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8-Week Generative Fiction Workshop: Writing the Uncanny & Fabulistic

A man collects a bouquet of eyeballs made with strangers’ blue irises for his girlfriend; a boy falls in love with a thousand-year-old bog cadaver who is simultaneously alive and not; women create babies out of hair and porcelain to bring new life into the world; a boy builds a heaven-bound tower of out rubbish, much to his mother’s dismay…. Whether reading something as fantastical as vampires and dragons or something as subtle as the sensation of being haunted, non-realist fiction holds a power to create emotional resonances and leave lasting impressions in our readers.

Freud once wrote of the uncanny—of fiction’s capacity to trouble that space between what is strange and what is familiar. It is the strangely familiar that can build mystery, can astound and surprise, can make us gasp from the magic and wonder that creative writing allows.

In this generative fiction workshop, we will be reading stories and responding to specific prompts connected to the work we’ve read to develop new writing. This class will include between 6-8 unique prompts, with students workshopping two of the favorite pieces they’ve produced within the class. The goal of this class is to animate our narratives to apply elements of the uncanny, strange, fabulistic, and/or fantastic. We will be engaging with both subtle degrees of strangeness as well as palpable representations of magic and fabulation. This is open to writers of all experience levels, including writers of both genre fiction as well as those who work with literary fiction. At its core, this class is about how we can use varying degrees of excess and unfamiliarity to expand our ideas of mimesis—ultimately harnessing the fantastic to strengthen other aspects of our writing such as character and setting and theme.

The class format will have a work of short fiction assigned each week that we will read and discuss and then respond to a generative prompt based off of. Writers might include Karen Russell, Octavio Paz, Helen Oyeyemi, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Evan S. Connell, Kelly Link, Aimee Bender, Lesley Nneka Arimah, Sadiya Hartman, among others. Students will workshop twice throughout the eight-week course for 30 minutes each. Additionally, each student will have the opportunity to meet the instructor via a conference call during the class to discuss topics such as preparing their work for submission and magazines/markets to send our work to.

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.  


- At least six new pieces of creative writing generated within the class

- Opportunity to workshop two pieces of fiction that you’ve generated within the class

- A deeper understanding of realism and the fantastic and how we as writers can work with genre elements to our advantage

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


-  Complete all the assigned readings (approximately one hour outside of class each week) as well as peers’ workshop readings

- Actively participate in class discussion about the weekly readings

-  Create new pieces of short fiction each week in response to the generative writing prompts that instructor has created exclusively for this class

-  Workshop writing that was produced within the actual class structure so students are familiar with the prompt each peer is working off of

-  Optional: submit writing a week in advance so peers have time to read your writing and provide it thoughtful, generous comments

-  Provide feedback for all students, even if you choose not to workshop your generated writing


Week 1: Welcome & Introductions

Week 2: Using Ambiguity to Our Advantage

Week 3: Repetition as Magic-Making + Workshop

Week 4: Harnessing Our Culture & Identities toward the Unreal + Workshop

Week 5: One Drop of Surreal + Workshop

Week 6: Naturalism with a Twist + Workshop

Week 7: Nonfiction and Critical Fabulation + Workshop

Week 8: Workshop + Concluding Comments

JD Scott

JD Scott is the author of Moonflower, Nightshade, All the Hours of the Day (Lake Forest College Press, 2020), a debut short story collection which won the 2018 Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize. Moonflower, Nightshade, All the Hours of the Day was a finalist for both the 2020 Shirley Jackson Awards and the 2020 Foreword INDIES Awards—as well as being called one of “The Best Books of 2020” by Scott is also the author of the poetry collection, Mask for Mask (New Rivers Press, 2021) and two poetry chapbooks. Scott’s prose and poems has appeared in Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Ninth Letter, Salt Hill, Sonora Review, The Pinch, Spoon River Poetry Review, Mississippi Review, Cream City Review, Poetry Daily, and elsewhere. Other writing has been featured in the Best American Experimental Writing and Best New Poets anthologies. Scott’s accolades include being awarded a Lambda Emerging LGBTQ Voices fellowship, attending the Poetry Foundation’s inaugural Poetry Incubator, and being awarded residencies at the Millay Colony, the Edward F. Albee Foundation, and Writers at the Eyrie. Scott holds an MFA from the University of Alabama and is currently pursuing a PhD. They live in Providence, Rhode Island.

Photo credit: Carina Finn


"The stories contained in MOONFLOWER, NIGHTSHADE, ALL THE HOURS OF THE DAY are true bursts of light. JD Scott has curated a collection that takes all the wild magic of youth and love and transformed it into tender aches, beautiful little pains. The stories sit lodged in your chest and refuse to leave. Compulsively readable and immaculately written, Scott has honed their incredible craft into a book that readers will return to again and again."

Kristen Arnett author of MOSTLY DEAD THINGS and WITH TEETH

"MOONFLOWER, NIGHTSHADE, ALL THE HOURS OF THE DAY is a surreal and poetically-written foray into the familiar and the weird. It’s the kind of book that can make the quotidian seem fantastical and can evoke the banality of living in a world that might look wondrous on paper. This is a book that abounds with unlikely miracles and strange damnations; even so, Scott’s fiction is also about such resonant themes as ritual, grief, and the unknown. … Trying to pin [one story in the collection] down to one genre or style is impossible; instead, much of its power comes from its ability to move through liminal spaces between genres (and between expectations of genres). The same could be said for Scott’s collection as a whole. Neatly summarizing it isn’t easy, but experiencing it is rewarding indeed."

"JD Scott’s MOONFLOWER, NIGHTSHADE, ALL THE HOURS OF THE DAY might be called fabulist, literary, millennial, parable-ish, or bildungsroman, but, as soon as the collection seems pin-able, another enchanting element surfaces. Scott’s range and rhythms delight. In one story, an insomniac narrator ruminates on the nature of reality via Wile E. Coyote. In another, a chinchilla’s death precedes the death of a relationship. A mother disrupts time and space to rescue her son. A twin returns from a watery grave to help his sister make another kind of passing. In a post-apocalyptic world, all land is mall, and all mall is living, changing, organic matter. The collection sings with bicycles, flowers, the vastness of existence, and good old-fashioned obsessive relationships, all in the name of a deep and pleasing exploration of love, power, and commerce, and how to map a life within and without their bounds."

Necessary Fiction

"[JD Scott's] class is exceptionally well-organized and their knowledge of short fiction is consummate; Scott equally excels at classroom management [and] ably leads class discussion by showing rather than merely telling; Scott's classroom is sensitive to the individual needs and differences of all students. The learning environment that this instructor has created for them is open, kind, and caring."

Formal Teaching Observation in a University Setting, Spring 2022

"I felt you, the teacher, were very understanding of us and the passion you have for literature made going to each class more enjoyable. I want to thank you for being so understanding of your students and for giving us the time we needed to complete assignments and for teaching us the material in such a compelling way. The passion and essence you give off when teaching is something that I wish more of my teachers had because it truly makes the material being taught more engaging and appealing."

former student