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NVL 41 W — Novel Wrangling: How to Manage Longer Works of Fiction

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 9
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Units: 3
Tuition: $955
Instructor(s): Elizabeth Percer
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class the week of November 21
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Sep 26—Dec 9
10 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
3 Units
Elizabeth Percer
Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class the week of November 21
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
A little-known secret outside the writing world is that successful novel writing depends upon far more than literary talent; it also requires careful structuring, keen plotting, and the ability to develop a flexible relationship to these foundational elements that respects the spirit of creative work. In this course, we’ll examine plot and narrative structure from the inside out, using class lectures, readings from the likes of George Saunders, Anaïs Nin, and Stephen King, group discussions, and written reflections to forge a deeper understanding of how to strengthen the foundations of our own work. Taking a 10,000-foot view, we’ll also practice sketching out our own novel plots and mapping their unique structures, giving and receiving thoughtful feedback on these attempts while bearing in mind that the best fiction roadmaps often contain a healthy amount of undiscovered territory. By the end of the course, students will have developed a solid working model for their own plots and narrative structures, as well as the flexibility, knowledge, and freedom to treat them with greater ease and creativity.

Students will not submit or receive feedback on their specific creative writing projects, but they will work on exercises and assignments using the elements discussed in class and apply them to their own novels.


Elizabeth Percer is the author of two novels, All Stories Are Love Stories and An Uncommon Education, as well as Ultrasound, a book of poems. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has received awards from the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Fund. She received a PhD in arts education from Stanford and a postdoctoral fellowship from the National Writing Project at UC Berkeley.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (ISBN 978-1400078776)