Online | Fiction | Seminar

4-Week Online Fiction Seminar: How to Start a YA Novel

There is nothing more exciting or terrifying than having an idea for a book, especially if that book is a YA novel. Writing for younger readers is an honor like no other. The journey from idea to manuscript can be filled with challenges and self-doubt, but also revelation and plenty of joy. In this four week seminar we will emphasize the joy in the process and discuss plenty of strategies to cope with the challenges of taking the idea you’ve been walking around with and getting it down on the page.

The goal in this seminar is to coax whatever idea you have—a character you can’t stop thinking about, a story only you can tell, or a setting that has captured your imagination—into the bones of a real book. We will study the way other YA authors, such as Elizabeth Acevedo, Angie Thomas, and Won-pyung Sohn, have employed internal and external character arcs, developed tension in their stories, and experimented with plot and dialogue.

Writers will leave the class with character studies, developed settings, and the tools to support structuring the perfect plot.

This seminar is open to writers of all levels who want to discover their unique voice and unfold a road map to their first YA novel.

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.


- Generative writing exercises and prompts to get things started and to keep you moving when you get stuck

- Supportive strategies to help you complete the work you’ve begun

- Answers to all of your burning publishing questions!

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will be expected to complete the reading relevant to our discussions each week. There will be opportunities for writers to share their responses to our prompts with the group and an option to meet with the instructor one-on-one for half an hour upon completion of the class to discuss next steps.


Week 1: Character

Week 2: Setting

Week 3: Plot

Week 4: Voice

Natalka Burian

Natalka Burian is the co-owner of two Brooklyn bars, Elsa and Ramona, as well as the co-founder of The Freya Project, a non-profit reading series that supports community-based activism and annually awards five unrestricted grants to further the work of women and non-binary writers. Natalka received an MA from Columbia University where she studied Eastern European literature. She is the author of two novels, Daughters of the Wild, and Welcome to the Slipstream, a young adult book, and the cocktail cookbook, A Woman’s Drink. Her latest novel, The Night Shift, will be out next summer, again with Park Row. Natalka’s bars and books have been featured in The New Yorker, Elle, Vogue, the New York Times, and elsewhere. She grew up on a farm, but now lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.


"A magical, gripping exploration of women's power and the ties that bind."

Danielle Lazarin

"Daughters of the Wild is a preternatural and suspenseful novel from beginning to end."

Jennifer Baker

"Luminous and transformative…this is a book about dignity, intuition, and the sustaining vine of friendship."

Courtney Maum