Online | Fiction | Seminar

1-Day Fiction Seminar: Kickstart Your Novel

This class is for you if you’ve been kicking around an idea for a novel but you just don’t know how to get started. Or you’ve started and stopped writing your novel six times and haven’t gotten past page 30. Or you’ve written a novel manuscript, and it was hell, and you need a better approach for your next one.

The only difference between someone who’s written a novel and someone who hasn’t is that one of them kept going till the end! It’s not magic. It’s a matter of having an idea you love, sustaining momentum to get through the first draft, understanding what it means to revise, and having a plan to get it all done.

In this seminar, we’ll discuss different approaches to writing and revising a novel including how to turn an idea into opening pages and an outline; how to build—and keep—momentum; how to build your craft as you go; how to use your short-story writing experience to your advantage; how to get support, time, and space to write; how to finish; and what happens when you’re done (i.e., how to find an agent or publisher, if publication is your goal). I’ll also spend some time answering your writing and publishing questions in a Q&A at the end of the session.

Participants should have at least the germ of an idea for a novel. All genres, audiences (adult, YA, middle-grade), and experience levels welcome.

Writers will leave this class with a deeper understanding of what it takes to put their butt in the chair and write that darn novel.

The class meeting will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom call will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- How to set goals and make a plan for drafting and revising your novel.

- Common roadblocks and how to get around them.

- A better idea of why you want to write a novel and what you want it to be about.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes.


Students will have some reading ahead of class and are expected to have a novel idea they want to work on.


Hour 1: Getting started: Testing your idea, mapping plot and characters, choosing point of view and structure, understanding your intentions and audience, and beginning to write.

Hour 2: Writing is revision: Approaches to drafting and revising — what will work for you? Practicing “shitty first drafts.”

Hour 3: Carving space: How to find time and support to write your manuscript, how to know you’re done, and what to do next.

Eman Quotah

Eman Quotah is the author of the novel Bride of the Sea, which was shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Literature and won the 2022 Arab American Book Award for Fiction. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Necessary Fiction, Jellyfish Review, The Rumpus, The Markaz Review, ArabLit Quarterly, Witness, Gargoyle, and other publications. She lives with her family near Washington, D.C.


“Engrossing. ... [offers] Americans a nuanced view of the Saudi Kingdom through a cast of compelling characters and a sweeping plot that spans continents and decades. ... Quotah’s perspective is an important addition to American fiction."

The Washington Post

“A devastatingly honest novel... a clear-eyed debut from a writer who doesn't shy away from the messiness of family life.”

Star Tribune

“Alluring. ... Quotah’s resonant, neatly plotted outing will be a treat for readers who love fractured family dramas.”

Publishers Weekly

“Quotah’s deft characterization and pacing, combined with an inside look at Saudi Arabian life, make this debut a compelling and worthy read.”

Booklist starred review