Online | Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Online Fiction Workshop: Writing That Provokes

"If you have the chance to take Cote's class, you will leave changed for the better." - former student

This is an online fiction course for writers of any experience level. In it we will discuss how to care for your writing both on a micro and macro level, as a means to create indelible, emotional, and evocative stories your reader won’t soon forget. Each week we’ll examine a different aspect of storytelling, from language and syntax, to characters, conflict, and plot, and discuss the different ways we can utilize these elements to provoke your reader. We’ll read examples from a diverse cast of writers, whose writing will serve as models and inspiration for your own work, which we will workshop twice. Additionally, you will Skype or visit with me over the phone at least once, to discuss your current work, your future goals, and how we can both work to improve your writing.

This class will meet over our text-only chat platform. There will not be any video or audio component to class.


- Focused weekly readings and support materials

- Thoughtful, detailed peer and instructor critiques of two fiction submissions

- At least one private conference with the instructor (via Skype or over the phone) to discuss writing goals, ways to improve, and whatever else you’d like to talk about

- A stronger understanding of the importance of language, and how you can use it to make each sentence count

- A better sense of how to make your reader care about your characters by creating strong, emotional arcs

- A strong plan for revising your work, turning each piece into its best self

- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Week 0 - Welcome, introductions, and housekeeping

Week 1 - The provocative sentence

Week 2 - The compelling conflict

Week 3 - Characters that matter

Week 4 - Structure and momentum

Week 5 - Dialogue with purpose

Week 6 - Revising wisely 

Cote Smith

Cote Smith is the author of the novels Limetown (Simon & Schuster), and Hurt People (FSG Originals), a finalist for the 2016 PEN/Robert J. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. He earned his MFA from the University of Kansas, and his stories have appeared in One Story, Crazyhorse, Third Coast, and FiveChapters, among other publications. Cote lives and teaches in Lawrence, Kansas.


"Ten years later, I still think back to my first fiction workshop. It would not only alter my college experience in a new wonderful trajectory but give me the confidence to keep writing. Cote Smith is not only an incredible author but an inspiring leader. He's somehow mastered being able to balance encouragement with honest opinion. His feedback is insightful and detailed. He's cool, funny and always available to talk- really talk. If you have the chance to take Cote's class, you will leave changed for the better."

former student

"Cote Smith constructs sentences that are at once clear and musical; funny and heartbreaking. His ability to tell nuanced, surprising, and wholly original narratives is unparalleled. He also happens to be a hilarious and generous human being, which means he’s not only the writer who has taught me the most, but also the one who has made me happiest in the process."

Chloe Cooper Jones Associate Professor of Philosophy, Helene Fuld; former teaching colleague at the University of Kansas

“In HURT PEOPLE, Cote Smith introduces one of the most memorable young narrators I have encountered in years, his voice charming, wise, and heartbreaking. Through his eyes, we watch as Leavenworth, Kansas, heats up one summer, aflame with danger and sorrow and disappearing innocence. Smith’s language is beautifully, terrifyingly simple, his view at once stark and compassionate. HURT PEOPLE belongs to an exciting new type of coming-of-age story, clear about the way the world works but acknowledging our need to remain hopeful anyway.”

Lori Ostlund author of AFTER THE PARADE

"Cote Smith writes characters that are beautifully, viciously alive. HURT PEOPLE is the supremely rare kind of novel that will crawl inside your heart and live there forever."

Laura van den Berg author of FIND ME and ISLE OF YOUTH

"Cote is the rare example of both a highly effective instructor and an insanely talented writer. Cote's class changed how I thought about fiction and profoundly illuminated the mechanics and craft of storytelling. The care and attention he gives student work and his insight have proven invaluable. His class was crucial to my development as a writer, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have taken his class."

former student