VU Course ID: W058
Curriculum: 24 sessions
  • The Tough Guide to Fantasyland
  • The Nine Tailors
  • Babel-17
  • Prerequisites: None
    Developer: Shariann Lewitt
    Provider: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Recordable: Yes

    Course Description

    Some argue that genre fiction is only a marketing category, but other critics say that different genres meet specific expectations of readers. This e-course examines these different agreements of what the reader wants and what the writer provides under the aegis of different genres. We will look at how genres are divided into subgenres, and how they are combined into cross-genre work, always keeping in mind the Reader-Writer Contract that is at the heart of genre writing. We will also examine how crossing genres has led to the establishment of new genres (steampunk, preternatural romance) and strongly established subgenres (historical mystery, urban fantasy). At the end of this course you should be able to:

    • Understand the Reader-Writer Contract and how it applies to creating fiction of various genres.
    • Understand, recognize, and work with the tropes of the genre you choose.
    • Be conversant in the conventions of genre fiction in general and the requirements of multiple genres so that, should you choose in the future, you can shift genres or combine them.
    • Recognize cliche within the genre and know the difference between writing fresh, original work that still fulfills the Contract of a given genre and hack writing.
    • Be able to write in at least two subgenres of your choice. ~ Leave yourself notes in the cloud!

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