Scene is the point at which the reader enters the story, where a story's sensory experience—its physicality, action, and sound—begins. For many writers, scene development is a challenge, a difficult-to-conjure element that emerges only after we've churned out pages of exposition and interiority—and, often, not even then.
In this class, we'll attempt to find our way into our stories actively, forging new inroads via dialogue, detail, and setting, with a particular emphasis on bridging substance and subtext with action to create scenes that give reader and writer alike greater access to the story. We'll use a varied pool of work—both literature and film—as our guide as we identify the craft elements needed to effectively execute vibrant prose. We'll attempt to emulate these examples in our own voices, with scene development as our primary objective. The class includes two formal rounds of workshop and a one-on-one consultation with instructor. Suitable for all levels. Students are welcome to workshop short stories or novel excerpts.
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.
- Learn to better balance active, plot-bearing scenes with exposition and interiority, resulting in work that moves swiftly with depth and meaning
- Learn to integrate setting and action with dialogue and detail
- Uncover new material with generative and revision exercises
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Each week will feature a reading selection for discussion, and one to two student submissions (depending on class size) that students will be expected to read and workshop. There may be a few writing exercises students will be asked to complete prior to class. Students will also be expected to provide an editorial letter to those workshopped, outlining potential points of revision. Students will have the opportunity to submit work to the class twice (twenty page double-spaced pages maximum and no minimum for submitted pieces).
Kayla Rae Whitaker's work has appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Buzzfeed, Literary Hub, Lenny, and others. She has an MFA from New York University. Her novel The Animators was awarded the 2018 Writer's Center First Novel Prize and the 2018 Devil's Kitchen Reading Award in Literary Fiction, and was named one of the best debut novels of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly and one of the best books of 2017 by NPR, Kirkus Reviews, and BookPage.
"Kayla gave me some of the most thorough feedback I have received and a lot of concrete, practical tips for how to be a better writer. She was open and approachable, and provided a class environment where we could be sincere and comfortable enough to be honest about our approaches to and questions about writing."
"Kayla is one of the most generous teachers I've ever worked with. She approached my work with such careful attention, providing the kind of deep and honest feedback that makes students not just better writers, but better people."
“A wildly original novel that pulses with heart and truth . . . That this powerful exploration of friendship, desire, ambition, and secrets manages to be ebullient, gripping, heartbreaking, and deeply deeply funny is a testament to Kayla Rae Whitaker’s formidable gifts. I was so sorry to reach the final page. Sharon and Mel will stay with me for a very long time.”
“An engrossing, exuberant ride through all the territories of love—familial, romantic, sexual, love of friends, and, perhaps above all, white-hot passion for the art you were born to make . . . I wish I’d written THE ANIMATORS.”
“THE ANIMATORS is a heartbreakingly beautiful, sharply funny, arrestingly unforgettable novel about love and genius, the powerful obsessiveness of artistic creation, and the equally powerful undertow of the past. Kayla Rae Whitaker writes like her head is on fire."