Sci fi, fantasy, & horror workshop series

Listed below are all workshops in our special 2024 series of sci fi, fantasy, and horror workshops, encompassing speculative fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Registration is open to WFNS members and nonmembers at the same rate.

View all ongoing & upcoming workshops, including those with open waitlists, on our our main Workshops page.

If the registration fee would make it difficult or impossible for you to participate in a particular workshop, we encourage you to contact Andy at communications@writers.ns.ca to arrange a fee alternative.

Write What Scares You: Crafting a Screenplay for the Horror Genre (virtual) with Josh MacDonald

Mondays, Mar 18 to Apr 22 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

From Rod Serling and Richard Matheson to Jordan Peele and Issa López, great horror movies always begin with a great story told on the page. But how do you format a proper screenplay to imply either a slow-building suspense sequence, or a shocking jump-scare? How do you guide the camera—using words alone—to suggest that menace is hiding behind a creaky door, or that it’s bursting into full view? Horror movies are often predicated on pop psychology—what is it that truly scares us?—so how do you write subtext as text, within the confines of a screenplay’s rigid blueprint? Horror fan and horror writer Josh MacDonald will answer these questions and more, while guiding participants through weekly assignments leading to the creation of their very own short and scary screenplays.

Writing with Tarot: Symbols, Archetypes, and the Creative Journey (virtual) with Tiffany Morris

Wednesdays, Mar 20 to Apr 10 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Archetypes—the shared language of symbols that exists across cultures—help shape our stories on conscious and unconscious levels. From the Fool’s Journey to the Hero’s Journey, the 78 cards of the Tarot provide a multitude of archetypal symbols that can guide our creative process. These Tarot symbols are drawn from diverse sources, ranging from Arthurian legend and astrology to early 20th century mysticism, providing an exciting framework for personal and creative exploration. In this four-session workshop for writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, the first half of each session will teach the basics of Tarot symbolism in the standard Rider-Waite system. In the second half of each session, we will write and explore how these symbols can generate ideas for plot and character in fiction, as well ideas for poetic devices and nonfiction storytelling structures.

Solarpunk: Writing Futures with Resiliency (virtual) with seeley quest

Tuesdays, Apr 2 to Apr 16 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Interest is growing in futurist fiction that engages with current ecological and geopolitical instability by imagining sustainable story-worlds. Dystopian climate-centred fictions can command attention dramatically but suggest desirable or livable futures are less possible. This workshop will introduce participants to “solarpunk,” an emergent 21st-century speculative subgenre with a goal to inspire and to represent achievable near or far futures that we can feel good about next generations inhabiting. Any fictional format can be an outlet for “utopian” climate narratives (including poetry, songwriting, audio-fiction, tabletop and video games), and this workshop will consider examples from recent UK- and US-published collections. We’ll discuss the range of political angles and aesthetic approaches under the solarpunk umbrella, explore ways to serve each writer’s goals by illustrating scenes of resilience, and imagine human and other-than-human characters negotiating challenges of ecological and social repair.

From Fandom to Nonfiction: Writing about Pop Culture (virtual) with Peter Counter

Mondays, April 8 to 29 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

That music stuck in your head, that video game you can’t put down, that movie you keep quoting in casual conversation—modern entertainment culture is a powerful influence on our lives. It affects our language, builds communities, and holds up a mirror to our collective experience. With a thoughtful approach and the right tools, writers can channel these media into their nonfiction. This workshop will help writers engage deeply with a cultural text of their choice—be it a book, movie, play, song, TV show, or video game—and produce an original piece of written criticism. Participants will discuss traditional and experimental forms of pop culture writing, experiment with critical writing tools, and discover new ways to engage with entertainment media that can enrich their writing and research.

A Speculative Fiction Expedition (virtual) with Sherry D. Ramsey

Tuesdays, May 7 to June 4 (7:00pm to 9:00pm Atlantic)

Journey through the landscape of science fiction and fantasy, stopping to explore what makes a story or poem ‘speculative,’ tropes and expectations of the genres, and the best ways to build engaging story worlds. We’ll scout out what makes strong speculative fiction writing that feels fresh and offers something new, and we’ll consider new and developing sub-genres and trends. We’ll discover how and where to find inspiration for speculative fiction ideas in the ‘real world,’ discuss the various publication routes we might take with these stories, and look at where the market is headed. Each session, we’ll also spend some time writing to explore these ideas.

Scroll to Top

Recommended Experience Levels

The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia (WFNS) recommends that each workshop’s participants share a level or range of writing / publication experience. This is to ensure that each participant gets value from the workshop⁠ and is presented with information, strategies, and skills that suit their current writing priorities.

To this end, the “Recommended experience level” section of each workshop description refers to the following definitions developed by WFNS:

  • New writers: those with no professional publications (yet!) or a few short professional publications (i.e., poems, stories, or essays in literary magazines, journals, anthologies, or chapbooks).
  • Emerging writers: those with numerous professional publications and/or one book-length publication.
  • Established writers/authors: those with two book-length publications or the equivalent in book-length and short publications.
  • Professional authors: those with more than two book-length publications.

For “intensive” and “masterclass” creative writing workshops, which provide more opportunities for participant-to-participant feedback, the recommended experience level should be followed.

For all other workshops, the recommended experience level is just that—a recommendation—and we encourage potential participants to follow their own judgment when registering.

If you’re uncertain of your experience level with regard to any particular workshop, please feel free to contact us at communications@writers.ns.ca