Schedule & Curriculum
The year is divided into three phases (details below). As the year progresses, this schedule may change to accommodate student and instructor availability.
The Novel Incubator meets Monday nights, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm, at GrubStreet HQ in Boston. Please be aware that we cannot accommodate remote participation.
Phase One (10 Weeks): May 18th - August 3rd, 2020
Yes, oh, dear, yes -- the novel tells a story. – E. M. Forster
The first phase deals with the novel as a whole with craft lessons and discussions on the macro-level. Each class meeting includes a craft lesson on subjects such as characterization, novel structure, point of view choices, narrative distance, subtext, setting, and style; a writing or planning exercise; and the workshop of one student novel. Writers meet with the instructor for an hour in the week following their novel workshop to review feedback and for another hour between phase one and two to present a short craft essay on a novel and craft element of their choice, as assigned early in phase one. During this second meeting, writers will also begin to create a revision plan to help them determine their writing process and submissions during the second phase.
Class takes a one-week break in both June and July to allow time for summer vacations and to ease the reading load.
Please note: Class will not meet on Memorial Day, but will be held the following evening, Tuesday, May 28th.
Phase Two (16 weeks): August 31st - December 14th, 2020
The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails. – James Joyce
The second phase narrows its focus onto chapters and scenes. Students examine a common novel in classroom discussions and receive craft lectures on topics important to chapters and scenes such as pacing, conflict, pulse, and turning points, etc. Each writer workshops up to the thirty pages three times during this phase. We will also spend one class period mid-phase to “write together” in an intensive three-hour writing session and to allow time for further revision questions and concerns. In the final five weeks, we turn our focus to the even finer issues of paragraph and sentence style, essentially “paring our fingernails,” with each writer submitting a single five-page section for close editing demonstrations. Students meet individually with their instructor for one-hour following each of their three workshop submissions to review workshop feedback, share additional new writing, and further revise and refine their novel revision plans and outlines. An additional hour of meeting time will be made available to each student by request.
Phase Three (10 weeks): January 11th - March 29th, 2021
To be a writer is to sit down at one's desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone—just plain going at it, in pain and delight. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again and once more, and over and over. It is to ring changes, not repeat, not fall onto a dead center. – John Hersey
Phase Three repeats the format of Phase One with writers submitting a full revision of their novel for a single workshop session. Additional class time includes lectures and practice in writing queries, performing public readings, and refining how to engage with agents and editors. This phase also includes visits from experts in the field, including agents, editors, publicists, and publishers. Students meet individually with the instructor for one-hour following their workshop sessions. In addition, students will submit their novels to an established writer, as selected with the help of the instructor, for a “second read” of their revised manuscript, with written commentary and an additional hour of face-to-face, phone or Skype meetings.
This phase includes two one-week breaks, dates to be determined, to ease the phase’s reading load.
Post-Muse Final Classroom and Individual Meetings: Dates TBD
Writers meet individually with the instructor for a one-hour meeting to discuss progress made during the year, the writer’s Muse meeting(s), where the novel now stands, and plans for the work ahead. The class convenes one last time for a three-hour session to declare intended next steps, making commitments that will spur their books to completion, and to discuss other opportunities available to them in the literary world.