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  1. Literary and Genre Novel Writing At Your Own Pace Below you will find our program syllabus. In our quest to get you as close to the brass ring as possible, we've developed this series of multi-genre commercial writing courses that enable you to write or rewrite your novel a step at a time, and at your own pace, while also reality-checking all core and peripheral elements of your work-in-progress. Initial focus is placed on developing story premise and proper market position, major antagonist and protagonist features, primary plot conflict(s), and overall setting decisions. The next set of crucial elements are addressed in turn (see syllabus below) and addressed again, as appropriate, by Algonkian editorial faculty once the sell sheet stage is reached. How long will it take you to write or rewrite your novel to commercial or literary quality? Everyone is different, and it depends on a host of factors. However, you will subtract at least two years of trial-and-error rewrites off the time frame using our methodology and editorial guidance. Btw, the methodology we utilize in the courses we refer to as the "model-and-context method." In other words, we demonstrate practical application of necessary and advanced technique as learned from a suitable variety of masterful fiction authors in a variety of genres (models), then guide you to apply said craft as appropriate and necessary in the context of your work-in-progress. NOTE: WRITERS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO READ THE FOLLOWING NOVELS IF TIME DOES NOT PERMIT - ALL ARE REFERENCED IN CONTEXT DURING THE COURSE OF THE PROGRAM The Program Syllabus Art of Novel Writing - Part I - Eight Course Modules Module I The Act of Story Statement and Protagonist's Goal; Conjuring Your Breakout Title; Market Positioning and Vital Comparables; Utilizing the Short Synopsis Pitch to Create and Define Novel Basics Including Rising Plot Action, Exposition, Backstory, Climax, Denouement, and Theme. Works studied or referenced: ISSAC'S STORM, ANTIGONE, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, COLD MOUNTAIN, HISS OF DEATH, SUMMER'S SISTERS, THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, THE HAND OF FATIMA, THE GREAT GATSBY. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module II Choosing the Antagonist; Antagonist Role in Energizing Plot Lines and Defining Dramatic Tension; Social Reaction and Psyche Profile of Antagonists; Traits and Physical Nature of the Antagonist; Anecdotes Featuring Your Antagonist; Antagonist Relation to Three-Level Conflict Dynamic. Works studied or referenced: THE KITE RUNNER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE GREAT GATSBY, LES MISERABLES, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing a Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module III Using the Hook Line to Bait and Test Your Commercial High Concept; Hook Elements; the Coming of the "Agon" and Creating the Three-Level Conflict Dynamic; Writing Conflict Lines; Using the Right Setting to Maximize Opportunities for Unique Circumstance, Complications, Character and Verve. Works studied or referenced: ISSAC'S STORM, HISS OF DEATH, SUMMER'S SISTERS, THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, THE HAND OF FATIMA, THE HUNGER GAMES, SOUND AND THE FURY, THE ROAD. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module IV Personality Types and the Counter Trait; Importance of Backstory; Elements of Character Animation; Protagonist Makes Plot or Vice Versa; Sympathetic Character Factors in the Hook; Defining the Transformational Character Arc. Works studied or referenced in Module: CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, FIRST FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, SECRET LIFE OF BEES, LIFE OF PI, BEL CANTO, PATTERSON AND GROSS, WINESBURG OHIO. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module V Synopsis as a Planning Tool; Methods for Delivering Exposition; How Does Theme Define and Pervade the Novel? Character Symbolism and Making a Theme Statement That Will Layer Into the Novel. Works studied or referenced in Module: ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, WISE BLOOD, THE SUN ALSO RISES, RHINOCEROS (the play), MAN'S FATE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VI Coming of the Six Act Two-Goal Novel; Act 0 - Developing the Backstory; Act I, Part I - the Critical Act of Opening Scene, Foreshadowing the Primary Conflict, In Media Res; Act I, Part II - Inciting Incident, Exposition Parceling, the MacGuffin, Theme Start, Antagonist Intro With Possible Minions. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VII Act II - More Hook: Story Statement Redux, Establishment of Major Goal, Primary External Conflict or Complication Begins, First Major Plot Point and Plot Line, Protagonist Psychology, Rising Action; Act III - Plot Line Evolution, Minor Reversals, Complications, thee Levels of Conflict, Major Reversal Time, Plot Points. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VIII Act IV - New Rising Action and Suspense, Conflict Levels Revisited, the Final Puzzle Piece, Surprise or Twist, Climax, Victory at a Cost; Act V - Denouement, Loose Ends, Theme Resolution, End of Protagonist Arc. