Online | Fiction | Nonfiction | Intensive

2-Week Open Genre Intensive: Writing History, Yours & Others'

How do writers of fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid prose present vibrant history on the page? How does a writer capture the telling characteristics of a place and time, making the details of characters’ worlds resonate with contemporary readers? What’s true of “then” that creates a narrative conflict—or connection—with “now?”

Through generative writing exercises, discussion, and analysis of excerpted work by authors including John Sayles, Sarah Broom, and others plus your own work—we'll examine the author's craft of bringing history to life. Each student will workshop their writing during the second class session, receiving verbal feedback from their peers and the instructor.

This course is suitable for writers of historical fiction, memoir, and narrative nonfiction, and is open to writers with all levels of experience.

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:

Students will leave this class with a deeper understanding of

- techniques for connecting fictional & nonfictional characters from the past with present-day readers

- innovative approaches to the use of research in enlivening scene

- methods for generating new material

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

- Writers must familiarize themselves with assigned short readings and come to class prepared to discuss them

- Writers must generate written content in response to prompts

- Writers must engage respectfully with their own work and their peers’ work in workshop discussion

COURSE SKELETON:

Day 1: Introductions, exploration of craft techniques for integrating historical elements in scene, dialogue, & character.

Day 2: Workshop! Discussion of next steps for your work.

Jessica Handler

Jessica Handler is the author of the novel The Magnetic Girl, winner of the 2020 Southern Book Prize and a nominee for the Townsend Prize for Fiction. The novel is one of the 2019 “Books All Georgians Should Read,” an Indie Next pick, Wall Street Journal Spring 2019 pick, Bitter Southerner Summer 2019 pick, and a SIBA Okra Pick. Her memoir, Invisible Sisters, was also named one of the “Books All Georgians Should Read,” and her craft guide Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss was praised by Vanity Fair magazine. Her writing has appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Drunken Boat, The Bitter Southerner, Electric Literature, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Oldster, Full Grown People, & The Washington Post.

Testimonials

"Jessica Handler brings history to glorious life in a captivating tale anchored by masterful writing, especially the vivid, unique voice she gives to Lulu Hurst. With deft pacing that kept me turning pages long into the night, Handler lights up Lulu’s fascinating trajectory into a strange kind of stardom and beyond. The world sees Lulu, a natural mesmerist, as a person with mystical talents, but at its heart, this is the story of a young woman stepping boldly and at last into her true powers. THE MAGNETIC GIRL is something special. Don’t miss it." "Jessica Handler brings history to glorious life in a captivating tale anchored by masterful writing, especially the vivid, unique voice she gives to Lulu Hurst. With deft pacing that kept me turning pages long into the night, Handler lights up Lulu’s fascinating trajectory into a strange kind of stardom and beyond. The world sees Lulu, a natural mesmerist, as a person with mystical talents, but at its heart, this is the story of a young woman stepping boldly and at last into her true powers. THE MAGNETIC GIRL is something special. Don’t miss it."

Joshilyn Jackson New York Times Bestselling author.

"Like the powers of Lulu Hurst, Jessica Handler’s literary power feels like a sleight of hand. It’s impossible that a novel can be this beautiful, this haunting, and this resonant, but your eyes (and your heart) are not deceiving you. THE MAGNETIC GIRL is a gorgeous, brutal book: a strange alchemy of love, fear, fate, and hope."

Wiley Cash New York Times Bestselling author of The Last Ballad

"Handler's fierce, sensually vivid debut novel takes off from the life of a little-known but fascinating figure from 19th-century American history. Memoirist Handler (BRAVING THE FIRE, 2013, etc.) veers from history to create a satisfying work of fiction featuring a damaged younger brother, an ambitious father with a taste for gambling, and a dead grandmother with a surprising connection to the young magician. Lulu, who narrates most of the novel, is a compelling character, simultaneously intense and insecure. She knows that the act she and her skeptical father work out is designed to take advantage of the “marks” in the audience, but she also feels she has a real ability to “captivate” and “mesmerize” those she chooses to control, and she hopes she will gain the ability to heal her brother . . . Handler captures the ambivalence of female adolescence, where the newfound ability to captivate others exists in unsteady balance with the fear of loss of independence. A thoroughly fresh historical novel that both captures the essence of its time and echoes challenges that still exist today."

Kirkus starred review

"In her classic memoir, INVISIBLE SISTERS, Jessica Handler plumbed her own life experience to explore universal truths about the inescapable pull of family and the equally transcendent power of individuality. In her lushly atmospheric first novel, [THE MAGNETIC GIRL,] Handler presents another exceptional woman–a virtually forgotten nineteenth century stage performer–through which to examine similar, eternal themes."

Frank Reiss Owner, A Cappella Books

"Jessica Handler is everything a writing student could ask for: a skillful teacher who sees what's possible in each student's work and provides actionable feedback on how to achieve it. I am a better writer and storyteller because of her."

Janet Moore short story author, essayist, and special features editor for The Great Smokies Review

"Jessica Handler’s teaching is inclusive and fun. "

Mickey Dubrow author of AMERICAN JUDAS

"I took my first writing class with Jessica when I was a young, inexperienced writer. She took my writing seriously and demanded that I do so as well. Her extensive knowledge of craft and insightful feedback were invaluable to me as I developed my own skills and writing practice. Many of the exercises, prompts, and strategies I learned in her classes are ones I still find myself returning to. I would, without a doubt, not be the writer I am today without her generous support."

Amanda Ake former student