Writing Consultants

When workshop is not enough. 

Several of our instructors are available for one-on-one writing coaching, manuscript consultation, and MFA application review. Their services are $80 per hour, unless otherwise noted; we also arrange consulting packages on a project-specific basis. 

Contact Julie Buntin (julie.buntin@catapult.co), Director of Writing Programs, for more information or to set up an appointment to determine which consultant or writing coach best suits your goals.  

Karen Bender

Karen is available for short story and MFA application consulting.

“In my view, a writer needs three things to create a memorable story. The first is honesty. A powerful story needs to be honest—not necessarily in a literal sense, but in an emotional sense. A writer needs to be engaging with something she/he feels strongly about; that is the engine under the words on the page. The second is craft. A writer needs to understand the technical aspects of writing—plot, dialogue, scene, exposition, sensory detail, point of view—in order to effectively convey the feeling in the work. Finally, a writer needs patience to revise work, doing many drafts as a story becomes better and better. When I critique a story, I first look at what is working, what is strong, as often writers may not be able to identify what is effective in their work. The next step is looking at the architecture of a story—if the structure is working and how to make it stronger. Then I look at the characters and we think about what to develop, how to make them more alive. I also look at individual sentences—for clarity, meaning, beauty. Which sentences work and which need to be cut or revised? Each piece is its own world, works on its own terms. My goal is to give the writer some ideas to continue the story, and to have a path to follow after our discussion ends. 

Inquire about working with Karen.

Lily Brooks-Dalton

Lily is available for fiction and nonfiction consulting and motivational coaching.

“Whether a memoir, a novel, or a shorter piece, I come to every piece of work to find its spark and to nurture the moments where the writer's intentions align with the reader’s experience. Working with a writer on a piece of prose is a layered experience, beginning with a macro gaze and concluding with a focus on language. Early discussions are often broad, examining the conceptual, architectural shape of the work, and moving toward refining the arc of the story into a cohesive and compelling journey for the reader. When the shape of the work is solidified, the mechanics (character development, description, scene work, dialogue, etc) of how that shape is built can begin to crystallize. I approach work in any stage of development with honesty, encouragement, and an open mind.

Inquire about working with Lily.

Garrard Conley

Garrard is available for memoir or personal essay consulting and motivational coaching. His rate is $85 per hour.

Inquire about working with Garrard.

Jessica Ciencin Henriquez

Jessica is available for Modern Love essay consulting.

52 slots a year and one of them belongs to you. The New York Times’ Modern Love column is one of the few publications where an award-winning author and a novice writer have the same shot at sharing their story with millions of readers. Many writers reach a frustrating point in the writing process where they begin to ask, “Is this even interesting to anyone else but me?” That is where I come in. One of my goals as a consultant is to help examine your work and separate the necessary details from the superfluous sentences so that what is left is a vulnerable, powerful piece of writing and not just another party anecdote. I approach every essay with respect and sensitivity as well as a critical editorial eye. My job is not to transform your story into the one I think you should tell. My job is to help you get out of your own way so that your experience can exist on the page in a style that is believable, beautiful and most importantly, publishable. I provide feedback that is carefully thought out, articulate, and thorough. My line edits focus on finding ways that dialogue and scene can be better used to further a story or develop a character more clearly; removing distracting tangents; deleting repetition; challenging you to dig deeper into the emotions buried beneath the words.

Life does not naturally unfold into a refined arc, fit to print. Life and love are messy and chaotic but with time, perspective and revision, we can shape your essay in a way that maintains the honesty, individuality and power of your writing. 

Inquire about working with Jessica.

Hermione Hoby

Hermione is available for fiction and nonfiction consulting.

I approach the creative, collaborative work of editing as I would any important conversation: with as much openness, close listening, and empathy I can bring. I love working with a writer to find and nurture whatever is most honest and resonant in an early draft but I’m equally happy to get stuck in on the delicate, micro level with the work of fine-tuning and finessing something more developed. It’s always thrilling to see how tiny changes can have radical effects.

Inquire about working with Hermione.

Maryse Meijer

Maryse is available for fiction consulting and motivational coaching.

Inquire about working with Maryse.

Lynn Steger Strong

Lynn is available for fiction consulting, MFA application coaching, and motivational coaching.

“My approach is to earnestly come at the story or novel on its terms, taking into consideration readerly concerns as well as the writer’s goals. Early draft discussions have to do with sharpening and defining those goals and coming up with strategies for achieving them. Later drafts are often about going in on the level of the sentence to think about these same ideas. How do tensions live between words and sentences, between paragraphs, between chapters? How is every sentence working to accomplish two or three goals instead of just one? How is the writer ensuring that the reader is having the experience that they set out to give?

Inquire about working with Lynn.