Speculative Series: History, Myth, and Origin Story - Remote!

Saturday, May 29th, from 10:30am-1:30pm (EST)
Remote! (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
This class is full

From Paul Atreides departing for Arrakis to Frodo climbing Mt Doom, it is often the case that the richer a world's history, the more resonant its characters' struggles. Speculative fiction often presents us with high stakes, even world-shaping events. But to fully experience their emotional resonance, we need to understand not only our protagonists, but the history that shaped them.

In this session we'll discuss techniques to develop the history of your world as it's relevant to your characters. Was your Chosen One prophesied? Does your villain have an origin story? How was this new technology developed and who control it? What do the people of this land believe about their origins? Then we'll discover how to interweave this history organically with your plot to create high stakes without getting bogged down in backstory. We’ll read and discuss published writers like N.K. Jemisin, Catherynne M Valente, Tananarive Due, Omar Akkad, Nisi Shawl, and Arkady Martine. Then we’ll look at exercises that put the techniques we find into practice. 

This class will be hosted using live Zoom meetings! You will be able to participate in class via Zoom videoconference from wherever you’re most comfortable. All you’ll need is a laptop or a phone! About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting via Zoom–no need to download anything or sign up for Zoom in advance! If you have questions about remote learning, please feel free to reach out to [email protected] for more information.

For a glimpse at how remote learning works, look no further than the deep Zoom discussion of writing and literature below:

Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

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Stephanie K Brownell
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Previous Students Say

  • "Inspired Me to Write More"
  • "Inundated with Great Info"


  • Concept Development
  • Computer or Tablet Recommended
  • Class Discussion
  • In-Class Reading
  • Lecture
  • Instructor Feedback
  • In-Class Writing
  • Generate New Work


  • The Novel
  • Short Fiction

Commitment Level



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