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At one time or another, we’ve all thought, “one day I’ll write a novel.” THE NOVEL is the perfect place to make that “one day” today. Would-be authors and long form veterans are invited to join THE NOVEL. Instead of tackling a novel in its entirety, we will break this seemingly impossible task into smaller creative writing exercises that will breath life into plots, scenes and dialog. This process will give you the freedom to sharpen your characters, organize your thoughts, and give you a roadmap to completing your book: all in a no pressure, no homework environment.
THE NOVEL workshop is largely inspired by the following quote, attributed to E.L. Doctrow:
Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.
Super! Let’s write a novel, bit by bit. Whether you’ve got your plot and characters all mapped out, or you’ve just got a vague idea of where you want to go, we all start at the same place: at the beginning, with a story we want to tell.
The workshop is loosely divided into three sections: beginnings, middles and ends. This is a broad enough trail to take in the standard sights of the classic three-act structure, and those ideas that veer off the beaten path. The following is subject to change based on group dynamic, but here’s an idea of what to expect.
Weeks 1-4 will focus on beginnings. Exercises will be used to help flush out the world of your story, the promises you make to readers, who your main character is, and what they want. (And a little bit about what you want out of it too).
Weeks 4-7 will focus on middles. This section is where conflicts arise, adventures take place, and characters evolve so your story gets where it needs to go. Exercises will explore structure, secondary characters, building tension, and laying the groundwork for a satisfying ending.
Weeks 8-9 will focus on endings. This is where secrets are revealed, and everyone learns to live happily ever after. Or, that there’s no such thing. Exercises will explore how to wrap things up, and connect your ending with the initial promises you made to readers (and yourself).
Week 10 will be our denouement: the wrapping up of loose ends. Before we say goodbye to your characters and plot, we’ll take a look back at what your writing to date reveals about your story. Exercises and discussion will be used to showcase some approaches to editing and revising your tale.
Format: Each week, workshop members will take part in 3-5 real-time writing exercises. These exercises are an invitation to experiment and explore new ideas without expectation, judgement, or homework. Our in-group writing is shared out loud for feedback, but is treated as rough work not yet ready for questions or criticism. From this immediate feedback however, we get to know more about our voices and complete the writer’s goal of being heard. Read more about the Amherst Writers & Artists method.
What to expect: You will likely not write an entire novel over this 10-week workshop. But you will exit the experience with deep insights into where you want to go, how to tackle your opus, and many sketches that will become part of, or inspiration for, your first draft.
THE NOVEL is limited to 12 adult writers, 17+.
What People Say
I would like to extend a very big thank you for all your encouragement and information about novel writing. I seem to be on a roll with my story (35K words) and am set up for success after learning the components of a novel and receiving positive comments on my writing during the workshop. Now the rest is up to me . . . Angela G.
David did a wonderful job at facilitating the group and establishing an atmosphere that was rather perfect: not too formal, not too loose, but safe, warm and encouraging. In less sensitive and able hands it would have been much less fulfilling and enjoyable. – Jeff Wilson
The Novel is a fantastic series of jumping-off points for writing, and David is a perfect guide. So many times, I would begin an exercise feeling completely blank, and just before time would expire, I would strike upon the kernel of the scene. I left The Novel with a Moleskine full of passages to flesh out. Time to get to work. – Jeremy Andriano
My experience with The Novel workshop was invaluable. David was a fantastic facilitator, and working with him and the group, in a profession that can be an isolating experience, was a series of discoveries for me. I discovered my style of writing. I discovered I don’t need to perfect something before getting feedback. I re-discovered my characters, and that I could in fact write THAT scene, which I had been putting off. What made it all possible, was a group of people who truly understood that the process of writing is deeply personal. – Sean B.
One of the most important things I took from the workshop is the belief and confidence that I can actually tell a story and (David) instilled that in me. The Novel was the highlight of my week. – Rob M.