Novel in a Year: First Draft ONLINE

with Lindsay Hunter

This is the year to write your novel

Novel in a Year: First Draft is a unique opportunity to join a writing cohort, study novel craftworkshop key scenes, measure your progress, meet deadlines, and give and get support for the long slog from plotting to composition and beyond.


It’s a chance to devote an entire year to your novel, giving it the attention and effort your work deserves. Acclaimed author Lindsay Hunter (DON’T KISS ME, Eat Only When You’re Hungry, Hot Springs Drive) will help you through the drafting process and provide personalized guidance and feedback on your manuscript.



Students at any stage of novel drafting are encouraged to apply. You may have completed a 500-page draft; others may have nothing more than an idea and a first sentence.

Work of any genre is welcome, though we offer specialized programs for Speculative Fiction and Young Adult/Middle Grade.

This application-based class is selective, and you will find your classmates to be dedicated and serious about their work.

Unlike our other Novel in a Year programs, this cohort will be entirely hosted online, so anyone can participate from anywhere.

PLEASE NOTE: This program is for novelists who are ready to make a strong commitment to their work, and our waitlist for the course is typically very long. Students will be expected to participate in the full program.


Specific topics covered during the class sessions include:

  • Going from idea to pages
  • Openings
  • Structure
  • Voice & Perspective
  • Character
  • Plotting
  • Conflict & Resolution
  • Endings
  • Line edits/imagery/clarity
  • You’ve Drafted Your Novel. What’s Next?


Students will meet on Zoom monthly for three-hour sessions to discuss craft, solve drafting challenges, workshop scenes, and share some virtual snacks and beverages. In between class sessions you’ll have plenty of time to write and generate new work while still staying in touch via StoryStudio’s private online class forum.

We’ve structured this program to provide maximum benefit without demanding too much time away from focusing on your own work. In addition to workshopping short scenes in class, participants will meet individually with Lindsay for 100-page manuscript reviews.

Students enrolled in this course will receive complimentary admission and early registration to three (3) classes from our acclaimed PJ Seminar Master Class series throughout the year. (Recent and upcoming writers include Alexander Chee, Pam Houston, R.O. Kwon, Sara Paretsky, Paul Lisicky, and Garth Greenwell, among others.)

The class also includes optional evening social gatherings via Zoom, to be scheduled between Lindsay and the cohort as desired. As a writer in our Novel in a Year program, you’re considered a “VIP” at the studio with early-bird access to programs and events.

Throughout the course, you’ll have access to a private online forum for exchanging additional work and sharing articles and links of interest. And most importantly, these courses provide accountability check-ins to report your progress and struggles, and keep you writing.


Whether you’ve already made headway on your novel or are just gathering ideas, your cohort will provide the structure, companionship, feedback, good humor, and emotional support to help you see your project through.

You’ll also join StoryStudio’s larger community—in person and on social media—where you can connect with students from other classes, receive “first chance” invitations to special programming, and stay informed about literary events around the city.

The Novel In a Year program has been going strong for over ten years, and you will have the opportunity to benefit socially and professionally from a strong network of alumni, many of whom are experiencing publishing success.

The program fee is $2,500.

This tuition includes:

11 sessions, meeting once per month for 11 months
A manuscript review with Lindsay Hunter
Various online social gatherings with your cohort
3 comped passes to our PJ Master Class series
A private online chat forum
VIP status at the Studio
A literary community to take well beyond this program

2024-25 Schedule Meets ONLINE on the Following Dates:
6:30pm – 9:30pm Central Time 

August 13
September 10
October 8
November 12
December 10
January 14
February 11
March 11
April 8
May 13
June 10


This course is limited to 12 students and is submission based.

  1. You will be asked to submit a 10-page writing sample in a .doc or PDF. The sample can be a short story or novel excerpt.
  2. Someone who submits on the first day has the same chance as someone who submits on the last day, so don’t worry, and don’t rush.
  3. Payment isn’t due until after the application period is closed and acceptances have been sent out. We are happy to discuss payment plans with students who are accepted.
  4. NOTE: You can use this application form to apply for either Lindsay Hunter’s online cohort, or Michael Zapata’s in-person cohort, or asked to be considered for both cohorts.

The 2024-25 cohort will begin in August 2024, and applications will open in the summer of 2024. Please subscribe to our newsletter to get the most up-to-date information.