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10-Week Fiction Workshop: Revising the Short Story

You’ve got a short story you know you want to revise—perhaps one you’ve been working on for years. You’re passionate about it, and you know the story can be better. But it’s giving you trouble, maybe because you’re not sure how to improve it, or you have a sense of what to do but haven’t been able to commit to putting it into practice. Join this supportive and rigorous forum for giving and getting feedback, talking through craft troubles, testing out exercises and interventions, and shepherding the revision process along.

Come to class ready to submit the current draft of your story in the first few weeks. Then we’ll work through revision challenges and possibilities together. We’ll operate on the principle that contributing developmental feedback and line editing for each other’s works in progress will prove rewarding as a way to build skills, engage in literary community, and encounter insights that might shed new light on our own fiction.

One of the difficulties of setting out to revise within a workshop setting is the time that substantive revision takes. This is structured as a ten-week course devoted to a single story of each writer’s choosing so that everyone will have at least six weeks to revise following our initial discussion and feedback sessions.

Exercises will focus on pumping up beginnings of stories, making endings more meaningful, strengthening character development, intensifying conflict, sharpening details, tightening through line editing, and more. Assigned readings will offer craft ideas from Lydia Davis, Matthew Salesses, Kiese Laymon, George Saunders, and others. Whether you end our time together with a finished version of your story or with plans for the next revision, we’ll aim to make the revision process less of a lonely grind and more of a playful collaboration.

To apply for this class, please submit a brief paragraph about your interest in the class, as well as the first five pages of the story you intend to bring to workshop, in one document.

*No class on Nov. 23

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.

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

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Feedback and support for revision on a story you want to revise, as well as a full or partial revision of that story.

- Insights into revising and editing fiction from workshop discussion and readings

- Commitment to the challenge of substantive revision

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

The workload for this course includes writing a self-assessment of your story submission, reading and providing detailed feedback on each other’s stories, reading craft excerpts that will hopefully provide ideas and inspiration, and participating in exercises designed to help with your revision process. Workshop submissions should be under 8,000 words.

COURSE SKELETON:

Week 1 (10/12): Introductions and Self-Assessments

Week 2 (10/19): Workshop Story Drafts

Week 3 (10/26): Workshop Story Drafts

Week 4 (11/2): Workshop Story Drafts

Week 5 (11/9): Workshop Story Drafts

Week 6 (11/16): Character Development

Week 7 (11/30): Beginnings, Endings, and Pacing

Week 8 (12/7): Line Editing

Week 9 (12/14): Workshop Story Revisions

Week 10 (12/21): Workshop Story Revisions

Note there is no class on 11/23 (the day before Thanksgiving)

Polly Rosenwaike

Polly Rosenwaike’s story collection, Look How Happy I’m Making You, was published by Doubleday, and was named one of Kirkus Reviews’ “Best Short Story Collections of 2019” and Amazon’s “Best Books of 2019 for Literature and Fiction.” Her stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, Glimmer Train, New York Magazine’s The Cut, the New York Times Book Review, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Millions, and Lit Hub. Currently the Fiction Editor of Michigan Quarterly Review, she lives in Ann Arbor.