Fiction | Workshop

8-Week Fiction Workshop

“It turns out that the distance from head to hand, from wafting butterfly to entomological specimen, is achieved through regular practice. What begins as something like a dream will in fact stay a dream forever unless you have the tools and the discipline to bring it out.” —Ann Patchett in her essay on writing, “The Getaway Car”

This course is geared toward fiction writers who are looking for detailed feedback, refreshers on craft, and an injection of inspiration to keep on chasing those butterflies. Whether you’re ready to revisit the old stories you’ve stuck in the drawer or are feeling your way through ambitious new ones, this class will provide a supportive but rigorous environment for pinning down your specific voice, strengths, and intentions. (Emphasis on your — a core tenet of this workshop is that each piece is to be taken on its own terms, with the writer’s best effort assumed.)

We’ll dedicate some time to studying selections from writers including James Baldwin, Yiyun Li, Edwidge Danticat, Elizabeth McCracken, and others, who have deftly handled the trickiest elements of fiction —time and pacing, for instance, or building rich worlds in a limited number of pages. But the bulk of our sessions will be dedicated to workshop, at least two student pieces each class. Both short fiction and novel excerpts will be accepted. Previous workshop experience is highly recommended.

*no class November 27th

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- Peer and instructor feedback on two stories/excerpts

- One private session with the instructor

- Readings tailored, in part, to your biggest writing struggles (as anonymously crowdsourced during our first class)

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

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

- The timely submission of 2 pieces for workshop, up to 25 pages each (double-spaced, 12-point font, normal margins)

- Critique letters to your peers, at least 1 page long (single-spaced)

- Occasional reading assignments (no more than 1 hr per week)

Dawnie Walton

Dawnie Walton is a writer and journalist. Her debut novel, Opal & Nev, is forthcoming from 37 Ink/Atria Books. She has been a MacDowell Colony fellow (2015) and a Tin House Scholar (2017), and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (2018). Previously, she has worked as an executive-level editor at Essence, Entertainment Weekly, Getty Images, and LIFE. Her short fiction has been featured on Poets & Writers’ “Ampersand” podcast and as part of “Let’s Play: Imagination, Intuition, and Black Creativity,” an interdisciplinary exhibit of Afrofuturist art at Oakland’s Pro-Arts Gallery. 

Testimonials

"Taking a class from Dawnie made me feel as though I had experienced the peak of what workshop is supposed to be. She guided discussion on the principles of both kindness and intellect; no matter the style or genre, she took it all seriously. It gave me the impression that what I brought to the table was worth writing, but also worth other people reading. That’s why I’m certain I wouldn’t be able to see myself confidently if not for her guidance and critique. "

former student University of Iowa