Online | Fiction | Intensive

2-Day Fiction Intensive: Writing Magical Fiction

Women turning into animals, children bursting into flame, humans falling in love with vampires and ghosts, prophets haunted by visions: contemporary fiction is full of magic. How do today's writers of myth, magical realism, fabulism, and speculative fiction (to name a few of the terms used to describe such work) channel magic into their work and manifest it on the page in a way that's resonant and deep? How can we incorporate magic into our writing so it feels deep and essential rather than shallow and gimmicky? How do we use magic and myth to explore themes and complicate character? What is "magic," anyway—and what is "reality"?

During this weekend intensive, open to fiction writers of all experience levels, we will explore these questions while learning strategies for working with magic in our fiction. We'll read contemporary writers who use magic in surprising and resonant ways—such as Aimee Bender, Aoko Matsuda, Ben Okri, and Helen Oyeyemi. We'll talk about magic as metaphor and explore the use of dream-logic in fiction. We'll also discuss decolonial perspectives on myth, magic and world-building.

On day one, several generative prompts will be given; these will begin in class and can be continued on students' own time. Day one will also include craft lectures and discussions of assigned reading. On day two, students will have the opportunity to share one piece of writing—a beginning of, or excerpt from, a "magical" story—and receive verbal feedback from the instructor and other students. (This piece can be something generated in class on day one, or a piece the student had previously been working on).

Students will leave this class with a deeper understanding of how magic works in fiction; new strategies for incorporating magic into their own work; the beginning of at least one new piece of fiction; and verbal feedback on their work from the instructor and other students.

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:

- Learn specific craft techniques to enliven and deepen your storytelling

- Begin at least one new piece of writing in class

- Receive verbal feedback on one piece of writing from instructor and students

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

There will be some light reading assigned for students to complete before the class begins (about 2 hours total). Optionally, students may work on their class exercises on the night between the class sessions. On the second day of class, students will read their work out loud and others will respond verbally.

COURSE SKELETON:

Day One: mini-craft lectures, discussion of assigned reading, generative exercises

Day Two: workshopping of student pieces (verbal feedback from instructor and other students)

Amy Bonnaffons

Amy Bonnaffons is the author of the story collection The Wrong Heaven  (2018) and the novel The Regrets (2020), both published by Little, Brown. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Kenyon Review, The Sun, and elsewhere, and has been read on NPR's This American Life. She holds a BA in Literature from Yale, an MFA in Creative Writing from NYU, and a PhD in English and Women's Studies from the University of Georgia. Amy is a founding editor of 7x7.la, a literary journal devoted to collaborations between writers and visual artists. She has taught writing at New York University, the University of Georgia, and in many other settings, including senior centers, hospitals, and prisons. Born in New York City, she now lives in Athens, GA.

Photo: Brittainy Lauback

Testimonials

“Working with Amy is liberating, revelatory, and deeply fun. It helped me see my writing life in a new light, one in which my fears of not being good enough dropped away and in their place was an intimacy with art's ecstatic purpose.”

former student

“When I started working with Amy, I was in a creative and spiritual rut. Amy's workshops not only enlivened my work and my spirit, they gave me tangible, usable tools. This work has been life-changing, and I find that my writing - and my whole self, really - is more colorful and alive.”

former student

“I have taken a fair number of writing classes, literature classes and writing workshops, but it wasn’t until I studied a couple times with Amy Bonnaffons that I came to understand where my art comes from, and how to access that part of me with less doubt and trepidation. Rather than spending most of my writing time looking over my own shoulder, ‘professoring’ my work to smithereens, I’m feeling the wonder, surprise, joy, and even innocence I once experienced as a novice.”

former student

"I know contemporary writers who can lacerate, and I know others who are funny, and I even know some who can pull off pathos. But I don't know any who can do all three at once--with mastery, mischief and meaning--like Amy Bonnaffons."

Boris Fishman author of A REPLACEMENT LIFE and DON'T LET MY BABY DO RODEO

"In her amazing, wildly inventive collection, Amy Bonnaffons writes about transformation, each story further complicating the world as we know it. With a style that blends humor and sincerity in such strange, perfect ratios, Bonnaffons reveals the mysteries inside of us, just waiting to make themselves known. THE WRONG HEAVEN, so wondrous, will alter you in all the necessary ways."

Kevin Wilson author of NOTHING TO SEE HERE and THE FAMILY FANG

"Bonnaffons reads like Haruki Murakami for the millennial generation; she is weird, tender, and full of magic."

Lucy Tan author of WHAT WE WERE PROMISED