3) Discussion of what now--where do I take my speculative writing interest from here?

Tara Campbell

Tara Campbell is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction co-editor at Barrelhouse. She received her MFA from American University. Previous publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Wigleaf, Jellyfish Review, Booth, CRAFT, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod/Artemis Rising. She's the author of a novel, TreeVolution, and four collections: Circe's Bicycle, Midnight at the Organporium, Political AF: A Rage Collection, and Cabinet of Wrath: A Doll Collection. Connect with her at or on Twitter: @TaraCampbellCom


"The class was excellent, and we had lively discussions about the stories. Tara is a first-rate instructor, with great insight into the work presented."

Claudia Wair science writer and author of THE MAP JOURNAL

"Tara’s classes always stimulate a host of unique ideas, as well as unexpected new ways to approach speculative writing. She curates a fantastic breadth of story examples, sparking in-depth discussions that often reveal hidden layers of meaning. Tara’s teaching style is warm, welcoming, and fun."

Myna Chang BEST INDIE SPECULATIVE FICTION 2020, "Bards and Sages"

"Coupling a leisurely pace with horrifying tension, these eerie stories feel designed to be shared in the dark around a campfire...the imaginative scenarios and alluring voice never waver. Readers looking for bite-size horror will be delighted."


"Equal parts surreal and wickedly droll, Campbell’s collection of 12 stories traverses reality in a way that highlights the extraordinary within everyday life. ... Though this may sound like a mashup of unrelated oddities, the stories have been cleverly arranged to maintain a coherent and alluring tone, and Campbell’s versatility is impressive. Each tale is dryly funny, poetic, poignant, dark, and trippy. Readers who are hungry for a quick visit to somewhere left of reality will gladly immerse themselves in this profoundly avant-garde book."


"Tara Campbell’s MIDNIGHT AT THE ORGANPORIUM (Conversation Pieces: Volume 67) is a more eclectic collection, showcasing an array of moods and story-telling techniques. ... By far my favourite story, the one that I think best highlights the breadth of Campbell’s imagination and her askew view of the world, is ‘Speculum Crede’. It begins with a cracking opening paragraph..."

Ian Mond LOCUS

"Tara’s instruction, prompts, and written feedback inspired me to publish my first piece of speculative flash fiction. She’s an empathetic and insightful editor who is an expert in the craft and cares deeply about her students and their writing."

Kristina Saccone writer and editor of FLASH ROUNDUP

"The creativity that Tara brings to her classes never fails to inspire. Her feedback is insightful, detailed, and most of all supportive! I've published several stories that originated in her classes."

Briana Maley First Prize, LILITH MAGAZINE's 2019 Fiction Contest