Fiction is a sanctuary for the otherwise near-extinct belief in the spectral: ghosts, haunted houses, and visions of the afterlife resiliently abound. Though writing the dead and of death run directly against the age-old adage, “write what you know,” some of the most memorable characters, scenes, and settings in literature are apparitional. Moreover, the ghost and the ghostly often serve as literary devices for conjuring the haunted historical past. In this four-week fiction workshop, we will concern ourselves with stories involving the spectral, the dead, and a sense of hauntedness in general.
In addition to in-class weekly workshops of student work, there will be craft exercises assigned as well as discussion focused on building character, place, and plot in supernatural fiction and/or fiction inspired by grief. This course is best suited for writers with previous workshop 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.
- Feedback from the instructor and classmates on at least two workshop submissions
- One one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss your writing
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Weekly workshop, each student should submit at least twice depending on class size. Workshop submissions will be up to 25 pages. Class participation and reading/ constructive criticism of peer work.
Writing exercise, craft discussion, workshop
Week 1: Plot prompt plus workshop
Week 2: Setting prompt plus workshop
Week 3: Character prompt plus workshop
Week 4: Milieu prompt plus workshop
Hannah Lillith Assadi teaches fiction at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Her first novel, Sonora, received the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a finalist for the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. In 2018, she was named a National Book Foundation 5 under 35 honoree. Her forthcoming novel The Stars Are Not Yet Bells will be published by Riverhead in January 2022.
“This debut powerfully evokes the sense of being an outsider.”
"Hannah Lillith Assadi's SONORA is everything a first novel should be--deliriously wrought, emotionally extreme, singular of markings, wild of heart, and following its unhewn path with proud instinct. This story of the doomed and dangerous friendship between two young girls becomes its own fresh myth, and the nightmarishly realized landscapes of the American desert and that city of cities, New York, are reconciled into a haunting whole."
"I think Hannah is an amazing teacher! She was very skilled at managing the class discussions. She found the most important details in each student's story, and had us focus on those details. She also encouraged people to voice their opinions. Without her, I would never have understood how to workshop. She was also extremely positive and energetic."
"Hannah is a very nurturing and supportive instructor. I feel very lucky that my first experience with something like this was with her. She is generous with her time and did a really good job of facilitating discussion. Even though the workshop has ended, I feel incredibly motivated to carry on."