What makes a story feel like good company? What makes a story feel vital? What makes a piece feel assured, or funny, or intimate, or remote? How do we even define this nebulous idea of an authorial voice? The purpose of asking these questions aloud during the course of this workshop is to get a clearer sense of what qualities of writing we want to exist in our dream stories—and how to sound distinctly like ourselves even when we’re actively imagining the lives of others.
Our focus will be works of fiction, but throughout our eight weeks we will incorporate other forms of narrative storytelling to stretch our imagination about what fiction can contain. Through generative prompts and mini-assignments, we will think about what other art forms we are continually borrowing from (television! radio! movies! music!) and what possibilities exist in the way you structure a story.
This class will focus not on what story you want to tell, but rather how you want to tell it. That comes from the deep specificity of your own voice. We will dig deep to find what kind of aesthetic principles that voice contains.
Each session we will dedicate the first hour to discussing an assigned short story from a craft perspective and free-writing using creative prompts. The second hour will be used to provide extensive feedback for student work. Each student will have the opportunity to submit one story or novel excerpt, ranging anywhere from 5-25 double-spaced pages. This class is open to writers of all levels who are looking to ground their work in the particularity of their own sound.
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.
- A sharper understanding of what influences your fiction, the shape of your own voice, and how to make it sing
- A space to generate new writing, and experiment with the many ways stories can be told
- Thorough, intensive feedback on a work on progress, including a one-on-one meeting with the instructor
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will be expected to read one short story prior to class and be prepared to discuss, contribute one short story or novel excerpt throughout the workshop (5-25 double-spaced pages), and provide peer feedback for the story being workshopped that week. There will be additional totally voluntary listening assignments for those who are interested.
Week 1 — Hellos + Writing Exercises
Week 2 — Possibilities of Form + Workshop 1
Week 3 — Food + Memory + Workshop 2
Week 4 — Object Lessons + Workshop 3
Week 5 — Speaking to the Moment + Workshop 4
Week 6 — Conversations + Workshop 5
Week 7 — Childhood + Workshop 6
Week 8 — Recognizing The Strange + Workshop 7
Hannah Kingsley-Ma is a writer and radio producer. Her work has appeared in outlets like The New York Times, The Believer, McSweeney’s, The Smudge, Literary Hub, Joyland Magazine, the CBC, KCRW, KQED and KALW Public Radio. As a graduate of New York University’s MFA in Fiction, she received the Jan Gabrial Fellowship. She has taught creative writing at NYU and PEN America. She is the 2020-21 Axinn Writer-in-Residence. More of her work can be found at hannahkma.com
"The instructor, who was absolutely wonderful, was always interested in what we had to say. She created an environment in which I felt comfortable learning, expressing myself, and interacting with other people's work. I never felt as if I was being prodded to speak for grade purposes. We were there because we wanted to learn, read, and share."
"I learned a lot about craft, and the workshop classes allowed me to reflect on what I thought made a piece work/not work, and learn how to apply that to my own writing"
"Over the course of this class, Hannah's advice and wise words have been vital to my development in writing."