Online | Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Speculative Fiction Workshop: Writing the Sublime

The sublime, also called the "sense of wonder," is the evocation of something beyond human experience to inspire a sense of awe, and the driving force behind speculative literature.

In this online class, we'll be exploring the sublime as a key element in speculative fiction. We will look over the common mythologies that unite humanity, and discuss how we can remix them in interesting ways in order to….

We will also examine how authors like Peter S. Beagle, Sofia Samatar, and Amal el-Mohtar create the sublime through narrative beats that build to a satisfying conclusion. Besides reading and analyzing speculative texts, we will do exercises focused around the sublime, and workshop each other's pieces. Each writer will have the opportunity to submit their work twice during the six-week course.

This class is open to writers of all levels. Writers will leave this class with a deeper understanding of how to integrate the sublime into their writing, as well as written and verbal feedback and revision ideas on two workshop submissions.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. 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. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility. 

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- Prompts and exercises for how to reimagine mythology in creating the sublime

- An understanding of the role of story craft in creating sublime moments

- A renewed sense of the joy of speculative fiction.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students are expected to read either two assigned stories or a section of a novel for each class meeting. Students will have two opportunities during the class to submit their own stories of up to 25 pages for feedback during workshops, which will be held each week, and they will also be expected to provide written and verbal feedback on other students' workshop submissions. 


Week 1: Overview of class. Introduction to the sublime. Examining joy as a factor in speculative fiction.

Week 2: Myth. Focused specifically on reimagining mythology to develop your own take on it.

Week 3: Story craft in the sublime. Examining how authors use narrative structure to create sublimity; Workshop

Week 4: Story craft in the sublime, part 2;Workshop

Week 5: Sublimity in the everyday. Looking at how grounding elements work in tandem with sublime elements; Workshop

Week 6: Sublimity in nature; Workshop

Elwin Cotman

Elwin Cotman is a storyteller from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author of three collections of speculative short stories, The Jack Daniels Sessions EP, Hard Times Blues, and Dance on Saturday, which was nominated for the 2020 Philip K. Dick Award. He has been an editor and conceptual designer for Square Enix. Cotman holds a BA from the University of Pittsburgh and a MFA from Mills College. Photo credit: Rohan DaCosta.


"Elwin Cotman is one of the most original new voices you will encounter—he is a synthesizer of the domestic and the fantastic, of soaring myth and the grittiest realities, of lewd dialect and high lyricism. His stories are profound engagements with suffering of every stripe—they will also make you hoot with laughter. I was amazed by the force of Mr. Cotman's pinwheeling imagination."

Karen Russell author of SWAMPLANDIA!

“With hyperbolic, technicolor imagery and engrossing characters that radiate intrigue, these modern tales comprise a new book of essential fables for our time—read it, close your eyes, and delight in the words still glowing hot inside your brain.”

Alissa Nutting author of MADE FOR LOVE

“I found his class very enlightening, not just for writing but for teaching writing as well.”

former student

“Elwin's feedback on my submission was incredibly helpful. I liked that he was organized with a class itinerary and notes in an outline form for us to follow when he shared his screen.”

former student