students submit a writing assignment and follow directions for independent work
Assignment 2. Choose your narrator and write one scene up to 1000 words (submit to editor)
Assignment 1. Analyze the point of view and the narrator of a novel from the reading list (independent work)
Whose story is this? How do I find my point-of-view character? Why is this so important for my story? We’ll explore the pros and cons of different points of view and discuss which ones might be best for you story.
Point of View and the Narrator.
Assignment 1. Analyse a scene from the novel of your choice. What makes it effective? (independent work)
Assignment 2. Write a scene that is primarily driven by dialogue (submit to editor)
No one wants to read flat dialogue that doesn’t land and scenes in which nothing happens. What are the elements of an effective scene? How do I write punchy, yet lifelike dialogue that drives conflict? Dialogue as the plot’s engine. Practical exercises.
Assignment 1. Analyze the style of your chosen novel from the reading list (independent work)
Assignment 2. Rewrite the scene, using the editor’s feedback (submit to editor)
What’s the relationship between language and plot? Or that between language and character? Why is writing in first person similar to a performance? We’ll discuss how you can create your own unique style by using tone and rhythm, description and details.
Elements of style. How to Find Your Own Voice.
Assignment 1. Analyze a novel of your choice from the reading list in terms of turning points and key events (independent work)
Assignment 2. Write a three-page synopsis of your novel, breaking it down into chapters (submit to editor)
Different ways of structuring your novel, from the classical three-act model and the more commonly used 5-part structure to Freitag’s pyramid and John Truby’s 22 building blocks. Narrative techniques such as flashbacks, flash forwards, subtext, symbolism, sensory detail, cliffhangers, foreshadowing and suspense. The reader wants to know what happens next, but you, the writer, want them to feel transported. How do you achieve the perfect balance? Is there such a thing as a good, satisfying ending that just feels right? Climax and resolution.
Assignment 1. Analyze three novels from the reading list in terms of their premise, theme, characters and setting (independent work)
Assignment 2. In two to three pages, describe the premise, theme, characters and setting for your novel (submit to editor for feedback)
We’ll discuss what makes the novel different from a novella or a short story and consider the main types of contemporary novels. How do writers come up with ideas? Which themes work best for a novel in a particular genre? The theme is the story’s deeper meaning. How does it relate to character, setting and conflict? You’ll be able to stress-test some of your ideas and develop one of them into an outline.
Novel genres. Themes, Ideas and Inspiration.
Assignment 1. Identify the main and the secondary characters in a novel of your choice from the reading list (independent work)
Assignment 2. Describe the main and the secondary characters of your novel (submit to editor)
In this session, our focus will be on the novel’s main characters and their relationship to the plot. What are the ways of revealing character through plot? The six essential plot elements of a story and how to use them to create a solid narrative arc. Strategies for creating rising action. Motivation and conflict, desire and obstacles. What are the emotional stakes of the story and why are they so important?
The Character is the Plot.
Assignment 2. Edit your synopsis (submit to editor)
How do you finish this project that seems insurmountable? Writing discipline and creating a daily schedule to keep moving forward. Dealing with self-doubt and setbacks. Why revision is widely believed to be the most important part of writing and what skills it involves.
Editing, Revision and Time Management Tools.
Assignment 1. Write the first draft of your first chapter: 5-7 scenes, up to 10,000 words (submit to editor)
The 10 best student synopses and first chapters will be presented to a literary magazine editor.