Everyone seems to love a “strong” voice, but what really makes language pop on the page? And, more importantly, how to give that voice form—how does a writer make it breathe as a story?
In this course, open to writers with all levels of experience, we will focus on the craft of voice in fiction. We will focus on crafting voice from language that is usually discarded: oral traditions, spoken word, language that’s fleeting. For instance, how do we translate our aunties’ magnificent rhythmical storytelling at the beauty salon into a story? How do we use our grandmother’s tongue? A drag queen’s sassy monologue? How do we rescue language that doesn’t typically make it into “high literature”? We will look at how writers we so admire build voice with the goal of borrowing their ways of triggering and sculpting from the material of the imagination.
This is a generative seminar, which will include writing prompts, close readings and discussion.
Each class will begin with a lecture on an element of voice and a discussion on excerpted works from Pedro Lemebel, Lynda Barry, David Wojnarowicz, John Rechy, Joseph Cassara, and Toni Morrison. We will look at how these writers we so admire build voice with the goal of borrowing their ways of triggering and sculpting from the material of the imagination. We will also look for voice in places such as music, non-literary text, film, and performance art: the world is our text.
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.
- Students can expect to leave the course with drafts of experimental work, concrete strategies for developing voice and for creating a nonjudgmental playful relationship to writing.
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will read weekly excerpts from our writer's list, submit written craft assignments and participate in class discussion. There will be options for feedback and verbal feedback when work is shared, but no written feedback will be given on student work.
Week 1: Welcome and introductions / Noticing
Week 2: Phonetics and Discarded language
Week 3: Word Choice and Character
Week 4: Ancestral Storytelling
Julián Delgado Lopera is the author of The New York Times acclaimed novel Fiebre Tropical (Feminist Press 2020), the Winner of the 2021 Ferro Grumley Award and a 2021 Lambda Literary award; a finalist of the 2020 Kirkus Prize in Fiction and the 2021 Aspen Literary Prize. Their work has appeared in Granta, Teen Vogue, The Kenyon Review, McSweeney's, The Rumpus, The White Review to name a few. They are the former executive director of RADAR Productions a queer literary non-profit in San Francisco. Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Julián currently resides in San Francisco.
“You can open [Fiebre Tropical] anywhere and find sunbeams, the signs of a writer who is grinding their own colors”
"Julián Delgado Lopera—remember that name—is an irreverent, shameless, and disarming new novelist. They are a merciless satirist in control of a pitch-perfect voice that makes an indisputable case for Spanglish as the perfect vehicle to express what we are really like right now."
“Fiebre Tropical is a story of migration, queerness, brokenness, and love. Julián Delgado Lopera has written a novel across borders that buzzes with verve, fierceness, and raw emotion. Delgado Lopera forks their tongue for this book, weaving English and Spanish in inspired and irreverent prose. This book is absolute music to my ears.”
“I enjoyed how Julián welcomed and created a space where everyone could share their work. They also provided generous feedback with enthusiasm which always made each class positive.”
“the workshop was great. I learned so much about how to access language differently, thank you!”
“I had the best time. I am usually a quiet to silent student and here I felt like I could talk without being nervous. Thank you!”