“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.
Payment plans are available for this class.
*no class Mar. 7
- 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!
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.
"Lucy Tan brings to vibrant life the self-made, newly cosmopolitan Zhens, who have gone from the tea fields and silk factories of small town China to the luxury high rises of Shanghai in one generation. Abounding in insight and deftly told, WHAT WE WERE PROMISED is a story both sweeping and intimate, as this most modern of families discovers they must confront their past in order to find their future."
"WHAT WE WERE PROMISED is a big, beautiful novel. Lucy Tan’s dazzling debut grapples with the persistence of the past, the inevitability of the present, and the difficulty of balancing individuality with community."
"From its first page the novel promises a mix of emotion and intellect, plot and cultural critique, and it delivers. These characters are deeply understood and deeply felt, and the conflicts they get themselves into will keep you up at night turning pages. By the end of WHAT WE WERE PROMISED you will agree that the real promise belongs to its debut author. Put Lucy Tan on your literary radar now."
“I read WHAT WE WERE PROMISED in a state of enchantment... Both intimate and panoramic, Lucy Tan's debut is a revealing consideration of modern China as well as a thrilling discovery of the generations-long secrets between two families. Compassionate and heartbreaking, funny and wise, local and universal, WHAT WE WERE PROMISED marks the arrival of an inspiring new voice.”
“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.”
“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.”