Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Fiction Workshop: Preparing Your Story For Publication

As most of us know, getting a story accepted by a top journal (or, indeed, any journal) is no easy feat. In this class we will examine strategies to revise your stories to increase the chances your dream journals will snap them up from the slush pile. Topics will include: creating a strong opening, generating pacing and momentum, building rich characters, thinking about how best to withhold and deploy key information, using backstory effectively, finding stories that are unique and compelling, and polishing your prose.

The goal in each workshop will be to: (i) suggest ways students' stories can be revised and improved, and (ii) discuss published work by masters like Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, Tea Obreht, Edward P. Jones, and Justin Torres to glean lessons we can apply to our own stories. This class is best-suited for advanced students who have had prior workshop experience.

*no class on Thursday, October 31st


- An improved understanding of what makes a short story work well

- Detailed peer and instructor feedback on two submissions (either two separate stories, or one story and a revision of that story)

- One individual conference with instructor to discuss feedback on one of your submissions

- The confidence to submit your story for publication, and the knowledge that you are submitting smartly

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


- Submit writing for workshop twice over the course of the class (each submission may be up to 20 pages in length, 12-point font, double spaced)

- Read and comment on manuscripts by your peers in advance of each class

-Read one or two published stories per week for class discussion

- Total prep time for each class will be approximately four to five hours per week (plus as much time as you are willing to spend on your own writing!)

Matthew Lansburgh

Matthew Lansburgh's collection of linked stories, Outside Is the Ocean, won the 2017 Iowa Short Fiction Award and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBTQ Fiction. Matthew's work has appeared or is forthcoming in One Story, Glimmer Train, Ecotone, Alaska Quarterly Review, Epoch, StoryQuarterly, Columbia, Guernica, and MQR, and has been shortlisted in the Best American Short Stories series. He has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, NYU’s Creative Writing Program, and Yaddo.


"Matthew Lansburgh has a keen eye and ear, and he puts them to great use in this lovely and, frankly, mesmerizing linked collection. OUTSIDE IS THE OCEAN is a gem."

Andre Dubus III Iowa Short Fiction Award Judge

"Not for the faint of heart, this collection is relentless and intense, but Lansburgh’s prose offers stunning moments of tenderness amid its stark depictions of loneliness. Arresting and pointed."


"Matthew Lansburgh's OUTSIDE IS THE OCEAN is one of the best short story collections I've read in years. It's sharp and funny and it sweeps the reader along through the lives of a cast of difficult and damaged characters. But there are no villains here; the joy of reading Lansburgh's stories is that he keeps spinning his characters around, finding tenderness alongside their abjection, compassion alongside hurt, until finally the people in this book feel as human and real as anyone you've known."

Paul La Farge author of THE NIGHT OCEAN

“Matthew is my go-to for manuscript consults. He is thoughtful, supportive, generous, and kind, but also rigorous and astute—his expectations are high. As a published author, he understands the creative process inside and out, and has a keen sense of structural development. Matthew has the rare ability to advise on both big-picture, developmental edits as well as detailed line edits that will elevate your work and help you find the story you want to tell. He is also a helpful resource for navigating the publishing industry, and has given me practical advice on query letters, finding an agent, submitting work to literary magazines, writing workshops and conferences. I am absolutely convinced that working with Matthew has made me a better writer.”


“In addition to his honest, thoughtful feedback on each of my stories, Matthew always encouraged us to meet with him after class to discuss our stories or our thoughts on the pieces we'd read for class. This made me feel as though my thoughts and ideas were important; his teaching was instrumental in my confidence and growth as a writer."

former student