Writing a novel is not unlike a road trip: at first you’re blasting music and enjoying the sights, and then, a couple days in, your phone dies, the gas needle is hovering on empty, and you’re still miles from your destination, wondering why you thought this trip was a good idea in the first place.
Take heart! We all run out of gas somewhere along the journey of writing a novel. In this six week class we’ll re-energize ourselves and our manuscripts, using a combination of craft and process strategies to get us out of our novel-writing ruts and back on the road. We will discuss the various pitfalls and obstacles that pop up on the novel-writing journey, and strategies for how to get around them.
Week 1: The Beginning. In our first week, we’ll rediscover the root of our stories––our characters––and how we can use them to incite our novels. We’ll each read the first page of our novels, along with a brief synopsis, and do our best to diagnose where and why we might be stuck. We’ll also discuss the different types of novel-writers, how to know which one you are and work to your strengths. Think of this as group therapy for the novel!
Week 2: Writing Toward The End. Sometimes to figure out how to write your beginning, you have to first figure out your end. This week, we’ll discuss how to write towards the end, even if you don’t know what it is yet.
Week 3: The Murky Middle. This week, we’ll discuss how to use the milemarkers of plot to get you through even the murkiest of middles, and start filling out the skeletons of our own plots. We’ll also take a stab at writing our own synopses.
Week 4: Chapter and Scene. Every project is easier if you break it down into its individual components. This week, we’ll learn about the function of scenes and chapters, how to write them effectively, and how to use their structure to get yourself out of a narrative rut.
Week 5: Emotional Structure. This week, we’ll talk about the emotional plot of your novel––how to use the emotions you want to evoke to structure your novel. Appropriately, we will also check in on our own emotional journeys: our struggles, victories, hopes and fears in regards to our novel, and how to approach them.
Week 6: Project Management. Writing a novel involves 1 part writing skills to 2 parts project management skills. This week, we’ll discuss how to management strategies for your novel, including outlining and other visual methods, as well as tips for keeping yourself on task. You’ll leave the class with a project plan to keep your momentum going.
Each week, we will set our own personal writing goals (whether it’s a certain number of hours, pages, or a project-specific goal, like figuring out a specific scene), and then check in the following week to see if we achieved our goal. Each student will have the opportunity to workshop 1-2 times over the course of the class, depending on class size. Instead of submitting pages, as in a traditional workshop, students will use their workshop time to discuss their narrative issues, and brainstorm solutions. Students will also have the opportunity to submit the first twenty pages of their novel, as well as a synopsis or outline, to the instructor for feedback at the end of class. Students at all phases of the novel-writing process are welcome, but it is recommended that you will have taken at least one novel workshop before this class.