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Opening the Historical Novel

Friday, September 26th, 10:00am-5:00pm
Remote (Live Zoom Meetings)
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Level: For Everyone
Adult (18+)
12 seats max

A compelling, carefully crafted beginning is a key aspect of any successful novel. It is an especially important (and delicate) proposition in historical fiction, where the sense of a complete “past” world must be created, where an often overwhelming foundation of research must be sifted through and put to good use, and where it is, unfortunately, especially easy to lose your readership in the early pages. In this craft-oriented workshop, we’ll discuss the opening passages of a selection of contemporary and classic historical fiction novels in order to derive a useful taxonomy of approaches to such elements as narrative stance, point of view, psychic distance, voice, character, world building, and more. We’ll consider the potential advantages and disadvantages of each approach and possibly do a writing exercise to put our knowledge into practical use. Then, we’ll turn to participants’ own works-in-progress for a constructive, non-judgmental, and creatively supportive mini-workshop. Students are encouraged to share a draft of the first few pages of a historical work-in-progress.

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Timothy Weed
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Previous Students Say

  • "Generative"
  • "Inundated with Great Info"


  • Craft Lessons
  • In-Class Writing
  • Instructor Feedback
  • Revision Assignments
  • Lecture
  • Class Discussion


  • The Novel

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