Fiction | Master Class

1-Day Fiction Master Class: Building & Layering Tension

"Manuel really helped me push my stories into wilder realms, higher climaxes, and always, more deep, honest emotions in my characters. His eye finds the place where the story could be more exciting, more true, and, with kindness, he guides the writer there. He is a compassionate shepherd for new work, one who pulls no punches, and he excels in the raw, the honest, and the weird. A great and hilarious guide for new writers. " - former student

If there's no tension in your story, then there's really no story. But how do you create and build and sustain tension? In this 1-day master class for committed prose writers, we will explore the many different ways to add and build tension in your work. We'll look at various examples of masters in the art of creating tension and we'll practice with in-class exercises the different ways you can tighten the screws for your characters and your readers, too. 

Writers will leave with a more keenly developed sense of how to build narrative tension, and the tools to apply in-class lessons to past, present, and future drafts. 


- Learn how to add tension and strengthen pacing in your stories

- Writing prompts and tools you can use to write future drafts and improve past stories

- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

Manuel Gonzales

Manuel Gonzales is the author of The Miniature Wife and other stories, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the John Gardner Prize for first fiction, and the novel, The Regional Office is Under Attack! He has taught creative writing for the University of Kentucky, the Institute of Amerian Indian Arts Low-Residency MFA, and the Queens University Latin Amerian Low-residency MFA. He joins the Bennington literature faculty this fall and is a core member of the Bennington Writing Seminars.


“Delightfully weird, weirdly delightful! Manuel Gonzales clearly has a labyrinth of a brain--all stuffed with monsters, trapdoors, and complicated heroes. Sign me up as a member of the fan club, please.”


“This book is a winged creation, and absolutely marvelous. Gonzales keeps turning the kaleidoscope to reveal the strangest, darkest, and most beautiful dimensions of human love, and the conversion of mechanical fury into living strength.”

Karen Russell author of SWAMPLANDIA!

“The stories are written so believably, they handle the strange and surreal so carefully, that you want to believe the impossible is possible.”

Roxane Gay for TIN HOUSE

“Gonzales’ voice is so new and different and dazzling that you won’t be able to put down his book.”

Steph Opitz for MARIE CLAIRE

"Manuel Gonzales is the most supportive and encouraging of teachers. He takes his students and their work seriously. He listens. He gives thoughtful, individualized comments that focus on the writer’s goals and what the story is striving for. And he believes in his students’ potential. As a writer often crippled with self-doubt, Manuel’s comments have given me the confidence to push forward and take risks—not only in workshop but well after it has ended, after I have returned to my desk. He is the ultimate cheerleader and advocate. Most importantly, I think: Manuel has taught me to trust my instincts and take seriously my ambitions as a writer."

former student

"Manuel provides a thoughtful and creative environment for his students to dare greatly in their work and to challenge the limits of what they think possible in a work of fiction. Through open and often hilarious conversation, his workshops and constructive comments taught me how to stretch, constrict, explode, focus or quiet a story and how to become a better reader for these things as well. He also makes a mean chocolate pie."

former student

"Before Manuel's fiction workshop, I'd never written a short story. Now, after two of his classes, I am sending out completed fiction to magazines. He worked not only to help my understand the craft of a short story, but to build my confidence. He's approachable and encouraging, and he builds a personal relationship with each of his students. He's also hilarious. If you get a chance to take a class with Manuel, take it. "

former student