Traveling the world, interviewing fascinating people, uncovering gripping tales: Writing longform magazine stories can look like the absolute dream. It is also challenging work, requiring the diligence of an investigative reporter and the instincts of an artist. In this 4-week nonfiction course, we will focus on the skills that will help you produce the kinds of stories that appear in the biggest magazines.
By the end of this course, after completing a series of writing and reporting exercises, you will emerge with a plan in place to write a compelling story of your own. This will include a story outline, a reporting plan, and a pitch you can use to land your story with the right editor. Through one 15-minute meeting with the instructor and written feedback on your pitch, writers will develop clear next steps towards selling this and other stories. In our last class, we will also discuss the business of freelancing and the state of the journalism marketplace today.
This course is suitable for writers of all levels who are interested in publishing stories that combine a rigorous commitment to the facts with a rich sense of storytelling.
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 Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- An understanding of what true stories best lend themselves to longform storytelling and how to pitch these stories to editors
- Ideas of how to organize a story to grab and sustain readers’ attention
- Best practices for uncovering background information and interviewing sources
- A one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss your work and develop a plan moving forward
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will need to complete one to two exercises each week.
Week 1: identify a story idea; Week 2: conduct an interview; Week 3: write a story outline and reporting plan; Week 4: write a pitch.
Week 1: Story v. Topic - honing your idea
Week 2: Reporting: from paper trails to interviews
Week 3: Structure: grab the reader and don't let go
Week 4: Pitching and the business of freelancing
Boyce Upholt is a freelance writer and editor. His work has appeared in, among other publications the Oxford American, TIME, The Atlantic, and Believer. He won the 2019 James Beard Award in investigative journalism for his story, in The New Republic, about the effects of Monsanto’s latest farm chemical, and his work has been named “notable” selections for Best American Science & Nature Writing and the Best American Nonrequired Reading series.
"Boyce Upholt strives for a more comprehensive journalistic ambition—his work displays an essential combination of inquiry and instinct, fairness and empathy, patience, and uncommon lyricism."
“The very first pitch I ever received from Boyce Upholt contained everything I could hope for as an editor: rigorous investigative reporting, compelling characters, vivid storytelling. He is a gifted journalist who is able not only to identify the stories that feel most urgent and compelling right now, but also find the small details that make those stories come to life. I've been lucky to work with him.”
"I have really benefited from Boyce's skills as an editor. He's not only a good wordsmith, but is also interested in the bigger picture, in how my writing addresses larger issues of our time and our world." - former editorial client "Boyce was able to help me structure my ideas in ways that made me look and sound much smarter than I really am."