“If you want to write, read.” Okay, but then what?
Reading great writing is one of the best teaching tools for writers, but you need to know what to do with what you read. In this seminar, we’ll read essays by writers such as Eula Biss, Jamaica Kincaid, and Leslie Jamison that pull off difficult, subtle, mysterious moves—and then we’ll figure out how. With reading and analysis we’ll identify the concrete choices writers make in their work, which will allow us to answer questions like How did they do that? and, more importantly, How can I do something like that in my writing, too? We’ll examine topics such as setting (and subverting) readers’ expectations, creating a sense of flow in nonlinear writing, and using research and quotation to support and challenge your own ideas. Once you see the moves that make great nonfiction work, you can put them into practice.
This is a course for writers of all levels who want to find inspiration in their reading and stretch themselves as writers. The skills we use in reading will also be easily applied to future editing and revision, of your own writing or that of others.
*No class February 19th
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.
- Learn to read a piece of writing to identify the moves and strategies a writer uses.
- Practice incorporating those moves into your own writing.
- Experiment in writing outside of your comfort zone in style, structure, and tone.
- Expand your toolkit as a writer.
- Leave with four short pieces of writing that can be expanded and built upon.
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will closely read 1-2 essays per week and write a short exercise (1-3 pages) inspired by the reading. Students will receive feedback on their exercises from their classmates and instructor.
Week One: Audience and Argument
Week Two: Structure and Transitions
Week Three: Persona and Voice
Week Four: Research and Quotation
Jaime Green is a full-time freelance writer and editor. She received her MFA in Nonfiction from Columbia, and she has taught writing at Columbia, The New School, and the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, BuzzFeed, The Cut, GQ.com, Popular Science, Backstage, American Theatre online, and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Catapult, the series editor for Best American Science and Nature Writing, and the romance review columnist for The New York Times.
“Her class changed my perspective on creative writing and motivated me to be braver, bolder, and more creative.”
“Jaime always brings an energy to each class that always makes me want to push myself to think of new questions and explore new writing techniques.”
“Jaime is a wonderful editor. She pushed me to make my essay much better and more vulnerable.”
“Jaime is an insightful, imaginative, and compassionate editor. I never felt corrected by her edits—but rather inspired and liberated to produce my best work.”