fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Fall Quarter

Fall Quarter Underway
Late-Start Classes
Still Available
shopping cart icon0


« Back to Creative Writing

NVL 27 W — In the Beginning: A Novel Workshop

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 9
Drop Deadline: Oct 4
Unit(s): 3 Units
Tuition: $850
Limit: 17
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving
Sep 26—Dec 9
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 4
3 Units
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving
“Call me Ishmael . . .”
“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

Your first sentence is important; your first twenty-five pages essential. The casual reader at the bookstore—let alone the gatekeepers of publishing, agents and editors—simply must be hooked in these opening scenes. Otherwise, all the brilliant following pages will not be read.

In this course, we will focus on the first pages of your novel-in-progress or the novel you want to write but haven’t started. We will spend the first half of the course digging deep into the great first pages of published authors (such as those quoted above from Melville, Orwell, and Austen). Weekly writing exercises will introduce us to the concepts of character, suspense, plot, and the basics of keeping readerly attention. In the second half of the course, students will submit the first twenty-five to thirty pages of their novel for full-class workshop. Whether your goal is art or commerce—or the happy conjunction of the two—this course will help your beginnings welcome the reader into the rest of your book.

Although the time commitment for this course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to participate at a substantial level.

Christian Kiefer, Author

Christian Kiefer is the author of One Day Soon Time Will Have No Place Left to Hide, The Infinite Tides, The Animals, and the forthcoming Kingdom of Wolves. A recipient of a Pushcart Prize, his short fiction has appeared in ZYZZYVA, Santa Monica Review, and elsewhere. He received a PhD in American Literature from UC Davis, teaches at American River college, and is also a poet and musician.

Textbooks for this course:

No required textbooks