Why does a work of fiction draw us in? While characters and events certainly matter, every story starts with a sentence. In this online course for writers of all experience levels, we will explore how sentences can work as building blocks to create more exciting beginnings, middles, and endings.
Each week, we will focus on a different aspect of language, studying how established fiction writers use repetition, rhythm, internal alliteration, and assonance to delight and surprise. We will edit our words to make each line count, to bring out the best in our short stories and novels, and to cultivate our own individual writing styles. Each writer will workshop twice and will meet once with me over phone or Skype for an individual conference to discuss their goals and progress. By the end of our six weeks together, writers will have a clearer understanding of how to structure compelling fiction, one sentence at a time.
- Intensive peer and instructor critiques on two fiction submissions
- One private conference with the instructor over phone/Skype to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement
- Greater familiarity with contemporary masters of literary fiction
- More confidence in your voice as a writer
- Learn how to use repetition, rhythm, internal alliteration, and assonance to build better sentences
- Access to a nurturing community of writers and readers and to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Week 1: Beginnings
Week 2: Alliteration and Assonance
Week 3: Parataxis
Week 4: Stripping it down
Week 5: Rhythm and Repetition
Week 6: Endings
*no class on March 12th
Rebecca Schiff is the author of the short story collection The Bed Moved, a finalist for an LA Times Book Prize and a Sami Rohr Prize. Her fiction has appeared in n+1, Electric Literature, Catapult, Fence, Guernica, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Washington Square, Lenny Letter, and in The Best Small Fictions 2017. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.
"Bow down to Rebecca Schiff. In THE BED MOVED this brilliant young writer serves up stories that are tough, funny, fearless, weird, and loaded with heartache and desire."
"If you see a bald man running through the streets of Brooklyn screaming Rebecca Schiff’s name, do not fear for her life—it’s just me, after one too many, singing the gospel of Schiff! I am in awe of this book, in awe of its sentences, in awe of the unapologetically horny and intelligent young women who populate these stories. I’m in awe of its author’s bullshit-free exploration of everything from death to dating apps, in awe of her ability to capture so precisely what it’s like to be alive in America during this weird-ass moment. Mostly I’m in awe of the way these compact stories are so spring-loaded with humor and pathos and soul. This is my favorite book that I’ve read in a long time, and I expect it will be another while yet before anything even close to as good comes along again."
"Enticing . . . irresistible . . . [Schiff] knows how to seduce a reader as blithely as some of her characters casually bed men, writing in stylishly simple and almost staccato prose, beneath the surface of which we soon spot roiling emotions—feelings of loss, the urge to connect . . . After taking them all in, we may find ourselves quite taken with this distinctive new voice in fiction, hungry for more of it and—like the collection’s titular bed—moved."
"People will say THE BED MOVED is a collection of droll stories about love and youth and those people will be correct. But that’s not the thing. The thing that makes this book so special is the punch-packing depth of these meticulously crafted pieces. Rebecca Schiff is a human spotlight and I will look wherever she points from now on."
"Rebecca is an incisive reader, with a sense of humor that keeps class moving and draws you in. She’s an encouraging teacher with valuable insights for new writers."
"Rebecca’s openness to a variety of literary styles and approaches made for a comradely atmosphere where everyone in the workshop was free to write the stories they wanted to write and have them taken seriously. Her feedback was always insightful, and attuned to nuances and details that the writer likely overlooked. I learned a lot about both the nuts and bolts of composing effective prose as well as how to structure and conceptualize a compelling story. She’ll also turn you on to your favorite new authors. What more can you ask for from a workshop?"
"Rebecca Schiff has a remarkable ability to convey not only how people talk and interact, but also how it feels for her characters to be inside those ordinary, important experiences that make up a day. She knows what’s funny about sad moments, and what’s sad about funny moments, and, better yet, how to get it all on paper."
"Rebecca Schiff’s amazing stories are like new translations of a world you thought you knew. The voices in her narratives are alternative guides to the emotional impact of the familiar. To read a Schiff story is to learn truth from fiction."
"We’re in a golden age of young female writers who, when they wish to be, are powerfully, cleansingly, and sometimes bawdily funny. This is a post-Lorrie (Moore) and Lydia (Davis) generation . . . Irony and satire are only two of the tools in these writers’ kits, but they are crucial in their consistent drawing of blood. [Schiff’s] dark wit gives her stories genuine tensile strength . . . She dips into her own braininess as if it were a bottomless trust fund . . . Schiff has an almost Nabokovian boldness and crispness of phrase."