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Primary elements studied and applied in the eight modules of Part II: The act of creating narrative suspense. Dynamic description and competitive narrative cinema. Utilizing character personality to create tone and verve. The four levels of storytelling viewpoint. Levels of successive narrative transformation. Complications and conflict in fiction narrative. Approaches and experiments in masterful dialogue. Establishment of active and aggressive style. Coaxing imagination and unpredictability in narrative and storytelling. Art of Novel Writing - Part II - Eight Course Modules Module I Mastering the Art of Point-of-View: Four Levels of Third Person Point of View; Advantages of 3POV; Effective First Person POV Transition From 3POV; Choice of Viewpoint Character and Effect on Tone; Four Stage Narrative Transformation. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module II Mastering the "Art of Fiction" Narrative: Spatial Orientation in the Scene, Quality Ruminations to Add Dimension and Arc, Transforming the Quiet Set and Circumstance with Imaginative Leaps of Interior Monologue, External Complications, Emotions, Musings, and Narrator Observations. Writing Concise and Artful Dialogue, Mastering the Right Genre Style and Voice. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module III Mastering the Art of High Impact Subject Matter and Issues of Proper Narrative Composition : Creating Social Energy and Conflict, Ways to Aggressively Milk Imagination, Complex Visual Phenomena Reflecting the Human Condition. Creating the Color, Movement, Sounds and Smells of the Meta-Cinematic Narrative Experience. Injecting Pre-event complications, and Fantastical Circumstance Creating "Delayed Cognition" Technique. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module IV Mastering the "Art of Fiction" Narrative: Complex Description of Characters Using Both Third and First Person POV, Metaphor Sketching to Describe Unique Characters, the "Single Statement of Impression," Deriving Unique Metaphors From Setting, Using the "PDQ" to Brainstorm Approaches to Challenging Subjects in Prose Narrative, Details of Face and Body Movement, Charged Emotional States, Occasional Acts of Bold and Imaginative Appearance. Balancing Prose For High-Impact Subject Matter VS. Upmarket Prose Narrative. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module V Mastering the Art of Narrative Composition: High-Impact Subject Matter VS. Upmarket Prose Narrative, Mastering Style and Voice, Using FIGHT CLUB to Write Your Own Version In Order to Practice Those Narrative Elements Make Chuck Palahniuk a Great Author; Using THE RIVER KING to Write Your Own Version In Order to Practice Those Narrative Elements That Make Alice Hoffman a Great Author. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VI The First 5000 Words of the Novel Hook Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules : Four Levels of 3POV Narrative, Level III Narrative Minimum, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Interior Fantasy, Ruminations or Musings, At Least Five Minor Complications. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VII Self-Coverage Narrative Scorebox and Reference to Part I of Program Regarding Act I and Act II as Appropriate For Inclusion of Proper Plot Elements, Sympathetic Character Elements, etc.. the First 50 Pages of the Novel Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules : Brilliant First Person POV, or All Four Levels of 3POV Narrative; Level III Quality Narrative Minimum Striving Towards Level IV, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Ruminations and Musings, As Many Minor Complications As Necessary. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, and All 50 Pages With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VIII Post Coverage: the Next 50 Pages of the Novel Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules (for a total of 100) : Brilliant First Person POV, or All Four Levels of 3POV Narrative; Level III Quality Narrative Minimum Striving Towards Level IV, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Ruminations and Musings, As Many Minor Complications As Necessary. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, and All 50 Pages With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample.
  2. Book Reports The Art of Fiction, John Gardner The Art of Fiction introduced me to the concept of a "fictional dream." Whatever the story medium, the author strives to create a "vivid and continuous dream." All elements of craft must support that dream. Other lessons from the book include grounding yourself in the great literature of the past, maintaining artistic integrity and truth, and lending a novel "profluence." That is, causality, one scene launching the next, but also building synergistically, so that at the climax and resolution, the reader envisions the confluence of images. The story resonates. Lastly, I love the vignette about psychic distance. This echoes the article here about third-person POV, moving from distant to close. I didn't find anything that conflicted with this program's teachings. Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maass Writing the Breakout Novel stresses the importance of a strong premise, high stakes, complex characters, and tension on every page. First, that a writer starts with a considered premise, tested for the ability to launch a novel length work, with high stakes, both public and personal. Then, a thoughtful setting. Characters' emotions and actions should reflect a shifting landscape of time and place. Lastly, we should strive for tension on every page. He stresses this point. For example, our job as writers is to make our characters "suffer." Keep testing them, adding difficulties and problems, to show their grit, reveal character, and drive the plot forward. Rather than conflict with this programs' teachings, this book reflects it nicely. For example, we learned here to plan our premise, build conflict, have a sympathetic protagonist, vivid setting, and writing style with "not a single quiet paragraph." Write Away, Elizabeth George Write Away shows how Elizabeth George does her work. Unlike a traditional craft or how-to book, she lends a lot of space to her own process, which is helpful. One useful lesson is the importance of developing characters before plotting. She does pages of freewriting about her characters, using a questionnaire that she shares in the book. Another useful tip is that we must continuously "open up" our stories. Instead of solving problems, we should expand them. I loved this line. Because when I wrote the first draft of this novel, I tried to do that. Resist my natural impulse to find resolution to my story, but instead keep multiple threads afloat, picking up a thread and setting it in motion, then keeping that momentum going. Finally, she includes useful craft tips in the second half of the book. For example, using "THAD" or talking head avoidance devices. Making sure each scene either advances the plot (or subplot), develops character, or addresses theme. And creating desire and intention in our characters as well as wants in our readers. Suspense helps achieve reader "wants." If the reader wants to know what happens next, then we've done our job. I didn't find anything here either that conflicted with the program's teachings. She does a lot of planning and outlining in her work. She also included a nice appendix of various models of story structure. The Writing Life, Annie Dillard Unlike the other books, The Writing Life read much more like memoir. It reminded me of Stephen King's On Writing, in that she speaks about her process and experience. For example, that writing is labor intensive, done in isolation (she refers to different studios she's had over her life), and that separation from others is both challenge and boon for the writer. Writing is deeply personal, a sacrifice, in many ways, but a gift as well. She speaks of writing often in the context of nature. First, that we can be inspired by nature and also use connection with nature to find ways out of being stuck. She takes walks. She find metaphor in her friend, the pilot, traveling the sky, to how she guides the reader in her work. She references Thoreau and her own cabin in the woods, where she finds time alone to be among her books and her work. Second, that we may labor slowly, but that it's okay. We're driven by our own path towards process, there are no hard and fast rules. I didn't find anything that conflicted with what's taught in this course. It was a much more reflective work, with a focus on individual process over craft "rules."
  3. BOOK REPORTS "The Art of Fiction" by John Gardner 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? It reinforced for me some vital components that must permeate the book throughout. For example, the story development must continuously cast forwards, drawing the reader from paragraph to paragraph, from scene to scene. Any let up and the reader can stop caring where the story will go next, at which point the writer has failed, and the reader stops reading. This was particularly important for me to get in my head in the early scenes when I move from place to place, character to character. I had initially focused on backward looking exposition, but realized that this must take a back seat to forward looking hooks, otherwise the reader will cease to want to know where the book is going. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? I fixed on the idea that I must induce the reader into a dream and never let him go. As part of my editing, I now keep in mind that anything that disturbs or disrupts the dream threatens the continued interest of the reader. While I had tried to avoid extraneous detail and the removal of adverbs that were there because of a lazy selection of verbs, I now make special note to create vivid detail when I need credibility. As Gardner says, this is the lifeblood of fiction. But I find at times it can be overused by some writers to substitute for depth of character and motivation. I particularly took on board the idea that perfect writing means hitting what you are aiming at and not touching anything you do not aim at. I think, while I am starting out, it is hard to know what to aim for and easier to just let the ideas flow. I am increasingly sitting back and thinking to myself, what am I trying to do here? What am I aiming at? 