Online | Fiction | Novel | Workshop

6-Week Online Novel Workshop: Joy-First Drafting

Whoever said the order the words appear on the page is the order in which you must write them? No one, that’s who!

In this six-week generative course for writers whose greatest wish is to fly by the seat of their pants while crafting their first novel draft, we’ll be focusing on a joy-first method of drafting that gives writers permission to start at “the good bits” and work their way out from there, creating the first draft nonlinearly and writing toward what makes them tick.

Weekly writing assignments completed outside our meetings will give the class a forward trajectory (we won’t call it structure just yet!). Students will end the course with a significant word count toward their novel draft, as well as an understanding of a less structured but more sustainable writing practice. Some writing experience is recommended. This course will include workshopping, but will not include a traditional critique model. Instead, we focus on praise, questions, analysis and wild speculation about what might come next. Perfect for an intermediate/advanced writer just beginning their next large project (or their first large project).

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.


- A solid novel premise that gets at the heart of the story the writer is most interested in telling

- A substantial word count toward that novel (approximately 10k, but writers get out what they put in)

- A different, more sustainable drafting method to add to their writer's toolbelt

- Two workshops, about 30 minutes each (workshop time is dependent on number of students enrolled)

- Access to a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Submissions are capped at ten pages per student per workshop, so folks aren't reading more than forty pages a week. Students will also be writing one scene per week toward their larger project and reading one "lecture" (blog post) per week. There is one gutter week in order to let the folks workshopping first produce something. Students may participate in optional asynchronous chat process check-ins aimed at creating community with their cohort. There will be no outside reading assignments so students can focus on producing their own works and reading the work of their peers.


Week One: Introductions || Daydreaming

Week Two: Workshop || And Now, More Introductions

Week Three: Workshop || Consulting the Oracle

Week Four: Workshop || Writing Sadness, Anger and Strife in Joy

Week Five: Workshop || Writing Joy in Joy

Week Six: Workshop || I Love Mess: Applying Structure, Later

A. E. Osworth

A. E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit) was long listed for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle, Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.


"Austen is an amazing professor! Incredibly engaging and passionate for each topics taught. Austen always provides really helpful feedback and advice for each project we have done. Austen is one of the few professors you KNOW cares and loves what they are doing; teaching and inspiring students."

former student digital storytelling at The New School (2019)

"Austen is FANTASTIC. They provided great readings, wonderful resources, and created a real community in the classroom. I always felt respected and excited to work on the discussion questions in this class. Austen always made sure to keep us updated and on task, offered resources, and pushed everyone to be their most creative self. I also loved their cat in the background of some of the lecture videos!!"

former student online fiction workshop at The New School (2019)

"WE ARE WATCHING ELIZA BRIGHT is a novel that takes on our techy zeitgeist at its silicon core. This is a novel vital for our time. It is about race and gender within white masculine worlds--particularly the gaming world. The characters are complex—the heroines are flawed, the villains are redeemable. The novel questions the entire ideological base of the hero/villain model in gaming and in the “meat” world outside of games. The prose is clean and expert; fun and smart. It is a fast read, but always deeply insightful. A book that will have cross-over appeal from literary types to pulp readers."

Tiphanie Yanique author of LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING

"Austen’s writing is smart, funny, inclusive, and accessible. I know that when I’m done reading something they have written I will have learned something, I will have laughed, I will feel part of the community they are committed to building, and most of all — I will feel like I understand better."

Vanessa Friedman writer at AUTOSTRADDLE