In The Art of Fiction, John Gardner observes that novelty in fiction comes "chiefly from genre-crossing and the elevation of familiar materials." Our current publishing culture increasingly celebrates "crossover" fiction, such as Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and Marlon James’ Black Leopard, Red Wolf, works that appeal to different audiences and blend the imaginative elements of different genres with the psychological depth and artful language of literary fiction.
In this class, each student will work on one story through the whole course, beginning with generative work to find the seed of a new story or to reinvent an existing story. We will draw inspiration and a sense of play from different genre conventions and from writers like Octavia Butler, Carmen Maria Machado, Ted Chiang and Henry James who have elevated the aesthetic rules of different genres to develop their own sound and style. We will work toward a complete draft of a story that reflects our fascinations with one or more genres.
This class is open to writers with all levels of writing experience. Students will leave this class with a greater understanding of how to blend elements of genre fiction with literary fiction, as well as a draft of a complete story with feedback about next steps from the instructor and peers.
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.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- Inspiration from and a deeper understanding of genre in fiction
- How to build and revise a short story
- A back-to-basics review of the elements of fiction
- A complete draft of one short story
- Written and verbal feedback from the instructor and peers on one short story
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Weekly reading of around twenty pages and weekly writing exercises. Each student is expected to work toward the completion of one short story of 10-20 pages. We will workshop these stories toward the end of the course and each writer will receive feedback from the instructor and peers (students will be expected to give both written and oral feedback on peer work).
Week One: Introductions and generative exercises to gather possible materials for our story
Week Two: Literary Fiction as Genre. What are the conventions of the classic workshop short story, and what can we learn about character and detail from these stories?
Week Three: Noir, Mystery and Suspense. What are the conventions of the detective genre and its near kin, and what can we learn from this genre about structure, how to compel a reader?
Week Four: Myth, Parable and Fairy Stories. What can we learn from stories that reinvent timeless archetypes and imaginatively move into the unknown?
Week Five: Science Fiction and Fantasy. What can this genre teach us about ourselves that realistic fiction cannot?
Week Six: Workshop One (and perhaps some thoughts on horror and ghost stories)
Week Seven: Workshop Two (and perhaps a little discussion of satire)
Week Eight: Workshop Three (and a reflection on our own writing practice and aesthetic vision)
Anna Godbersen is the author of The New York Times bestselling LUXE series for young adults and the BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS series. THE BLONDE was her first book for grownups. She was born in Berkeley, California and moved to New York to attend Barnard College. After graduating she worked in the literary department of Esquire magazine, where she vetted short story submissions and wrote book reviews. Her most recent book is WHEN WE CAUGHT FIRE, a young adult novel set during the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which HarperTeen published in October 2018. She lives in Brooklyn.
“Mystery, romance, jealousy, betrayal, humor, and gorgeous, historically accurate details. I couldn’t put The Luxe down!”
“THE BLONDE by Anna Godbersen is platinum-hot. This extraordinarily vivid and totally unforgettable novel is on fire. Or… is it a novel? I was spellbound.”
“The author’s talent for creating flawed, maddeningly selfish high-society personalities is on full display in Emmeline, as is her knack for drawing sympathy for social underdogs such as Fiona, the real heroine of this love-triangle novel. Readers will root for Fiona and hope that she prevails with Anders, despite the possibility that their futures might just burn to the ground.”
"I have taken many workshop courses before and the recent six-week fiction workshop I took with Anna was one of the best. I found the class to be motivating, insightful, and inspiring. Although only six weeks, each session was valuable, and I left the course with a renewed excitement in my writing thanks to Anna’s instruction. I gained both support for my own work as well as a deeper understanding of the craft of fiction writing through lively class discussions, reading materials, and writing exercises provided by Anna. Most importantly, she created an extremely welcoming and supportive environment for such discussion to take place and skillfully prompted conversations forward with thought provoking questions so that they were constructive and helpful to each individual student. Anna also provided unique and profound insights into my work, as well as my classmates, that gave me a new perspective into writing that I truly would not have gotten anywhere else."
"I took a fiction workshop class led by Anna, which I highly recommend to any writer looking to further develop their craft. I looked forward to receiving her comments on my submissions, as she always provided insightful, helpful feedback. Her questions and prompts during class helped us think more deeply about our characters and story lines. The discussion led by her gave me new insight into how I could develop my main character, as well as the underlying themes of my novel. If you're looking to take a writing class, take one with Anna!"
"Anna approaches manuscripts with a keen eye, always looking beyond the superficial to identify the themes that drive the story. She's offered many valuable suggestions that have enabled me to to approach my characters with added nuance and sensitivity. She's that rare writer who understands people in all their complexities, and is able to deftly articulate her observations (and help others do the same)."