What makes fiction flash fiction? Is it just a matter of length, or is it a matter of urgency, whimsy, deadliness? How do you innovate with a limited word count, and how do you make every word count? Is there enough space to care about things like character and plot, or are we already out of time? Brevity isn't just the soul of wit, it has its own soul, its own mysterious properties and elisions. In an age when facts are trampled and language obliterated, there's a sacred place for the precision, clarity, and elegance of an idea that comes across in the kind of stories that we call flash.
This two-day workshop is open to writers with all levels of experience, from beginners to workshop veterans. Perhaps you've always wanted to try shorter forms, or maybe you're a seasoned poet looking to dip your toe in prose.
Saturday, September 14: A crash-course in flash fiction. We will look at a brief history of the style, reviewing its origins and examining work by the writers Diane Williams, Etgar Keret, Vi Khi Nao, Russell Edson, and more, including prose poetry by Morgan Parker and Matthea Harvey. We'll diagram stories, do exercises in class together, generate material, and interrogate the form.
Saturday, September 28: A workshop of the students' original flash fiction pieces.
- 1-3 finished flash pieces
- Ideas for publications where students can submit their work
- Generative techniques for facing the blank page
- A flash fiction primer full of ideas, texts, and a trove of prompts to help build a sustainable writing practice
- Detailed feedback from the instructor
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Hilary Leichter's writing has appeared in n+1, The New Yorker, Bookforum, American Short Fiction, The Southern Review, New York Magazine's The Cut, and elsewhere. She teaches fiction at Columbia University and has been awarded fellowships from the Folger Shakespeare Library and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her debut novel, Temporary, is forthcoming from Coffee House Press/Emily Books in March 2020.
“Hilary and I have been in a writing group for years and all of my work is better for having had her as a reader. It’s possible I never made a better decision in life than to keep having her read my work as we moved on in our writing careers. One reason for this is how intuitively and open-heartedly she engages with work, especially work that is in progress, work that is still finding its way. The kind of work you, person reading this, are probably making right now. I think about the teachers who inspired me as a young writer and there were the established institutional professors who had been around forever, and the young exciting cutting edge artists. But Hilary has a bit of both in her. She has the wisdom about literature that makes you feel lucky to get to talk to her about it. And she has an inspired joy when it comes to creating work that spurs you to do more and do better with your own projects.”
"Hilary’s stories are bright, strange, devilish animals she coaxes, sentence-by-sentence, out of a dynamic abyss to partake in revelment on the page. Her wild imagination and sharp insight are why she’s one of my first readers, and her rigorous, reflective approach in the classroom is why she’s such a joy to teach with. Hilary is a generous, deeply creative artist and teacher who respects the original and obscure, guiding her students to discover their most essential work."
“Hilary Leichter has a special form of magic. She can turn my stories inside out and pinpoint exactly where the story should raise the reader's blood pressure or break their heart. Then she shows me how to do it in her own weird and wonderful way.”
“Hilary is a brilliant creative partner and deft surgeon. She understood the ambition of my draft and improved every aspect of the text, from narrative structure to sentence-level edits.”