Fiction | Workshop

6-Week Fiction Workshop: Writing Better Settings

What are the “goods” of a story? Or, in other words, what is the story offering you, as a reader, that you’ll take with you off of the page and potentially carry with you for the rest of your life? Sometimes the goods come in the form of the author’s lyrical voice, or unique and unforgettable characters. Other times the goods are delivered through thrilling plot twists, or dialogue that is downright hilarious. But these goods are also often rooted in the specific place where the story is being told. When the voice, the characters, the plot, and the dialogue are all specifically crafted to show the specific nature of a specific place, the story can often become a fascinating world unto itself.

In this six-week workshop, students will share and critique short stories, novel sections, or other miscellaneous fiction, with an eye trained on how the setting—whether it be a city, town, or imagined land—affects the narrative. We’ll also read sections from various works of fiction, from William Faulker’s American southland to Zadie Smith’s London, and dissect how place alters, enhances, or distracts from the story being told and the life behind the characters.

Students will leave the course with feedback on two fiction submissions (two shorter works or two parts of one longer work.) Each student will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the instructor for individualized feedback and a chance to discuss writing goals. Class is open to students of all-levels, from beginning to advanced.


- Peer and instructor critiques on two fiction submissions

- One private conference with the instructor to discuss your writing style, goals, and areas for improvement

- Greater familiarity with contemporary literary fiction writers, specifically focusing on writers who rely heavily on setting/place to tell their stories

- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


- Workshop and revise two new stories, or other short pieces of fiction

- Participate in the constructive critique of classmates' work, as well as discussions about the craft of fiction writing

- Read short sections from stories and novels each week, in preparation for a craft discussion about setting/place

Maura Roosevelt

Maura Roosevelt is the author of the novel Baby of the Family, published by Dutton/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her stories and personal essays have been published in places like The Nation Magazine and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. Maura holds an MFA from NYU, and has taught writing at NYU and the University of Southern California. She grew up in Cambridge, MA, spent a stint in Los Angeles, and now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family. 


"Learned more in this class last year than in any other class in college. Everyday was just interesting. She's also funny."

former student

"She is the best teacher I have ever had in my life. I walked out of her class every time utterly mindblown. She uses the most interesting ways to teach and improved my writing drastically. I always looked forward to her class as did all of my classmates."

former student

“BABY OF THE FAMILY is one of the most absorbing and stirring novels I’ve read in years. In this nuanced and deeply moving story, Maura Roosevelt uses her considerable gifts as a writer to explore the complexities of privilege, family, and the American Dream. It’s a beautiful book full of surprises, insight, and real heart.”

Bret Anthony Johnston

“BABY OF THE FAMILY is a masterpiece, and gripping, and Maura Roosevelt is the realest of deals. You’ll love how big it is, and how thrilling.”

Darin Strauss NBCC-winning author of HALF A LIFE