Online | Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Fiction Workshop: Pacing, Timeline, & Structure

Whether you are a seasoned writer or relatively new to writing, you've probably experienced moments of frustration which pulled you away from the work at hand for a day or a longer period of writer's block.

This course, open to writers with all levels of scene-writing experience, is designed to help writers to regain the focus on writing with specific craft techniques. Whether you are a meticulous outliner or an intuitive writer who focuses on flow, this class will take you through specific steps of designing or reworking the structure, timeline, and pacing for your work so you could unlock the flow of ideas, polish a rough draft, or transform an anecdote into a strong, compelling story. Throughout the course, students will be given writing prompts and revision guidelines to help them enhance their learning and apply them to their own work.

Writers will walk away with several key timeline principles and fundamental story structures, based on examples from award-winning works by the likes of Jhumpa Lahiri, Charles Yu, and Kirstin Valdez Quade. Each writer will also submit to workshop once, to receive written and verbal feedback from the instructor and their peers.

The course aims to introduce students to a variety of literary forms, voices, and traditions, so an open-mind and willingness to discover, write, and explore are the most fundamental qualities needed.

*No class Nov. 23

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.

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- A deeper understanding of the importance of timeline, pacing, and structure in fiction

- The ability to recognize and identify structural elements from known literary works

- Key ways to incorporate known structures and to use timeline techniques in new work

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Each student will submit 1-2 short stories or novel excerpts for workshop. Total submissions are not to exceed 20 pages. Everyone will read and critique peer work for workshop and will read a published text and participate in a short lecture each week.


Week 1- Introduction, The Art of Braiding, (possible brief workshop)

Week 2- Workshop, Sex, Power and Pacing

Week 3- Workshop, Timeline & Characterization

Week 4- Workshop, Heroes and Sci-fis

Week 5- Workshop, Objects and Symbols

Week 6- Workshop, Story Structure Secrets

Pingmei Lan

Pingmei Lan holds an MFA in creative writing. Her work has appeared in The Florida Review, Blackbird, Epiphany, Tahoma Literary Review and others. She is a winner of the 2019 PEN/DAU Best Debut Short Stories prize, a finalist in the Atlanta Review's 2019 International Poetry Competition and a 2021 Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.


“Lan captures how women who subvert their prescribed roels become in local rumor creaturely, mythological. I read it and was stunned by the wake it left."

Tracy O'Neill author of THE HOPEFUL

"Flash typically doesn’t leave much room for flashbacks and flash forwards, but this example shows how to masterfully use the techniques."

April Bradley editor of SMOKELONG QUARTERLY

"Pingmei Lan ties sexual assault and forced assimilation to a Sweet-n-Low packet and Peking duck in this piece of flash. The alienation of place is so well done here."


"She gives very generous feedback to other writers and her comments are humorous and helpful."

former writing teacher

"Her class unlocked something deep in my memory or subconscious and I wrote a scene that I didn't think I could write. "

former writing student

"Her (critique) notes are very impressive. I shared them with my writing group as well and they were equally impressed. "

former writing student/editing client