Online | Fiction | Novel | Workshop

6-Week Online Fiction Workshop: Advanced Scene-Writing

Scenes are the building blocks of stories and novels. Mastering scene-writing is one very effective way to understand character development, story structure, and plot—helping us “make things happen” in our literary fiction.

In this six-week online workshop, we’ll examine published scenes by skilled fiction writers, such as Susan Choi, Jennifer Egan, Lauren Groff, Yaa Gyasi, Raven Leilani, Elizabeth McCracken, Sally Rooney, and Elizabeth Strout, then apply what we’ve learned to our own stories and novels.

In a weekly Zoom workshop, students will develop a deeper understanding of the essential elements of scene-craft, especially character, setting, and dialogue. Each meeting will begin with a guided close reading of a successful scene from a published novel or short story, revealing why and how the scene works. Students will then have opportunities to apply these lessons to their own work: At each meeting, up to three students (depending on class size) will have their own scenes workshopped in class. (During the six weeks, each student will have two opportunities to submit scenes for workshop and instructor feedback.)

Students will gain a deeper understanding of how fiction writers use scenes, alongside summary and reflection, to develop characters and to build novels and stories, as well as concrete tools for writing and editing scenes.

This class is for intermediate and advanced writers who have taken workshops before, who seek to sharpen their scenes on the page, and make things happen in their novels and stories.

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.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- A deeper understanding of how writers use scenes to build stories and novels

- Concrete tools to craft a compelling, active scene for a novel or short story, and to edit scenes already written

- Workshop and instructor feedback on two written submissions

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

- Submit two complete (start-to-finish) scenes for workshop (2-8 double-spaced pages each)

- Read and provide feedback, both in-class and written, on 2-3 student submissions for workshops per week

COURSE SKELETON:

Week 1: Discovering Character

Week 2: Building the Physical World (Setting & Landscape)

Week 3: Dramatizing Conflict (Dialogue)

Week 4: Sticking the Landing (Transformation & Reflection)

Week 5: Sharpening the Scene (Sentences & Editing)

Week 6: Editing, Publishing, General Review

Lindsey Lee Johnson

Lindsey Lee Johnson holds a master of professional writing degree from the University of Southern California and a BA in English from the University of California at Davis. She's taught writing at USC, Clark College, and Portland State University. Her debut novel, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth (Random House), was a Barnes & Noble Discover Pick, an ABA Indie Next Pick, a Book of the Month Club Pick, a LibraryReads 'Top Ten' Pick, a Publishers Weekly Book of the Week, a California Bestseller, and People Magazine's Book of the Week. Born in Marin County, Lindsey lives in Los Angeles. 

Testimonials

“In Johnson’s excellent debut, her sharp storytelling conveys an authentic sense of the perils of adolescence … Johnson allows these dramas to unfold through various shifting perspectives … She keeps the action brisk and deepens readers’ investment ... Readers may find themselves so swept up in this enthralling novel that they finish it in a single sitting.”

Publishers Weekly starred review

“In sharp and assured prose, roving between characters, Lindsey Lee Johnson plumbs the terrifying depths of a half-dozen ultra-privileged California high school kids. I read it in two chilling gulps. It’s a phenomenal first book.”

Anthony Doerr Pulitzer-Prize Winning Author of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

“I feel lucky to have had the attention and time of such a caring and talented instructor. Lindsey has an incredible ability to care about each one of her students individually. It was extremely clear that she is passionate about writing and genuinely wanted us all to share in that joy. She was enthusiastic and, at the same time, methodical and structured in her teaching. Lindsey’s lessons on writing will serve me for the rest of my life.”

former student

“Lindsey Lee Johnson is a sharp, intuitive reader who knows how to cut right to the emotional core of a character or scene. She's exactly the person you would want to critique your first—and last—draft with decisiveness, creativity, and warmth.”

Kate Hope Day author of IF/THEN, a novel, forthcoming from Random House

“In sharp and assured prose, roving between characters, Lindsey Lee Johnson plumbs the terrifying depths of a half-dozen ultra-privileged California high school kids. I read it in two chilling gulps. It’s a phenomenal first book.”

Anthony Doerr #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

“An alarming, compelling and coolly funny debut novel … Ms. Johnson's characters are unpredictable, contradictory and many things at once, which make them particularly satisfying … For its compassion, its ability to see the humanity inside even the most apparently hopeless person and the shimmering intelligence of its prose, THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE ON EARTH reminded me a bit of Rick Moody's THE ICE STORM … heartbreaking.”

Sarah Lyall THE NEW YORK TIMES