Online | Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Flash Fiction Workshop: Bringing Magic Realism into Flash Narratives

“Reality doesn't surprise me. But that's not true […] I cry out and bite into reality with my lacerating teeth. And afterwards give a sigh over the captive whose flesh I ate. And again, for a long while, I do without real reality and find comfort in living from my imagination.” — Clarice Lispector

How can we capture the strangeness of our lives? Flash is a form that has the potential to move and weave between genres, yet it is often understood as strictly a more minute form of short fiction. In this class, we’ll expand our ideas of what flash can do and explore how our flash writing can bring in elements of the transformative, the surreal, the magic real and become its own unique form.

We’ll think about myth, healing, transformation, observation, braided forms, and structures when applying magical elements to our flash. We’ll look at how we can capture the strange in our work and incorporate the fractured, the weird, the daily, and the magic.

This course is for anyone that has trouble making sense of the world but believes there is something to be found by diving head-first into that confusion. Together, through a combination of writing exercises, supported workshopping, discussions and reading, we will explore that hairy, in-between crossroads of the real and the imaginative.

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. 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.  


- Thinking deeply around ideas of expanding and transforming our flash practice

- Playful exploration and experiment with magical elements in flash through generative writing exercises

- Supportive workshop and individually-provided instructor feedback on pieces chosen to workshop

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will be expected to write and submit approximately weekly (except for this first week which is for introductions) up to 750 words of flash fiction for the workshop, as well as prepare an intention paragraph and questions for discussion in the workshopping portion of the class. Students will also be expected to read their fellow students' work and provide thoughtful discussion around the questions the author poses about their work.Additionally, There will be short readings (no more than 8 pages) assigned weekly for discussion each week in class. This is a writing intensive class, so come to class prepared to engage in playful and experimental writing exercises.


Class 1: Make it Weird: Embracing Formlessness and The Outskirts of Genre

Class 2: Transformations; Workshop 1

Class 3: Dreaming, Myth, Surrender; Workshop 2

Class 4: Observation and the Magic of the Daily; Workshop 3

Class 5: Flash as Healing; Workshop 4

Class 6: Mesmerizing Ourselves: Creating Process and Practice; Workshop 5

Kate Barss

Kate Barss is a queer writer living in Toronto. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Catapult, The Hairpin, The Awl and others. She has been a finalist for prizes in The Iowa Review, The Master's Review, The Montreal International Poetry Prize, Room Magazine, Prism International, Event Magazine and others. One of her stories appeared on Wigleaf's List of Top 50 Short Fictions of 2018. She has been the recipient of literary grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council.


"Flash is a form that is close to my heart, as I often think of life as fractured bits. Kate's work feels like small snapshots on what it feels like to be human because what is life but these small revelatory, sometimes banal minutes?"

Carrianne Leung author of THAT TIME I LOVED YOU & THE WONDROUS WOO

“Working with Kate opened-up my writing process and understanding. Through our time working together, my writing felt supported on a practical and emotional level. She has an ability to meet individuals where they are at and help you write the things that are meaningful to you in a non-prescriptive manner that allows for a lot of agency and supported risk-taking. I feel braver and more confident in my writing because of our mentorship.”

Jennifer Aja Fernandes

"Kate's pedagogical approach is guided by care and kindness. Her teaching focuses on hands-on learning by "doing" and craft-based exercises. The way Kate taught the structure of flash was particularly meaningful to me."

Christine Ottoni

“Kate Barss teaches with a selfless and gentle wisdom that encourages students to write bold and bright. She is a mentor of the rarest kind: a friend, a creator of community.”

Veronique Darwin

“Kate creates caring and engaging creative spaces. I was very impressed by the welcoming environment of her writing workshop. Kate is highly competent at translating complex writing strategies into digestible pieces with which to inspire writers to challenge themselves and engage fully in their writing practice. I would highly recommend her workshops!”

Anna Lee Popham