Write Your Novel Draft!

with Aatif Rashid

Draft your novel writing course

In this eight-week class, you’ll learn how to turn an idea for a novel into an actual draft. We’ll cover techniques for writing scenes, dialogue, and description, structuring chapters to help build and maintain tension, and writing lyrical prose through effective sentence rhythm. This course is for anyone currently working on a novel, whether you just have an idea or are already in the process of writing a draft.

In this class, through weekly writing goals and assignments, you’ll write new scenes and chapters using the craft techniques we cover in class, and you’ll edit and strengthen your exiting pages your opening pages. Weekly Zoom lessons will cover craft techniques such as conflict, description, and character development, as well as techniques for developing a strong writing process.

This class is open to writers of all levels. You’ll receive feedback from your instructor and your fellow students on your weekly scenes and chapters. By the end of the class, you’ll have completed at least forty pages of new writing and will have a strong plan for how to continue working on your draft.

Learning and Writing Goals

Learning Goals

In this course, you’ll learn:

  1. How to write regularly and meet weekly goals.
  2. Techniques for writing effective scenes, including dialogue, description, and tension.
  3. Learn how to structure future chapters.
  4. Learn how to write with a lyrical and compelling prose style and rhythm.
  5. How to make a plan to keep working on and eventually finishing your draft.

Writing Goals

In this course, you will:

  1. Write forty new pages of your novel in progress.
  2. Edit and polish your existing novel pages.
  3. Create an outline to continue working on the rest of your draft.

Zoom Schedule

Mondays 7-9 pm U.S. Eastern Time. The first Zoom call will be held on Monday, February 19th.

Zoom sessions will include a lecture on the weekly lesson and discussions of the previous week’s assignments.

Note: This course will not meet during the week of Thanksgiving, so its 8 lectures are spread out over 9 weeks. 

Weekly Syllabus

Week One: Writing scenes

In this first class, we’ll discuss the basic elements of a scene. You’ll practice writing the beginning of a scene from your novel and outlining a scene that you’ll write during the week. We’ll also discuss the writing process and how to build a regular writing practice.

Assignment: Write five pages of your novel. Focus on starting a new scene using the techniques we discussed.

Week Two: Writing dialogue.

In this class, we’ll discuss what makes effective dialogue and how to write compelling scenes that center on dialogue. You’ll practice writing dialogue scenes in class in preparation for your weekly assignment.

Assignment: Write five pages of your novel. Work on writing a scene of dialogue.

Week Three: Writing description.

In this class, we’ll discuss the basics of description, sensory detail, and the central writing rule “show, don’t tell.” You’ll practice writing setting descriptions in class.

Assignment: Write five pages of your novel. Focus on a scene of description, in particular a description of a new setting.

Week Four: Structuring Chapters

In this class, we’ll discuss what makes an effective chapter and discuss techniques for outlining and structuring chapters. You’ll outline the next few chapters of your novel to give you a sense of where your book is headed.

Assignment: Write five pages of your novel. Focus on finishing a chapter and transition to a new one, as we discussed in class.

Week Five: Character Development

In this class, we’ll discuss character arcs and character development. You’ll outline where your character is going and how their emotional arc changes from chapter to chapter.

Assignment: Write five pages of your novel.

Week Six: Sentence Rhythm

In this class, we’ll discuss what makes prose lyrical and effective through a detailed discussion of sentence rhythm. You’ll work on editing some of your earlier pages to improve the lyricism and the flow.

Assignment: Write five pages of your novel. Work on editing earlier pages to help you find your writing style and voice.

Week Seven: Tension and Conflict

In this class, we’ll discuss how to keep tension alive in your scenes and how to tie your chapters to an overarching conflict. You’ll work on identifying the central conflicts in your novel and editing your scenes to tie them to these conflicts.

Assignment: Write five pages of your novel. Trying to reach a major plot point where the conflict develops.

Week Eight: Theme and Emotion

In this class, we’ll discuss how to make your writing emotional and thematically significant. You’ll identify the key themes in your novel and work on editing your pages to bring out these themes.

Assignment: Write five pages of your novel.

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Student Feedback for Aatif Rashid:

Aatif was incredibly knowledgeable about each topic and always provided great examples to help us with our own work. He also have really helpful feedback. It had been awhile since I took a writing/literature class so I felt super rusty, but the class was so interesting and helpful that I kept coming back! Tricia Prestopino

aatif rashid headshot


Aatif Rashid is the author of the novel Portrait of Sebastian Khan (2019, 7.13 Books). His short stories have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, MetaphorosisArcturusBarrelhouse, Triangle House Review, X-R-A-YMaudlin House, and The Ex-Puritan, as well as the anthologies New Moons: Contemporary Writing by North American Muslims (2021, Red Hen Press) and Made in L.A. Volume 4 (2022, Resonant Earth Publishing). He’s also published nonfiction in The Los Angeles Review of BooksLit Hub, and Alta and he wrote regularly for The Kenyon Review blog from 2018 to 2021. He teaches creative writing classes through the UCLA Extension Writers program.