In this eight-week advanced fiction workshop, we’ll commit to a supportive and rigorous workshop process, in which two students each week will submit work for considered, constructive discussion. (Each student, in other words, will have the opportunity to be workshopped twice.) We’ll engage in writing prompts and brief exercises, and read and discuss brief excerpts of pieces in which writers reflect on their craft. We'll also read short samples of fiction that employ distinct, and hopefully inspiring, techniques. I’ll also recommend reading tailored to each student based on their work and objectives, and I'll be available over email for guidance and encouragement. This course is for writers who already have some experience of workshop and are looking to push their fiction—whether it be short stories, fragments, or novel excerpt—further.
To apply for the course, please submit a writing sample of up to 10 double-spaced pages. Admission is rolling.
- You’ll come away with two fully workshopped pieces ready for submission
- A deepened understanding of the ways fictions work (note the plural!)
- A greater sense of your own voice and artistic mission
- Access to Catapult's list of writing opportunities and important submission deadlines, as well as a 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
We'll workshop two pieces each week, of up to 4, 000 words. Students will be expected to come to class having made marginal comments as well as having written a brief (around 400 words) response to the work in question providing feedback for the author. Students should come to class prepared to discuss and engage deeply, critically - and compassionately - with the work.
Week 1: Introductions, guidelines, ground rules, and how to be a good reader: some questions to serve you when reading others' work. On ego-lessness: reading George Saunders' "My Writing Education."
Week 2: On concision: some reading, discussion, and a brief (concise!) exercise
Week 3: On dialogue: what works - tips, tricks, and principles.
Week 4: On interiority: third person versus first person (versus second person)
Week 5: Responsible metaphor! - Using figurative language.
Week 6: Getting intelligently dumb: some thoughts on and exercises in intuition, oddness, and the notion of "felt if not understood."
Week 7: Plotting and narrative arcs: some exercises in mapping our fiction
Week 8: An open session in which students are welcome to bring any questions about both craft, further reading, as well as more practical, industry questions (when and where to submit your work, how to find an agent, etc.) and final workshop
Hermione is the author of Neon in Daylight, from Catapult in the US and Weidenfeld & Nicolson in the UK. Her second novel, Small Gods, is forthcoming from Riverhead. She’s taught in the at Columbia University and Southern New Hampshire University. She writes regularly about culture for the Guardian, the New Yorker, the New York Times, Harper's and others, and has interviewed cultural figures including Toni Morrison, Laurie Anderson and Taylor Swift. She’s been a mentor with Girls Write Now, a non-profit organization that serves at-risk girls from New York City public high schools.
"Hermione is one of the most sensitive, well-attuned, and delightfully delighted readers I've ever encountered. Her engagement with and responses to my work, when I've been lucky enough to share it with her, have not only inspired me to greater enthusiasm for my projects, but have uncovered brilliant and insightful new directions for the work. It's not an exaggeration to say that she remains one of my most trusted readers, and I am excited for anyone who gets to experience her sensitive guidance and warm encouragement."
"Hermione helped me understand the difference between a good story and a story the reader senses the writer needed to tell. She encourages her students to be egoless and curious, and she leads by example. What’s more, she is genuinely kind and real, which made me look forward to workshop each week."
"Hermione is an exceptionally perceptive, intelligent, and inspiring editor. She is excellent at identifying a writer’s strengths, while being attentive to narrative clarity and formal elegance. She often poses her observations as insightful questions that have allowed me to dig deeper into my own practice."
"'NEON IN DAYLIGHT' Will Catapult Hermione Hoby to Literary Stardom."
"What do you get when a writer of extreme intelligence, insight, style and beauty chronicles the lives of self-absorbed hedonists―THE GREAT GATSBY, BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY, and now NEON IN DAYLIGHT. Hermione Hoby paints a garish world that drew me in and held me spellbound. She is a marvel."
"A radiant first novel. . . . [NEON IN DAYLIGHT] has antecedents in the great novels of the 1970s: Renata Adler’s SPEEDBOAT, Elizabeth Hardwick’s SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, Joan Didion’s PLAY IT AS IT LAYS. . . . Precision―of observation, of language―is Hoby’s gift. Her sentences are sleek and tailored. Language molds snugly to thought."