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? If so, what are they? I think it is fair to say that I was spending too much time thinking about plot mechanics rather than my protagonist being the agent for their own decisions. In my first drafts, my characters were often a victim of the plot, and they only really came alive, with the proper motivations when I thought about their desires, fears and misbeliefs, and made them make the decisions based in most cases on those aspects of their character. "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Donald Maass 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? I think this book gave me the most confidence to be original. I really took to heart some fundamental ideas of plausibility, originality, and gut emotional appeal, to add to the ideas around conflict that I was learning in the course. I want to be an original writer and feel that the pressure to align yourself with other writers is cast out there as something that will make you commercial. I was going down that route, but I think the more I threw myself into the craft, originality has taken over and I feel I found in this book the mechanics of how to make that work. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? I think of the different books, this was one where I could put down way more than three lessons. But I note just three here: Characters must be unforgettable - “ The analysis of character made me realize the fundamentals of a strong character; making them realistic but larger than life; saying and doing things that we would not dare to do in our normal life; feeling things authentically without turning away. Changing the way the reader sees the world - “ This is very much the theme of my story. The further I progress in the story, the more I intend it to rattle, confront, and illuminate. Building high human worth - “ I had originally put in too much death at the beginning thinking it would add suspense and realism, but all it did was reduce the worth of the characters. Instead I have been building the worth of the protagonist, initially to those around her, but as her connection to the Antagonist is revealed, her worth to everyone involved will grow to a climax. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? If so, what are they? Not sure if this conflicted but it struck me as a fundamental that was not identified. It was the idea of using only characters you like. Possible I missed it somewhere in the coursework. It made me cut out a number of characters and the story is the better for it. "The Writing Life" by Annie Dillard 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? I don't feel this book helped me very much. I have my own way of writing, my own habits that work for me. I did pick up a few sage words of advice, three of what I noted below. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? It is the beginning of the work that the writer throws away. Often the best parts of the writing are discarded. I agreed with this. As I went through the course, I threw away practically all of my original work, in some cases multiple times, dispatching characters, sub-plots that at an early stage were central to the story. She notes that the writer should not write for the movie. Write for the person who wants to read a book, not for the person who would prefer to see it in a movie. She reiterates well the idea of hitting what you aim for but goes an insightful step further by noting the writer should aim for the chopping block, not the wood. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? If so, what are they? I think there was the least amount of overlap with the course, so relatively few areas which you could think there may be conflicts. I think for me, I gleaned some useful thoughts on the craft that added to what I was learning from the course and from other sources. "Write Away" by Elizabeth George 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? The book gave me a large number of smart insights into the craft I was already learning from the course work. It made me think harder about each step of the craft, what was most important to keep the reader's attention. In particular the three related points below, made me revisit my mindset to the use of my characters in driving suspense. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? While I was trying to get my characters to drive the plot rather than the other way around, it was particularly striking to hear Elizabeth note that these characters must be real people to the reader at the same time and the reality of their lives affect an event. This made me think more clearly about what I was trying to achieve with the agency of the main characters, that their actions and decisions should not just drive their own plot, but those of the other characters. On a related point, she noted that an event alone cannot hold a story together. Only characters effecting an event or event affecting characters can do that. If you create characters that are real to the reader, who evoke an emotional response within the reader, you create suspense because the reader will what to know that’s going to happen next once the status quo is shattered by the primary event. You must continually open up your story; creating scenes in which you lay down but not answer dramatic questions. If you do answer a dramatic question, you must have already laid down another. You do this by making partial disclosures instead of giving out all the information you possess. You create tension by making a promise to the reader at the beginning of the novel. When a story stalls out, the writer has played their hand too soon. Information should be played out with great care. If the writer gives something away too soon, the entire house of cards collapses. