Nonfiction | Seminar

2-Week Nonfiction Seminar: Basic Interviewing Skills for Feature Writing

Are you an essay writer who wants to start pitching reported features? A beginning journalist looking to make the jump to feature writing? This class will help you establish strong interviewing skills: You'll learn how to ask questions that yield good quotes, how to pick settings that make good scenes, and how to transcribe and review tape fast enough to meet a deadline.

In class one, we'll make a reporting plan for an imaginary story. In between the two sessions, you'll conduct and transcribe an interview for that story. In class two, we'll review these transcripts together and talk about how we might incorporate the quotes in a finished feature. Along the way, I’ll share examples from my own reporting process. We’ll also discuss interviewing wisdom from well-known journalists, and think about how we might apply these skills for our own reporting purposes.

Good quotes are the foundation of good narrative nonfiction. This class will help teach you to interview strategically, and with confidence. Shy and anxious interviewers welcome!


- How to plan interviews that will yield good transcript

- How to steer an interview with confidence

- How to process transcripts and tape in a time efficient way

- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will be expected to conduct one interview between sessions and transcribe it by hand or by using a transcription service.

Jamie Lauren Keiles

Jamie Lauren Keiles is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. They have been freelance writing full time since 2015. 


"Jamie illustrated concepts well and was very clear in their explanations. They taught heavily using personal experiences, which I found to be both engaging and helpful. There was never a time when they didn't have a useful example for a circumstance or question."

former Catapult student

"Fun! Funny! Informative! Helpful! Jamie was an amazing instructor who was open to anything we had to say and didn't shoot down any ideas. They realized that this job isn't easy and didn't hide anything from us."

fomer Catapult student