Novel | Workshop

8-Week Fiction Workshop: How Should a Novel Be?

Form is the essential consideration of the novel; fortunately for writers, a novel can be formed however you like.

This course is geared at the would-be novelist. The writer who has always dreamed of tackling something long, the writer who has had the idea for a novel simmering for ages, the writer who is eager to figure out how to get to the next stage. To make the most of the experience, students should have the drive and commitment for this long form, and it would be helpful to have an idea for your novel, though you need not have started writing.

We'll look at selections from novels by Anita Brookner, Renata Adler, Jenny Offill, Mary Robison, Evan Connell, Stewart O'Nan, and others, and explore how form affects almost every choice the writer makes.

We'll do short, in-class writing exercises to loosen our muscles, build our confidence, and experiment formally - playing with various elements of fiction to better understand how they work, and how to put them to work in our novels.

We'll explore the business of novel writing and publishing, and talk about the logistics of making a career as a writer.

But our primary focus will be on student work. A workshop isn't one person instructing others, but a group of like-minded writers working toward a common goal. Here, that goal will be a healthy start - say at least 40 pages - of a novel. Be prepared to write, revise, read your peers' work, and discuss that work intelligently and honestly.


- peer and instructor feedback on a novel excerpt

- one on one conference with the instructor to delve deeply into your ongoing project

- the confidence and tools to develop a plan for seeing your novel to completion

*no class Oct. 9

Payment plans are available for this class.

Rumaan Alam

Rumaan Alam is the author of the novel Rich and Pretty. His stories have appeared in Crazyhorse, StoryQuarterly, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere; his writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and elsewhere. His novel That Kind of Mother will be published in 2018.


"Rumaan is the kind of writer (and the kind of person) who challenges the rest of us to demand more of ourselves, be more daring, more ambitious, more engaging—and he does so with such generosity and charm that it makes trying harder seem like the easiest thing in the world."

Robin Wasserman author of GIRLS ON FIRE

"Rumaan's insights as a reader, a thinker, and a sentence-maker are filled with brilliance, specificity, and warmth. He is that rare writer who works hard to think and talk about other people's work as carefully and thoughtfully as he does his own."

Profile Photo Lynn Steger Strong author of HOLD STILL

"Smart, sharp, and beautifully made, Rumaan Alam’s portrait of two childhood best friends transitioning into their adult lives is vividly rendered, set against a tantalizing background of moneyed New York City that is impossible to resist."

Emma Straub author of THE VACATIONERS

"Deceptively easy to read, RICH AND PRETTY is a complex testimony to the resilience of female friendship. With clarity and heart, Rumaan Alam brings to life the fraught, bewildering and beautiful nuances that keep us reaching for each other over decades."

Profile Photo Mira Jacob author of THE SLEEPWALKER'S GUIDE TO DANCING

"Engrossing, funny, and wise, RICH AND PRETTY by Rumaan Alam is the story of two young women growing up and growing out of their past selves, even as that past still, profoundly, matters. Its cleverness is surpassed only by its compassion. A marvelous debut."

Edan Lepucki author of WOMAN NO. 17

"Sharply observed and incredibly entertaining, RICH AND PRETTY tells the story of childhood friends struggling to hold onto their relationship as they grow up and grow apart. Rumaan Alam’s debut is one of the most honest portrayals of the complicated world of female friendship."

Jennifer Close author of THE HOPEFULS

"RICH AND PRETTY is a beautifully written novel, a lushly detailed portrait of the mores and manners of contemporary Manhattan and a penetrating look into the heart of the generation now facing their thirties... wickedly witty, keenly insightful, and deeply, compassionately wise."

Dan Chaon author of ILL WILL