Online | Fiction | Workshop

8-Week Online Fiction Workshop: Mood, Tone, Atmosphere

This workshop will be for writers of all levels, but we will try to tackle the hardest of craft elements when writing fiction: the indefinite, amorphous concepts of mood, tone, and atmosphere. In traditional fiction workshops, we talk a lot about character development, setting, clarity, plot, and narrative momentum (we of course will address these in this class), but what of painting a scene to focus not only on the emotions of the characters, but the overall attitude and style of a text. How can we play with narrative speed, syntax, voice, description, and structure to capture the right mood, tone, and atmosphere of your story? How can we take inspiration from visual art, performance, and music to evoke certain feelings and affects in your story, which will then add extra layers of meaning to your character development and plot?

When grabbing a reader's attention in the first paragraph, it often comes down to the mood, tone, and atmosphere of your writing. Mikel Dufrenne called it the work of art's "expressed world," which draws energy from the consciousness of the artist. This class will help you pinpoint and improve your fiction's "expressed world." Every week, in addition to workshopping student writing, we will read short stories and essays and learn how to better dissect a story's mood, tone, and atmosphere. This will help us give thoughtful critiques to each other's short stories/novel excerpts. We will also be sharing and discussing inspiration (book passages, songs, paintings, movie excerpts, memes, tweets etc...) with one another so that we can better understand the aims and goals of each writer in the class.

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.


- Better understanding of controlling tone, mood, atmosphere in one's own writing

- Extensive feedback, from class and instructor, on one of your short stories/novel excerpts, and a shorter, second workshop on revision practices

- 1-1 30-minute conference call with instructor, after the course, to discuss your overall writing, and a second story/novel excerpt or revision

- Better understanding of how to infuse your writing style with your own passions/inspirations

- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


- Be prepared to give thoughtful feedback (line edits and one-single-page response) on writing from fellow classmates (25 double-spaced pages max each)

- Weekly readings to prepare for class discussions

- Short generative writing exercises to do each week and share with class

- Submitting a revision/second work of writing (15 pages max, unless it's a revision) to discuss with me over a conference call at the end of the course


Week 1: What is Tone, Mood, Atmosphere? Style?

Week 2: Taking Inspiration from Other Artistic Mediums

Week 3: Voice, Diction, Attitude

Week 4: Character Portraits and Development

Week 5: Character Portraits and Development (part 2)

Week 6: Description, Setting, World

Week 7: Description, Setting, World (part 2)

Week 8: Final Comments, Goodbyes

Anthony Veasna So

Anthony Veasna So is a queer Cambodian-American writer from Stockton, CA. He holds a B.A. from Stanford University and an M.F.A. in Fiction from Syracuse University, where he received the Joyce Carol Oates Award and a P.D. Soros Fellowship. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, n+1, and Granta, and his comics have appeared in Hobart and Nashville Review. A Kundiman and Lambda Fellow, he’s at work on a novel about three cousins—a rapper, a standup comedian, and an illustrator—and his story collection, Afterparties, is forthcoming from Ecco/HarperCollins in summer 2021. 


“Anthony facilitated constructive conversations that engaged and challenged the entire class and was very helpful! He edited my work to make much more sense and to have a better structure.”

former student

“Anthony was amazing, always there for us. An incredibly knowledgeable instructor, who always provided very helpful feedback. He graded hard but was always constructive.”

former student

“Anthony is very honest and critical enough while encouraging new, very complex ideas. His feedback was timely”.

former student

“Every now and then you’re blessed with a student so wise and funny, tender and dangerous, that when the work stuns THE NEW YORKER too, you can only say toldya. So it is with Anthony Veasna So.”