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? If so, what are they? I am again not sure if there was anything that directly conflicted with the course, but Elizabeth notes that characters are interesting in their misery, their unhappiness, their confusion, their conflict and she says you cannot bring a character to life in a book if they are not alive before you start writing. I spent a lot of time thinking about this and Stephen Kings book about how he starts with a situation and then puts a barely drawn character into that situation, and challenges them to find a way out of it. Out of this, I decided that at the heart of each main character should be motivation driven essentially by fear or desire, and decisions often driven by misunderstanding or misbelief. For my story, the protagonist needed start with misery and unhappiness but not be a victim. To be a positive agent of her own destiny she needed a backbone and a reason to put her fear aside and move forward based on some inner desire. In the hook, around the inciting incident, and for the first plot point, her misunderstanding about the world and what is going on motivates her to make decisions where she mentally is able to put her desire over her fear. Ultimately, though these decisions are made for the wrong reasons and with the wrong objectives. So while she may be confused, to an extent unhappy, her motivation comes from her positive desires, her hope, her inner strength, and not from being a victim. I don't think I got this from the course and Elizabeth's book did not give me this precisely, but I evolve this outlook in my mind because of both.
  4. Algonkian Novel Writing and MS Revision Courses Pre-MFA, Post-MFA, or No MFA - Get Your Novel on a Realistic Path to Publication In Cooperation and Partnership With Algonkian Writer Conferences and the New York Pitch Why is This Novel Writing Program Unique? A number of significant things, as follows: Our "model-and-context" and "cross-module method" approach to studying and applying proper technique on all vital levels while your novel is being effectively developed and edited at the same time. Our detailed 16 module syllabus that exhaustively covers all the major novel elements as well as the authors studied or referenced. The array of fiction works studied and referenced in the program modules. The books and analytical fiction articles studied in the program. Our layer by layer approach to teaching you how to write multi-angled and unpredictable cinematic narrative, taking show-don't-tell to its ultimate expression. Our program faculty which consists of seasoned NYC professionals who have not only sold and developed major commercial projects, but who are also fiction writers themselves with publication records; and as a bonus, the faculty are literary agents actively looking for new projects for both film and book purposes. Keep in mind, it is always in our very best interest to get you an agent or book contract, since this is great publicity for our program. The fact that advice and critique on all levels derives exclusively from faculty professionals. In our opinion, this approach is crucial. If you wish to learn how to build your own house, and then actually do so, or invest your money wisely and then actually invest it, you know better than to seek advice from inexperienced non-professionals. Why? Because the issues are important and the stakes are high. Why should they be less high when you are writing a break out novel with the goal of becoming a career author? How Much Hand Holding is Necessary? From experience, the designers of this program knew that every writer entering it would most likely require serious ms rewrites as well as instruction in advanced narrative and structural technique, and therefore, be insufficiently close to a publishable manuscript. The aim and method of the program is to get you as close as possible via the modules, and once done, a faculty consultant assumes control from that point in order to provide professional editorial input and hands-on query guidance. NOTE: if you are participating in this program as an Algonkian alum you do not have to register a payment for it, however, to gain the benefit of indefinite and private editorial consults, an arrangement for compensation must be made with the professional developmental editor on staff--whatever both parties agree is appropriate and necessary. Having noted this, however, faculty will review final sell sheets prior to query, and for all writers regardless. Feel free to contact us on this issue. Once you are in the editorial consult and agent query phase, your communications with a faculty member are not limited to a set number of emails or phone calls, but are indefinite in consideration of the fact that varying projects and writers require varying amounts of time to come to successful completion. Does Every Writer Have the Potential to Succeed? Nearly everyone has the potential to write a breakout novel and go on to become a successful commercial author, but precious few finally accomplish the task. Why is this the rule? Writer conferences, author workshops, books, ms editors, and even the most pointless of MFA programs play a part in a writer's evolution, but none of these provide the overall pragmatic means and method to finish the job (and quite often, not even to start it). If this were not the case, an imaginative and ambitious writer would only have to attend an MFA program at Iowa, for example, and become a published author in due course. But this rarely if ever happens, despite expenditures in the range of $30,000 to $80,000 (Iowa Grad Program for two full years). And aside from this lack of comprehensive