You have a novel to write, but you haven’t yet figured out how to start. Do you begin with a first line and continue from there with a second and then a third? Or do you need to have some kind of a plan? And if so, what kind of plan? How do you figure out what you need to know right now, so you don’t get stuck later?
This class is designed to answer those questions and get you started on your novel over the course of a single weekend. You don’t need to submit anything beforehand, and you don’t need to bring anything except pen and paper—and your ideas. Together, we will learn the basic techniques that novelists use to plan out a novel. As part of that process, we will do a series of in-class writing exercises, “writing outside the story” to help build our understanding of characters and plot.
By the end of the class, you will go home with a clearer understanding of what your novel is about. You will have a first draft of a plot outline, and you will have made key decisions about structure, point of view, character, and voice. Along the way, you will also learn:
- How to write outside the story, exploring character, voice, point of view, theme, and world in ways that prepare you to write the story itself
- How to research characters and world to make your novel more vivid and detailed
- How to think about structure and create an outline
- How to set goals, create a writing schedule, and prioritize writing tasks so that you keep moving forward
- How to keep yourself motivated and engaged through the ups and downs
- How to learn from what you read and feed yourself creatively
Robert Anthony Siegel is the author of a memoir, Criminals: My Family's Life on Both Sides of the Law (Counterpoint). He has also published two novels, All Will Be Revealed (MacAdam/Cage) and All the Money in the World (Random House). His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian, The Paris Review, Tin House, The Oxford American, and other venues, and has received O. Henry and Pushcart Prizes among other awards. His website is www.robertanthonysiegel.com.
"Full of richly drawn characters and jolting plot twists—Glasser’s time behind bars is especially chilling—Siegel’s debut novel works both as a parable of how quickly the high and mighty can fall, and as gripping drama. 'Money' well spent."
"Early in this novel, there is a wonderful scene—rich with embarrassment—in which Louis Glasser, the altogether unlikely hero, helps his Harvard-educated son buy a new suit. The son’s fortunes founder, but that’s nothing compared to the perils that overwhelm his father—a lawyer who operates on the margins and becomes the target of a criminal investigation. Siegel’s … portraits (loving and otherwise) of the Glassers, New York prosecutors, and various lowlifes are right on the money."
"...Well-turned and elegant...Gloriously complex..."
"...A richly detailed and seedily seductive narrative."
"Robert's unique skill as a teacher comes from his enthusiasm not only for talking, which is present in many talented professors, but for listening... He has a reputation for being the best kind of teacher: generous, knowledgeable, demanding, and always at the ready with excellent advice."
"The level of discourse was challenging and interesting and I think part of the reason for that was the casual atmosphere of discussion, fostered by Robert. When people are allowed to speak in an open, non-threatening environment, wonderful things happen."