Selling a debut collection of short stories is one of the hardest things to do in the literary world. In this online course, we will look at the threads that join each student's work together, and learn strategies for turning your short stories into a completed manuscript. This course is for all writers looking to better understand their work, whether you’ve finished a couple stories, or have an entire pile you’re sorting through. Everyone has themes around which they orbit: We will drill down to find out what yours are, while also looking at some of the great collections of all time to discover theirs. Writing may come from the heart, but the brain is needed to translate all those complex, contradictory sentiments and impulses into a coherent narrative sequence.
This course will help develop the brain-side of things using stuff we can name: character, setting, dialogue, sound, rhythm, and structure. Through weekly writing prompts and focused readings, we will draw out what only you have to say--the voice that will carry readers through your book. Each writer will workshop twice and meet once with me over the phone or Skype for an individual conference to discuss their collection, goals, and progress.
- Intensive peer and instructor critiques on two fiction submissions
- One private conference with the instructor over phone/Skype to discuss your collection, writing style, goals, and areas for improvement
- Concrete tools for completing your first collection of short stories
- Further understanding of craft elements, such as character, setting, dialogue, sound, rhythm, and structure
- Weekly writing prompts
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Week 1: Voice (Who are you as a writer)
Week 2: Plot (What do you have to say)
Week 3: Style (How will you say it)
Week 4: Structure (How to surprise, and keep the reader engaged)
Week 5: Language (What sets your work apart, and unifies it together)
Week 6: Endings (How to know when something is done)
Raised in small towns in the west, Maxim Loskutoff is the author of Come West and See and the forthcoming novel Spirits. His stories and essays have been translated into six languages and appeared in numerous periodicals, including The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Ploughshares, and The Southern Review. A graduate of NYU’s MFA program, he has received fellowships from Yaddo and MacDowell. Other honors include the Nelson Algren Award, the M Literary Fellowship, and an arts grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. He lives in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana.
“Devastating … grows increasingly bizarre and haunting until it’s left an indelible mark.”
“A new kind of American Western. The interconnected short stories shirk the tropes of destinies made manifest in favor of dark, interior tales of the angry, the wild and the socially impotent. This book climbs into the heads of its characters, pokes at their insecurities with a sharpened stick, then reaches out a hand to invite you in.”
“Fans of Cormac McCarthy and Russell Banks will find plenty to like in Loskutoff’s fresh voice and keen instincts for drama. … [T]he language is crisp and often thrilling in its plainspoken eloquence.”
“A blazing new and original talent. … [Loskutoff’s stories] vividly expose escalating resentments with extraordinary eloquence and compassion.”
"Maxim's thoughts are prescient. All were of great help as I continued to refine and tighten my manuscript. Several were issues with which I was already wrestling and it was helpful to read them so well articulated."
"Maxim saw right through my work. A very perceptive reader, he was able to locate my wishes and goals as a writer, and help me toward them."
"Maxim's early support and encouragement are what allowed me to keep working and revising until my first story was accepted for publication. The opportunity to publish a work of fiction means more to me than he can ever know. I'll always be grateful for the role he played making that happen."