Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Fiction Workshop: Building Your First-Person Narrative

A good narrator can take her readers anywhere. Part of the effectiveness of the story she tells centers on the world around her and the gaze she holds. That gaze—point of view—can propel your story forward or hold your story back.

In this six-week course for writers with some prior workshop experience, we will explore the importance of point of view, point of telling, and world building in first-person narratives. We will discuss the dramatic arc in first-person narratives, how they move, and what to do when the first-person voice becomes land locked, loses momentum, or strains credibility. We will discuss how to sustain the relevance of the first-person narrative politically and globally, by examining stories with quiet narrators and narrators who push boundaries. We will read first-person excerpts and/or stories from Alexia Arthurs, Joe Brainard, Emma Cline, Charlie D’Ambrosio, Lauren Groff, Denis Johnson, Edward P. Jones, Patricia Highsmith, Phil Klay, Yiyun Li, Alice Munro, Vladimir Nabokov, Tommy Orange, and Virginia Woolf.

Each student is expected to bring an excerpt from a favorite first-person narrative and read a paragraph in class. Each student will share and workshop a section of her own first-person narrative in a constructive and supportive environment. By the end of our six weeks together writers will have a more nuanced understanding of the power and potential of first-person narratives, and a strengthened ability to write in an engaging first-person voice. 


- Intensive peer and instructor critiques on two fiction submissions

- One private conference with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement

- Further understanding of the importance of point of view, point of telling, and world-building in first person narratives

- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

Regina Porter

Regina Porter is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. She is the recipient of a Rae Armour West Postgraduate Scholarship and a Tin House Scholar. Her fiction has been published in The Harvard Review. An award-winning playwright, Porter has worked with Playwrights Horizons, the Joseph Papp Theater, New York Stage and Film, the Women’s Project, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and Horizon Theatre Company. She has been anthologized in Plays from Woolly Mammoth and Scenes for Women by Women. Porter was born in Savannah, Georgia, and lives in Brooklyn.


"An astoundingly audacious debut, Porter's novel traces the intertwining stories and fates of multiple families from the Jim Crow era to Obama's presidency."

THE OPRAH MAGAZINE "30 of the Best LGBTQ Books That'll Change the Literary Landscape in 2019"

"In this innovative and deeply moving debut, Regina Porter has mastered the kind of alchemy found in a great painting by Poussin: her canvas is vast, her subject ambitious, and yet her execution is so brilliantly devoted to particulars that it creates a miraculous intimacy. The beauty of this book lies in how Porter's characters, through resilience and community, art and creative love, cut new doors out of the corners they've been backed into by history."

Garth Greenwell author of WHAT BELONGS TO YOU

"Regina Porter’s THE TRAVELERS is not only the compelling intergenerational saga of two intertwining families but also a deadpan and mordant chronicle of 20th century America’s casual intolerance and racial violence, as well as a series of portraits of intrepid women, a celebration of family responsibility, and an impassioned reminder that we most honor those we loved by continuing to love others."

Jim Shephard National Book Award shortlisted author of LIKE YOU'D UNDERSTAND, ANYWAY

“THE TRAVELERS is a great, grand tabernacle of a novel, under the roof of which it seems the entire history of the United States and all its people has been gathered into a single blazing congregation. It is full of tales tall and short, lives black, white, and every shade between, from the north, the south, east, and west. None but the biggest-hearted, sharpest-eyed, most generous-spirited of writers could pull off a book like this. Regina Porter is some kind of visionary.”

Paul Harding Pulitzer Prize-winning author of TINKERS

“Regina Porter and I did our graduate studies together. From our first semester, Regina was and continues to be one of my first readers. She has suggested writing exercises (as well as ways to generate ideas while taking breaks from the page) that I've put to the test. My writing productivity and quality has increased as a result. You are guaranteed to leave Regina's class with writing tips you can carry with you into every project you write.”

De'Shawn Charles Winslow author of IN WEST MILLS

"Regina Porter is an intuitive and insightful writer, one blessed with gifts of wisdom for the perspective, sensibility, and world of the written page. Her background as a award-winning playwright, in tandem with her literary merits as a writer of fiction make her—without a doubt—a teacher of unique and unparalleled abilities. I would take her class in a heartbeat."

William Pei Shih writer and fellow workshopper at the Iowa Writers' Workshop