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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 23—Dec 6
Drop Deadline: Sep 1
Units: 3
Tuition: $1100
Instructor(s): Rachel Smith
Limit: 15
Status: Open
Please Note: No class the week of November 25
Fall
Date(s)
Sep 23—Dec 6
10 weeks
Drop By
Sep 1
3 Units
Fees
$1100
Instructor(s):
Rachel Smith
Limit
15
Open
Please Note: No class the week of November 25
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.

Rachel Smith, Former William Chace Lecturer in Continuing Studies; Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Rachel Smith’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Seattle Times, The Rumpus, Brevity, and The Coachella Review. She has received residencies and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Marquette Residency, and the Elizabeth George Foundation and has taught creative writing at Stanford, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Mississippi, where she received an MFA in creative writing.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Nancy Kress, Elements of Fiction: Beginnings, Middles and Ends (ISBN 978-1599632193)
(Required) Andrew Sean Greer, Less (ISBN 978-0316316132)
(Required) Elizabeth Strout, My Name is Lucy Barton (ISBN 978-0812979527)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)