Novel | Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Generative Novel Workshop: Finding Your Container

"Lynn did a really great job of instructing, guiding, suggesting, and forced or wedged anything into a place—the conversations were organic, sometimes livelier than I had imagined workshops could get, and always with good intention. She's great. Take her workshops.” - former student

So, you have the idea. You have the characters, the plot, a location, maybe an outline, but what of all the pages in between? You've been circling the same image for years, but how do you take all of that and turn it into a novel? Or maybe you’re even farther along—you’ve got your story elements, dozens of pages, but no idea how to make what you’ve written read like a satisfying novel.

In this workshop we will work through each individual novel idea as a class, and consider the structure, time period, and plot that will best serve your book. We will discuss the necessity of constraints in your project and give you the best tools to go forth and turn your obsessions and characters into a fully formed book. The first three weeks of the course will be devoted to refining your novel idea and generating new content, as well as working closely on elements of craft. In the final three weeks, students will have an opportunity to workshop a fifteen-page excerpt of their work-in-progress.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Understand the difference between plot and action

- Learn the tools to help you propel a stuck project forward

- Establish authority and voice in your work

- Set up a plan for the writing that still needs to be done after class ends

- Know what to look for in future drafts: How should the first draft look? What about the fifth? How do you know you've written your final draft?

- Feedback from your students and instructor on one 15-page excerpt

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

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

- Take-home and in-class reading and writing assignments (first three weeks)

- Give thorough comments and written feedback on your peers' work

- Workshop one 15-page excerpt of your novel

Lynn Steger Strong

Lynn Steger Strong's first novel, Hold Still, was released by Liveright/WW Norton in March 2016. She received an MFA from Columbia University and her non-fiction has been published in Guernica, LARB, Elle.com, Catapult, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. She teaches both fiction and non-fiction writing at Columbia University, Fairfield University, and the Pratt Institute. Lynn's second novel, Want, is forthcoming from Henry Holt in spring 2020.

Testimonials

“Lynn taught me the importance of keeping my characters on the ground, so the reader can follow their lives and struggles without getting lost in the clouds. She is also an excellent tuner of language, with a keen ear for both the clarity and music of a sentence. Her priority as the workshop leader was to pay close attention to what the author wants to accomplish with their story, and to help them discover the best way to achieve that, without imposing formulas or commandments.”

former student

“Lynn has an overtly powerful passion for fiction that gave way to inspiring workshop sessions. She possesses an expansive knowledge of the methodology of fiction writing, and provided us with techniques and tools that I will keep with me for all of my future work.”

former student

“HOLD STILL is an unblinking examination of family, the mother-child bond, and the storms it must withstand. Lynn Strong pulls no punches in considering not just how deep, but also how misguided a mother’s love can be.”

Elisa Albert author of AFTER BIRTH

“Who do we blame when a good kid makes one disastrous mistake? The parents? The child? The bad influences lingering at the margins? Lynn Strong's captivating novel explores questions of blame and guilt from many points of view, all of them rendered with tenderness, compassion, and surprising humor. A little bit Lionel Shriver, a little bit Virgina Woolf. HOLD STILL is a terrific debut.”

Victor LaValle author of THE CHANGELING

“The workshop was invaluable in showing me that a good first draft is a fraction of the battle, that people who take the time to consider what you're trying to achieve and critique you on that end-goal are far more valuable than people who are looking to cater your story to their taste. Lynn did a really great job of instructing, guiding, suggesting, and forced or wedged anything into a place—the conversations were organic, sometimes livelier than I had imagined workshops could get, and always with good intention. She's great. Take her workshops.”

former student