Fiction | Novel | Seminar

4-Week Fiction Seminar: Getting Started

“The only happiness you have is writing something new, in the middle of the night, armpits damp, heart pounding, something no one has yet seen. You have only those brief, fragile, untested moments of exhilaration when you know: you are a genius.” – Lorrie Moore, "How to Become a Writer"

There’s nothing better than that first spark of a story in your head: it’s new and shiny and thrilling, and, for most of us, the best part of the writing process—when the story lives only in our imagination. It’s when we try to put that idea on paper that we encounter frustration and confusion and are (sometimes) tempted to give up all together.

This four-week course will walk you through the first stages of your novel or story as you begin the tricky maneuver of taking your brilliant ideas and putting them on the page. We’ll discuss strategies for overcoming doubt and writer’s block. Weekly writing exercises, craft lectures, and readings will help you to move forward, begin to develop characters, and shape your narrative.

Best suited for writers at the beginning stages of their writing practice, this course will also help you to figure out your writing habits and work style. There is no right answer or one way to approach writing—some people write in the early morning with a full outline and others write late at night with no idea of where the story is headed. But it is extremely helpful to figure out how you best work, to develop routines and discipline to build a strong writing practice.

We will hold weekly discussions and meet once individually. During the class meetings, you’ll discuss readings and the weekly lecture and ask questions about specific challenges that you’re facing. In our individual meeting, we can discuss a writing exercise of your choosing and go over strategies for moving forward in your work.

By the end of this class, you will have some pages of new material and strategies and tips for moving forward with your project.


- Creating new material

- Learning strategies for moving forward

- Building a strong writing practice

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


Weekly writing exercises (1-2 pages) and readings, commenting on classmates' work—about 2-3 hours of work outside of class time.

Jennifer Close

Jennifer Close is the best-selling author of Girls in White Dresses, The Smart One, and The Hopefuls. Born and raised on the North Shore of Chicago, she is a graduate of Boston College and received her MFA in Fiction Writing from the New School in 2005. She worked in New York in magazines for many years and has taught creative writing at George Washington University for the past 8 years.


“New York newlyweds head to D.C. to—what else?—chase their dreams. Actually, just Matt’s dreams. His wife, Beth, isn’t all that impressed by the surrounding political haughtiness until she meets another couple, Jimmy and Ash. The Hopefuls will make you rethink inviting your best married friends over for dinner.”


“Captivating. . . . Close, whose husband worked on Obama’s campaign, uses her knowledge of this world—and her experience as an outsider—expertly. Beth’s conversational narration feels like peering into the diary of someone who shares your deepest insecurities.”

Isabella Biedenharn for ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“I couldn’t put down this juicy novel, which is all about what striving to make it in politics does to relationships.”

Megan Angelo for GLAMOUR

“Inspired by Close’s own experiences moving to Washington for her husband’s work on the Obama campaign, The Hopefuls is blisteringly honest about the circus of American politics and Washington’s exhausting culture of competition—one that that renders people outside of political circles virtually invisible.”

Meredith Turits for ELLE

“Hilarious. . . . A pleasure to read. . . . [Close] has a light, precise touch about the way a young marriage works when the partners are caught between old ideals and new realities.”