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How Will AI Change Writing?—Join our FREE Writers' Stage event "Writing for Change: Exploring The Question of AI" next Wednesday 4/17.

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  • Workshop
  • Online: Zoom
  • Adult (18+)

World-Building Intensive

No Longer Enrolling

  • $275.00 Non-Member
  • $260.00 Member

Class Description

Ernest Hemingway had a theory that a good story is like an iceberg - meaning we only see one-eighth of what is there, yet because it is so richly designed, the reader feels the immensity of everything that rests under the surface. The key to creating Hemingway’s iceberg is to do the work and build your world before putting pen to paper.

In this one-week intensive writers will learn the fundamentals of world building and begin the process. We will study masters of Mythopoeia and through a series of brainstorming sessions and writing exercises, writers will create the rules, set the scene, map the world and uncover the history of their uncharted land.

We will also deal with the dreaded bitter pill that is exposition. You will learn how to do it the right way — without info dumps or messy prologues. You will write and share the first scenes of your story as well as an exposition scene and receive peer and instructor feedback

This is a cross-genre workshop and is appropriate for novelists or screenwriters working in the science-fiction, fantasy, horror or young adult genres.


  • Hayao Miyazaki
  • J.K. Rowling
  • George Lucas
  • Susan Collins
  • Margaret Atwood
  • Ursula K. LeGuin
  • George R.R. Martin
  • Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn)
  • Liu Cixin (The Three Body Problem)
  • Haruki Murakami (1Q84)
  • Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone)
  • Neil Gaiman (American Gods, Sandman)
  • Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials)
  • Pendleton Ward (Adventure Time)
  • Leah Bardugo (Six of Crows)
  • Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth)
  • Jordan Peele (Get Out)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien (of course)

Did you know that we have scholarships available for all GrubStreet classes? To apply, click the "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button in the top right corner of this page. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your scholarship application and await our Scholarship Committee's decision before registering for the class. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

Scholarships Format/Location

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

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. 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!

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!