Writing Magical Fiction

with Amy Bonnaffons

writing magical fiction

2 Single-Day Webinars


Write beyond reality.

Women turning into animals, children bursting into flame, humans falling in love with vampires and ghosts, prophets haunted by visions: contemporary literary fiction is full of magic. How do today’s writers of myth, magical realism, fabulism, and speculative fiction (to name a few of the terms used to describe such work) channel magic into their work and manifest it on the page in a way that’s resonant and deep? How can you incorporate magic into your writing so it feels deep and essential rather than shallow and gimmicky? How can you use magic and myth to explore themes and complicate character? What is “magic,” anyway—and what is “reality”?

During this weekend intensive, open to fiction writers of all experience levels, we will explore these questions while learning strategies for working with magic in our fiction. You’ll read contemporary writers who use magic in surprising and resonant ways—such as Aimee Bender, Aoko Matsuda, and Eloghosa Osunde. We’ll talk about magic as metaphor and explore the use of dream-logic in fiction. We’ll also discuss decolonial perspectives on myth, magic and world-building.

On day one, several generative prompts will be given; these will begin in class and can be continued on your own time. Day one will also include craft lectures and discussions of assigned reading. On day two, you will have the opportunity to receive written feedback on a piece of writing from the instructor and other students. This piece can be something generated in class on day one, or a piece you had previously been working on.

You will leave this class with a deeper understanding of how magic works in literary fiction; new strategies for incorporating magic into your own work; the beginning of at least one new piece of fiction; and written and verbal feedback on your work.

Learning and Writing Goals

Learning Goals

In this course, students will:

  • Learn at least one technique for generating new ideas for magical fiction
  • Access a deeper understanding of several common storytelling structures and craft devices used in contemporary literary fiction with a magical element
  • Learn specific craft techniques to enliven and deepen your storytelling
  • Get feedback on your work and learn to offer generative, process-oriented feedback to others.
  • Nurture a deeper relationship with your own wild imagination

Writing Goals

In this course, students will:

  • Begin at least one new piece of writing in class
  • Receive written and verbal feedback on one piece of writing from instructor and students

Zoom Schedule

Day One, Saturday, May 27th, 11am-4pm Eastern: 

  • Introduction and welcome (30 minutes)
  • Generative writing exercise (15 minutes)
  • 10-minute break
  • Lecture (touching upon the assigned reading and craft techniques) (30 minutes)
  • Writing exercise, continued (30 minutes)
  • Lunch break (45 minutes)
  • Discussion of readings (30 minutes)
  • Writing exercise, continued (30 minutes)
  • Optional verbal sharing of writing exercises (30 minutes)
  • Instructor Q & A (30 minutes)
  • Wrap-up & instructions for next session (15 minutes)

By Wednesday, students submit a piece of writing they’d like feedback on.  

Day Two, Saturday, June 3rd, 11am-4pm Eastern: 

  • Discussion of student work, with a lunch break.  Each student is allotted a certain amount of time (at least 20 minutes) to receive verbal feedback on the work they submitted mid-week.  
  • 30 minutes at the end for wrap-up/Q & A.
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2 Single-Day Webinars


amy bonnaffons headshot


Amy Bonnaffons is the author of the story collection The Wrong Heaven  (2018) and the novel The Regrets (2020), both published by Little, Brown. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Kenyon Review, The Sun, and elsewhere, and has been read on NPR's This American Life. She holds a BA in Literature from Yale, an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU, and a PhD in English and Women's Studies from the University of Georgia. Amy is a founding editor of 7x7.la, a literary journal devoted to collaborations between writers and visual artists. She has taught writing at New York University, the University of Georgia, and in many other settings, including senior centers, hospitals, and prisons. For several years, she has also led unique creative writing workshops that incorporate spiritual techniques such as shamanic dreamwork and energy work.  Her own spiritual journey has included elements from many traditions, from Buddhist meditation to core shamanism and ancestor work.  She is certified as a clairvoyant reader and healer by the Inner Connection Institute in Denver, CO. Born in New York City, she now lives in Athens, GA.