Schedule & Curriculum
Phase I: September 16th – October 21st, 2020
The first phase focuses on craft, and writing on one’s own. We will cover craft topics crucial to decisions the writer needs to make in the early stages of the first draft: characterization, the protagonist’s desire, point of view, voice, dialogue, and scene. A common novel will be read by all students before the course begins; we will use this novel as a primary reference for craft discussions, and students may be directed to reread key passages to emphasize craft issues. The assignment each week will be to think deeply about your novel’s themes, your characters’ desires, and to do some writing outside the novel, if need be, to understand your story better. If you can make page-count progress on your novel during Phase I, consider it a bonus; this is really the time to get the foundation of your story in place. There will be some guided writing time in class during the first two weeks of this phase. In the last weeks, we’ll be talking through key elements of each student’s novel, and students will have an initial 20-minute one-on-one meeting with the instructor to discuss their novel project.
November 4th, 2020 – February 17th, 2021
Please note: Class does meet November 23rd or December 30th.
This phase will focus on workshopping, using the Novel in Progress method: students will read ten pages aloud and receive on-the-spot feedback on big-picture issues—focusing on what’s working—to guide the writer to further develop those ideas and sections. Students will have four opportunities to be workshopped, and the assignment each week will be to write ten pages of new, first-draft material. These pages will be sent to the instructor each week for accountability's sake (not for feedback). Each class will begin with either a progress check-in or a novel-specific exercise.
At the end of this phase, students are to submit three pieces of writing to the instructor: the first five pages, which will be evaluated for voice and point of attack; a scene the student considers to be particularly strong or pivotal to the novel; and a scene the student is struggling with or feels is weak. (No more than 20 pages total.) The instructor will provide feedback notes and writing guidance based on these scenes.
Phase III: April, May and June, 2021
Class will meet three times, and individual meetings will be scheduled with instructor.
During this time, the instructor will have a one-hour, one-on-one meeting with each student to discuss the submitted scenes and any other questions/issues and guidance/goal-setting the student needs. Also during this time, the students will be buddied up in groups of two or more to provide each other additional support and accountability for the final phase of the course. The instructor will assign these buddies, who should at the least check in with each other once a week to be sure they’re meeting their writing goals; it will be up to each group to decide how often—or little—they’d like to meet beyond that, and whether or not they wish to exchange work.
Students are mostly writing on their own in this phase, with a goal of 10 – 20 pages per week, and will meet or check in with their buddies. During this time, the instructor will be available for phone conversations if needed or requested. There will be three class meetings during Phase III.
Phase III Kickoff Class Meeting: Identifying Your Novel’s Backbone. This class will be devoted to lectures and exercises designed to help students understand the shapes their novels are taking. We will also spend some time assessing students’ progress and fine-tuning their writing calendars to help them finish their drafts.
Mid-Phase Class Meeting : Outlining and Writing Toward the Climax. This class will feature a lecture and exercises designed to provide guidance on writing through the murky middle, toward the climax.
Final Class Meeting: A time to show off our hot-off-the-presses first drafts! We’ll meet to discuss how much the student has done, how far he or she has to go (if the draft is still not finished), and to discuss what comes next.
Classes will take place on Wednesday evenings, 6:00-9:00 p.m.