“Honestly, this course was amazing. Big thank you to Lucy for making class so enjoyable every week.” - former student
Much has been said about a novel’s opening—it should be clear, command the reader’s attention, and establish a specific setting. It should introduce characters that will sustain a novel-length narrative. But where do we go from there?
The novel’s “middle” is where many writers lose confidence. Perhaps less glamorous than the beginning, the middle is where we do the work of complicating tensions that will play out in the story. Here is where we explore our characters’ pasts, develop their voices, and deepen the reader’s understanding of their relationships. It’s also where a premise turns into plot, and in this course, we’ll talk about how to manage page-by-page narrative tension within a novel-length story arc. Designed for writers who have already begun writing or are at least thinking about writing a novel, this course aims to demystify the process of transforming an idea into characters and scenes that feel alive on the page. You may be on your first draft or your third, but you should arrive with a strong sense of the story you want to tell.
In class, students will have the opportunity to workshop twice and submit up to 60 pages of their works-in-progress. In one-on-one private sessions, they will receive individualized guidance, which can take the form of a lesson on structure or voice, a reading recommendation, or an optional homework assignment; often, what’s needed is a gentle reminder that the only way to go is forward. At the end of eight weeks, students will walk away with sixty pages of a novel manuscript to build on and a plan for how to continue through to the end.
- intensive peer and instructor critiques on two fiction submissions
- in-class exercises and lectures on craft
- one-on-one conference with the instructor, tailored to your work.
- practical advice on the navigating publishing world, MFA programs, fellowships, and other opportunities for writers.
- access to a nurturing community of writers and readers
- more confidence as a writer, on and off the page!
*no class Nov. 22nd
Payment plans are available for this class.
Lucy Tan is the author of the novel What We Were Promised, forthcoming from Little, Brown in July 2018. Her short fiction has been published in Asia Literary Review, Sixfold Journal, and Ploughshares, where she was winner of the 2015 Emerging Writer’s Contest. She is a graduate of NYU and the MFA program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was winner of the 2016 August Derleth Prize.
“One of the hardest things a fiction writer can do is tell the story of the thing that didn’t happen, that is put in play the narrative potential and tension of a moment that might change everything and then have the restraint to let that moment pass quietly. Lucy is a master of this kind of storytelling, the kind that breaks our hearts by leaving us longing for the moment when everything still seemed possible. Lucy’s sentences have a dazzling way of cutting through to what matters most, which makes it all the more poignant when her characters come just to the brink of saying the thing that wants to be said. She has a gift for writing about the ways that people relate to each other, and how relationships give and withhold. Her work builds a narrative pressure that gives intensity to both chance encounters and those moments when characters have to register some new facet of a person they have known forever… I also want to say how many peers in Lucy’s program have singled her out as the reason their own work got better. The same brilliance and compassion and ambition that she brings to her work, Lucy brings as a reader. Hers is the kind of ambition that makes everyone around her want to be better, and we’re all so lucky to have had the benefit of it.”
“What is seen when watching family is not easy to describe. And yet in the story ‘Manhunt,’ a protagonist watches a family tragedy unfold, with their heart, rather than their head and is thus able to chart delicate emotional balances and imbalances. The quiet yet determined prose turns over on itself to open up into new and unexpected sensations that left me with a feeling of originality that only the best short stories allow.”
“Lucy Tan shares deeply meaningful stories/writers and introduces us to the experience of writing with unwavering passion. She helped cultivate a dynamic and constructively vulnerable environment, imbuing each workshop with heart and penetrating dedication to craft. I am very grateful to have participated in Lucy's class this fall.”
“Honestly, this course was amazing. Big thank you to Lucy for making class so enjoyable every week. Would strongly recommend (and have recommended) to other students.”
“Lucy is a meticulous, warm, and insightful instructor whose lectures, activities, and workshops blend together into seamless, integrated craft-lessons. I've always admired the spirit of inquiry Lucy brings to the classroom.”
“Lucy Tan is the most generous reader and writer I have ever known.”