Online | Fiction | Intensive

8-Week Online Fiction Intensive: How To Build A Short Story

Do you often think you have great ideas for a short story but aren’t sure how to get those ideas from your head to the page?

This 8-week course will consist of reading and discussing short stories, completing writing exercises both in and out of the classroom, and developing story ideas beyond the first flash of inspiration. Through the careful exploration of the elements of fiction (characterization, world-building, backstory, structure, and so on) and guided experimentation, participants will learn what makes a viable story idea and how to develop that idea into a full story. At the end of the session, students will have the tools to draft an entire short story, as well as multiple solid story starts to follow up on. This class is suitable for all levels of writers interested in the short story form, from those who have never attempted writing one to more experienced writers looking for fresh ideas.

Though you’ll be in community with other writers and receive development-oriented feedback from the instructor, please note that this is not a workshop but an active craft class focused on understanding and practicing the elements of short stories through reading and rigorous practice. 

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.


- Understanding of the elements of story

- Multiple developed story starts, if not a complete story

- Brief instructor feedback on all exercises (to be shared in writing over the online class platform)

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students should expect to produce anywhere from 3-10 rough draft pages a week, read two published short stories per week, and to engage in discussions of those stories during live sessions. Though not a typical workshop, engagement with your peers on process during live sessions is expected.


Week 1: Monkeys and Circuses, Part 1

Week 2: Monkeys and Circuses. Part 2

Week 3: World Building

Week 4: The People in Your Neighborhood

Week 5: Point of View and Voice

Week 6: Methods of Communication

Week 7: Plot Isn’t a Four-Letter Word

Week 8: Sequencing, Form, Shape

Danielle Lazarin

Danielle Lazarin is the author of Back Talk: Stories (Penguin Books, 2018). She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where her stories and essays won Hopwood Awards. Her fiction has won awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, and Glimmer Train and can be found in The Southern Review, Colorado Review, Boston Review, and elsewhere. 


"Although Lazarin’s work has the tone and style of traditional mainstream short fiction, it joins a growing canon of quietly realist stories that establish women’s experiences as worthy of literary attention. And not just women’s experiences: These stories also explore the exhausting, slow poison of masculine power, the grind of the patriarchy on even the most privileged of women, the subtle ways in which men have trained women to minimize themselves."

Carmen Maria Machado for THE NEW YORK TIMES

"I absolutely loved this book—from the first page to the last, this collection is stunning for its insight into the lives of young women, revelatory for its finely tuned prose, and unforgettable for its humor and tenderness. I will return to these stories again and again. I envy the reader who gets to discover Danielle Lazarin's work."

Julie Buntin author of MARLENA

"The stories in BACK TALK are not only fierce and unflinching in their clear-eyed portrayal of women and girls, they are also tender and compassionate, imbued with a deep longing. Lazarin is a sophisticated writer and her remarkable debut offers us subtle but profound truths about growing up, moving forward, and finding ourselves."

Edan Lepucki NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of CALIFORNIA

"Danielle is an incredibly generous and encouraging instructor. Her close reading of my work allowed me to see my writing from new angles. Her thoughtful, incisive feedback helped me become a better storyteller."

former student

"Danielle is a terrific teacher, and I say that as someone who has chosen to study with her twice. Her classroom exercises have led to stories of my own. Her comments on my submissions have driven me to take pieces to full fruition, months after the final assignment. I have completed short stories now that exist solely because I was in her class. Beyond a doubt, working with Danielle has made me a better writer.  Highly recommended."

former student

"Danielle is an amazing instructor, and far exceeded any and all expectations I had for this class. She was incredibly thoughtful, well-organized, and knowledgeable, and was always prepared with hand-outs of work we'd need to read, and she provided thoughtful comments each week on our assignments. She was clear that she had high expectations for us -- she asked us to write a lot, but I liked that intensity! Plus -- and, I think this counts for a lot -- she took the time to get to know us. She remembered all of our names immediately, would reference questions we'd asked weeks ago, and just genuinely seemed to care about our growth as writers. I would highly recommend any class by her, and I hope that she has the chance to teach many, many more classes at Catapult."

former student

"Danielle's instruction on revision reoriented my writing life. I've always struggled with making sweeping changes, but Danielle made it easy. Her exercises and feedback demystified revision and made the process from first draft to final draft so much clearer. I no longer dread drafting, but see each iteration as an opportunity with an obvious goal."

former Catapult student

"Danielle Lazarin was a thoughtful and encouraging instructor. In the short story class I took, the students had a wide range of experience and comfort levels, and Danielle met each of us where we were. As a teacher, she was incredibly organized, patient and great at providing examples of whatever writing device we were discussing that week, and was a joy to learn from. She’s also a sharp editor who asks the right, probing questions, and knows how to push her students to write the best they can. I highly recommend Danielle for any of your writing needs."

former Catapult student

"Danielle’s class didn’t just teach me the most important revision technique ever (take her course and you’ll discover it, too!). She also introduced me to a variety of writers and tools for my story type, all of which have changed my revision process for the better."

former Catapult student