In Chapter One students will spend ten weeks reading a diverse selection of opening chapters to great novels with an eye to asking what makes them so thrilling, engaging, and beautiful – to what, in short, makes the reader want to continue on. This study will be undertaken in the service of each student writing his or her own first chapter to their yet-to-be-written novel. In the final four weeks students will workshop and revise the chapters they have been writing. Students will also work with writing partners outside of class and with the instructors one-on-one as needed. Part-literature-course and part-creative-writing-workshop, Chapter One is a hybrid class in which students who have always wanted to write a novel and never knew where to start will get to try, knowing they will walk away with that novel’s opening chapter. Weekly topics will range from “voice” and “structure” to “creating a world.” All readings will be provided on Canvas. This course is will meet for one hour a week and is limited to 12 students.
Chapter One asks students to move beyond the college classroom and begin to imagine a writing life outside of the confines of the University. Through study, discussion with their peers, and the development of regular habits for reading, writing, and revision, students will engage in experiential learning and will set their future as writers on track. Because this class will be in part taught by a visiting writer (who has written 6 novels, and whose most recent book, A Good American, was published by Penguin in 2012), students will have access to practical, hands-on advice about how to get novels written. This course will provide excellent preparation for anyone considering getting an MFA in Creative Writing and will provide students from other disciplines with a chance to spend a semester exploring their creative tendencies.
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