Have you been chewing on an idea you want to hone and turn into a long-form feature? Or, are you new to the world of storytelling and want to understand the chops better? Or, have you been writing a lot, but want to break into the world of long-form journalism?
In this 10-week workshop, perfect for writers at all stages of their writing careers, we'll dive deep into the world of long-form storytelling, from finding or honing a unique idea (that is both under-explored and universally appealing) and researching and reporting to finally writing the lede, the body, and the kicker. You will primarily focus on interviewing sources to obtain your information, while also gathering information from secondary sources (already published work). After this process, you'll start writing your feature. Then, we will go through and revise the structure, open up pockets of the story that need more reporting, and then spend time fine-tuning the final draft of the story. At the end of week ten, every student will have a fully finished long-form story.
Before each step in the process, we will spend time using readings and exercises to better understand the step. For example, when discussing what makes a good lede, we'll explore this using specific writers' (like Tom Junod and Taffy Brodesser-Akner) works. I'm a big believer in peer review, so we will also spend some part of two or three classes reading out ledes, providing constructive feedback.
Once the story is ready, we will also explore the process of marketing yourself to news organizations: how to pitch a story, how to negotiate payment, and how to get the story published.
Students can expect two intensive rounds of feedback on their long-form stories from me (on the first and the second draft), dissection of new and old long-form features, discussions about the path to publication, and three one-on-one meetings with me over 10 weeks to discuss their reporting and writing process. I will also bring in guest speakers—writers and editors from various news organizations— during some Tuesday sessions to discuss all things long-form storytelling.
At the end of the workshop, you will have a fully finished story that's either already been workshopped, or is in the process of final edits (in which case you'll submit it within a few weeks at the end of the workshop for final review), and the skillset to pitch and get the story published with a news organization.
One full scholarship to this class will be awarded to a writer of color, sponsored by an anonymous donor. To apply, please send [email protected] your bio and a brief (100-word) statement on why taking this class is important to you by Feb. 15th, with the subject line "Longform Stories That Keep Readers Hooked Scholarship."
*No class Apr. 12th & Apr. 19th
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.
- Insight into the craft of creating engaging long-form storytelling
- Becoming proficient in various elements of storytelling using different features and writing styles
- Detailed and consistent feedback from idea to final draft of the student's feature
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
- Brainstorming and honing story idea
- Making an action plan for the reporting process
- Researching, collecting primary and secondary information for the story
- Writing, submitting and revising the writer's story
- Creating and maintaining a system for tracking submissions
Week One: Dissecting a reading & brainstorming ideas
Week Two: Finalizing idea + tools for reporting
Week Three: Diving into the reporting
Week Four: Processing the reporting + transcribing
Week Five: Lede
Week Six: Sections
Week Seven: Last section & kicker
Week Eight: Revisions
Week Nine: Editing/final draft
Week Ten: Publishing & professionalization
Aishwarya Kumar is a journalist, feature writer, yoga teacher, and an Indian immigrant to the US. Her long-form story, "The Grandmaster Diet," was featured in The Best American Sports Writing 2020. Her work has been published in ESPN, National Geographic, Vice, Independent Media, The Hindu , and The New Indian Express. She has a BA in journalism from India and an MSc in journalism with special focus on feature writing from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She's also a senior editor for South Asian Avant-Garde, and a board member at the South Asian Journalism Association.
"Aishwarya is my go-to for workshopping ideas. Seldom have I come across someone who has such a keen eye for what makes a good story. She is thoughtful, enthusiastic and thorough in her assessment of an idea, and how to turn it into a good pitch. Despite working in different mediums — I’m a producer and she’s a feature writer — I often turn to her when I feel a lack of inspiration, because despite not having a single sports bone in my body, as a writer she is so much more expansive and I learn a little more about my own process after conversations on narrative structure with her. She exists at the intersection of everything from culture to politics, transcending the topic at hand and turning it into something that everyone can relate to. It is one of her biggest strengths. I am excited for Aishwarya’s workshop, and have no doubt that her students will leave with a better sense of how to join the dots and be more reflective of their craft."
"Aish was a great speaker and gave us some terrific pieces of advice, specifically in the realm of feature writing. Her experience and talent in that arena certainly made her advice stand out above others. I believe the knowledge that we gained from her session with our class will help us in our pursuit to become great journalists."
"I love reading Aish's work because I can hear her enthusiasm, compassion and understanding as she crafts scene, detail and dialog. She is patient with her subjects. She is diligent with her word choice. Most of all, she is purposeful -- from thinking about an idea to pre-reporting it, crafting a pitch, advocating for her idea, getting the green light and going. She's an absolute joy to work with, always seeking feedback and ideas that she can adapt and make work. I can't wait to read whatever she writes next."
"Curiosity fuels all good writers, and Aish has more than just about anyone. Her need to learn about people and things near and far yields unique and thoughtful pitches that turn into deeply reported and insightful storytelling. Aish is innovative and enthusiastic in her pursuit of journalism. She is both bold and meticulous in her writing. From conception to publication, she’s one of the most powerful and talented writers around."
"Aish is among the most talented writers I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. She brings great enthusiasm to deeply reported long-form stories and thoughtful perspective to quick turn coverage. Her skill set is varied, and her ideas are fresh. Aish's reporting is always buttoned up, and she's able to identify the exact angle to ensure a story is unforgettable. All in all, she’s helped ESPN become a more innovative and more inclusive storytelling engine."