Current Course Syllabus
Pages On Fire:
Novel Writing From Start to Finish

This 12-week class will run at The Loft on Thursdays, 5:00-7:00 p.m. from September 18 - December 11, 2008 (no class on Thanksgiving of course). The basic course description and syllabus for the class are below.
Writing
Queer
Fiction
 


COURSE DESCRIPTION & SYLLABUS

You've pondered plot. You've dreamed up characters. The themes swirl in your head - but you haven't gotten very far into your novel. Either you've gotten bogged down, or you've only written enough to know that you're lost in a forest. If a poem is like a single match in the dark, and a short story is a cheery campfire, then a novel is a raging forest fire. All that smoke, all those flames, so much size and complexity. Rather than let yourself be intimidated, jump into the fire.

This 12-week course is designed for novice novelists eager to launch into or continue a project but who need help with structure, plot, narrative, POV, and the tricks not only for constructing a novel, but also for ways to navigate the immensity of such a long work. Using various craft handouts and the work of master writers, we'll examine issues of plot, character, style, tone, voice, perspective choices, and more. We'll also discuss the history of the novel and how writers of various literary styles and genres approach the work with specific types of audiences in mind. Two master novelists, Judith Guest and Sujata Massey, will come in to talk with us as well.

The instructor will help you sort out whether you work best as a Blank-Pager, an Outliner, or something in between. We'll read students' work and apply what we learn about technique and craft. Using in-class writing exercises, discussion of student manuscripts, presentations, and discussion, you will be inspired and motivated to fire up your novel so that you can make it from beginning to end.

Class time will be divided between presentation, discussion, and review of a novel by a master writer (35%), writing exercises (15%), and sharing/critiquing student writing (50%).

SYLLABUS
Week 1: September 18
Introductions - Housekeeping issues - Brief comments about the goals of the course.
Discussion of genres, styles, and Pop v. Literary.
Discussion of Blank Pagers v. Outliners with handout.
Familiarizing ourselves with our course text, Ordinary People, by Judith Guest.
First Night Inventory completed.
Brainstorming on Lecture subjects the students most want to help with.
Volunteers for first round of critiques which begin in Week 3. We'll set up a schedule.

Week 2: September 25
Discussion: Structure - Lit Fiction v. Pop/Genre, Form/Formula, etc.
Openings: Sentences, Paragraphs, Tone, Style
Assignments for next week:
*** Read and critique classmate manuscript(s)
*** Read as much of Ordinary People as you can
Week 3: October 2
Manuscript work
Discuss: Plotting, Subplots, how plot feeds into character
Assignments for next week:
*** Read and critique classmate manuscript(s)
Week 4: October 9
Manuscript work
Discuss: Characterization, Arcs and Journeys, Conflict
Assignments for next week:
*** Read and critique classmate manuscript(s)
Week 5: October 16
Discuss: Scene-making, Continuity, Connections, Narrative
Manuscript work
Assignments for next week:
*** Read and critique classmate manuscript(s)
Week 6: October 23
Brief In-Class Written Inventory re: whether class is meeting student needs
Discuss: Dialogue
Manuscript work
Assignments for next week:
*** Read and critique classmate manuscript(s)

Week 7: October 30
Discuss: Perspective, Point of View, Psychic Distance
Manuscript work
Assignments for next week:
*** Read and critique classmate manuscript(s)
Week 8: November 6
Discuss: Nuts & Bolts: Brainstorming, Moving Forward, Avoiding Writer's Block, Research: How and What, more on Organizing, Outlining, Planning, Storyboarding, Index-Carding, and generally mapping out the completion of the novel
Manuscript work
Assignments for next week:
*** Read and critique classmate manuscript(s)
Week 9: November 13
Discuss: Time Transitions, Backstory, Flashbacks, Pacing
Manuscript work
Assignments for next week:
*** Read and critique classmate manuscript(s)

Week 10: November 20
Discuss: Setting, Sense of Place, Stage Direction
Manuscript work
Assignments for the next class which is December 4th:
*** Read and critique classmate manuscript(s)

Remember: No Class on Thanksgiving, November 27

Week 11: December 4
Discuss: Grammar/usage, global editing, revisions, the various forms of editing, preparing manuscripts for submission.
Manuscript work
Plan for final week-students indicate final questions to be covered in the last class.
Assignments for next week:
*** Read and critique final classmate's manuscript(s)
*** Bring snacks if you like for the last class.
Week 12: December 11
Manuscript work - 1 slot
Discussion of ways to continue learning craft and technique on one's own-and in concert with others (in person or via the internet)
Discuss: publication process, audience, etc. and answer questions
Closure for this part of the journey and Godspeed for the next.
 

Your first draft is an exploration. You invent characters and you wonder what they'll do. You watch them, and they surprise you, delight you, maybe they shock you. You gather information, do research, generate scenes. You write it all down with a temporary disregard for logic, transitions, and grammatical conventions. In the process, you learn that the story you set out to write is not so interesting as the one that has emerged on the page. The purpose of exploration is discover, and what you discover in writing that first draft are character, structure, plot, theme, tone, setting. In short, you begin to discover what it is you have to say about what it is you're writing about. ~John Dufresne in The Lie That Tells A Truth: A Guide to Writing Fiction

How you can reach me:

Email: Lori@LoriLLake.com
Phone: 651-210-8021
Notes: Mailbox outside Loft Office
Mail: P.O. Box 82, Hastings, MN. 55033-0082
CLICK HERE: To visit the Lori L. Lake website

Last Updated 9-26-08
 
 
Home     |     General Schedule      |     Syllabus     |     Critiquing     |     Lori's Articles Copyright (c) 2008 Lori L. Lake. All rights reserved.