The traditional fiction workshop can be wonderful for short story writers, but it often fails the novelist. To give the most useful feedback possible on a novel manuscript, a draft reader needs to consider the book as a whole. Unfortunately, the page-count limits of most workshops only allow writers to submit small sections for critique. The resulting feedback can offer insight into language, pacing of individual scenes, character development across a short span, and the expectations created in the reader for what’s to come. This is all useful information, but it leaves out some very important questions: How does this novel work as a complete, unique project? What is the structure of the thing as a whole, and how is that working? Does the plot hold together? Do the characters change or deliberately not change in a way that feels satisfying and earned? A novelist needs to know these things (among others) and no reader—no matter how smart and dedicated—can form an opinion on them by reading two 15-page excerpts.
As a working novelist and a creative writing instructor, I’ve long wanted to offer a novel workshop that would allow my students to get feedback on their entire manuscripts. This is that class, designed for the serious novelist who wants to engage deeply with their own and their classmates’ novels.
This course is intended for students who have a completed draft of a novel. All genres of fiction are welcome. Each class will begin with a craft lecture, followed by workshop. Only one person will workshop each week, so that we can dedicate our full attention as a group to one novel at a time. Because students will be committing to reading up to 200 pages of student work each week, there will not be additional readings assigned.
This will not be a silent workshop, where the author sits passively and receives feedback in silence. I invite my students to be as actively engaged in their own workshops as feels useful to them. They’re free to ask and answer questions, redirect, clarify, or brainstorm possible solutions as we discuss their work. They are also free to sit and receive the feedback in silence, if that is what feels right to them.
Students will meet individually with the instructor via Zoom following each of their workshops for any questions they might have, to process the feedback received, and to make a plan for revisions.
*No class November 22nd
To apply for this class, please submit the first 25 pages of the novel you intend to workshop.
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.
- A one-on-one Zoom meeting with the instructor after each of your two workshops to discuss feedback and make a revision plan.
- Substantive written and verbal feedback from instructor and classmates on your entire novel.
- Inspiration, support, guidance, and community from a group of fellow writers.
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will turn in up to 200 pages for workshop each week
0. Introductory class/get to know you
2. Point of View
3. Characters and Their Motivations
6. Setting and the Function of Detail
7. The Use of Time in the Novel
8. Managing Multiple Points of View
9. When It All Falls Apart/When You Feel Stuck
10. The Climax
12. Revision Tools
“I engaged Cari Luna first as a writing coach when I needed direction and guidance while finishing a novel and then to edit some short stories I’d written. As a coach, Cari helped me stay on track to meet writing goals and helped me conquer a crisis in confidence with warmth and compassion. As an editor, Cari’s comments have provided invaluable guidance during the revision process. In addition, I’ve noticed recently that I’ve internalized some of the editorial suggestions she’s made enough to take these suggestions with me to my writing desk when I generate new work. Working with Cari has truly helped me become a better writer at all stages of the creative process.”
“Cari Luna is brilliant, wise, warm and insightful. Any student working with her is lucky indeed. She is the best kind of mentor and editor—one that sees your work with fresh eyes, eager to help you find your voice and path forward. I highly recommend her!”
"Cari Luna leads a workshop with confidence and warmth. I learned so much and I felt encouraged every step of the way. It is clear that Cari really cares about her students and their growth as writers. She is generous in the time she gives to her students, and I left her workshop with a lot of great resource material. A workshop with Cari Luna will positively influence your writing long after the class is over."