Online | Novel | Fiction | Workshop

7-Week Fiction Workshop: The Genre-Bending Novel

In this class we’ll explore how to situate literary work within the traditions of genre fiction. While traditional genre fiction follows clear conventions, we’ll look at the elements of genre as tools you can use to enhance your project--learning the rules not to follow, but to break them to greatest effect.

This class is for writers with novel projects that they’re not sure how to categorize, or writers interested in incorporating elements of other genres into their current work. Writers should have some workshop experience, and at least fifteen pages of material and/or a detailed outline of a work-in-progress.

Over the course of the class we’ll read short stories and novel excerpts that defy genre expectations (including work by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Hilary Mantel, Tana French, and Helen Oyeyemi), discuss how and when to break the mold, examine what makes a work “genre bending,” and figure out which genre elements make the most sense for your individual project. Each student will workshop two novel excerpts, and have the chance to submit revisions to discuss during a one-on-one conference with the instructor. Specific writing prompts will not be provided, but each class will focus on concrete strategies that will help writers make progress on their current work. Writers will come away with a bolder understanding of the possibilities of the novel, a more nuanced view of genre conventions, and concrete strategies for adding genre elements to their work.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. 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 Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.

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


- A strategic understanding of genre conventions, as well as how and when to break them

- 1 one-on-one conference with instructor

- Peer and instructor feedback on two novel excerpts

- Access to a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will read approx. 20 pages of a short story or novel excerpt each week and come to class prepared to discuss, having completed a small associated craft assignment. Depending on the size of the class, students will have the opportunity to workshop approx. 15 double-spaced pages of their current project twice over the course of the class, and will read and respond to 30-45 pages of their peers' work each week.


Week 1: Introductions, Scheduling

Week 2: Defining Genre/Workshop 1

Week 3: Making Plot from Metaphor/Workshop 2

Week 4: Following the Rules/Workshop 3

Week 5: Breaking the Rules/Workshop 4

Week 6: Talking Revision/Workshop 5

Week 7: Moving Forward/Workshop 6

Julia Fine

Julia Fine is the author of The Upstairs House, winner of the Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction, and What Should Be Wild, which was shortlisted for the Bram Stoker Superior First Novel Award. She teaches writing in Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children. 


"Fine's stellar debut is a mystical combination of curiosity, curses and inventive and fascinating modern coming-of-age fairy tale."

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review

“A captivating tale that explores the fears, desires and mysteries of growing up through the clouded lens of a dark fantasy. Fine begins with elements we all recognize—a girl with strange powers, a dark old house, a mysterious forest that could be waiting just beyond our doorstep—and delightfully warps them until a new tale emerges.”


“WHAT SHOULD BE WILD is set in the borderlands between myth and fairy tale, between life and death. . . The Brothers Grimm gave us the fairy tales; many years later Tanith Lee gave us “Tales From the Sisters Grimmer.” In this astonishing debut, Ms. Fine bids fair to be the Sister Grimmest.”