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

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 17—Mar 21
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm
Drop Deadline: Jan 30
Units: 3
Tuition: $660
Instructor(s): Angela Pneuman
Limit: 21
Status: Closed
6:30—9:20 pm
Jan 17—Mar 21
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 30
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, a novel explores a longer time period and is often made up of layered plots and a larger cast of characters. In this course, we’ll look at published novel beginnings by writers like J.M. Coetzee, Tana French, Adam Johnson, Julie Otsuka, and others, asking how these pages set up the work and keep the reader engaged. We will also read brief essays and interviews about how writers handle the first important steps of their processes—discovering their material, creating characters, finding voice, initiating plot, establishing tension, and much more. In class and in short weekly take-home exercises, we’ll practice working with these elements ourselves to build novel beginnings that will help us go the distance with our drafts. Each student will workshop an early chapter for helpful feedback from the group and the instructor. This course works for writers in the early stages of their novels or anyone who has always wanted to get started on a novel.

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 978-1582971827)
(Required) Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop (ISBN 978-0375755583)