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

Quarter: Winter
Day(s): Wednesdays
Course Format: On-campus (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 11—Mar 15
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Jan 13
Units: 3
Tuition: $710
Instructor(s): Angela Pneuman
Limit: 21
Class Recording Available: No
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Jan 11—Mar 15
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 13
3 Units
Angela Pneuman
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
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 Brit Bennett, Samantha Harvey, Scott Turow, and Jhumpa Lahiri 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. Through short writing assignments, we will try out different approaches to our own novel beginnings, and each student will be able to 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 underway and are already thinking about revision.

Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford; MFA Instructor, Sarah Lawrence College; Executive Director, Napa Valley Writers’ Conference

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, Glimmer Train, The Virginia Quarterly Review, New England Review, and Ploughshares, and she is a contributor to Salon, The Believer, and The Rumpus. She received a PhD in English from SUNY Albany.

Textbooks for this course:

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