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NVL 26 W — Writing the Compelling Character-Driven Novel

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 1—Jun 7
Drop Deadline: Apr 4
Units: 3
Tuition: $895
Instructor(s): Sarah Stone
Limit: 17
Apr 1—Jun 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 4
3 Units
Sarah Stone
Connecting with readers on an emotional level is one of the greatest things a writer can hope for. —Celeste Ng

Compelling and memorable characters come from a mixture of art, craft, and the ability to convincingly transform reality (or invent a new reality). Whether you’re writing a gripping page-turner, a deep character study, or a one-of-a-kind multigenre work, the relationship between the characters and their actions and experiences can drive the story arc. In this course for writers at any level, you will use craft exercises to help you create meaningful events and character choices, develop your voice, build effective scenes and dialogue, and find your novel’s shape and themes. You will learn to interweave place, time, and perspective in ways that reveal the deeper nature of the characters and help the plot (or alternative structure) unfold in ways that feel surprising but inevitable. We will read novels by Celeste Ng and Penelope Fitzgerald, learning how their characters and plots unite suspense and meaning. Each student will turn in a 5,000-word selection of a novel-in-progress for a supportive, helpful workshop. Whether you are just starting out or have been working on your novel for some time, you will finish the course with new craft tools, a stronger sense of your novel’s nature, and a plan for your next steps.

Sarah Stone, Faculty, Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers

Sarah Stone is the author of the novels Hungry Ghost Theater and The True Sources of the Nile and co-author, with Ron Nyren, of Deepening Fiction: A Practical Guide for Intermediate and Advanced Writers. Her writing has appeared in Ploughshares, StoryQuarterly, The Millions, Scoundrel Time, The Believer, and A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft, among other publications. She received an MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You, Any (ISBN B00G3L7V0C)
(Required) Penelope Fitzgerald, At Freddie's, any (ISBN B00DAJ4Y8C)