Online | Fiction | Workshop

8-Week Fiction Workshop: Pacing, Plot, & Publishing

“Fiction was invented the day Jonah arrived home and told his wife that he was three days late because he had been swallowed by a whale..” —Gabriel García Márquez

This fiction workshop is designed to help you refine your pacing and flush out your plot for the short story or novel you are working on and will (hopefully) one day publish.

The class will be divided into thirds. In the first third, we’ll discuss plot. We’ll debate whether there exists a preset number of plot lines in the history of storytelling and what this means for your own narrative arc.

The second third will be dedicated to pacing, or the secret to get a total stranger to stay a little while longer in the fictional world you created for no other reason than an irresistible urge to find out what happens next.

The final third will focus on the practicalities of publishing: query letters, agents, publishers, and how to navigate them.

We will read short stories and novel excerpts from underrepresented voices who did it the best, including: Deeshaw Philyaw, Te-Ping Chen, Jason Mott, Danielle Evans, Charles Yu, Torrey Peters, and Andrew Sean Greer.

By the end of class, each writer will have a deeper understanding of the “shape” and speed of their own stories, as well as the next steps for publishing that story and putting it out into the world.

This class would be a good fit for both beginners and those with previous workshop experience.

*No class March 9th.

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.  


- What happened, and how did we get here? Implicit to every story ever told, these are the two questions every reader (and therefore, author) asks. How well you answer them dictates whether the person keeps turning the page.

- The third takeaway is practical: how do you get your story into the hands of readers?

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


We will both workshop and work on craft. Each week, we’ll start by discussing the reading because after all, the best writers read constantly, voraciously, without fail. Students will be expected to read the short story or novel excerpt before class and be prepared to discuss.

Every week will also involve in-class writing activities, followed by sharing and discussion of each other’s work.

Students will be expected to provide verbal feedback on their peers’ work, and can expect to submit to workshop weekly (up to 1,000 words) for verbal feedback from their peers and the instructor.


Week I: The __ Plot Lines

Week II: Plot Workshop

Week III: Good pacing, Bad pacing

Week IV: Lessons from screenwriting

Week V: Pacing workshop

Week VI: The Art of the Query

Week VII: Writing the Synopsis

Week VIII: Workshop your first pages

Christine Ma-Kellams

Christine Ma-Kellams is a Pushcart-nominated writer, Harvard-trained cultural psychologist, and college professor whose short stories have appeared in over two dozen literary magazines and whose debut novel, The Band, is forthcoming from Atria. 


"Morally complex, darkly funny debut"

Loan Le editor at Atria Books

"*Wild* KPop novel-of-my-heart, THE BAND!!! I dreamed of this book"

Emmy Higdon Nordstrom, agent at Westwood Creative Artists

"Your encouragement to step outside our comfort zone and think about submission is a genuine gift."

former writing student

"Great comments. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I especially appreciate your broader observations...It’s great to get feedback on stylistic choices. It is uncommon to get such comments from readers but they are helpful feedback."

former writing student