What do we want out of a great work of fiction? A strong voice, coherent characters, an engrossing story—sure, definitely. But there’s often something ineffable in a memorable story or novel, a spark of the personal or a challenge to the literary status quo that transforms a good piece of writing into something that stays with and changes the reader. We'll talk and think about these important, uncanny elements of fiction, while also delving into the fundamental techniques and devices of writing that can help take our work to another level.
In this course, we’ll explore methods for discovering the angles and ideas that set our writing apart. The course is for writers of all levels, from beginners to more established writers, and we will spend plenty of time on fundamentals—dialogue, point of view, voice. But we’ll also think a lot about some other elements of fiction that don’t often get talked about in workshops. How do we transform personal experience into written narrative? How important is plot? Do characters really have to “change” for a story to be any good?
Ultimately, this class is about exploring the possibilities of fiction—coming with an open mind as to what a story or novel can be, and being willing to try new things in order to discover your subject and perspective as a writer.
-Discovering the possibilities of fiction by experimenting with new forms, voices, and subjects.
-Developing and honing fundamental skills, especially dialogue, narration, and point of view
-Learning to read the work of others with care and skill, both for the other writers' development and for one's development as a reader.
-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 submit two stories or novel excerpts, twenty pages maximum per piece, over the six-week course. In addition, there will be assignments each week of short readings by published writers.
Andrew Martin‘s first novel Early Work was chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times, and was included in year-end lists by The New Yorker, Bookforum, and WBUR Boston. His stories have appeared in The Paris Review, and his essays and reviews have been published recently in The New York Review of Books, Harper's, and The New York Times Book Review. His story collection Cool for America will be published by FSG in 2020. After living in Montana, Virginia, and Boston in recent years, he recently moved back to New York.
"You know when you're like, 'I need a new book, but nothing's right. Nothing's funny enough, brave enough, interesting enough. Nothing scares me. I've seen it all'? EARLY WORK is the book for you. It will shut you up with its perfect depiction of what it's like to be a flawed human, and better, it will make you forget why you despaired in the first place."
"[Andrew] Martin introduces characters in sharp, funny flash-portraits that declare the book’s intention to perch, vape in hand, on the border of earnestness and satire . . . EARLY WORK is a gift for those readers who like being flirted with by thoughtful and interesting people, and who like observing such people as they flirt with each other."
"Marvelous . . . Read [EARLY WORK] on a beach for the refreshment of a classic boy-meets-girl plot, or turn the pages more slowly to soak in some truly salty koans and morally insolvent characters . . . It’s an accomplished and delightful book, but there’s no hashtag for that."
“Andrew is a great teacher. He is insightful and generous, a lecturer and listener, a kind facilitator and a wonderful writer.”
“Great feedback, great listener, calm demeanor, thoughtful. Found great teachable moments in each person's writing.”
“I had Andrew 4 times and he was a joy—always.”