Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Workshop: The Practice & Craft of Writing Fiction

In this six-week workshop, we will explore the craft, discipline, and deep mystery of writing fiction. Writing is many things—a communication tool, a way of recording our experience and representing the world around us—but for the purposes of the writer, it is first and foremost a discipline. You will set—and meet—your own artistic expectations. Weekly writing prompts will give you the incentive to get your ass in the proverbial chair, and in-class weekly workshops will hold you accountable—not only to your classmates, but to yourself. We come into workshop for two primary reasons: to get perspective on how other people read our work, and learn how to read, ourselves. Each writer will workshop twice, and will meet once with me for an individual conference to discuss their writing goals and progress. Classes will cover structure, character development, the stakes of a story, and more; in-class writing exercises will help uncover that elusive mystery: inspiration.


- intensive peer and instructor critiques on two fiction submissions

- one private conference with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement

- access to a nurturing community of writers and readers and an engaged mentor

- practical advice about taking the next step as a professional writer—from applying to MFAs to preparing work for submission to agents and publishers

- greater familiarity with contemporary masters of literary fiction

- more confidence as a writer, on and off the page

Rachel Lyon

Rachel Lyon is the author of the debut novel Self-Portrait With Boy (Scribner 2018), which was long-listed for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Rachel's shorter work has appeared in Joyland, Iowa Review, Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, and elsewhere. A cofounder of the reading series Ditmas Lit, Rachel teaches for Sackett Street Writers Workshop, Catapult, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Subscribe to her Writing/Thinking Prompts newsletter at, and visit her at


“A haunting tale of how a singular, devastating event in the life of a young woman photographer changes the trajectory of her life and comes to define her utterly. Beautifully imagined and flawlessly executed, Self-Portrait With Boy will suggest, to some readers, the obsessive interiority of the great Diane Arbus, conjoined with an original and disturbing examination of the ill-defined borders between life and art."

Joyce Carol Oates

"Rachel Lyon navigates a spectrum of loyalty and betrayal like a tightrope-walker, with all of the attendant suspense. A life-changing moral choice powers this atmospheric novel which shows what can happen when you do what scares you most."

Amy Hempel

“Fabulously written, this spellbinding debut novel is a real page-turner. A powerful, brilliantly imagined story not easily forgotten; highly recommended.”

LIBRARY JOURNAL starred review

“A sparkling debut.”


“Lyrically written, emotionally complicated, and surprising in many ways, Self-Portrait with Boy is hard to put down. Rachel Lyon has given us much to think about.”


"Rachel made it clear that writing required passion but also discipline, and she was able to convey her vast knowledge throughout the course. She was crystal clear throughout, giving us excellent writing prompts for each class. Everyone was engaged."

former student

"We asked Rachel a lot of questions that often had no right answers, and she took the time to answer honestly and knowledgeably. She answered all my questions even though they did not all focus on the craft of writing."

former student

"Rachel was funny, smart, and kept us focused on the material at hand, guiding each writer to be the best they possibly could. She gave detailed feedback that was thoughtful and incredibly instructive. I gained confidence in myself as both a writer and reader."

former student