Online | Fiction | Seminar

4-Week Generative Fiction Seminar: Flash Fiction

An exciting, innovative form, flash fiction is the playground for anyone who loves language, story, and poetry and wants to explore what all three can do together in a single sentence.

This four-week course, open to flash beginners and those experienced with the genre, will focus on the possibility and liberation created by the form. Much like the art of photography, flash fiction allows for adjustment of the lens, shifting focus and depth to make first one thing stand out, then another. Each week, we will use the idea of changing lenses to look at stories in different ways, playing with angles and pacing and compression, both of ideas and language.

We will write to contain entire lifetimes in a moment and expand a single second into the longest breath possible. This is a generative course for writers at all stages of their careers, and will include writing prompts; close readings of flash pieces from writers like K-Ming Chang, Gwen Kirby, and Alina Stefanescu; and discussion. Special topics we will cover include using setting to characterize, playing with time, unusual forms, and creating a strong voice. Conversations and questions about publishing flash are welcome.

While there will be no workshopping of student work, there will be some opportunities to share work generated for brief oral feedback in class.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. 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.  


- Writers will read published work and explore the possibilities of writing in the flash form

- Writers will develop ways to identify sources of inspiration for flash pieces, with special attention to alternative story structures and ideas from other literary traditions

- Writers will play with forms, voice and time, and explore shifts in these to affect characterization

- Writers generate at least four new pieces of writing

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Each class will include discussion of assigned readings followed by one to two generative assignments, with some time at the end of each session for brief verbal feedback from the other participants. Students should expect to have about five flash pieces for reading each week.

The instructor will also give students optional writing assignments and prompts that they can use to generate drafts on their own time.


Week One: To begin, begin—How to start and create energy right off the bat. What gives flash its internal drive?

Week Two: Playing with bones—Creating structures that either impact or reflect character, setting, conflict.

Week Three: Clocking in—Using time to compress or expand a moment.

Week Four: Character & Detail—Exploring how details in setting work to build a character.

Hananah Zaheer

Hananah Zaheer is the author of Lovebirds (Bull City Press, 2021). Recent work has appeared in places such as The Cut, Kenyon Review, Best Small Fictions 2021, Waxwing, AGNI, Pithead Chapel, Smokelong (Pushcart nomination), VQR, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Alaska Quarterly Review (with a Notable Story mention in Best American Short Stories 2019) and Michigan Quarterly Review, where she won the Lawrence Foundation Prize for Fiction. She was a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers' Conference 2019, a Smoke Long Fellowship finalist 2019, the Doris Betts' Fiction prize 2014 and a recipient of residencies and fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Rivendell Writers' Colony and the Ragdale Foundation. She is fiction editor for Los Angeles Review, Senior Editor for South Asian Avant Garde, and teaches writing in the US and overseas.


“Hananah has a keen ability to help move pieces toward polished fruition. Regardless of style or genre, she will work with you to unpack your writing objectives and translate your goals into tangible structural decisions and line edits. Plus, she is a wonderful person and great with a deadline: always on time, always putting writing first.”

David Schwartz fiction writer, fiction editor

“One of Hananah’s secret powers is reading so deeply, with so much love and empathy for what you’re trying to accomplish with your work, that she is able to quickly become the better version of your writing alter ego, to come up with solutions and alternatives that fit your goals for a piece of writing and shines a light on exciting alternatives to get where you want to go. Her second super power? Doing all this without ever taking your story from you. If you’re lucky enough to have her in your corner, I say go for it.“

Anjanette Delgado novelist

“When I think of the term ‘lovebirds,’ it invokes a sickly-sweet kind of sentimentality—but the stories in this collection are anything but that. There is a wise darkness in Hananah Zaheer’s writing, a sweeping away of innocence, a slow wake to violence or regret. Reading these stories, you feel like Zaheer can masterfully flit into the minds of all of us—lovers, dreamers, mothers, husbands, survivors, killers—and expose the frantically beating heart in our underbelly.”

Tara Laskowski author of ONE NIGHT GONE

“Hananah Zaheer’s stories are full of hard edges and delicate centers, with a compressed form that brilliantly echoes the physical, mental, and spiritual cages that trap its characters. From Pakistan, to America, to an apocalyptic, coal-choked Anywhere, these stories show the cost of being unstuck, depicting with great compassion women’s complicated relationships with violence. Written with unflinching detail and tension, LOVEBIRDS was a book I had to set down at times in order to catch my breath, only to pick it right back up because I already missed reading it. ”


“Few authors can write a story that spans only a few pages yet carries the human soul as affectingly as Hananah Zaheer.”