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NVL 09 W — Writing the Novel from Back to Front

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 3—Jun 9
Drop Deadline: Apr 11
Units: 3
Tuition: $850
Instructor(s): Caroline Leavitt
Limit: 17
Apr 3—Jun 9
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 11
3 Units
Caroline Leavitt
John Irving said, “I don’t start a novel . . . until I know the end.” Are you trying to write a novel but have no idea where to start? Imagining your last scene can lead to your first one, especially using story structure. Structure is the spine of every novel, helping the “flesh” of character, dialogue, and setting to hold together. In this course, we will study story structure to find the spine of your novel so you can get creative with it, helped by John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story and Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story.

Students will produce three pages of work (750 words) per week, respond to reading and discussion questions, and complete exercises in mapping out essential plot points, outlining psychological and moral needs, and other tactics. We will be working in a workshop atmosphere, with students assigned to groups. We will also have video chats every week or so to discuss work and to build community. By the end of the course, students will have a synopsis, techniques to map out their novel (including the use of reveals, reversals, and moral choices), and a last chapter from which they can work backward.

Although the time commitment for an online writing course is dependent upon one’s degree of participation, students should plan on investing four to six hours per week in order to gain substantial benefit from the course.

Caroline Leavitt, Author

Caroline Leavitt is the author of eleven novels, including The New York Times bestsellers Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You. Her newest book, Cruel Beautiful World, was named to the Indie Next List. Leavitt’s essays, stories, and articles have appeared in Salon, Psychology Today, New York magazine, Parenting, the Chicago Tribune, Parents, Redbook, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and numerous anthologies. She also teaches in the online UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has reviewed books for People magazine, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) John Truby, The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller (ISBN 978-0865479937)
(Required) Lisa Cron, Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Sceince to Hook Readers form the Very First Sentence (ISBN 978-1607742456)