Online | Nonfiction | Fiction | Seminar

1-Day Prose Seminar: Outlines and Visual Aids to Generate or Revise Prose

"Drawing helps us to really see." - Flannery O'Connor

If you need to add structure to your writing practice or writing work, need help turning an image into a scene or a scene into a story, can hear a character's voice in your head but can't see them in the context of their story, or just feel jaded by old revision techniques, then this class is for you!

In this course, we will borrow techniques and tools from the visual arts. While outlines might seem constricting or old-fashioned or uninspiring, instructor Cinelle Barnes will lead the class in using outlines, illustration, and other visual tools to add focus, depth, form, structure, and texture to prose. Plus, drawing is just plain fun! Your writing practice can always use more playfulness and joy!

No artistic skill necessary, if you can draw a triangle, a square, a circle, some arrows, spirals, and stick figures, you’ll be able to use these methods.

Inspired by Flannery O'Connor and other writer-artists, this five-hour class will be very visual and generative. You will watch Cinelle do five live, on-camera, from-scratch visual renderings of fiction and nonfiction projects. Each of the five techniques will be focused on birthing new ideas, problem solving and untangling thoughts, and expanding an image or scene into a story:

The five "techniques" are:

- Outlining an inciting incident

- Outlining a fragmented essay or short story using repetition, illustration, and index cards

- Outlining a main character's emotional arc

- Outlining an ensemble's or supporting characters' intersecting arcs

- Outlining scene vs summary using geometric shapes

You will need paper and pens or pencils, or a drawing tablet, to successfully participate in this class. You will get a chance to practice each of the five techniques. Be prepared to revise old work and ideate new ones.


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. The Zoom calls 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.  

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Visual techniques to help you generate new work

- Visual techniques to help you revise old work

- Fun, creative tools to add to your writing practice that help build your stamina or longevity as a writer

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

You will need paper and pens or pencils, or a drawing tablet, to successfully participate in this weekend class. You will get a chance to practice each of the five techniques. Be prepared to revise old work and ideate new ones. Students will not be expected to share their work with the class, but there will be some opportunities to share if desired.

COURSE SKELETON:

One-day, five-hour course, broken down into:

Intro and welcome (5 mins)

How Drawing Helps Us To Really See (25 mins)

Techniques

 - Outlining an inciting incident (30 mins)

     - What kind of problem might this solve?

     - How-to demo by instructor

     - Practice time for students

Break (10 mins)

Outlining a fragmented essay or short story using repetition, illustration, and index cards (30 mins)

     - What kind of problem might this solve?

     - How-to demo by instructor

     - Practice time for students

Break (10 mins)

Outlining a main character's emotional arc (60 mins)

 - What kind of problem might this solve?

     - How-to demo by instructor: three-act arc

     - How-to demo by instructor: four-act arc

     - Practice time for students

Break (10 mins)

Outlining an ensemble's or supporting characters' intersecting arcs (30 mins)

  - What kind of problem might this solve?

     - How-to demo by instructor

     - Practice time for students

Break (10 mins)

Outlining scene vs summary using geometric shapes (30 mins)

  - What kind of problem might this solve?

     - How-to demo by instructor

     - Practice time for students

Student sharing time (optional, 10 mins)

Q&A (25 mins)

Cinelle Barnes

Cinelle is a formerly undocumented memoirist, essayist & educator from the Philippines, and is the author of MONSOON MANSION: A MEMOIR and MALAYA: ESSAYS ON FREEDOM, and the editor of the New York Times New & Noteworthy book A MEASURE OF BELONGING: 21 WRITERS OF COLOR ON THE NEW AMERICAN SOUTH. She has an MFA from Converse College. Her writing has appeared or been featured in the NYT, Longreads, Electric Literature, Buzzfeed, Literary Hub, Hyphen & CNN Philippines, among others. Her work is anthologized in A MAP IS ONLY ONE STORY. She’s a contributing editor, instructor & writer at Catapult.

Testimonials

"The instructor provided a wealth of information, not only about content around the topical area but also about the process. Her incorporation of her own writings in the workshop was powerful and greatly enhanced the class. I bought her book MONSOON MANSION immediately afterward!"

former student

"Cinelle deals with extraordinarily difficult material with a very sensitive audience and is mindful while remaining instructive and sharing her story and experience - nice job!"

former student

"Well organized, though-provoking, thorough. Explained boundaries and strategies AND modeled them. Clear, relevant, humane. Excellent teaching of a sensitive topic. WOW!"

former student

"Cinelle, your feedback is incredible. Thank you! Your notes resonated with me and I am so grateful!"

nonfiction author responding to feedback on nonfiction MS

"Cinelle Barnes has compiled the most diverse portrayal of the contemporary South I've read to date. These beautifully-written, clear-eyed essays present the American South through the eyes of its Black and brown voices and expand the reader's view of belonging to or hailing from the region. I love this collection and its depictions complicate the South in ways that mainstream America sometimes refuses to believe about our ugly/beautiful South. A MEASURE OF BELONGING is a major contribution to the canon of Southern literature and each of the writers give of themselves fully. It is a book for our times. Welcome to the 21st century!"

Crystal Wilkinson author of THE BIRDS OF OPULENCE

“I write because I am the last to remember,’ Cinelle Barnes tells us in her essay ‘Why I Write Memoir.’ MALAYA is a sensitive, vibrant book that will help so many of us remember and reflect on the stories we shouldn’t forget. Barnes’s deft writing crosses gaps in time, understanding, and experience, illuminating important truths about our country and culture while also allowing us to bear witness to her own fight for healing, justice, and belonging. MALAYA is a book we need, and Cinelle Barnes is a writer to treasure.”

Nicole Chung author of ALL YOU CAN EVER KNOW

"Reminiscent of both Jeanette Walls’s memoir, THE GLASS CASTLE (2005), and Sandra Cisneros’s seminal novel THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET (1984), [MONSOON MANSION] is a story of a tragic childhood told in a remarkably uplifting voice. Barnes imbues scenes from her interrupted childhood with an artistic touch that reads like literary fiction. Luminescent and shattering, Barnes’s first book is a triumph: a conquering of the past through the power of the written word.”

Booklist starred review