Online | Fiction | Workshop

4-Week Fiction Workshop: The Art of First Person

In this four-week fiction workshop, we’ll read contemporary fiction written in first-person and discuss the qualities that make this point of view so appealing to many readers and writers. We’ll do generative writing exercises as well as consider aspects of writing in first-person point of view that can make it challenging and why some writers feel more comfortable writing in other POVs, namely third-person.

We’ll also touch on autofiction’s growing popularity and how, whether or not a story is autofiction, readers often assume a first-person narrator is a stand-in for the author. Yet, for many writers, fiction remains true fiction, i.e. stories with characters and events that genuinely are inventions of the author.

Our discussions and generative exercises will help you write a new piece of short fiction in the first-person. In weeks 3 and 4, students will workshop their original first-person story for written and verbal feedback from the instructor and their peers.

Students will leave this class with a deeper understanding of the rewards and occasional challenges of writing first-person point-of-view characters, and with more experience writing and critiquing first-person fiction. This is a multi-level fiction workshop: beginning, intermediate, and more advanced writers are welcome.

*The first two classes will be an hour and a half long, from 8-9:30pm ET, but the third and fourth classes, our workshops, will be two and a half hours, from 8-10:30pm ET. No class on Nov. 24, Thanksgiving week. Final class meeting will be Dec. 1.*

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 read examples of first-person POV in fiction to identify the choices experienced authors make when using this point of view.

- Students will write and critique first-person fiction—whether it is autofiction or wholly fictitious—with the aim of identifying and ideally avoiding potential pitfalls such as an alienating or overly mannered narrator.

- Students will develop a deeper understanding of their narrative and stylistic strengths and opportunities for growth.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

Students can expect to read an average of 25-40 pages per week of short fiction, answer a question or two each week from the syllabus in our online class platform, read and critique each other's work for our 2 workshop sessions and write an original first-person short story of 1,200-3,600 words for workshop.

COURSE SKELETON:

Weeks 1 and 2: read and discuss assigned fiction by contemporary authors (2-4 stories), generative writing exercises

Weeks 3 and 4: workshop student stories 

Christine Sneed

Christine Sneed is the author of two novels and two story collections, the most recent of which is The Virginity of Famous Men. She has two books forthcoming in October 2022: Please Be Advised: A Novel in Memos and Love in the Time of time's Up: A Short Fiction Anthology (as editor). Her work has been included in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, New England Review, Ploughshares, and New York Times. She is the faculty director of Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies’ graduate creative writing program. She also teaches for Regis University’s low-residency MFA program. She lives in Pasadena, California.

Testimonials

"The instructor encouraged creativity through clear critiques and meaningful remarks on our work. She is very knowledgeable regarding her art and craft and imparts information freely as we shaped our work."

former student

“She can identify what is needed to make the work stronger and better understood. She also makes very constructive criticism that is extremely valuable.”

former student

"Christine held us to a high standard while creating a supportive learning environment. Particularly tricky in a writing class, but she did it."

former student

"Impressive. . . hypnotic. . . hard to put down. . . . LITTLE KNOWN FACTS is juicy enough to appeal to our prurience but smart enough not to make us feel dirty afterward.... Sneed is such a gifted writer... Her depiction of both proximity to celebrity and celebrity itself had me totally convinced."

Curtis Sittenfeld THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

"Sneed’s wit, curiosity, empathy, and ability to divine the perfect detail propel this psychologically exquisite, superbly realized novel of intriguing, caricature-transcending characters and predicaments."

Donna Seaman BOOKLIST starred review