This class is for writers of funny fiction, and takes a practical as well as theoretical approach. In addition to workshopping one another's original pieces, we will ask the very basic question: "What makes writing funny?" and break down scenes from humorous works of published literary fiction to better understand how writers make us laugh, and how we can use these lessons to infuse our work with our own, unique comic sensibilities.
If you'd like to polish and improve your humorous tone, dialogue, and characters, and/or you hope to use humor or comedy to add tension and further plot in your work, this workshop will be a safe and friendly space to find feedback and gain ideas and tools for revision, and for refining your own voice on the page in everything you write going forward.
In addition to examining our own pieces through our workshop's group discussions and feedback, we'll read and discuss excerpts and short stories from published works to strengthen our understanding of how writers make fiction funny. Our readings will serve as examples of different sub-genres under the umbrella of humorous fiction, from satire to slapstick.
This class is best 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.
- One workshopped piece with written and verbal feedback for revision
- One essay outlining your own approach and philosophy toward writing humor
- A stronger understanding of how humor works in fiction, and how you can employ this understanding to refine your own work
- A one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss your goals and ideas
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students will each submit one short story or excerpt (12-18 double spaced pages in length) to be workshopped by the group. In addition, all students will write a brief (about 500 words) essay in which they articulate their individual reasons for infusing their work with a comic sensibility. For workshop, students will read one another's work and write a brief response to include as feedback in discussing each piece. For each meeting, I will also assign one short story or excerpt and one non-fiction essay or interview that examines humor in fiction. We will discuss these in detail before we begin workshop.
Week One: "What Does Funniness Even Mean?" (A general overview of humor in fiction.)
Week Two: Satire Pt 1
Week Three: Satire Pt 2
Week Four: Hysterical Realism
Week Five: Understatement
Week Six: Farce & Slapstick
Week Seven: Parody
Week Eight: Dramatic Irony
Liv Stratman is a writer and humorist whose first novel, Cheat Day, was published by Scribner in 2021. She writes and hosts the newsletter/podcast A REASON TO LIVE. A few days a week, Liv serves up drinks and book recommendations at the East Village’s Book Club Bar. She is at work on her second novel.
photo credit: Savannah Lauren
"Sexy, witty and down-to-earth, Cheat Day tackles the truths about our modern occupations with wellness, relationships and what it means to be happy. What a pleasure it was to be introduced to the wholly original comic voice of Liv Stratman in this engaging debut."
"An absorbing, humorous, and nuanced exploration of the human desire for variety, the wellness industrial complex, and the overlapping cravings for sustenance in our lives: comestible, amorous, and lustful."
"Along with stellar characterization, Stratman beautifully (and often with humor) captures the complexities of long-term relationships and the ways deprivation and indulgence are intricately intertwined. . . . A funny, wise, and winning debut."
"I wish I could take Liv's class again. This was the most fun I had in a college course so far, and I learned a lot too."
"Liv is a really great teacher and always made everyone feel like our opinion mattered."
"Great teacher! The class had hard assignments, but she explains everything as much as she can, she even pushed our paper back to make sure we understood everything. Oh, and she's hilarious! Fun class!! "
"I love liv! As much as I hate English, I'm sad that I can't have her for my teacher anymore. I've never had a teacher so invested in her students and their understanding of the material. She's incredibly easy to meet with outside of class as well. It was easy going to class every day bc she makes them fun. Take her class! You won't be sorry!!"