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Teaching First-Person Voice at Catapult (6 Week Online Workshop)

I’m thrilled to be running an online course in mastering the first-person voice. We’ll convene by video chat and go deep into the mechanics and magic of creating a fully-fleshed fictional narrator. The course will also include one-on-one consultations by phone. Note that spots are limited, so it’s best to sign up early. (And why not: use the discount code RYAN10 to save 10% on the course fee.)

Mondays, 8-10 p.m. ET / 5-7 p.m. PT
Aug. 5 - Sept. 23 (No class meetings September 2nd and 9th)

The official course description:

The first-person voice in fiction is a live-wire between your characters and the reader. When it works, the reader feels the buzz behind the prose.

Throughout this workshop, we’ll use observation, empathy, and diction to craft sentences that bring out our character’s particular, unique humanity (or inhumanity, if you want to go dark). And we’ll practice the time-tested method for achieving a memorable, effective first-person voice in fiction: revision, revision, revision.

We’ll look at examples of voice in fiction, ranging from the comic to the tragic, from the to calm to the monstrous. Our readings will include work by Donald Antrim, Kazuo Ishiguro, Lydia Davis, Martin Amis, Halle Butler, Gunnhild Øyehaug, Karan Mahajan, Mariana Enriquez, Matthew Klam, Garth Greenwell, and more.

We’ll also discuss texts from outside of literature, looking at how a single paragraph can convey a politician’s obfuscations, a celebrity’s attempt to charm, or an essayist’s regionalisms.

You’ll walk away from this course with a better understanding of the fundamentals of fiction, including character, story, and plot, as well as how voice relates and directs all of these aspects of craft.


- Learning the fundamentals of fiction, including character, story, narrative development, and the technical aspects of craft

- Each student will workshop two stories (or novel samples) during the course, and receive written feedback from me and fellow students

- Becoming a sharper reader, seeing how writers like George Saunders and Sam Lipsyte achieve their effects—and learning how to spot the writers and books which can inform whatever it is you’re working on next

- Learning how to work through the Fear of the First Draft and love the revision process

- Practical advice on the “practice” part of the writing practice: learning how to maintain voice (and discipline!) for months- or years-long writing projects

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