"I can’t recommend Mandy’s class enough. I had never taken a writing class outside of college, and fiction is not my usual medium. I wanted to challenge myself but was wary of entering a space that was bred on criticism and judgement, and spent a long time looking for the right match... [Mandy's] class was the highlight of my week. She holds space for each and every writer, has the ability to teach the more academic/structural stuff in an interesting and dynamic way, and her class is founded on supportive, honest critique that is judgement free... Mandy created such an intimate and safe environment for us to explore and better our fiction writing. If you are debating on whether this class is right for you, don’t hesitate. 10/10 would take the class all over again (probably will)." - former student
This workshop is for writers who are close to completing a novel but need some structure and community in order to make it over the finish line.
In this intimate class capped at six ambitious students, we will workshop each student’s full working manuscript, addressing macro issues of later-stage drafting like structure, organization, order of disclosure, and thematic and character consistency. The goal in these workshops is to illuminate any weak points that the author may have and to help them overcome any hurdles that have kept them from completing their novels up until now.
In the second half of the course, each author will be given the chance to submit an “agent packet” to the workshop: the revised first two chapters of the novel, plus a query letter. The group will work to finesse the packaging and messaging of each other’s manuscripts at this stage in the course, discussing as a group how to make the novel’s opening and query letter compelling enough to catch any agent’s eye. Additionally, each student will meet one-on-one with the instructor following each of their workshops in order to discuss their individual projects in more depth. Due to the intensive nature of the course, we will purely be reading student work and there won’t be any outside assigned readings.
To apply for this class, please submit your full working manuscript.
*Class will meet 2/10, 2/24, 3/10, 3/24, 4/7, 4/21, 4/28, 5/5, 5/12, 5/19, 5/26, and 6/2. See explanation below for more information about class meetings.
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 Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- A completed novel draft that you feel proud of and ready to send out into the world
- A compelling agent query letter that sums up your novel perfectly, outlining why your novel is special and how it can be intelligently positioned within the current market
- Two extremely polished opening chapters of your novel, which will be the second thing that any agent reads (after the query letter)
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
In the first half of the class, students will submit one full working manuscript of their novel and read and workshop the five manuscripts of their classmates. In the second half, students will submit the revised opening two chapters of their novel as well as a query letter, as well as workshop the same for their fellow classmates. Students should write one editorial letter (at least 500 words) in response to each manuscript and one editorial letter to the agent packet, as well as line edit the revised chapters and query letter during the second round of submissions.
Sessions 1-6: We will be reading and workshopping full manuscripts. We will have two weeks between each of these sessions to complete and write our editorial responses to the manuscripts. The first writer will submit their full manuscript two weeks before the course starts (for instance, the first writer will submit on 1/27). Meetings would continue every two weeks for the next five weeks, with writers submitting their manuscripts two weeks in advance of their workshop date. (The first six sessions will meet 2/10, 2/24, 3/10, 3/24, 4/7, and 4/21.)
Sessions 7-12: We will meet weekly to workshop the agent packets. Agent packets should be submitted one week before they're up for workshop. (The second six sessions will meet 4/28, 5/5, 5/12, 5/19, 5/26, and 6/2.)
Mandy Berman is the author of Perennials and The Learning Curve. Perennials was a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick of 2017 and named as Best Book of Summer 2017 by Vanity Fair, ELLE, Houston Chronicle, Newsday, and Redbook, among many others. Both novels have been reviewed by dozens of outlets, including The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, and Kirkus Reviews. Her nonfiction writing has been published in The New York Times, TIME, Literary Hub, Poets & Writers, and elsewhere. She has taught creative writing at Ohio University, Montclair State University, and Manhattanville College.
"Mandy is a deeply generous teacher and editor. She provides thorough and detailed feedback that gets to the heart of a story, and illuminates both its strengths and weaknesses with great compassion and care. I felt totally encouraged by her honest and specific notes, and left every workshop inspired to develop my projects with more confidence in my writing. Her class made me not only a better writer, but a better editor of work in general, whether it’s my peers’ stories or my own."
"Mandy was an excellent teacher—composed, insightful, and patient. She supported my work while challenging me to improve my writing. I highly recommend any class or workshop she is leading."
"Mandy was very passionate about storytellers... She led a lot from her passion and skills. How those two things were fused together gave the class a sense of organic enthusiasm. It was not a burden, a paycheck or a interruption. I got the sense [Mandy] was like a coach or a drill sergeant who loves players or soldiers and who helps to bring people along because she saw the need for more voices to pipe up. Sometimes I found myself thinking, 'maybe she is trying to get the stories she wants out of us because she enjoys them.' The way she read and talked about the voices in the room showed she had a keen sense of where people wanted to take their stories and what kind of writers they wanted to be and could be. How she led the discussion was perfect, sometimes prompting and then stepping back or vice versa when needed. She had very good rhythm with this."
"Mandy Berman is an exceptional teacher, plain and simple. When discussing readings, she expertly communicates what the writer is doing beneath the text, and when analyzing her students' writings, she provides crucial insights and shows opportunities for growth."
"Mandy is a thoughtful writer and teacher who will help you improve your story by offering insightful feedback about the story that you want to write (as opposed to the story that someone else thinks you should write). She supports the development of your voice by emphasizing various aspects of creative writing that will strengthen your work. "
“Berman is at her most insightful when exploring the awkward unfurling of female adolescence. . . PERENNIALS is a sharp meditation on the changing female body, and the ways in which such changes are often involuntary and unwanted."
“Mandy Berman has remade the American summer camp narrative, ditching the usual clichés and getting in close with her characters and their various states of emotional and economic precariousness. PERENNIALS is a sharp, crushingly observant, and empathetic debut, full of wit and tragedy, and good for all seasons.”
“Mandy Berman explores an old trope: the magic of summer camp, a place separate from the rest of your life where you can become a slightly different version of yourself, a place where friendships run impossibly deep and romance and sex are innocent. But what happens when that divide begins to crumble, and real life, in all its moral ambiguity, finds its way to the heart of a halcyon summer? Lucid, psychologically nuanced, and great fun to read, PERENNIALS has taken an old subject and made it new.”
“Snappy and irresistible, Berman’s debut novel, PERENNIALS, takes readers back to summer camp, where her characters’ first friendships and treasons play out in sharp dialogue and playful, generous prose. Berman fearlessly renders youth and adulthood alike, in sentences you’ll want to savor.”
“Do you remember that youthful summer when ‘everything changed’? Mandy Berman sure does and her wonderful novel is a snapshot of that time and the group of young women who are irrevocably changed by it. PERENNIALS manages to be warm and loving and still wallop you with moments of shock and pain. What an exciting debut.”
“Berman’s debut, a winning, keenly observed, and clear-eyed novel set in a summer camp, captures the age when fierce attachments forged over years begin to unravel, passionate female friendships give way to sex, and identity seems to shift with the tides.”
“The complexities of intimacy and consent are explored in this smart, engaging coming-of-age story... Berman delivers a thorough and incredibly timely investigation into relationship power imbalances that’s sure to start a lot of conversations.”
"Mandy Berman perfectly captures an all-too-familiar academic love triangle between college friends Fiona and Liv and their charming college professor, Oliver Ash. Berman explores power dynamics and identity issues that the women are forced to face when Ash's sketchy past reveals he's had a relationship with a former underage student."
"Exploring the shifting nuances of how power plays out in all relationships, Berman’s novel abounds with questions of our political moment: 'Was it possible to be both a feminist and to want a man who was bad for women?'"