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OWC 101 A — The Writing Life: Form and Theory of the Novel

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 9
Drop Deadline: Sep 1
Unit(s): 3 Units
Tuition: $990
Limit: 15
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving
Sep 26—Dec 9
10 weeks
Drop By
Sep 1
3 Units
Please Note: No class the week of Thanksgiving
This course is not open to the public, but rather by admission only. For more information on the Online Writing Certificate Program and its application process, please click here.

This first course in the OWC series introduces the fundamentals of novel design. Students will read and analyze two published novels, developing their own ideas about how authors create the effects they do on the page. The class will look first at a bestselling genre novel, considering such key questions as: How does the inciting incident prepare readers for the climax? How do scenes build on the tension of previous scenes, raising the stakes? And how do characters’ internal drives interface with external challenges to create a meaningful plot? The class will then revisit these questions with a work of literary fiction, considering whether and how these fundamentals apply to a quieter novel. Weekly discussion questions and writing prompts will help students think about how best to construct their own books. In the second half of the quarter, students will share a section of their novel-in-progress for supportive discussion by the class, gaining vital insight for the drafting and development they will be doing in workshop throughout the remainder of the certificate program. This course will also help students to develop the habits of successful fiction writers. The goal is for each student to reach a better understanding of how to shape a novel, a better grasp on the individual writing process, and a greater ability to constructively self-evaluate.

Ammi Keller, Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Ammi Keller’s work appears in American Short Fiction, Joyland, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2015. She has edited fiction, nonfiction, and poetry at Soft Skull Press and St. Martin’s Press, and has received residencies from the Norton Island Colony and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Tara French, In the Woods, Reprint edition (May 27, 2008) (ISBN 0143113496)
(Required) Angela Flournoy, The Turner House, Reprint edition (March 1, 2016) (ISBN 0544705165)
(Required) Nancy Kress, Beginnings, Middles & Ends, March 21, 2011 (ISBN 1599632195)
(Recommended) Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer's Workshop, Modern Library Pbk. Ed edition (April 1, 2003) (ISBN 0375755586)