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NVL 01 W — Planning Your Novel: Starting from Scratch

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 5 weeks
Date(s): Sep 24—Oct 26
Drop Deadline: Sep 27
Unit: 1
Grade Restriction: No letter grade
Tuition: $340
Instructor(s): Malena Watrous, Scott Hutchins
Limit: 125
Status: Closed
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 10/2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Sep 24—Oct 26
5 weeks
Drop By
Sep 27
1 Unit
Grade Restriction
No letter grade
Malena Watrous, Scott Hutchins
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 9/27 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 10/2 at 5:00 pm (PT).
"Hey, that would make a great novel!” Have you had this thought before, perhaps when reflecting on an experience from your life, a vivid dream, or a scenario that arose in your imagination? Many of us believe that we have at least one great novel in us, but we’re not sure how to get it out. Before they sit down to start writing, most successful novelists have a plan, mapping the book from start to finish, with an understanding of the major plot points that will need to happen along the way. This course will help you to make such a map. In week one, you will turn your idea into a premise, which you can use as a blueprint to guide you as you continue to plan and eventually write the book. In week two, you’ll make character worksheets for your protagonist and at least one antagonist, figuring out what they both want and how they will change over the course of the novel. In week three, you’ll draft the inciting incident that will launch your novel’s plot, and use this incident to pinpoint what the climax might be, which you’ll sketch more fully in week four. In the final week, you’ll outline a structure for your novel, using it to draft a complete story synopsis that you can use to guide you throughout the writing of your novel. This is not a traditional writing course; you will not be generating pages of your actual novel. But once you do sit down to write, this critical planning work will allow you to make that writing purposeful and meaningful.

Because of the high-enrollment capacity of the course, the instructors will provide models for feedback and answer general questions about the novel planning and writing processes. They will respond to one short assignment per student, per week. Students will offer and receive feedback in small groups.

Students may take NVL 01 W: “Planning Your Novel: Starting from Scratch” and NVL 02 W: “Write a Novel in a Month: No Critics, No Fear” as a two-part series, using the first part to plan the book that they will then draft in the second part; or they can enroll in either course independently. NVL 01 W is not a prerequisite for NVL 02 W.

Malena Watrous, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford; Online Writing Lead Instructor, Stanford Continuing Studies

Malena Watrous is the author of the novel If You Follow Me and co-author of the novel Sparked . She has contributed to The New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. She received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow.

Scott Hutchins, Former Stegner Fellow; Jones and Draper Lecturer in Creative Writing, Stanford; Online Writing and Certificate Program Curriculum Coordinator, Stanford Continuing Studies

Scott Hutchins’s debut novel, A Working Theory of Love, was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012. His work has appeared in StoryQuarterly, FiveChapters, The Rumpus, The New York Times, San Francisco magazine, and Esquire. He received two Hopwood awards and the Andrea Beauchamp Prize in short fiction. Hutchins teaches fiction, nonfiction, graphic novel, arts writing, and “Twitter Fiction/Future Forms” in Stanford’s Creative Writing Program.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Lisa Cron, Story Genius (ISBN 978-1607748892)
(Recommended) Deborah Johnson, The Secret of Magic (ISBN 978-0425272787)
(Recommended) Jade Chang, The Wangs Vs. The World (ISBN 978-1328745538)