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NVL 42 W — Novel Writing for Absolute Beginners

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 9—Mar 17
Refund Deadline: Jan 12
Units: 3
Tuition: $955
Instructor(s): Lauren Kate
Limit: 17
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Jan 9—Mar 17
10 weeks
Refund Date
Jan 12
3 Units
Lauren Kate
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Many have been struck by a great idea for a novel; fewer have sat down to actually write it. This class invites the aspiring novelist to take their first plunge into long-form storytelling, breaking novel writing down into approachable and non-intimidating narrative elements. It’s for writers who’ve started and abandoned one too many stories and for those with a dozen great ideas they’ve never quite committed to paper.

We’ll work on how to move from inspiration to a fleshed-out, usable concept to a gripping first chapter and beyond. We’ll troubleshoot issues that often make writers want to abandon a first draft—from characters who don’t behave the way we want them to, to unwieldy plots, low stakes, and lackluster scenes. We’ll study our individual writing habits (plotting vs. pantsing, discovery drafts, when and how to process critiques) with an eye toward making the most of how each writer writes best. We’ll read one craft book and one short novel. In the first five weeks of the course, students will work on developmental exercises, planning their novels; in the last five weeks, students will submit portions of their beginning novel (up to 1,000 words per week) to small groups for light and constructive peer and instructor feedback.

This course is open to all aspiring novelists; no prior fiction writing experience is required.


Lauren Kate is the author of nine novels, including The Orphan’s Song, the Fallen series, the Teardrop series, and The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove. Her books have sold over 10 million copies worldwide and have been translated into more than 30 languages. The feature film Fallen was released in the US in 2017. Kate received an MA in creative writing from UC Davis and is a former acquiring editor at HarperCollins.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (ISBN 978-0385480017)
(Required) Jean Hanff Korelitz, The Plot: A Novel (ISBN 978-1250790767 )