Eudora Welty once said, “Fiction depends for its life on place.” A crucial foundation for successful short fiction and novels is a specific, unforgettable, and well-imagined setting. Setting deeply affects tone, atmosphere, and often functions as a character driving action in a story.
In this class, which is open to writers at all stages, we will be working on honing the art and magic of place. Every week, we will be reading stories or excerpts from novels that showcase masterful backdrops, such as Daphne Du Maurier’s Manderley, William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County, James Baldwin’s Paris, and more. Most importantly, each student will have a chance to workshop their own fiction twice over the course of eight weeks. While the focus of much of our discussion will revolve around place, workshops of student pieces will provide more holistic feedback on ways a story or chapter can be improved.
Writers will leave with two workshopped submissions, and a concrete vision of what their own dream novel or story might look like.
- Students will walk away with a more perfectly drawn landscape for their stories and/ or novels
- Students will develop a sharper eye toward reading as well as to their experience of their daily surroundings
- Students will be given a nurturing and stimulating environment within workshop as well as the opportunity to meet more intimately with the instructor for a conference outside of class
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Hannah Lillith Assadi teaches fiction at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Her first novel, Sonora, received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a finalist for the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. In 2018, she was named a National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree. Her forthcoming novel The Stars Are Not Yet Bells will be published by Riverhead in January 2022.
“This debut powerfully evokes the sense of being an outsider.”
“Sonora is the most eerie and unusual coming of age story I've ever encountered—not a tale of innocence lost, but of innocence never had. In a story steeped in sorcery and curses, Assadi looks to the heavens, wild-eyed and bewildered.”
"Hannah Assadi has a distinctive gift for conveying both her passionate enthusiasm for writing and her extensive knowledge of literary craft in a manner that is as enjoyable as it is informative. Most important, she is the writing teacher who helps you get the job done, the teacher you will be thanking someday in the acknowledgements of your published novel."
“With penetrating grace, Hannah Lillith Assadi details the intoxicating precarity of being young and alive and desperate to change. Sonora is unforgettable and deeply felt, the type of book that brings you close, infiltrates you, and leaves you with the sense that you've just lived an entire life.”
"Hannah Lillith Assadi's editing insights are as thoughtful and intriguing as her own prose. The expert suggestions that Ms. Assadi provides have brought my fiction writing to the next level. She is the person I trust most with the projects that I hold dearest to my heart."