This workshop is for fiction writers who are looking to regain momentum and create new work. Writers should have some previous workshop experience. Both short stories and novel excerpts are welcome.
During class, we’ll use prompts, such as fictionalizing a “true” story or writing about a setting, to help generate new ideas. As we discuss student submissions, we’ll also focus on several aspects of craft that can propel your work forward, including the interdependent relationship between character and plot, the balance between scene and exposition, and writing pithy, characterizing dialogue. We’ll talk about process, too: how to establish a sustainable writing practice, what strategies you can use when you feel blocked, and when is it most helpful to get feedback?
Each writer will have the opportunity to submit their work twice for peer and instructor feedback and to meet with the instructor once for an individual conference. Writers will leave this workshop with a better command of craft, a toolkit for handling writer's block, and a heightened instinct for playful, engaging dialogue.
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 Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- More confidence in your writing process
- Tools for working through writer's block
- Better understanding of the relationship between character and plot
- Improved ability to write effective, natural-sounding dialogue
- Detailed peer and instructor feedback on two submissions
- One individual conference with instructor to discuss work submitted, writing process, and goals for the future
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will have the opportunity to submit for workshop twice (up to 25 double-spaced pages per submission). The majority of class will be spent workshopping student stories, but we will also save time for generative writing exercises and discussions of assigned readings. Students can expect to read one to two assigned stories or brief craft essays per week in addition to reading and critiquing their classmates' work.
Week 1: Welcome/Shitty First Drafts
Week 2: Five Modes
Week 3: Dialogue
Week 4: Character
Week 5: Point of View
Week 6: Revision
Joanna Cantor holds an MFA from Brooklyn College and a BA from Colorado College. Her debut novel, Alternative Remedies for Loss, was an Amazon Best Book of the Month for May 2018 and has been highlighted in Vanity Fair, Real Simple, Nylon, and elsewhere. Her writing has appeared in Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Departures, Fodor's Travel, Greatist, and the Willamette Week. Joanna was the 2014 recipient of a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship. She is also a yoga teacher. She lives in Brooklyn.
"[A] stellar debut...Cantor’s novel is not only full of unexpected turns but hits all the right emotional notes."
"A sharp and witty glimpse inside a functionally dysfunctional family, Cantor's first novel is heartbreakingly honest. Fans of Helen Fielding, Emma Straub, and Maggie Shipstead will appreciate Olivia's zest for life and capacity for personal growth. With a delightfully imperfect heroine, vibrant settings, and snappy dialogue, this is a whip-smart debut."
"Funny and sad, sharp and true, Alternative Remedies for Loss kept me reading late into the night, riveted by the unfolding of a life."
"ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR LOSS is a tender, juicy novel about family, failures, and finding one's place in the world.... Get ready to fly through this book, and be prepared for Cantor's prose to charm and surprise you the whole way."
"Ms. Cantor is a dedicated and thoughtful teacher who invests in her students and really cares about helping them progress towards their goals. She helped us cultivate our individual writing styles and I loved our discussions in class."
"Joanna is a perceptive reader who instinctively finds the heart of a piece and give suggestions that help my work become the best version of itself. I find that some feedback leaves me deflated, while other feedback inspires me to get back to work--Joanna's feedback always falls into the latter camp. She's my trusted first reader."