"‘Pure craft’ is a lie."
-Matthew Salesses, Craft in the Real World
Show, don’t tell. Avoid adverbs. Use clear language. It’s the hero’s journey.
These rules are repeated wherever U.S. children are learning to read and write. Yet our first experiences with story rarely stick to a simple formula. Who doesn’t remember listening, riveted, to adult gossip where the juicy bits were all emphatically vague eye-roll and You know what I mean? Not to mention rambling Bible passages, tell-don’t-show folktales, the thunder-in-belly of telling a lie so good even the liar believed it?
What, really, is craft? In this 6-week online workshop, we will pursue this question with a child’s curiosity. Through weekly writing exercises and short readings from Kanishk Tharoor, Joy Castro, Cristina Peri Rossi, Nafissa Thomson-Spires, Etgar Keret, and others, we will define, explore, and turn inside-out common craft techniques, plus come up with our own.
Each group member will submit work once during the six weeks and workshops will be carefully structured to center and strengthen the writer’s unique vision (even if the writer does not yet know what it is). No prior experience necessary, as the purpose of this class is for everyone to approach fiction like a beginner.
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.
- Detailed, usable feedback on your own workshop submission from peers and instructor
- Roughly 12 double-spaced pages of fresh writing for new projects
- Familiarity and increased skill with common craft tools as they relate to your work and intentions for it
- Introductions to the work of many diverse, “non-canon” contemporary fiction writers
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
In addition to submitting one story or novel excerpt of up to 12 double-spaced pages, students should expect each week to complete two brief writing exercises, read about 10-20 pages from published short stories, and to read and fill out response worksheets for two peer stories-in-progress. Because most of the workshop magic happens in class discussions (verbal or via chatbox), your regular attendance is essential.
Note on accessibility: Although everyone is encouraged to participate verbally and with cameras on, this class is designed to accommodate a broad range of needs and abilities. Please contact [email protected] with specific concerns.
Week 1: Intro to close-reading and workshop
Week 2: Plot and Beyond – Story structures and chosen audience
Week 3: POV & Worldview – What sort of mind are we in?
Week 4: Dialogue & Hearsay – Effects of speech on the page
Week 5: Scene and Unseen – How “real” do you want it to feel?
Week 6: Revisions – Cultivating a beginner’s mind for your own work
Originally from Michigan, Luke Dani Blue holds an MFA from San Francisco State University, where they were honored with a Distinguished Achievement award. Luke's short fiction has won prizes from Colorado Review and Crab Orchard Review, and a note of distinction from Best American Short Stories 2016. Luke has taught creative writing at universities, public libraries, rural high schools, and major urban writing centers and was recently a Tin House Scholar and member of the Tin House Summer Workshop scholarship committee. Their debut short story collection, Pretend It's My Body, is coming in September 2022 from Feminist Press.
“In prose that is spiky and precise and energetic, Luke Dani Blue writes about two friends trying to make sense of their world as it hurtles toward the sun. ‘[End of the World Pussy]’ is a tense exploration of what can change between two people when there’s no longer time for change, and of how, when oblivion is moments away, we continue to reach for what we most desire.”
“The magic in [‘Bad Things That Happen To Girls’] is so subtle and slow-building and so unprepossessing that, while reading it, I understood I was holding my breath only when the story started to swim before me...It’s a story that aches with truth and desperation, and I marvel at the way Blue ratchets up the motion, breath by breath, to the story’s logical but stunning end.”
"PRETEND IT'S MY BODY is a wonderful collection, capable and sure-footed as a pace-setter, and at once funny, jarring, disorienting, and bracing in turn, like trying to use a credit card at a carnival. Unrushed, but with a real center; each story distinct yet kin, afraid neither of ugliness nor loveliness. I liked it marvellously well."
"You are a wonderful teacher, reader and writer, and I really, really enjoyed working with you."
"I have take a lot of writing classes over the years and you are one of the best teachers I've had. You are generous with your knowledge and you care about your students."
“One of the best writing classes I have ever taken."