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

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 24—Dec 7
Drop Deadline: Sep 1
Units: 3
Tuition: $1090
Instructor(s): Ammi Keller
Limit: 15
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class the week of November 19
Sep 24—Dec 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Sep 1
3 Units
Ammi Keller
Please Note: No class the week of November 19
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, the Lambda Literary Writers Retreat, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Nancy Kress, Element of Fiction: Beginnings, Middles and Ends (ISBN 978-1599632193)
(Required) Naomi Alderson, The Power (Please note, though there is a paperback option for this book, its release date is not until January and so too late for this class.) (ISBN 978-0316547611)
(Required) Andrew Sean Greer, Less (ISBN 978-0316316132)
(Required) Stephen Koch, The Modern Library Writer’s Workshop (ISBN 978-0375755583)