Curious Mirrors: Writing Reality with Metaphor

Science fiction, fantasy, and horror can offer writers a space to explore, explain, and address real world issues such as climate change, racism, or intergenerational trauma in powerful ways.

Approaching these topics indirectly through speculative metaphor and analogy can serve to illuminate complex concepts or confront painful truths. Our speculative stories act as curious mirrors, reflecting ourselves and our world not only as we are, but as we could be; for better or worse.

In this five-part course we’ll look at examples of speculative metaphor in the work of contemporary science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers; use creative exercises to generate our own absurd and accurate metaphors; explore the opportunities offered by existing genre tropes; and develop our own compelling ideas and imagery to open up real-world topics.

Week 1: Metaphor

Week 2: Fantasy

Week 3: Science fiction

Week 4: Horror

Week 5: Ideas into stories

In the first week we’ll look generally at metaphor and analogy and play some writing games. In weeks 2, 3, and 4 there’ll be some more creative exercises, and you’ll be invited to read and discuss a specific short story which uses metaphor to offer social commentary. In the final week we’ll look at how to turn a great idea into a story, with characters, plot, and the rest.

Throughout the course there will be opportunities to share your writing and discuss your ideas, but this is completely optional.

What Participants Will Take Away

  • A deep understanding of how metaphor works and ways to keep your metaphors fresh.
  • Knowledge of how several contemporary SFF authors have used extended metaphors as social or cultural commentary in their stories.
  • An understanding of the possibilities and pitfalls of genre tropes in metaphorical speculative stories.
  • The opportunity to start developing your own idea for a story which uses speculative metaphor to examine a real world issue.

Suitable for intermediate and advanced levels.

This is a five week class:

Sundays: October 22, October 29, November 5, November 12, November 19

PLEASE NOTE: The times are wonky for some of the world because of daylight savings kicking in. Do take a close look at both time zone maps to make sure you can attend all of the classes.

About Instructor
Sarah Jackson (she/they) writes gently unsettling stories and poems. Her work is upcoming in Strange Horizons, and has appeared in Translunar Travelers Lounge, Electric Spec, and Wyldblood Magazine. She’s a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association and the Horror Writers Association, and co-editor of The Fantastic Other magazine. She lives in east London UK and has a green tricycle called Ivy. Her website is

Click here for the Crow Collective Workshop FAQ.

Registration: Want to register? Sign up for the mailing list and you’ll be notified when registration opens.

Click here for the text version of the October 22 time zone map. (NOTE: Those in the BST time zone will move an hour earlier for only October 29.)

Click here for the text version of the time zone map for November 5 to 19.

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