Online | Fiction | Novel | Workshop

The Online Novel Generator: 12 Months to a Full Draft

Isn’t it time you transformed your ideas or handful of unfinished pages into a finished novel?

Writing has a solitary reputation, but at Catapult, we believe there’s a better—or at least less lonely—way to write a novel. Our competitive 12-month novel writing course is designed to help you generate and refine a submission-ready draft in a supportive and encouraging atmosphere. Alongside a group of talented peers and under the guidance of a published novelist and accomplished mentor, you will spend a year thinking deeply about how to build your story from the ground up. In addition to rigorous craft lessons on structure, theme, voice, point of view, and other elements of the novel, this course will include thorough workshops that invite author participation and careful analysis of notable published work.

We’ll be breaking down your book project into phases, providing effective craft lessons, peer feedback, and support for the difficult and rewarding process of writing the first draft of your novel, as well as resources and support for its life after the workshop: the many stages of revision, the agent querying process, pathways to traditional or independent publishing, career planning, and more. Teaching from over a decade of experience, I’m passionate about helping writers find the structure and support they need to discover and bring forth their truest work, and in addition, to visualize their desired career path and devise a concrete plan of next steps to reach their creative and professional goals.

During this course, students will devise an outline for and complete a solid first draft of their project. Alongside this work, we will discuss methods of writing from an outline without feeling confined by it, creating image-driven plot, generation and revision, setting personal deadlines, and managing fear and creative paralysis while staying true to your voice and vision. By the end of the course, writers will have produced a complete first draft of their novel and will leave with a personalized prescription for next steps, including a revision schedule, agent suggestions, a well-built and sustainable writing practice, career guidance, and more.

This class is open to all fiction writers but is best suited to those with a clear idea of what they specifically want to work on over the course of the year. The program will be divided into three phases, each focusing on a different element of the writing process and building upon earlier lessons. Each phase will feature guest visitors—debut novelists, seasoned writers, literary agents, and editors from big and small publishing houses—whose visits serve to offer students a wealth of insights on how to best write and publish their particular debut.

We believe the writing process is sacred and should be protected from industry concerns in the early stages. With that in mind, Phase 1 will focus on helping you find and define your story, and Phase 2 will focus on finishing and refining your draft. We also believe that the opaque barriers between the publishing industry and creative writing classes should be broken down, and that writers who hope to publish can be better served by a writing education that treats publishing like a challenging but achievable goal, as worthy of class discussion as voice and craft. For that reason, Phase 3 will center on navigating the current literary marketplace.

Throughout the year, class will meet for 120 hours (e.g., 40 times for three hours per session) with several breaks for holidays and “between” phases. Writers will graduate the 12-month novel generator with a complete draft of their book, a better understanding of the literary marketplace, valuable connections, and productive and strategic work habits that will transform their writing lives moving forward.

Any student who applies by the financial aid deadline (Oct. 31, 2022) and is accepted to the course will have the opportunity to apply for financial aid. While we cannot guarantee aid to every applicant, financial aid awards vary. All students are eligible to request a no-interest payment plan, whether or not they apply for financial aid.

To apply, please submit 1) a chapter or the first 25 pages of your novel-in-progress, or your strongest writing sample, and 2) a short project description.

Phase 1: Finding the story (Dec. 6, 2022 - Mar. 14, 2023; no class meetings Dec. 20th and Dec. 27th)

In the first phase, weekly sessions will alternate between craft lectures and workshops. Our in-class work will be geared toward helping each writer determine the themes for their novel, and how to best execute them on the page. Whether you’re coming into class with an idea or an entire draft, we will look closely at the beginning of your book to consider the questions that you’re grappling with, the world you’ve built and the themes you’ve introduced, and what your novel is representing from the very first paragraph. We will study luminary novels with an amplified consideration of form, and begin to tackle your specific voice and its function in your writing. We will discuss why your book is unique, why you’re the only one who can tell this particular story, and what tools you’ll use to do so in a way that’s resonant and singular. Craft classes will be geared toward generating new pages, drafting and outlining, and solidifying the novel’s structure, with specific attention paid to meeting each writer where they are. In this phase, students will have the opportunity to workshop once, up to 25-50 pages, and will meet with the instructor over phone or Zoom for an individual conference following their workshop.

