Please note: USPS Shipping may be delayed due to COVID-19. ** FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS $60+

Everything But the Words: Worldbuilding in Black & POC-centered fiction

Shauna Rae Durant Saturdays, Sept. 17-Oct.8
1p–3p ET
10a-12p PT
12p-2p CT
4 class sessions

By signing up for a class, you agree to our refund policy and code of conduct here.

In Everything But the Words: Worldbuilding in Black & POC-centered fiction, we will learn how to effectively and ethically build worlds and cultures based in fantasy or reality, from the ground up, through writing exercises and hands-on activities. Students will be encouraged to explore and expand the worlds they create through immersive self-led projects such as preparing in-world recipes, designing in-world apparel, creating world maps, and other elements of their self-crafted world.

The first half of the course will discuss two overarching areas of worldbuilding: the Tangible (i.e. Geography, Food, Arts, Imports/Exports, etc) and the Intangible (i.e. Government, Family, Education, Religion, Media, etc). Students will learn how these element types interlock to create a cohesive cultural setting, and how to work with them to efficiently and functionally create their own.

Throughout the course, we will consider the ethics of building fictional worlds based on existing cultures. Students will examine examples of worlds and cultures based on real-world culture throughout various examples of published media, and interrogate the ethics of the methods employed. Students will walk through the process of ethically building a cohesive world, identifying those aspects necessary to the story they are trying to tell, and determining how best to intertwine those aspects. In essence, we’ll learn how to create every part of the world but the words.

Everything But the Words is a craft-focused class. All students are welcome but the course is aimed at beginner and intermediate writers.

If you like writing deeply immersive settings, this class is for you.

All class meetings will be held via Zoom. The link to join your Zoom classroom will be provided on the morning of your class. Please check spam folders if you do not receive an email confirmation upon registration. For more information on how to download or use Zoom, please click here.

Meet Your Instructor:
Shauna Rae Durant

Shauna Rae Durant (they/she) started their first foray into becoming a novelist as an 11-year-old hell-bent on rewriting the disappointing ending of her favorite book in a knockoff world of their own. Since then, she has branched off from copycat worlds to a style of writing focused on building unique and varied worlds all their own, featuring elements of their identity that all too often go unrepresented. Shauna studied creative writing at Vassar College before earning a JD with specializations in Intellectual Property and Public Interest Law at Golden Gate University where she worked as an Associate Editor for the Environmental Law Journal. She has been writing for over 15 years, and working with other writers in her community—from poets and playwrights to songwriters and novelists—for nearly a decade; she is dedicated to fostering representation for marginalized and intersectional identities in media however she can, whether by legally advocating for these groups or simply helping to create diverse media themself. 

Course Takeaways

  • Howtoethicallybuildworldsbasedon real-world cultures
  • Howtocreatein-depth tangible aspects ofaworld  (i.e. Geography, Food, Arts, Imports/Exports, etc.)
  • Howtocreatesynergybetweenthetangibleandintangible (i.e. Government, Family, Education, Religion, Media, etc.) aspects of theirworldculture
  • Howtoselectelementsthatarenecessarytothestory

Course Expectations

  • Students will be expected to develop their chosen world outside of class (backtracking may happen; that's to be expected) whether in scenes, outlines, or as part of a hands-on project
  • Course-long projects are optional but encouraged
  • Participation in assigned writing (primarily in class) and outlining (primarily out of class) exercises and in-class workshopping is expected
  • If public speaking isn't comfortable for everyone, writing notes for workshop thoughts on classmates' work is absolutely an option

Course Skeleton

  • Week One: Intro and discussion of Tangible World Building
    • What is worldbuilding? How can it be executed beneficially? Harmfully? How does one start?
  • Week Two: Review and Intangible Worldbuilding
    • Review tangible world building [elements of a world you can experience sensorily] and learn about intangible world building [elements of a world you experience conceptually]; explore ways to do so ethically
  • Week Three: Examine the ways in which tangible and intangible world-building intertwine and bolster each other
    • Discuss methods by which one can reliably select elements that are necessary to the story 
  • Week Four: Review and share projects/worlds

We offer full refunds for cancellation with written notice up until 7 days before your class start date. From 6 days to more than 24 hours before class begins, we offer a 50% refund. If you drop a class less than 24 hours before the class begins or after it has started, you are ineligible for a refund.