Seven Mountains

Novel/Fiction Syllabus and Author List[ HOME ]


Students will focus on the writing of publishable work within their chosen genre. Students will analyze and discuss novel elements, narrative, prose style, and techniques learned from the following authors/playrights, and while performing the following workshop exercises:

1. What The Successful Author Must Possess
Platform-Premise-Execution at 110%, Market Basics, "The Plan," Craft Basics, Purpose-Passion-Tenacity, Single Best Author Tool + A Great Pitch.  
    Exercise: Students role play as senior editorial staff at Random House and review a manuscript submission, arguing either for acceptance or rejection of the author's work. Study guide readings and discussion.

2. Market Reality and Pragmatic Thinking
Author Needs vs. Market Demands, Nuances of Genre vs. "Literary", What the Commercial Caesar Demands, Insider Info, Fierce Competition and Agent Targeting, From the Heart But Smart, Pitching the Novel, Log Lines and Query Letters. Algonkian agent and workshop faculty
    Discussion, Q&A, novel pitch sessions and reaction.

3. Drama's Most Powerful Elements in The Novel
Drama Theory, Statement of Conflict, Rising Action, Three Act Structure, 15 Steps of Complication, Reader Reaction Flow. Dryden, H. Miller, Krutch, Kesey
    Exercise and Assignments: creation and elaboration on each student's major conflict/complication in the novel and in synch with practicing the novel pitch. Study Guide readings and discussion.

4. The Intellectual Trace of Theme
Statement of Theme, Importance, Application and Representation, the Ripple Effect and Impact of Theme Throughout the Novel. Malraux, West, Kesey, Ionesco
    Exercise: creation of a primary theme statement for novel. Study Guide readings and discussion.

5. Know Your Story, Know Your Characters
Animation Sketching, Cognition and Affect, Social Reaction Profile, Ticks and Tags, Epiphany and Emotional Evolution, The Power of Great Antagonists, Sympathetic Protagonist in First Ten Pages. Patchett, Martel, Kidd, Albom, S. Anderson, E. Brontė, Fitzgerald, West, Hemingway
    Exercise: students sketch a unique and sympathetic protagonist in the context of the first ten pages of their novel. Study Guide readings and discussion.

6. Plot Devices and Other Needs
Scene Construction, Verisimilitude, POV, Masking, Foreshadow, Timesim, Exposition, Surprise, Minor Complication, Suspense Techniques, Character Arcs, and more. McInerney, O'Connor, Zola, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Ibsen, O'Connor, R.P. Warren, West, Knowles, Nabokov
    Exercise: diagram a prototype plot flow for novel. Study Guide readings and discussion.

7. Story Enhancement Techniques
Stages of Event, Narrative Energy, Seeding of Tension and Sub-events, Anecdotal Devices, Imagery, the Human Condition, and IMAGINATION. Robert Graves
    Exercise: construct and write a pre-defined scene that highlights setting, conflict, and metaphor. Study guide readings and discussion.

8. Strong Narrative Through Synergy
Prose Enhancement Guides, Compare and Contrast of Narrative Styles, The Art of Fiction; Subject Matter vs. Prose. Chabon, Godwin, Kosinski, Kingsolver, Updike, Proulx, Marquez, Brontė
    Exercise: construct and write a pre-defined scene that highlights dialogue, interior monologue, and suspense.

9. Dialogue: Never a Gratuitous Word
Screen and Stage Dialogue, Major Functions, Show Don't Tell, Need for Inclusion of Specific Elements, Types of Dialogue, Narrative Interjections, Character Roles in Scene. R. Price, Joyce, T. Williams, Hemingway
    Exercise: given back story, students write one major scene with dialogue, noting pivotal points.

10. Prose Enhancement and Publication
Prose drills, prose narrative guides, structure reference guides, the perfect synopsis. Meetings with agent and editor to discuss student work and publication possibilities. Shakespeare, Roethke, Welty, M. Martone, Plath, Chabon, and many more.
    Exercise: specific drills designed to hone competitive style. Students leave with a specific plan to realistically approach publication of their novel ms.

The conference workshops will examine, discuss, and then work through specific craft and prose exercises derived from direct analysis of a select group of works. (please note: students are NOT expected to read all the books on this list--please consult with workshop leader) This group currently includes:

  • "Bel Canto" (Ann Patchett)
  • "Third Degree" (Patterson and Gross)
  • "The First Five People You Meet In Heaven" (Mitch Albom)
  • "The Secret Life of Bees" (Sue Monk Kidd)
  • "The Life of Pi" (Yann Martel)
  • "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay" (Michael Chabon)
  • "Evensong" (Gail Godwin)
  • "The Burden of Proof" (Scott Turow)
  • "The Shipping News" (E. Annie Proulx)
  • "Claudius The God" (Robert Graves)
  • "Lucky You" (Carl Hiassen)
  • "The Poisonwood Bible" (Barbara Kingsolver)
  • "Lolita" (Vladimir Nabokov)
  • "The Illustrated Man" (Ray Bradbury)
  • "Wise Blood" (Flannery O'Connor)
  • "The Great Gatsby" (F. Scott Fitzgerald)
  • "All the King's Men" (Robert Penn Warren)
  • "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" (Ken Kesey)
  • "Miss Lonelyhearts" (Nathaniel West)
  • "The Sun Also Rises" (Ernest Hemingway)
  • "Wuthering Heights" (Emily Brontë)
  • "One Hundred Years of Solitude" (Gabriel G. Marquez)
  • "The Centaur" (John Updike), and others.

Algonkian Writer Conferences
2020 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Ste 443
Washington, DC 20006

Algonkian Home Office:
Phone: 1-800-250-8290

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