Have you always wanted to write fiction but didn’t know where to start? Have you been intimidated by the thought of sharing your work in front of more experienced writers? Are you an experienced writer who wants to reconnect with the fundamentals? This class is intended to introduce beginning writers to the craft of fiction writing, and to offer a refresher to those who want to return to the brass tacks. Over six weeks, we’ll study fundamentals like plot, character, setting, point of view, and voice, with the explicit understanding that a deeper knowledge of the so-called “rules” of fiction writing doesn’t constrain us; it sets us free.
This class will be centered on your work. Each student will have one story workshopped, each of which will receive detailed notes and feedback from me and other workshop members. Classes will begin with discussions of published stories by Shirley Jackson, James Baldwin, Ursula LeGuin, Carmen Maria Machado, and Etgar Keret in order to build a shared vocabulary. Writing exercises based on these stories will help us hone technique. But masterful imitation isn’t the goal most artists, so I’ll encourage all of us to challenge assumptions about what is “conventional” in order to meet our models’ work, and each other’s work, on its own terms, whatever those might be.
By the end of this course, writers will have a stronger understanding of the fundamentals of fiction, one polished story, and a good sense of how to confidently revise works-in-progress.
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.
- Gain a better understanding of the fundamentals of fiction writing
- One workshopped story
- Peer and instructor feedback on your work
- 1 one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss your writing
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will have to submit one story for workshop (5-15 pages double-spaced), read and comment on students' work, and read one short story and one short craft lecture per week.
Week 1: Intros & Plot; reading: “The Lottery”
Week 2: Character; reading “Sonny’s Blues”; Workshop #1
Week 3: Setting; reading “Those Who Walk Away from Omelas”; Workshop #2
Week 4: Point of View; reading: “The Husband Stitch”; Workshop #3
Week 5: Style & Voice; reading: “Fly Already”; Workshop #4
Week 6: Farewell; Workshop #5
Bryan Hurt is the author of Everyone Wants to Be Ambassador to France (Red Hen, 2018), selected as the winner of the 10th Annual Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction. He is the editor of Watchlist: 32 Stories By Persons of Interest (OR Books/Catapult, 2016) and Midwest editor for Joyland Magazine. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and named finalist for the Calvino Prize and Horatio Nelson Prize in Fiction. He's received fellowships from the Sewanee and Tin House Writers' Conferences and holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from USC.
"Bryan is an excellent teacher. He is fun, engaging, helpful and insightful when reading and workshopping stories. He is very good about separating what you intended to do with a story and what you actually did, something that is very helpful for a learning writer."
"Bryan is one of the best professors I have had and I think that is due to how genuine he is. A strength is how he structured the class, with basic things that needed to be covered and then room for discussion that didn't seemed forced."
“The fictional love child of Miranda July, George Saunders, and A.M. Holmes, Hurt’s debut collection combines farfetchedness and dark humor with just enough tenderness to make everything feel true.”
“I have been a longtime fan of Bryan Hurt’s stories and what a joy to have them all together now in this book! They are a soup pot of the funniest dry sentences plus unusual facts that he unearthed from who knows where, and an unstated humanity tucked inside those facts, and a constant eye on the oddness of culture and the lilt of a well-placed phrase and a carrot. In our endlessly data-packed world, Hurt’s keen sparseness is a welcome addition to the bookshelves.”
“Bryan Hurt’s stories are like no one else’s. They are by turns hilarious, whimsical, arresting, and heartbreaking, but what makes them such a delight is the sly simplicity and off-handed charm of their telling.”