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The Online Novel Generator for Queer & Trans Writers: Twelve Months to a Full Draft

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Isn’t it time you transformed that idea—or handful of chapters, or messy first draft—into a finished novel?

At Catapult, we believe there’s a better—or at least less lonely—way to write a novel. Our competitive 12-month online novel writing course is designed to help writers generate and refine a submission-ready draft in a supportive and motivating atmosphere. Alongside a group of talented peers and under the guidance of a published novelist and accomplished mentor, writers will spend a year thinking deeply about how to build their story from the ground up. In addition to rigorous craft lessons on structure, setting, character, POV, and other elements of the novel, this course will include thorough workshops that invite author participation and questions and careful analysis of notable published work. Students will also be exposed to accessible, invaluable information about the world of publishing.

This class is open to queer and trans writers of all genres and forms of the novel but is best suited to those with a clear idea of what they want to work on over the course of the year—whether that idea takes the form of a collection of notes or an entire draft. You must identify as queer or trans to take part in this incubator, but what that means is entirely up to you. If you feel you are queer and/or trans, you are queer and/or trans enough for this incubator. Your novel need not feature queer or trans content, though it absolutely can.

The value of limiting an incubator, or really any professional space, to an affinity group is having certain core things assumed true at all times that need not be debated or worked through. For example, a writer working on a novel that never genders the narrator will never need defend their decision; the workshop will instead discuss how to make sure it works. It also provides a networking scenario in which members facing similar professional obstacles can discuss candidly how those obstacles may be navigated. As such, please respect that this is a closed queer/trans space. If you are not a member of this group, please select another Catapult novel generator.

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 professionals—debut novelists, seasoned writers, acquiring agents, and literary fiction editors from big houses and small—whose visits serve to offer students a wealth of insights on how one can best write and publish their debut.

We believe the writing process is sacred and should be protected from industry concerns in the early stages. With that in mind, phase one will focus on helping writers find and define their story; phase two, on finishing and refining the 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 writing education that treats publishing like a challenging, but achievable, goal. For that reason, phase three will center on navigating the literary marketplace. We will speak specifically about navigating the industry at marginalized intersections, and guest professionals will be asked to speak to that experience as well.

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 substantial number of new pages, a better understanding of the literary marketplace, valuable connections, and productive and strategic work habits that will transform their writing lives moving forward.

Each phase will additionally be supported by the presence of a teaching fellow who is also an emerging fiction writer. This individual will attend and observe many class sessions, assist A.E. with class logistics, receive professional mentorship from the Catapult team, and occasionally supplement (not replace) A.E.’s teaching.

Any student who applies by the financial aid deadline (August 1st) 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 between $500 and 50% of course tuition and all students are eligible to request a no-interest payment plan, whether or not they apply for financial aid.

To apply, please submit the first chapter of your novel-in-progress (up to 25 double-spaced pages), or your strongest writing sample, with a short proposed project description included in the attachment.

Phase 1: Finding the story (February 7 - May 9, 13 meetings)

In the first phase, weekly sessions will alternate between craft and workshop. Our in-class work will be geared toward helping each writer determine the best form for their novel, and how to best articulate that on the page. Whether you’re coming into class with an idea or an entire draft, we look closely at the beginning of your book to consider the questions that you’re laying out, the world you’ve built and the characters you’ve introduced, and how you are teaching your reader to read the novel from the very first paragraph. We will study noteworthy first chapters, unpack the wants and fears of your main characters, and begin to tackle the specific way time will function in your novel. Craft classes will be geared towards 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 the phone or Zoom for an individual conference following their workshop.

*No class 2/14

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

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

Phase 3: Navigating the marketplace (dates TBA)*

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, submitting their entire draft for peer review, and will also meet with a 2nd professional reader (e.g., freelance or house editor, agent, recent debut novelist) who will read the draft in full and meet with the writer to discuss via phone or video conference. Guest visitors will include agents, editors, and book marketers. Graduation will be celebrated with excerpts from the novels featured on Catapult’s website.

*Please note that some of the partnerships with Catapult in Phase 3 of your generator (for example, your graduation showcase publication and meeting with a 2nd reader) may extend beyond your final scheduled class session

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.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

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

- Four 30 minute one-on-one meetings over phone or video conference with the instructor

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

- 2nd Reader: In addition to the dedicated feedback from the writer/instructor as well as members of the class, each student will submit their manuscript after the conclusion of Phase 2 to a book editor or recent debut novelist who conducts manuscript consultations professionally. Intended to offer a professional perspective from outside the workshop conversation, as well as practice for future conversations with editors, this editorial letter is followed by a one-on-one meeting over phone or video conference to discuss their work

- A passionate and talented community of peer readers

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

- A finished draft* (No class can promise that you’ll finish your novel 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.)

- Greater fluency with the contemporary literary marketplace

- Professional and creative insights from regular guest visitors

- Showcase publication (of an excerpt of your novel) and graduation reading

FAQs:

Why Catapult, and not an MFA program?

Catapult is an award-winning independent publisher of literary fiction and nonfiction. Novels 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. Payment plans of varying installments are available upon acceptance to the course. Applicants 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. Students are also encouraged to explore multiple funding sources, including granting organizations. Our team maintains a regularly updated list of websites that gather grants and other funding opportunities for writers. If you have questions about the financial aid process or would like access to these opportunities, 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, guests, and 2nd readers 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, arranging second readers, 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 increase your chances of success.

In the course description, there are mentions of guest visitors, 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 visitors 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 new perspective on your work and offer concrete next steps for you and your novel.

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

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

A. E. Osworth

A. E. Osworth is part-time Faculty at The New School, where they teach undergraduates the art of digital storytelling. Their novel, We Are Watching Eliza Bright, about a game developer dealing with harassment (and narrated collectively by a fictional subreddit) was long listed for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. They have an eight-year freelancing career and you can find their work on Autostraddle, Guernica, Quartz, Electric Lit, Paper Darts, Mashable, and drDoctor, among others.

Testimonials

"Austen is an amazing professor! Incredibly engaging and passionate for each topics taught. Austen always provides really helpful feedback and advice for each project we have done. Austen is one of the few professors you KNOW cares and loves what they are doing; teaching and inspiring students."

former student digital storytelling at The New School (2019)

"Austen is FANTASTIC. They provided great readings, wonderful resources, and created a real community in the classroom. I always felt respected and excited to work on the discussion questions in this class. Austen always made sure to keep us updated and on task, offered resources, and pushed everyone to be their most creative self. I also loved their cat in the background of some of the lecture videos!!"

former student online fiction workshop at The New School (2019)

"Austen’s writing is smart, funny, inclusive, and accessible. I know that when I’m done reading something they have written I will have learned something, I will have laughed, I will feel part of the community they are committed to building, and most of all — I will feel like I understand better."

Vanessa Friedman writer at AUTOSTRADDLE

"WE ARE WATCHING ELIZA BRIGHT is a novel that takes on our techy zeitgeist at its silicon core. This is a novel vital for our time. It is about race and gender within white masculine worlds--particularly the gaming world. The characters are complex—the heroines are flawed, the villains are redeemable. The novel questions the entire ideological base of the hero/villain model in gaming and in the “meat” world outside of games. The prose is clean and expert; fun and smart. It is a fast read, but always deeply insightful. A book that will have cross-over appeal from literary types to pulp readers."

Tiphanie Yanique author of LAND OF LOVE AND DROWNING