Online | Fiction | Seminar

4-Week Fiction Seminar: Description & Sensory Detail

This four week craft seminar will focus on techniques for writing vivid description and sensory detail in fiction. Through weekly readings of short stories and novel excerpts, we will discuss how writers effectively capture sensory experience to convey emotion; the way description is influenced by craft elements like character and setting; and the role of sentence rhythm in crafting lyrical and effective prose. Students will also practice their own writing through weekly exercises based around the different lessons. Class readings will include authors across a range of literary styles, such as Elena Ferrante, Salman Rushdie, Roberto Bolaño, and Joan Didion.

This class is open to writers of all levels. It won’t be structured as a traditional workshop, but the instructor will provide weekly written feedback on student work, and students will have a chance to share their writing with others during class.

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.  


- Learn to capture sensory experience and write vivid, visceral descriptions.

- Discuss short stories and novel excerpts and identify great descriptive writing.

- Develop your own prose style and voice.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes.


Students will read a short story or a short novel excerpt of around 30 pages each week and should come to class prepared to discuss the work in detail. Students will also be assigned weekly writing assignments, which the instructor will provide written feedback on.


Week One: The basics of “Show, Don’t Tell” and writing with the five senses

Week Two: How character and point of view affect the way we write description

Week Three: How do writers create atmosphere and mood through setting description?

Week Four: Syntax and sentence rhythm as an aspect of description

Aatif Rashid

Aatif Rashid is the author of the novel Portrait of Sebastian Khan (2019, 7.13 Books). His short stories have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Metaphorosis, Arcturus, Barrelhouse, Triangle House Review, X-R-A-Y, New Moons: Contemporary Writing by North American Muslims (2021, Red Hen Press), and Made in L.A. Volume 4 (forthcoming 2022). He’s also published nonfiction in The Los Angeles Review of Books and Lit Hub and wrote regularly for The Kenyon Review blog from 2018 to 2021.


“In Aatif Rashid’s witty and dissolute Portrait of Sebastian Khan, a Muslim American college student is conflicted by his love for free-spirited pleasure and the more conventional realities of accomplishment, commitment, and financial success… Sebastian is a flawed but compelling character, and his romances are detailed with rushes of color and sensation. This sensuality alternates with undertones of humor and even subtle splendor.”

Foreword Reviews

"Rashid gives us the chance to look at millennials in a different light."

Atticus Review

"...[a] startling coming of age story."

Necessary Fiction