Novel in a Year: Speculative Fiction

with Juan Martinez

This is the year to write your novel

Novel in a Year: Speculative Fiction is a unique opportunity to join a writing community, study novel craftworkshop key scenes, refine your craft, measure your progress, meet deadlines, and give and get support for the long journey 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 speculative author Juan Martinez (Extended Stay) will help you through the drafting process and provide personalized guidance and feedback on your manuscript. Benefit from special Master Classes with visiting authors, enjoy building community with other novelists, and bond with your fellow authors of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and beyond.

This unique genre-focused program will guide you through all the general novel-writing techniques and practices, while also offering a more fine-tuned guidance toward the world-building and plot-heavy nature that typically comes with speculative and genre fiction. 



Students at any stage of novel drafting, but with a background in the formal study of creative writing, are encouraged to apply. You may be anywhere in the first draft of a novel – some students may have completed a 500-page draft; others may have nothing more than an idea and a first sentence. Work of any speculative genre is welcome. 

This class will also presume a solid craft vocabulary, some workshop experience, and significant writing skill. Having some experience with drafting, editing, and submitting for publication (even short stories) will help you be familiar with the similar process and structure that will be applied to the novel form. However, it’s not a prerequisite for this course. If you are newer to this process, but feel you have the ability, submit your writing and let us decide. We will work with you if you are ready to take the leap, and have a strong voice and POV.

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:

  • Understanding Genre
  • World Building
  • Point of View and Voice
  • Structure and Surprise
  • Growing Character
  • Imaginative Research
  • Depth and Complexity
  • Endings (Chapters and Novels)
  • Developmental vs. Line Edits
  • Representing Your Novel
  • The Publication Process


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 Juan 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 Juan 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 Juan Martinez
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 Schedule Meets ONLINE on the Following Dates:
6:30pm – 9:30pm Central Time 

January 9

February 13

March 12

April 9

May 14

June 11

July 9

August 13

September 10

October 8

November 12


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.

The 2024 cohort will begin in January, and applications will open in the fall of 2023. Please subscribe to our newsletter to get the most up-to-date information.