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OWC 303 A — Novel I: The Powerful Beginning

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 16—Mar 22
Refund Deadline: Jan 19
Units: 3
Tuition: $1240
Instructor(s): Christine Sneed
Limit: 15
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Closed
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jan 16—Mar 22
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 19
3 Units
Christine Sneed
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
This course is not open to the public, but rather by admission only. For more information on the Online Writing Certificate Program and its application process, please click here.

The beginning of a novel is crucial: establishing a contract with the reader, raising narrative questions, setting the tone and mood of the book, and, of course, introducing the main characters. We will begin by making sure that your novel starts in the right place, with a conflict compelling enough to reveal who these people are, and to ensure that they are making meaningful choices that lead to dramatic action. The challenges that our characters face up front help us to know who they are at the beginning of a book, and also set up expectations for how they might change by the end. Students will spend time thinking about the trajectory they envision not only for their protagonists but also for the secondary characters, and discussing issues related to characterization, such as point of view, dialogue, and voice. In this course, everyone will write and workshop an opening section of up to 5000 words.


Christine Sneed is the author of three novels, Please Be Advised: A Novel in Memos; Paris, He Said; and Little Known Facts. In addition, she has published the story collections Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry, The Virginity of Famous Men, and Direct Sunlight. She is the editor of the short fiction anthology Love in the Time of Time’s Up. She has received the Chicago Public Library Foundation's 21st Century Award and the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award, among other honors. Her stories and essays have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Ploughshares, and numerous other publications.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Barbara Shoup & Margaret-Love Denman , Novel Ideas: Contemporary Authors Share the Creative Process 2nd Edition (ISBN 978-0820332796)
(Required) John Gardner , On Becoming a Novelist (ISBN 978-0393320039)
(Recommended) Alice LaPlante , The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Creative Writing (ISBN 978-0393337082)