Online | Fiction | Seminar

4-Week Online Fiction Seminar: Writing Dialogue

In this four-week course, we will learn how to make our characters talk. We’ll read the work of Elmore Leonard, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jennifer Egan, and Curtis Sittenfeld, analyzing dialogue to determine how each author uses the artifice of fiction to capture the energy and momentum of real-life conversation. What should your characters say to each other? How much should they leave unsaid? When might dialogue hesitate, pause, or stop, and how can these breaks in the conversation drive the narrative forward?

In addition to a weekly reading assignment, students will complete three short writing exercises. In the fourth week, students will submit a dialogue-heavy writing sample. Throughout the course, I will provide feedback. Though this course won’t take the form of a traditional workshop, students will also have the opportunity to comment on one another’s work. This class is open to writers with all levels of experience.

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.


- Receive written feedback from instructor on three exercises and one story or novel excerpt

- Learn to use dialogue to drive your narrative forward

- Participate in supportive discussion with instructor and peers

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students should expect to complete less than an hour of reading each week and be prepared to write three short exercises (under 1,000 words) over the course of the class. Students will also turn in one short story or novel excerpt (up to 3,000 words) and provide feedback on their peers’ submission.


 WEEK ONE: "For Something To Do" by Elmore Leonard

WEEK TWO: The opening chapter of A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

WEEK THREE: "Casting Shadows" by Jhumpa Lahiri

WEEK FOUR: "A For Alone" by Curtis Sittenfeld

Emily Adrian

Emily Adrian is the author of Everything Here Is Under Control and The Second Season, as well as two critically acclaimed novels for young adults. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Emily currently lives in New Haven, Connecticut with her husband, her son, and her dog named Hank.


“Filled with compelling characters…Full of texture and authentic human ambivalence.”


"I'm a goner; I will read anything she writes.''

Rufi Thorpe Author, THE KNOCKOUT QUEEN

"She writes as engagingly and insightfully about basketball and broadcasting as she does about work, love, friendship, ambition, motherhood, aging, and the power and frailty of the body."

Chris Bachelder Author, THE THROWBACK SPECIAL

"Emily can take any piece of writing from good to great with her ability to hone in on the heart of the story and her deep understanding of what makes a novel engaging and believable."

Kerry Winfrey Author, WAITING FOR TOM HANKS

"Emily is a careful reader and a skilled editor. She has been invaluable in turning my writing into the best possible version of itself."

Former editing client