Nonfiction | Master Class

6-Week Personal Essay Master Class

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This course will combine reading and writing to explore the craft of personal essay writing, and open up your eyes to different formats for telling your story. Each week, we'll examine a specific form of storytelling—first-person narrative, oral history, interview, and creative nonfiction—and write and workshop short pieces in that week's style and/or theme. You will be writing a lot! The goal of this class is to be generative and inspiring. Our work will push you outside of your comfort zone as a writer, introduce you to different ways to approach nonfiction, and help you produce on a regular schedule.

You will finish the course with the tools to translate your life story into a vibrant, compelling work of writing, and knowledge of some of the best and most surprising works in the genre. This is a writing intensive master class, best suited to writers with prior workshop experience.

Students in this class will be invited to a private spring wine reception with leading literary agents.


- Thoughtful, detailed peer and instructor feedback on six different pieces of writing, as well as weekly exercises and craft lessons

- A greater sense of the narrative possibilities available to writers working in a first person mode

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

- Access to a mentor with decades of experience editing for top of the line online and print publications, as well as a nurturing community of peers

- The tools to translate your life story into vibrant, compelling writing

- More confidence as a writer—on and off the page! 

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


- Weekly writing assignment (800-1,200 words)

- Read classmates' workshop stories every week and prepare thoughtful comments for reach piece (about 1.5 hours of work outside of class)

- Short weekly reading assignments (should take less than 20 minutes outside of class)

Hillary Frey

Hillary Frey is the executive editor of HuffPost and a career editor who has worked everywhere from the literary departments at The Nation magazine to to the newsrooms of Fusion and NBC News. She has assigned, edited, and published novelists, nonfiction writers, essayists, journalists and reporters over a 20 year career in media. At HuffPost, she oversees the successful "Personal" section, which is devoted to first-person storytelling and elevating unexpected and unique voices. She lives in Brooklyn with her daughter, Lucien.


"Hillary Frey edited me during some of the most chaotic (and formative) years of my early career in journalism. In part because of her, those years were also some of my favorite. She is clear, clean, and often seemingly clairvoyant in her approach to text. She's smart and direct and fresh in her thinking, from story ideas to strategy to style. She helped me to understand journalism's role and a journalist's job better than I had before I worked with her."

Rebecca Traister author of ALL THE SINGLE LADIES and BIG GIRLS DON'T CRY

"What I admire most about Hillary Frey, both as an editor of my work and as a former colleague, is her seriousness about storytelling, her love of the written word, and the rigor and generosity with which she approaches, well, everything. I couldn’t ask for a better editor or shaper of ideas, and I’ve been lucky to work with her."

Anna Holmes editor of THE BOOK OF JEZEBEL

"Hillary Frey has been an icon in her field for ages. Long before she edited me, I dreamed of her editing me. I had noticed her byline my entire career—her pieces were always smart, vibrant, incisive. Plus, I know few other editors who not only held positions well, but also shaped entire culture of the publications wherever they went. Whether at THE NATION, THE OBSERVER, SALON, FUSION, or Matter Studios (and that's just a short list), Hillary has been an all-around MVP in media. Also, I've never met a single person who's not had an amazing time working with her. On top of making you a better writer, she's also very open and generous and lets you be your best self. If it's that extremely empowering and inspiring to work with her, I can't imagine how it would feel to be her student!"