Online | Fiction | Seminar

2-Week Fiction Seminar: Writing Lyrical Sentences

This seminar for fiction writers with all levels of experience will focus on sound and lyricism. Through craft lectures and collaborative exercises, students will practice writing lilting, musical sentences. In addition to excerpts from works of fiction by writers like Carmen Maria Machado, Han Kang, Joy Williams, and Toni Morrison, this seminar will incorporate music, poetry, and games in order to grow more comfortable flexing our voice muscles.

We'll go over voice—what characterizes a voice, why is it important, and when does it feel freeing to play with? We'll look at examples of distinct voices in fiction, as well as poetry. We'll imitate some of those whom we admire, and look to songs in order to become more comfortable playing with the musicality of speech.

Writers will leave this class with a deeper understanding of how to play with sound and cadence in order to write compelling, musical prose, and each student will receive written feedback from their peers and instructor on a new piece of flash fiction.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. 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.  


- How to use voice as a writing engine that propels you forward

- How to let writing be 'play' again

- When and how to push yourself to use voices outside of your own usual habits of speech

- Written feedback on one flash fiction piece

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will write one flash fiction piece (500-1,000 words) between the 1st and 2nd day of the seminar. They will receive written feedback from their peers and the instructor.


Day one:

We’ll talk about how voice works, and why it’s important and liberating. We’ll break down examples of voices from various authors to better understand how they work: voices that are maximalist, or spare, or unsettling, or playful. Then we’ll attempt to imitate the ones we find compelling, and finally do a couple writing exercises as a group that will allow us to approach voice from a new angle.

Day two:

Before class, students will share the flash fiction they’ve written since the previous class via the Catapult platform. We’ll share some excerpts of our work and offer constructive feedback, listen to music created with overheard speech, read poetry that plays with sound, and finally look at how voice can function as the engine of a story - not mere decoration, but the muscle that drives your writing forward.

Delaney Nolan

Delaney Nolan is a Pushcart Prize-winning Fulbright Fellow whose fiction has appeared in Electric Literature, Guernica, Oxford American, Tin House, and elsewhere. She was a Rona Jaffe Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She has received recognition from Yaddo, Bread Loaf, Vermont Studio Center, Academy of American Poets, and others, and her fiction has been translated into four languages. Her stories have been adapted into a radio play by NPR’s Snap Judgment and into a short film by Emmy award winner Caitlyn Greene: AUGUST. Her chapbook Shotgun Style won the Ropewalk Press Editor’s Prize.


"I cannot express enough gratitude for Delaney's willingness to speak with my students. She is so very generous with her time and knowledge. Some of my students who are pessimists find something negative to say about any assignment or activity. But, I was pleasantly surprised that there was not a single negative word to be heard about her class. They were honestly engaged and excited. They asked if we would be able to speak to any other authors this year. Unfortunately, so many of the authors we read are gone or would charge us thousands of dollars for the opportunity to speak with them. What a rare learning opportunity for them: to get to pick the brain of an author firsthand. I can honestly say that this was one of my most rewarding days as an educator."

Erin Morrison-Fortunato educator

"Delaney's writing class absolutely upped my game. Before I liked writing but didn't really know how to take the extra step to make my stories as powerful as I wanted, but after being in class with her I understood short story writing in an entirely new way. She is thoughtful, supportive, funny, and honest; her critiques came from a place of real understanding and I feel like she was personally invested in the writing of each one of her students. Take her class if you ever get the chance."

former student

"Delaney Nolan is a wonderfully talented writer—clear precise language and a stunning bright-eyed vision that is all her own. The characters who populate Louisiana Maps: A Diagram of the Territory of New Orleans, are loners, seekers, pilgrims—often as worn and scarred as the post Katrina landscape—the stark reality of their existence shot through with vibrant streaks of hope."

Jill McCorkle author

"Delaney Nolan's spare, heartbreaking stories are set in the wastelands of New Orleans both before and after Katrina, and it's truly a testament to the power of her talent that something so amazingly beautiful as LOUSIANA MAPS: A DIAGRAM OF THE TERRITORY OF NEW ORLEANS could come out of all that misery and devastation."

Donald Ray Pollock author

"There is so much that could be said about the eight stories in Delaney Nolan's LOUISIANA MAPS--there is grit in these stories and there is wildness and wit. There is a man in prison and the woman who loves to make him burn for her and there is a man who burns fire in the deep of the ocean and the woman who falls asleep with his arm beneath her and there is the woman who films people talking about the parts of themselves they are willing to sell, the woman who, like all of us, desperately needs to hear that she is needed. All eight stories are about desire and how so often desire goes unfulfilled. Here you will find beauty, strength, and the raw ache of what it means to live in what remains of New Orleans."

Roxane Gay author

“Delaney was an excellent teacher! She ran the class so efficiently, the time and effort she put into our workshop comments and individual calls was apparent, and you could tell she really cared about her students and helping us improve. Also, she was just super fun, and made the assignments and readings each week engaging. Loved it!”

former Catapult student