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8-Week Online Prose Workshop: The Art of the Fractured

There are a million ways to tell stories, and sometimes, a straight line from start to finish is not the best or most beautiful option. Sometimes, we can tell our stories in pieces. Fragmented, nonlinear, and other inventive forms can be both powerful and artful. Plus, it’s fun!

In this class, we’ll read some outstanding fragmented and broken essays and stories and study the techniques behind these nontraditional forms. Then, we’ll gather bits and pieces of our own stories and begin to list, braid, collage, erase, and rearrange these items into... something else. We’ll examine how to effectively combine multiple subjects, images, and motifs within a single piece. We’ll examine how fragmented structures can add complexity and amplify meaning without confusing the reader. Participants can expect weekly readings, in-class writing exercises and assignments, opportunities to share work weekly as well as two opportunities to be workshopped with thoughtful feedback from instructor and peers. The Art of the Fractured will be accessible yet challenging and inspiring for beginning writers as well as seasoned writers.

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.


- Expand and deepen your unique voice as a writer

- Elasticize your writing practice

- Learn craft techniques to create fragmented short stories that communicate deeper thoughts or emotions to readers

- Read critically and discuss work of established writers and peers alike

- How to fragment work in ways that amplify meaning rather than obscure it

- Various practical, applicable options for creating fragmentation on the page

- Write and revise several short pieces using different fragmented forms

- Identify literary journals that publish fragmented and experimental work

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Assigned readings will range from 5-15 pages per week. Weekly writing assignments will have a flexible word count in the generally accepted range for flash (approximately 500-1,500; in general, the most successful fragmented work tends to be on the shorter side in terms of word count). Each student will have two opportunities to be workshopped and will receive verbal and written feedback from their peers and the instructor.

During class time, participants can expect a blend of in-class writing exercises, craft talks, sharing of newly written work, and group discussions. Outside of class, we will have weekly readings (craft essays and creative essays) that exemplify or explore various fragmented forms.


Week 1: Overview of Fragmented Writing Forms and Containers

Week 2: “I Remember” Essays

Week 3: The Magic and Metaphor of Braiding

Week 4: Lists and Definitions as Essays

Week 5:The Letter/Epistolary Essay

Week 6: The Hermit Crab Essay

Week 7: Erasing and Cutting Up

Week 8: One Sided Stories

Jeannine Ouellette

Jeannine Ouellette’s debut memoir, The Part That Burns, was a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award in Women's Literature and received starred reviews from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. Jeannine's work appears widely in literary journals and anthologies, including Ms. Aligned: Women Writing About Men, Women's Lives: Multicultural Perspectives, and Passed On: Daughters Write About Father Loss, Lack, and Legacy. She teaches creative writing through the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, The University of Minnesota, and Elephant Rock, an independent program she founded in 2012. She is working on her first novel.


“At turns tender and devastating, these essays are finely carved vignettes that, laid together, form a powerful portrait of one woman's path from hard girlhood to motherhood, the grace and mettle it takes not only to survive but to flourish.”

Melissa Febos author of ABANDON ME and GIRLHOOD

“I love this book and am grateful it is in the world.”

Dorothy Allison NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of BASTARD OUT OF CAROLINA and CAVEDWELLER

“Ouellette's debut memoir, THE PART THAT BURNS, is calm, engaging and affecting without being devastating... [L]ike the cult classic THE CHRONOLOGY OF WATER by Lidia Yuknavitch, which has a similar subject, the memoir is beautifully written and interestingly constructed. Tell all the truth but tell it slant, said Emily Dickinson — another way of describing what Ouellette accomplishes here. All the truth, and many slants, like the angles of sun through the hours of a day.”

Marion Winik National Book Critics Circle

“Jeannine Ouellette's memoir glows with incandescent storytelling centered around memories, motherhood, and resilience. THE PART THAT BURNS proves that life isn't lived in a linear way. Girlhood and womanhood can exist simultaneously, our former selves meeting our present selves. Ouellette's writing is ablaze with a burnished beauty.”

Michele Filgate editor of WHAT MY MOTHER AND I DON'T TALK ABOUT

“This class teaches you how to dig deep and activate your voice. How to write about things that matter to you, and in turn to your readers.”

former student

"I am fervently clutching my learnings from the workshop. It was truly a yin mystery, for me, how the exercises yielded subtle yet powerful lessons. I feel renewed."

former student

"Jeannine was an excellent facilitator--open, sensitive, warm, and sharing of her expert knowledge. She was able to treat each one of us as a unique individual and create a bond with us on that individual basis. This I found truly remarkable."

former student