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OWC 303 E — 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): Nina Schuyler
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
Nina Schuyler
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.

Former Adjunct Professor, University of San Francisco

Nina Schuyler has taught creative writing for nearly two decades. Her novel Afterword was published in May 2023. Her short story collection, In This Ravishing World, received the W.S. Porter Prize and The Prism Prize for Climate Literature and will be published in 2024. Her novel The Translator won the Next Generation Indie Book Award for General Fiction and was a finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Her novel The Painting was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award. Her nonfiction book How to Write Stunning Sentences and her most recent craft book, Stunning Sentences: A Creative Writing Journal, are Small Press Distribution bestsellers. Schuyler received an MFA in creative writing from SF State, a JD from Hastings, and a BA in economics from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) James Wood , How Fiction Works (Tenth Anniversary Edition) (ISBN 978-1250183927 )
(Required) Nicole Krauss, Forest Dark (ISBN 978-0062431004 )