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NVL 31 — Novel Writing: The First Chapter and Beyond

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Tuesdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 24—Dec 3
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 7
Units: 3
Tuition: $675
Instructor(s): Samina Ali
Limit: 21
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 26
6:30—9:20 pm
Sep 24—Dec 3
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 7
3 Units
Samina Ali
Please Note: No class on November 26
There are a million ways the first chapter of a novel can grab the reader’s attention and compel them to read on. But there are just as many ways the first chapter can fail, dooming a manuscript to the agent’s or publisher’s slush pile. With so much hanging in the balance, writers often work and rework those opening scenes, trying to get every detail correct: tone, action, conflict, mystery. In this novel-writing course, you will take on the challenge of getting your opening chapter exactly where it needs to be. To guide you, we will read examples of memorable opening scenes from master storytellers Kazuo Ishiguro, Paul Bowles, and NoViolet Bulawayo. Since this is a workshop-based course, plan on both submitting your original work and providing supportive and rigorous critiques to classmates’ manuscripts. Toward the end of the quarter, we will brainstorm ideas for outlining future chapters of your novel based on the seeds you have planted in that first chapter. Often, the perfect opening doesn’t come until you are halfway through your novel or even at the end. No matter where you are in the process, the inspiration and insight you get in this course will lead you to discovering your novel’s irresistible beginning.

Samina Ali, Author

Samina Ali’s novel Madras on Rainy Days received France’s Prix du Premier Roman Etranger Award, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award in Fiction, and was named a best debut novel by Poets & Writers magazine. Her work has been featured in The Economist, The Guardian, and Vogue, and on NPR. Ali was also a presenter at the Nobel Women’s Initiative 2017 International Conference.

Textbooks for this course:

(Recommended) NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names (ISBN 978-0316230841)
(Recommended) Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky (ISBN 978-0062351487)
(Recommended) Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day (ISBN 978-0679731726)