Nonfiction | Workshop

6-Week Nonfiction Workshop: Exploring the Borders of Nonfiction

In this six-week workshop ideal for writers intent on making their nonfiction work as creative and readable as fiction, we’ll push the boundaries of the genre, fully engaging our imagination while remaining committed to the truth. As a nonfiction writer, what can and can’t you do? What fictional techniques can be employed, and which ones must be steered clear of?

We’ll read interviews and work from some of the masters of the genre—from Ryszard Kapuscinski, who stretches nonfiction borders almost to the point of breaking, to Mary Karr, who adheres to these borders strictly yet wonderfully. Expect lots of discussion, in-class and at-home writing exercises, and the chance to workshop at least one essay or chapter from a work in progress, with the goal of making it the most creative nonfiction piece you’ve ever penned.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Learn to use your imagination and free up your creativity in your nonfiction writing

- Explore where and how the boundaries of the nonfiction genre can be pushed, and where they must be left alone

- Gain a clear understanding of the unwritten contract between nonfiction writer and reader, and how betraying the reader’s trust is one rule that should never be violated

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

Taylor Plimpton

Taylor Plimpton is the author of Notes from the Night: A Life After Dark (Broadway Books) and the co-editor of The Dreaded Feast: Writers on Enduring the Holidays (Abrams). A former editor at Men’s Journal, Manhattan and Beach magazines, he’s had his writing published there, as well as in Sports Illustrated, Town & Country, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, newyorker.com, and The Paris Review Daily. In 2013 and 2018, his nonfiction pieces were named Notable Essays in Best American Essays. He’s been teaching at the Writer's Foundry MFA Program at St. Joseph's College in Brooklyn since 2013. 

Testimonials

“...There's a lot to enjoy in Taylor Plimpton’s NOTES FROM THE NIGHT: A LIFE AFTER DARK, his travelogue of the seedy nightlife roiling behind the velvet ropes. Unlike other documentarians of late-night excess, he isn’t interested in presenting a gaudy display of elegantly debauched overconsumption. Instead, he’s self-effacing the entire time, unraveling the seams of after-hours N.Y.C. with equal amounts of anthropological rigor and tart self-examination … What Plimpton has achieved is a rare feat: offering up a propulsive narrative full of debauched thrills that has a sober awareness of its own absurdity.”

San Francisco Weekly

“An intimate remembrance of countless dazzling, empty, Arabian nights of the New York club scene that begin at midnight and end at dawn … This clear-eyed, touching, irresistible account belongs somewhere in with Kerouac, Jay McInerney, and J.D. Salinger.”

James Salter novelist

“This is a rhapsodic book: light and free, the model for the memoir of the future—a future in which each moment is precious and the writer is as good as Plimpton at grabbing and showing it to us...”

Los Angeles Times

"In 2013, I was lucky enough to attend a creative writing workshop under Taylor Plimpton’s guidance, and I’m writing today to confirm the good fortune of any budding writer who has the opportunity to do the same. His workshop struck a balance between macro and micro level mentorship that in all my years participating in similar classes I have never found replicated... I left his class each session feeling both humbled and motivated, a heady and potent combination for an emerging writer. I felt like anything was possible. I also felt like I had a lot of work to do. I had the energy to do it. None of that would work, obviously, if Taylor as a person didn’t offer warmth, kindness and respect, both personally and professionally. "

former student

"Taylor Plimpton is a skillful editor and gentle teacher who brings a studied eye and genuine curiosity to the work. He asks questions that encourage the writer to consider not only what is on the page, but what may yet be discovered. Taylor’s insights into the mechanics of narrative coupled with his generosity of spirit helped me grow as both a writer and reader."

former student

"Taylor Plimpton has been integral to my writing life, not only as an inspiring teacher who takes extra time with, and really seems to enjoy and love, his students—but also as a teacher who approaches the unpredictable... A classroom led by Taylor is a classroom that is curious, rigorous, kind, and humorous... As an editor his attention to detail and clarity is welcome, and he has improved every piece I’ve shared with him, including pieces that have been published in Manhattan Magazine and anthologized by Dark House press. An opportunity to work with Taylor is always an opportunity worth taking. It will be a growthful one. "

former student