Online | Nonfiction | Workshop

4-Week Online Nonfiction Workshop: How to Transform Ideas into Pitches

"For me, going from idea to pitch is the most difficult part of writing, so getting work can be a struggle if I don’t write on spec or get an assignment. This class helped me take abstract ideas for stories and put them into a compelling pitch. The salon and feedback on each assignment was invaluable, especially for someone who doesn’t have the luxury of an editorial team or journalism background. I truly appreciated Laura’s enthusiasm for our work and how she made herself available to us outside of meeting hours. She helped me realize my ideas for stories, even the ones that were previously turned down, were worth pursuing and gave me the tools and confidence to rework and pitch again." - former Catapult student

Are you intimidated by the idea of pitching? Do you feel totally lost when it comes to what or how to pitch and how to land bylines? Do you have tons of ideas but trouble figuring out which ones to pursue and how? Do you want to pitch more but feel daunted by the process? Are you intrigued by freelancing as a career but feel overwhelmed by how to start?

This course is for writers who want to learn how to develop topics into stories and to craft sharp, compelling pitches that attract an editor’s eye.

In this intensive four-week online seminar, you’ll brainstorm and workshop story ideas, track down sources, and conduct research. You’ll read successful pitches and the published stories they became, work on developing your own stories, and ultimately turn one into a complete pitch.

You’ll learn the behind-the-scenes tips to demystify the pitching process—from finding the right editor to email to learning to love rejections (really!). You’ll get personalized feedback, from initial idea to final pitch from your instructor, and you’ll leave with a better sense of what makes a great story, a polished pitch ready to send—and the tools you’ll need to keep pitching and freelancing on your own.

Whether you want to land your first byline or break into higher-tier publications, this course will help you take your writing career to the next level. Previous students of this course have pitched and published stories in the LA Times, Refinery 29, The Outline, Catapult, and elsewhere.

This class will meet over our text-only chat platform. There will not be any video or audio component to class.

A note from Laura on the format:

This class runs in text-chat, as it gives you more opportunities to engage with on-the-spot writing/reading exercises (and even practice in writing up tiny pitches!) It can free you up from the distractions and fatigue of video chat and allows for more thorough, intense engagement with the class itself. You'll also be able to access and review the text-chat records any time—to revisit an old resource, or revise an old idea, or check in on a class you've missed. 

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- A thorough understanding of the difference between topic and story

- A step-by-step process to develop and refine ideas into successful pitches

- An idea-to-pitch worksheet to use with future ideas

- Personalized, intensive guidance on one story idea/pitch

- A complete, revised pitch for a feature, profile, or personal essay (with a reported element)

- Close reading of successful pitches (and finished articles) to learn what makes them work and how to apply them to your own writing

- Simplified tips on finding sources, conducting interviews, and background research

- Demystifying the freelancing process: from finding potential outlets and to establishing editor contacts

- Understanding contracts, negotiations, and what happens when a story goes live

- The tools you need to dive into pitching and freelancing after the course is over

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

- Students will read weekly lectures and complete ideas/pitching exercises this week

- Students will participate in active discussions in each week’s class Salon, developing a stronger sense of story

- Students will create elevator pitches on their ideas and give feedback to classmates

- Students will complete research and use it a Pitching Worksheet to develop a pitch in full

- Students will write a fully developed pitch (under 500) words and find potential outlets for their stories

- Students will give and receive feedback from peers and instructor on the Pitching Worksheet and the completed pitch

- Students will close read successful pitches, learn the pitching formula, and use it for their own pitches

COURSE SKELETON:

Week 1: We’ll brainstorm potential story ideas, and find what fascinates you. We’ll dive deep into what makes a good *story*.

Week 2: We’ll develop strategies to turn ideas into action-steps, kick off research, track down sources and start workshopping elevator pitches.

Week 3: We’ll close read and analysis successful pitches, learn to think like editors, and apply our lessons to our own pitches.

Week 4: We’ll dive into the sometimes complicated business of freelancing -- getting into negotiations, contracts, tracking your pitches, what happens once your story goes live, and more tools you need to tackle your freelancing career!

Laura Yan

Laura Yan is a freelance writer. Her writing has appeared in Wired, NYMag.com, GQ.com, Pacific Standard, GOOD, The Outline, Penthouse, Southwest: the Magazine, Victory Journal, The Awl, & elsewhere. Her stories have been featured in Longreads Best of Arts & Culture Writing 2017  and Longform.org. She loves deadlines, and hearing from you!

Testimonials

"For me, going from idea to pitch is the most difficult part of writing, so getting work can be a struggle if I don’t write on spec or get an assignment. This class helped me take abstract ideas for stories and put it into a compelling pitch. The salon and feedback on each assignment was invaluable, especially if for someone who doesn’t have the luxury of an editorial team or journalism background. I truly appreciated Laura’s enthusiasm for our work and how she made herself available to us outside of meeting hours. She helped me realized my ideas for stories, even the ones that were previously turned down, were worth pursuing and gave me the tools and confidence to rework and pitch again."

former student

"Laura is concise, engaged, knowledgeable, and committed to her students. She is also a great writer who has published extensively and is in the thick of building her exciting career, and brings that energy and drive to her classes."

Kevin Chong author, teacher, and editor at Joyland Magazine

"Laura Yan is a whip-smart writer who knows how to take a burning idea, put it through its paces, and emerge with a story that editors can't resist. Not only is she generous in sharing insider tips on writing and publication, she's fun to be around. "

Deborah Campbell award-winning author of A DISAPPEARANCE IN DAMASCUS

"I signed up for Laura's class because I realized I wasn't great at developing pitches and, as an emerging writer, I knew I needed to learn some practical skills right away. After two classes of Laura breaking down the important elements of writing a pitch, the pitch I was crafting for the course was accepted by a publication. I had tried to pitch the same topic unsuccessfully in the past, so I know that Laura's guidance and tips helped me land this piece. Can't speak highly enough of the class!"

former Catapult student