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NVL 06 W — How to Start Your Novel and Keep It Going

Quarter: Summer
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jun 26—Sep 1
Drop Deadline: Jul 4
Units: 3
Tuition: $850
Instructor(s): Angela Pneuman
Limit: 17
Jun 26—Sep 1
10 weeks
Drop By
Jul 4
3 Units
Angela Pneuman
Starting a novel is an exciting venture—and one that can soon turn daunting. Unlike the compressed energy of a short story, the novel’s world spools out over time and often involves the management of layered plots and a large cast of characters. But these challenges are also opportunities. In this course, we will look at published novel beginnings to discover the narrative “engines” of the early chapters. We will also investigate the way writers such as J.M. Coetzee, Scott Turow, and Alice Sebold maintain narrative tension throughout their books. We will talk about how this tension “shapes” finished work from these writers and from students’ own favorite writers. With short writing assignments, we will try out different approaches to our own novel beginnings, and each student will workshop one early chapter for helpful feedback. This course is designed for writers who are just starting out on their novels, as well as those who have novels well under way and are already thinking about revision.

Although the time commitment for an online writing course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.

Angela Pneuman, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Angela Pneuman is the author of the novel Lay It on My Heart and the short story collection Home Remedies. Her fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Iowa Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, and the Los Angeles Review, and she is a contributor to Salon, The Believer, and The Rumpus. She received an MFA in writing from Indiana University and a PhD in English from SUNY Albany.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Donald Maass, Writing the Breakout Novel (ISBN 9781582971827)