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

Quarter: Fall
Course Format: Flex Online (About Formats)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 26—Dec 9
Refund Deadline: Sep 29
Units: 3
Tuition: $1200
Instructor(s): Ammi Keller
Limit: 15
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class the week of November 21
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Flex Online(About Formats)
Sep 26—Dec 9
10 weeks
Refund Date
Sep 29
3 Units
Ammi Keller
Registration opens Aug 22, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: No class the week of November 21
DOWNLOAD THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
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.

Instructor, Stanford Continuing Studies Online Certificate Program in Novel Writing; Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Ammi Keller’s teaching focuses on the intersection of mindfulness and creative writing. Her writing appears in American Short Fiction, Joyland, Sycamore Review, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She has edited fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for Soft Skull Press and Tor/Forge Books and has received residencies from the Lambda Literary Writer's Retreat and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Nancy Kress, Beginnings, Middles & Ends (Elements of Fiction Writing) (ISBN 978-1599632193)
(Required) Kevin Wilson, Nothing to See Here (ISBN 978-0062913494)
(Required) Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You (ISBN 978-0143127550)
(Recommended) Jessica Brody, Saves the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You'll Ever Need (ISBN 978-9780399579745)
(Recommended) Aamina Ahmad, The Return of Faraz Ali (ISBN 978-0593330180)