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NVL 10 W — Novel Writing: Inventing Reality

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 3—Jun 9
Drop Deadline: Apr 11
Units: 3
Tuition: $850
Instructor(s): Sarah Stone
Limit: 17
Apr 3—Jun 9
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 11
3 Units
Sarah Stone
Novels have a complicated relationship with life. They may be based on real people and events— the secrets revealed at a family holiday—or they may spring purely from a haunting image, phrase, character, or situation—a scene glimpsed from a hotel window. In either case, a successful novel must persuade both reader and writer of its “truth” (whether or not anything like these events really happened). How can we as writers accomplish this difficult feat? In other words, how can we convince our readers of our novel’s reality?

This course, suitable for writers at all levels, will strengthen our ability to evoke a deep experience of fictional “reality” for our readers. Our tools of persuasion will include character complexities, rich arcs and structures, time, pacing, narrative movement, pointof- view options, and the dramatic embodiment of thematic questions. We will draw guidance from essays on craft, as well as novels by Ernest J. Gaines and Alice Munro. Students will also practice writing exercises designed to assist them in discovering their own novel’s unique shape, structure, and truths. As a community, we will give each writer supportive, helpful feedback on writing exercises, and on a novel selection of up to 5,000 words, as we work together to discover each novel’s largest possibilities.

Although the time commitment for an online writing course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.

Sarah Stone, Faculty, Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers

Sarah Stone is the author of the novel The True Sources of the Nile and co-author of the textbook Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers. Her writing has appeared in Ploughshares, StoryQuarterly, The Believer, The Writer’s Chronicle, Dedicated to the People of Darfur, and A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft, among other places. She received an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Ernest J. Gaines, A Lesson Before Dying (ISBN 978-0375702709)
(Required) Alice Munro, The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose, any (ISBN 978-0679732716)