"Beyond a doubt, working with Danielle has made me a better writer. Highly recommended." - former student
You’ve written complete stories, had them workshopped, and even made big plans for taking your stories into their next incarnation. But now you feel overwhelmed by the revision process: How do you sift through mountains of feedback and put that feedback to work to improve the story? How do you become a strong editor for your own work? How do you do all this without questioning yourself every step of the way? Where the hell do you even begin?
Through careful and rigorous self-assessment and planning, we will work on these questions together so that you can develop the necessary practice in revision that will take you to the next level as a writer. While this course focuses primarily on the practical work of revising a short story—the distinction between editing and revising, strategies for what to salvage and what to toss—we will also discuss how you know when a story is “done,” the difficulty and reward of developing your instincts, and how to articulate the thematic arcs of your work.
Though you will be working with other students and the instructor for accountability and guidance, this is not a workshop but an active craft class focused on seeing a single story through a revision. Most of our work will be developing an individualized revision plan and then putting that plan into action, as well as learning tools and tactics that can be applied toward future work. This class is well-suited for writers putting together their MFA application writing samples.
Please note that this class meets four times with breaks in between in order to allow for the necessary processing time of revision (class meets Sept. 14, Sept. 28, Oct. 12, and Oct. 26).
Please submit the short story you intend to revise as your application—no novel excerpts.
- An individualized revision plan, with a head start on that plan
- 30-minute conference with the instructor (either in-person or via FaceTime)
- Written instructor feedback and guidance on key decision-making
- General strategies for revision applicable to other work
- A better sense of your own process and themes
- Basics of the literary magazine submission process
- 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 read the first drafts of 1-2 of their peers and serve as accountability partners for those peers. Though we meet every other week, structured check ins via email with the instructor and small groups to update on progress and roadblocks are expected weekly.
- Expect to spend 4-6 hours a week on your own project outside of class time, when we will be actively working on revision in a guided way.
- There will be 1-2 short reading assignments (craft essays) per class meeting and process-oriented writing assignments crucial to completing the revision.
Danielle Lazarin is the author of Back Talk: Stories (Penguin Books, 2018). She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where her stories and essays won Hopwood Awards. Her fiction has won awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, and Glimmer Train and can be found in The Southern Review, Colorado Review, Boston Review, and elsewhere.
"Danielle Lazarin’s BACK TALK is deceptively quiet but packs a powerful punch—much like the girls and women in its pages. The stories in this collection batter at the boundaries of female desire—not just for sex, but for intimacy, for visibility, for agency. They talk back to the idea that stories about women are ‘domestic,’ burrowing deep to find wildness and a smoldering fury beneath. The best collection I’ve read in years, from a phenomenal new talent."
"The stories in BACK TALK are not only fierce and unflinching in their clear-eyed portrayal of women and girls, they are also tender and compassionate, imbued with a deep longing. Lazarin is a sophisticated writer and her remarkable debut offers us subtle but profound truths about growing up, moving forward, and finding ourselves."
"These are wonderful stories—sparkling, witty, and tender, riding that sweet spot between urbane and vulnerable, between hilarity and heartbreak—all those impossible contradictions that remind us of what love is like. Lazarin’s astonishing insight and craftsmanship put me in mind of short story masters like Beattie and Baxter. I think she’s destined for the big leagues."
"Danielle is an incredibly generous and encouraging instructor. Her close reading of my work allowed me to see my writing from new angles. Her thoughtful, incisive feedback helped me become a better storyteller."
"Danielle is a terrific teacher, and I say that as someone who has chosen to study with her twice. Her classroom exercises have led to stories of my own. Her comments on my submissions have driven me to take pieces to full fruition, months after the final assignment. I have completed short stories now that exist solely because I was in her class. Beyond a doubt, working with Danielle has made me a better writer. Highly recommended."
"Danielle is one of the best readers and editors I've ever been lucky enough to have read my work. She reads, as she writes, with electricity~ responding to images, dialogue, and formal choices as someone deeply invested in narrative and language. She has an elegant understanding of structure: how and where to enter and exit a scene, and her responses are thorough, thoughtful, deeply felt, and get to the heart of what good story telling is supposed to do."
"Danielle is an amazing instructor, and far exceeded any and all expectations I had for this class. She was incredibly thoughtful, well-organized, and knowledgeable, and was always prepared with hand-outs of work we'd need to read, and she provided thoughtful comments each week on our assignments. She was clear that she had high expectations for us -- she asked us to write a lot, but I liked that intensity! Plus -- and, I think this counts for a lot -- she took the time to get to know us. She remembered all of our names immediately, would reference questions we'd asked weeks ago, and just genuinely seemed to care about our growth as writers. I would highly recommend any class by her, and I hope that she has the chance to teach many, many more classes at Catapult."