Online | Fiction | Master Class

1-Day Online Fiction Master Class: Exploring Strategies for Story Beginnings

In this day-long generative workshop for writers of all levels, we'll read openings to stories by authors including Raymond Carver, Jamaica Kincaid, Miranda July, Jhumpa Lahiri, and more. We’ll work to identify different types of openings in an effort to understand how writers create urgency that carries the reader through a short story or a longer work of fiction. Using carefully constructed writing exercises, we’ll practice these different types of openings in class, with the hopes of honing our ability to write effective beginnings that precisely the suit the stories we want to tell. Writers will leave with several new story starts to use as launchpads for future writing, as well as the ability to think more strategically about how the beginnings they may have already written are serving their work. 

Class meetings 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.


- Understand how beginnings affect the pacing of stories

- Several new story beginnings to use as the inspiration for future drafts

- Think strategically about past drafts and learn how to make your previous beginnings more dynamic

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


We'll be going over the different types of story openings in class, and then writing generative exercises to practice these methods. Students should come to class ready to write and will have opportunities to share work if they would like. They will leave the class with a variety of story openings, and an understanding of a variety of techniques a writer can use to open a story. 

Karen E. Bender

Karen E. Bender is the author of two collections; Refund, which was a Finalist for the National Book Award, shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Story Prize, and Longlisted for the Story prize, and The New Order, which was Longlisted for the Story prize. Her novels are Like Normal People and A Town of Empty Rooms. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, The Yale Review, The Harvard Review, Guernica, and others, and have won three Pushcart prizes. She has taught for many highly regarded MFA programs. Visit her at