Phase 2: Finishing and refining the draft (dates TBD)

The second phase will focus on helping writers get to the final page of their draft, with craft classes specifically focused on strategies for revising. This will be the first meaty engagement with the full manuscript. We will establish and discuss the major themes laid out in your book, naming, unpacking, and ensuring that each part of your draft relates to the whole. Students will have the opportunity to workshop twice during Phase 2, up to 150 pages each time, and will meet with the instructor following these workshops to discuss strategies for revision and their progress.

Phase 3: Navigating the marketplace (dates TBD)*

The third and final phase of the 12-month novel generator will help writers begin the process of thinking about how their novel might fit into the marketplace. Non-workshop classes will focus on writing the query letter, demystifying the literary publishing landscape, and building an author platform. Students will each have a final workshop, in which they will submit their entire draft for peer review. Students will also have the chance to ask questions about querying and other professional concerns at an agent panel. Guest speakers will include agents, editors, and book marketers. Graduation will be celebrated with a graduation showcase reading on Zoom and with an excerpt from each student's novel featured on Catapult’s website.

*Please note that some elements of Phase 3 (for example, your graduation showcase) will extend beyond your final scheduled class session.

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. 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. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- 120 hours of instruction, including at least three workshops of substantial excerpts per student

- Four 30 minute one-on-one meetings with the instructor

- 20% off all Catapult conferences, classes, and events, including any residential programs and writers retreats, for the duration of the program

- A list of personalized next steps, including a future revision schedule for the draft produced, supportive reading suggestions, agent suggestions, career guidance, and more

- A finished draft (No class can promise that you’ll finish your draft within the year, but we can promise that if you commit to showing up and doing the work, you will be given all the tools you need to get to that last page.)

- A deeper understanding of the craft of novel writing and how to develop a narrative across the span of a book

- Greater fluency with the contemporary literary marketplace

- Professional and creative insights from regular guest visitors

- A passionate and talented community of peer readers

- Showcase graduation reading

FAQs:

Why Catapult, and not an MFA program?

Catapult is an award-winning independent publisher of literary fiction and nonfiction. Books are our business: every day we work to help the stories and writers we love find their audience. Our program is designed to unite the best things about an MFA program—community, mentorship, and intensive craft analysis—with specialized and practical publishing advice.

How much does this class cost? Are scholarships, financial aid, or payment plans available?

Full tuition for this year-long course is $6250. No-interest payment plans of varying installments are available upon acceptance to the course. Accepted writers with demonstrated need will be considered for a limited number of financial aid awards. If you have questions about payment plans and/or financial aid, please email [email protected]

What is the financial aid process?

Once accepted, students who applied before the financial aid deadline and require financial aid in order to enroll will be asked to submit a statement of need. These awards have ranged from $500 to 50% of tuition, but in scenarios where the majority of the class demonstrates need, the largest awards are not likely to exceed $2000. If you have questions about the financial aid process, please email [email protected]

Can I apply a discount code to a 12-month generator?

We budget very carefully in order to provide financial aid to the writers enrolled in our 12-month generators who need it, while still paying our instructors and guests fairly for their labor. As a result, for these classes only, we ask that accepted applicants apply for aid if they require it rather than using a discount code.

Why does this class cost so much?

The 12-month novel generator is an MFA-level course, taught by a published novelist who is also an experienced educator with years of creative writing teaching experience at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Your tuition helps pay your instructor a living wage, and covers the cost of booking guest speakers, scheduling events, and administering the program.

I finished the novel generator. When will I get published?

We can’t promise that every writer who leaves the 12-month novel generator will get published right away, or ever. Publishing is a tricky business, involving lots of luck and time—as students who enroll in this course will learn! That said, as publishers ourselves, we strongly believe that we can help prepare emerging novelists to better navigate the publishing industry, and that our program and the connections made here will greatly increase your chances of success.

In the course description, there are mentions of meetings with guest speakers, agents, and invitations to special events. I want the details right now! Why can’t I have them?

People who work in publishing are busy, and we confirm guest speakers on a rolling basis, as their schedules permit. Agencies represented in past guest speaker line-ups include WME, ICM, Trident Media Group, Sterling Lord, Janklow & Nesbit, Inkwell, Writers House, and many more. We’ve had editors and publishing professionals from Big Five imprints including Knopf, Henry Holt, Riverhead, Penguin Press, William Morrow, Scribner, Crown, and many others, as well as indie representation from SoHo Press, Grove Atlantic, Melville House, and New Directions.

I barely have an idea for a novel. Is this class too advanced?

