September 20, 2017
8 Weeks | $315
Plot Your Novel
If you want to write a novel – or your second or third novel – you’ll benefit from this course. Working out the plot of your novel and creating an outline before you begin writing can save you from false starts, though you’ll likely make changes as you write the first draft, as you give your imagination free rein.
During the eight weeks of this class, you’ll develop a solid basis in the fictional elements—protagonist, setting, secondary characters, point of view, plot, and theme—while you develop the outline of your novel.
This is a highly interactive class: you’ll receive feedback at all stages from your fellow writers and your instructor.
Open to beginning as well as advanced writers.
Week One: Exploring your protagonist
Overview of the course. Notes on the elements of fiction and helpful invention techniques—freewriting, brainstorming, and mind mapping—for discovering a novel subject as well as for developing plans for a novel you’ve been considering.
Use invention techniques to discover your protagonist if you do not already have one in mind. Use these same techniques to discover and explore your protagonist’s (or dual protagonists’) motivations and conflicts, and try to determine episodes or scenes that will result from these. Decide on a setting for your novel. Get feedback from fellow writers and your instructor.
Week Two: Exploring your other characters
Use invention techniques to discover or deepen other characters. Use invention techniques to discover and explore your other characters’ motivations and conflicts—and try to determine episodes or scenes that involve these characters. (Perhaps one of these characters will function as an antagonist.) Get feedback from fellow writers and your instructor.
Week Three: Drafting a plot summary
Go over what you’ve generated so far on motivations, conflicts, and possible scenes. Now work to create a unified plot and a possible subplot, or subplots. Write a 500-word summary of your novel, then a one-sentence statement, or log-line. Be sure your protagonist has an overall arc—or two arcs in the case of two protagonists—and be sure the overall plot comes out of character motivations and conflicts. Get feedback from fellow writers and your instructor.
Week Four: Revising your plot summary
Based on feedback you’ve received from fellow writers and your instructor, and your own take on the matter, rethink your novel’s plot. Revise your plot summary, as needed, to make sure everything works together to create a unified novel. Get additional feedback from fellow writers and your instructor.
Week Five: Writing a chapter-by-chapter outline
Now, take your plot summary and write out a chapter-by-chapter outline, concisely summarizing the action for each chapter. Is the structure right? Should you arrange the chapters differently? Get feedback from fellow writers and your instructor.
Week Six: Exploring point of view
Try out both first- and third-person point of view for the first five hundred words of your story, based on your plot summary. Which point of view works better for you? Get feedback from fellow writers and your instructor.
Week Seven: Choosing point of view
Based on responses from fellow students and instructor, and your own take on it, choose your point of view for this novel, either first or third. Choose one other place in your projected novel and try out this point of view for five hundred words. Is the voice interesting? Get feedback from fellow writers and your instructor.
Week Eight: Stating your novel’s theme
Think about your novel in terms larger than the characters, conflicts, and plot. Try to describe it in more general terms: “This is a novel reflecting a David and Goliath struggle,” or “This is a novel about second chances,” or “This is a burlesque of current politics,” etc. Keep your statement to about 100 words max. Is this thematic statement evident from your summary of the novel’s plot? Get feedback from fellow writers and your instructor.
I enjoyed [the novella class]. I also really enjoyed the suggested reading. I realized the first week I wasn’t quite prepared. Jack’s suggestion to ... to beef up my outline was the best advice I could have received. It wasn’t easy writing those 3000 words a week, but at least I didn’t have to think “what” I needed to write about. With the outline, it came fairly easy.
As for Jack ... I thought he was personable, but with just the right amount of “removed” to make a good reviewer. In my case, he pointed out things I didn’t even think about and he was very supportive. He focused mostly on concept, and in a first draft, I believe this is critical. I have recommended you to other people. I am glad you are there for me. Anne Jennings