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4-Week Novel Master Class: Revise Your Novel

You may have heard that “Writing is revision,” but what is revision in novel writing? Is it fixing plot holes in a draft? Rethinking point of view? Enriching characters? Adding or subtracting characters? Making the language perfect? Doing new research to deepen setting or historical context?

Is it all those things? Or, fear of fears, is it ditching a draft and starting over?

Whoa. Revision can be a lot, and even if you've revised countless short pieces, revising a novel is different. Whether you’re a “revise as I go and never actually finish a draft till the end” type or a “write 34 drafts” type or anything in between, it helps to have a plan for how you will get your novel over the finish line. In this master class, we’ll learn about theories of revision; discuss specifics of revising for plot, character, point of view, and language; make tailored, personal plans for revising our work; and talk about how to tackle feedback from critique partners/beta readers, agents, or editors.

Participants should have a full draft of a novel or at least 100-ish pages written. All genres, audiences (adult, YA, middle-grade), and experience levels (from just starting out to published) welcome. Writers who thought they were done with their manuscripts but have decided they need to revise again are welcome, too.

Writers will leave this class with a deeper understanding of practical revision tactics as well as a concrete plan for revising their novel.

*No class Nov. 22

Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.

COURSE TAKEAWAYS:

- A detailed revision plan based on your own working style and the state of your draft.

- How to evaluate what's working, not just what's not working.

- Knowledge of how revision works in the "real world," when feedback is coming from agents, editors, and other gatekeepers.

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes

COURSE EXPECTATIONS:

Students will have some light reading outside of class, some optional assignments they can do outside of class on their WIP, and will submit a revision plan at the end of the course that the instructor will provide written feedback on.

COURSE SKELETON:

Week 1: Approaches to revision. What kind of writer/reviser are you? What are the ways authors approach revision?

Week 2: Plot and structure. Is your plot there? Or if your novel is less plotted, does the structure guide readers through? We'll talk about techniques for mapping and improving plot and structure.

Week 3: Character, theme and language. We'll talk about techniques for deepening character, and how to know when a character needs to go, be sidelined, or come to the fore. We'll talk about when and how to make sure your language is doing the work it needs to do to convey theme, character, and plot—while also being strong and lovely.

Week 4: Making a plan. We'll walk through how to make a plan to revise the manuscripts we're working on—once, twice, or as many times as necessary.

Eman Quotah

Eman Quotah is the author of the novel Bride of the Sea, which was shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Literature. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Necessary Fiction, Jellyfish Review, The Rumpus, The Markaz Review, ArabLit Quarterly, Witness, Gargoyle, and other publications. She lives with her family near Washington, D.C.

Testimonials

“Engrossing. ... [offers] Americans a nuanced view of the Saudi Kingdom through a cast of compelling characters and a sweeping plot that spans continents and decades. ... Quotah’s perspective is an important addition to American fiction."

The Washington Post

“A devastatingly honest novel... a clear-eyed debut from a writer who doesn't shy away from the messiness of family life.”

Star Tribune

“Alluring. ... Quotah’s resonant, neatly plotted outing will be a treat for readers who love fractured family dramas.”

Publishers Weekly

“Quotah’s deft characterization and pacing, combined with an inside look at Saudi Arabian life, make this debut a compelling and worthy read.”

Booklist starred review