Special Note:

How Will AI Change Writing?—Join our FREE Writers' Stage event "Writing for Change: Exploring The Question of AI" next Wednesday 4/17.

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  • Seminar
  • Online: Zoom
  • Adult (18+)

Approaching Your First Novel

Apply for Scholarship
  • $85.00 Non-Member
  • $75.00 Member

Class Description

In a world full of more information than we can use, a lifetime of answers, why do we find ourselves asking even more questions? As writers, are we being forced to relearn the fundamentals of experience and expression? Are we returning to the same questions? Amidst the chaos, how can an aspiring novelist know where to begin, and how to end?

In this class, we’ll use writing prompts to probe the cloud of information (and despair) that surrounds the 21st century writer. To gain some perspective on the process and the dilemma, we’ll turn to Zadie Smith, an established novelist whose seemingly-flawless fiction has arisen from a tangle of multicultural roots in northwest London. We’ll mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of her first novel, White Teeth, with glimpses into the societal and personal elements that brought her story to life. We’ll alternate our writing prompts with these readings, renderings whose emergence can, in turn, be linked to the structuring of her most recent novel, The Fraud.

This is a class for frustrated writers of all experience levels who find themselves asking, where do I begin, and how (if not when) will it end? Zadie Smith has proven, over decades of devotion to her craft, that fiction is simply a reflection of society and history. But her fiction is also, ultimately, a personal journey, a quest to clarify and come to terms with an eclectic worldview. Starting a novel is a process that embraces everything, including the ending and, indeed, a new beginning. Ending a novel, our prompts may reveal, is the conclusion to a series of questions that our characters are probably best suited to answer. We can expect to leave this class with a better understanding of our place in the world of fiction, and with ideas on where to start and how to continue.



Class Format

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting!



Scholarship Information

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

Scholarships Format/Location

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. About 15 minutes before your class is scheduled to begin, you'll receive an email from your instructor with a link to join the class meeting!

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!