This is a generative studio-style class where the bulk of your time, for two hours each week, will be spent writing. We will be experimenting with fiction, memoir, and poetry through exercises and games. Craft-based reading material from Lynda Barry, Alexander Chee, Cheryl Strayed, and others will be available for your inspiration along with craft lectures and tips for developing a consistent writing practice. All homework is optional—exclusively for your benefit. This course is designed, above all, to relieve the stress of the writing process!
You will be expected to share some (not all) of your work in class, with the understanding that these will be fresh, raw, often partial drafts. Discussions will be focused on what the work is doing and brainstorming ideas for further development rather than intense editorial feedback.
Writers need not be familiar with all genres prior to enrolling! Writers of every level looking to begin, expand, or remember their practice are encouraged.
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.
- A new body of work in multiple forms
- An understanding of your own individual writing process
- Greater trust in your instincts
- Dedicated time each week to create alongside a supportive community
- A one-on-one 30 min Zoom meeting with the instructor
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students should come prepared to write, experiment, play, and interact each week. Writing time will be guided by craft exercises. Most of these exercises will be individual, with the option to share afterwards (either verbally or through Zoom's screen share feature) for brief verbal feedback from the instructor and fellow students. Exercises will sometimes be collaborative. Everyone will be expected to share occasionally, but no one will be forced to share anything they're uncomfortable with. All material will be created in workshop and drafts are expected to be rough!
Week 1 Fictionalizing the self: fears, wants, strong opinions
Week 2 Follow your instincts, follow the image
Week 3 Sense of place
Week 4 Mutating forms
Week 5 Collaborative games
Week 6 Playing with genre
Week 7 Trust exercises
Week 8 The mysterious art of editing
Madeline Stevens is a writer from Boring, Oregon currently based in Los Angeles. Her first novel Devotion is out now in the US, UK, France, Portugal, Germany, and Mexico. It is also forthcoming in Italy and China. Madeline holds an MFA from Columbia University and her stories and essays have been published in The Guardian, CrimeReads, and Joyland Magazine among others. She works as a consulting editor and teaches creative writing to adults and children.
"I’m lucky to be in a writing group with Madeline, and her work is absolutely stunning, with faithfully rendered characters and gripping plotlines. Her forthcoming novel is one of the best books I’ve read in years, replete with a consistently pitch-perfect emotional tone. Madeline was also one of the first people to workshop my novel, and her sharp eye and thorough attention helped rework the landscape of the book for the (far) better."
"Madeline Stevens conjures up a mood like no one else--and brings a satisfying, delicious beauty even when describing a horrible situation. Her work is well-crafted and acutely observed."
"Madeline Stevens writes sexy, lucid prose that grabs you like a fever dream, sentences of dark, shining clarity that linger in the mind for months."
"Madeline saw straight to the heart of my story and showed me exactly how to bring it out. Her advice was concrete, intelligent, and kind."