You’ve gotten fifty, a hundred, or even more pages into your novel, but the honeymoon is over and you’re lost in the murky middle. What now? Many novel and craft courses focus on the fundamentals and the first starts, but what skills do we need to sustain, develop, and finish our longer writing projects? This course is designed to motivate, inspire, and provide writers with a toolkit for entering the wilds of the midpoint of their novels and pushing through to the finish.
Through workshops, weekly readings and online discussions, and writing prompts, we’ll work on taking your novel to the next level. We’ll have lessons on planning and outlining your novel, what middles need, developing and sustaining your narrative voice and strategy, and reaching your ending. We’ll read writers including Toni Morrison, Alexander Chee, Zadie Smith, Raymond Chandler, Graham Greene, and Miriam Toews, among others, and we’ll have regular discussions about writing and productivity, tools of the trade, maintaining motivation in less-than-easy times, and more. We’ll make the process of writing and finishing novels transparent, inspiring, and fun.
This course is for intermediate to advanced writers who have already completed a significant portion of their novel drafts (50+ pages suggested) and are looking to make progress on the middles of 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 Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
- In-depth peer and instructor feedback on two novel chapters
- An outline for your novel, with ideas for how to shape the story and where to head from here
- Strategies for staying productive and keeping the novel going in the future
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
Students are encouraged to work on their projects during class time, with a suggested 3-5 pages of writing per week. Students will also be expected to read and comment on their peers’ novel excerpts (up to 3,000 words per submission) and should be prepared to submit two chapters of their novels for workshop. In addition, students will be expected to read professional novel chapters outside of class time and be prepared to discuss in class.
Week One: Finding the Heart of Your Story
Week Two: Building People, Building Worlds
Week Three: Murky Middles
Week Four: Point of View: Narrative Strategies
Week Five: Outlining Your Novel and Planning for the Road Ahead
Week Six: Finding Your Ending
BLAIR HURLEY is the author of THE DEVOTED, published by W.W. Norton, which was longlisted for The Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize. Her work is published or forthcoming in Electric Literature, The Georgia Review, Ninth Letter, Guernica, Paris Review Daily, West Branch, and elsewhere. She received a 2018 Pushcart Prize and two Pushcart Prize nominations in 2019.
“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!”
“Never met a more passionate, well-versed, and intelligent professor who encouraged meaningful discussions and the opportunity for professional growth.”
"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."
“In Blair Hurley’s beautifully written first novel, a young woman charts a spiritual journey into the rigors of Zen Buddhism in a Boston storefront Zendo, under the guidance of a charismatic Master who soon becomes her lover. The relationship between Master and student is candidly charted and wholly convincing. The intellectual austerity of Zen Buddhism is presented with all the clarity of Zen itself, a fascinating subject. . . . A suspenseful and warmly engaging coming-of-age story.”
“A belated coming-of-age novel with a quest at its core, The Devoted is an assured and promising debut.”
“[An] intimate, fluid debut…The beauty of The Devoted lies in its intricate descriptions of religion’s hush and ritual… [A] novel as tender and fervent as a prayer.”