"Blair is an absolutely wonderful instructor. She has an innate knack for turning a conversation into a moment to drop brilliant knowledge on the writing process. In short, Blair is truly brilliant." - former Catapult student
This course is a six-week novel writing intensive for writers with an idea or part of a novel who are ready to kick their project into high gear.
What makes a great story? What makes an unforgettable character? And how do we embark on our own novel projects? In this class, we'll explore the elements of strong, vivid, and moving creative writing and the structure and construction of the novel form. Through readings from authors including Toni Morrison, Graham Greene, Jonathan Safran Foer, and F. Scott Fitzgerald; craft lessons on establishing a voice, building character, laying the foundation of your story in the first chapters, and more; short writing exercises designed to get you thinking about your novel; and weekly workshops; we'll explore the writing process from the inception of an idea to the creation of your own novel. We'll discuss how to make writing bold, vital, and realistic; how to craft and sustain narrative and thematic threads; and how to outline and structure the novel.
At the end of the course, I'll chat privately with each student about the strengths of their work, areas for improvement, and practical advice for the next steps. Students will leave this course with two critiqued novel chapters or sections and a concrete plan to continue their novels.
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.
*no class Jul. 29 or Aug. 19
- In-depth peer and instructor feedback on two novel chapters and short homework submissions
- One private conference (via phone, Skype, or Google Hangouts) with the instructor to discuss areas for improvement and the next steps
- An enthusiastic community of writers who will hold you accountable to your writing goals
- An outline for your novel, with ideas for how to shape the story and where to head after the first chapter
- Strategies for staying productive and keeping the novel going in the future
1. Writing: You’ll submit two novel chapters or sections of 7-18 pages each, double-spaced. The workshop and your instructor will read and discuss these submissions.
2. Readings: To improve their craft, writers have to read! Novel excerpts and short stories will be assigned each week.
3. Critiques: Each workshop week, you'll write comments to students being workshopped, offering suggestions for revision.
4. Craft assignments: I'll assign short exercises and prompts as a way of getting your writing flowing. You can use these as a jumping-off point for your longer work.
Week One: Story Structure
Week Two: Language and Voice: How to Tell Your Story
Week Three: First Chapters: Laying the Foundation
Week Four: Building Character
Week Five: Point of View: Narrative Strategies
Week Six: Outlining Your Novel and Planning for the Road Ahead
Blair Hurley received her B.A. from Princeton University and her M.F.A. from NYU. Her stories are published or forthcoming in Ninth Letter, West Branch, Mid-American Review, Washington Square, Hayden's Ferry Review, and elsewhere. She has received a Pushcart Prize and scholarships from Bread Loaf and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Her debut novel isThe Devoted (W.W. Norton & Company 2018).
“Blair is a beautiful and powerful writer, whose work often examines themes of identity, faith, and difficult family dynamics. Her writing is driven by great compassion, humor and wit, which renders her characters as complex, soulful and absorbing.”
“If you are interested in polishing your writing to its full potential, consider hiring Blair Hurley as your editor. I did. She is tough and terrific. Tough because she caught every little mistake and foolishness I committed to page. Terrific because she is incredibly smart and creative, and she guided me so that dull storylines turned into gripping ones.”
“This class was even better and more informative (and inspirational) than I had hoped. Blair is a fantastic teacher. I loved that she has had great success and was so open about sharing her experiences. Plus she was funny and down to earth!”
“I loved Blair — I want to take a class from her again! She knows an incredible amount and kept me engaged the entire time.”