Maybe. How serious are you about the idea? If you just have an inkling, but you’re committed to coming in and focusing on that idea over the course of the year, this class might be the right fit for you. The key thing is that on the first day, you come ready to write. No one will write the pages of your novel for you, but this course can help you apply structure to your idea, and motivate you to finish the draft.

I have written several drafts of a novel, and I can’t seem to find an agent or figure out the next steps. Should I take this class?

Absolutely. Sometimes taking a novel to the next level requires cracking it open and figuring out how it works, and that process can be helped along by the insight of new readers. This class will give you a new perspective on your work and offer concrete next steps for a rewrite/revision in line with your goals for the book.

I’m still not sure if this class is for me. Could I talk to someone about it?

Yes! We would love to meet with you. Please email [email protected] to set up an appointment. 

Mila Jaroniec

Mila Jaroniec is the author of two novels, including Plastic Vodka Bottle Sleepover (Split Lip Press). Her work has appeared in Playgirl, Playboy, Ninth Letter, Joyland, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, PANK, Hobart, X-R-A-Y, The Millions, NYLON and Teen Vogue, among others. Her popular Catapult workshop, 40,000 Words in 40 Days, was featured in New York Magazine.

Testimonials

“The word I keep coming back to is doula. Not that I ever had a birth doula, but in my fantasy this is what an ideal doula is: centering, calming, insightful, encouraging, supportive, prescient, and wise beyond years. Mila is all those things (and brilliant and refreshingly honest and encyclopedically read) and a unicorn, to boot. Her class gets you to the page, plain and simple. Her remarkable spirit quells voices of doubt, enabling you to get out of your own damn way to arrive at your story. To unearth the heart. To do the work. Because that's all that matters. I learned more from Mila in a few short weeks than I learned over many, many years.”

Sara Lippmann author of LECH

“Working with Mila at an early stage of developing a new book was exhilarating, generative, and inspiring. I spent all week looking forward to my next meeting with her. Highly recommend studying with Mila if you want to get deeper into a book project!”

Leigh Stein author of SELF CARE

“I had a great experience in this class. Mila is a great teacher. For reference, I'm in an MFA program right now, and I felt much more at home in Mila's class than I do in my own MFA courses. I learned more, I felt more excitement about my work, and I also felt a deep care about my work, along with my well-being. The class itself was incredibly helpful. I've produced a book. And Mila was just a joy to have as a teacher. I'd recommend this class to everyone I know who's a writer.”

former student

“In PLASTIC VODKA BOTTLE SLEEPOVER, Mila Jaroniec writes with a seer's wisdom and a poet's touch. Emotions are evoked in language both lovely and dangerous. I love the honesty and the beauty.”

Darcey Steinke author of FLASH COUNT DIARY

“This is a book that wasn't just typed, but carved into a mirror with a razor blade. An adventure of errors through a maze where the walls move and the floor does too, PLASTIC VODKA BOTTLE SLEEPOVER pulses with vivid neon light; if Joan Didion and Courtney Love had to band together to save the world from itself on a Saturday night. Mila Jaroniec is part leader of a punk rock cult, part soothsayer of substance abuse, part art slick angel, all genius.”

Bud Smith author of TEENAGER

“PLASTIC VODKA BOTTLE SLEEPOVER is a razor-sharp meditation on loneliness in sex, under capitalism, in the face of mortality, even in the arms of those we claim to love. Not literature, philosophy, alcohol, or commodities fill the hole, and Jaroniec's triumph is that she doesn’t cop to any easy solutions. This isn’t a book for the winners of the world, but one that celebrates the Worst Of list, the losers, the ‘kindhearted satanists and drug addicts who are not sorry.’ Those who accept the world as-is with all its fucked up characters, each more gloriously doomed than the last.”

Sarah Gerard author of TRUE LOVE

“Mila Jaroniec’s editorial direction was extraordinarily helpful to me. She shaped my writing toward a greater purpose and effect with an assured but gentle hand. I’m very grateful for her guidance and generosity toward my work.”

Jac Jemc author of FALSE BINGO

“As an editor, Mila was able to tap into the undercurrent of my writing. She discerned the universal issues I was grasping at in my work and helped me bring them to the forefront in immediate and visceral ways, making my piece more organized and so much stronger. Her guidance helped me take my writing from ‘essay’ to ‘work of art.’”

Elle Nash author of ANIMALS EAT EACH OTHER

“Mila Jaroniec is a strong and sensitive writer who knows how to cut to the heart of any story. I’d trust her completely with my words.”

Chloe Caldwell author of THE RED ZONE