“We think in generalities,” wrote Alfred North Whitehead, “but we live in details.” We also dream, hope, grieve, love, and hate in detail—and in fiction, detail is how our stories come alive. Precise, well-chosen details can reveal the world of a story and set a character apart. In this class, open to writers with all levels of experience, we will focus on understanding how the discrete details of a story add up to make the work richer, and we'll practice getting the most mileage out of significant concrete details to make descriptions shine on the page.
The goal of this class is to study how detail works in fiction—how authors use specifics to establish tone, setting, and character. This class is workshop-based, and each student will have the opportunity to workshop one short story or novel excerpt. In the first three weeks of class, we will do short craft exercises and look at the work of writers like Jamel Brinkley, Kirstin Valdez Quade, Yiyun Li, and Bryan Washington and study how they use detail to impact our reading experience. The last three weeks will be devoted to student workshops.
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. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- A deeper understanding of what makes a detail powerful and how details combine to make a story memorable
- Specific tools to help you generate your own work and revise
- Written and verbal feedback on a short story or novel excerpt
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
In the first three weeks, students will be expected to read about 20 pages of fiction. In the last three weeks, students will be expected to be active participants in workshop and provide written as well as oral feedback for their peers. Student submissions should be between 15 and 30 double-spaced pages.
Week 1 - Introductions + Defamiliarizing Details
Week 2 - World-building Details
Week 3 - Character-building Details
Week 4 - Details and Negative Space, Workshop 1
Week 5 - Details and Point of View, Workshop 2
Week 6 - Details and Aboutness, Workshop 3
Claire Luchette is the author of Agatha of Little Neon and a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree. A graduate of the MFA program at the University of Oregon, Luchette's work has appeared in Best American Short Stories, the New York Times, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Granta, and they've received fellowships and support from the National Endowment for the Arts, MacDowell, Yaddo, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.
“[A] subtle, resonant debut novel . . . The power and pleasure of this novel lie in the slow blooming of desire from tiny seeds of doubt.”
“AGATHA OF LITTLE NEON is the rare kind of book that reads like a transmission from a person you don’t know, but who is already nestled close to your heart. Full of small devotions, pith and vigor, and a bounty of tender feeling for a world that is not quite as full of grace as it could be, this bold debut shines with a light all its own and announces Claire Luchette as a true original and a voice to follow closely.”
“Claire Luchette is so wildly talented that I would follow them anywhere. Here, it’s to Woonsocket along with four women who are searching for meaning and a sense of belonging from each other and the world beyond. The result is a novel that’s blazingly original, wry, and perfectly attuned to the oddness—and the profundity—of life.”
"Claire does an amazing job at teaching and encouraging young writers. Their feedback…is tangible and honest, and helps to further the fiction-writing process."
"Claire provided me with an arsenal of works and essays regarding the writing process to take with me along my journey with creative writing. I am very grateful for having the opportunity to work with Claire!"