and realistic training, many other factors come into play that hamper the aspiring commercial author, everything from prickly skin to incompetent writer groups to misunderstandings of market dynamics. Consider. Would you try to build a livable and quite stylish home on your own without an architect and a professional home builder simply because you had the ability to hammer a few boards together with nails? Of course not. You would acquire the expertise and skills before you began. And yet, new writers approach the creation of a thing equally or more complex, such as the writing of a competitive commercial novel, in the belief they can do so because they have a story idea, can type words on a page, and have read a few magazines about writing. They consult with other new writers as ignorant as themselves and proceed to build a house called a novel, but one that will not risk their lives because fortunately for them, it is all on paper. What Type of Aspiring Authors Should Apply? Serious, self-starting writers willing to conceive, write and craft their novel in the due course of completing this program, and who are willing to accept critical guidance from professionals in the business. We emphasize "serious" because this program is rigorous and challenging, and not like a college extension cyber-class or a typical online workshop. The more knowledge and skills you acquire, the more you apply, returning as necessary to edit until a review by a faculty editor takes place. Aspiring authors, regardless of manuscript stage, benefit from this approach and editorial mentorship. It's about starting with the first sentence and proceeding to the denouement. The program methodically addresses all structural, premise, and narrative aspects of your novel, and in a manner beneficial to making it more competitive while also evolving your writer skill set, no matter your level at the start of the program. How Does This Program Apply to All Genres? The art of good storytelling never changes. The courses and modules approach the art of writing commercial fiction in a manner that applies to upmarket/literary and all commercial genres. See the Six Act Two-Goal Novel page on "Novel Writing on Edge" to get an idea of what we're talking about. The courses accomplish three primary goals. They enable you to: Learn and practice advanced premise-plot and character technique. Learn and practice advanced narrative and prose style craft. Learn and apply said technique, narrative craft, and knowledge to your own work-in-progress. Come to a firm understanding of the role today's market plays in getting your novel published. Genres we work with include upmarket/literary, general fiction, SF adult and YA/MG, fantasy adult and YA/MG (as well as New Adult), urban fantasy, mysteries of all types, detective/true crime, suspense/thrillers, women's fiction both serious and light, as well as paranormal romance. What About Start Date, Time Involved? There is no arbitrary start date. You begin the first module and proceed through the next 15 modules once you've entered the program, or at such time you decide to begin. In theory, you might wish to review a few modules first, take some notes and consider before starting the first assignment. Once you have begun, you progress through the program, writing or rewriting your novel a step at a time at your own pace, returning to prior modules as needed and editing further based on new skills developed and knowledge gained. The amount of time it will take any particular writer to complete the entire novel writing program, receive professionals reviews, return to edit their work, and move on to the agent query process (or else to further project development), will depend entirely on each writer's background knowledge, skill set, and novel manuscript quality upon entering the program. Also, given the fact that most people work and have other lives, we estimate a minimum of 18 weeks to complete the program--though if it takes longer, so be it. Additionally, our writers can also take whatever breaks or hiatus they need, for whatever reason, and suffer no detrimental issues as a result. How Do I Graduate? Successful completion of Parts I and II. Application of work, editorial direction, and critical lessons learned to your novel-in-progress manuscript as evidenced by story development outlines, prose samples, and other criteria as deemed appropriate by program faculty. Completion of the self-coverage novel scorebox. Completion of all extra assignments and readings related to the program. Completion of faculty review and adoption of further edits as necessary. Joint approval of your publication plan going forward.
  5. Algonkian Novel Writing and MS Revision Courses Pre-MFA, Post-MFA, or No MFA - Get Your Novel on a Realistic Path to Publication In Cooperation and Partnership With Algonkian Writer Conferences and the New York Pitch Works Studied or Referenced in the Novel Writing Program NOTE: writers are not responsible for reading all the following works. These works are referenced and portions of them studied in the context of the program. THE KITE RUNNER by Khaled Hosseini TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo BEL CANTO by Ann Patchett 3RD DEGREE BY Patterson and Gross THE CONCRETE BLONDE by Michael Connelly WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maud THE ALCHEMYST by Michael Scott MISERY by Stephen King COLD MOUNTAIN by Charles Frazier THE MALTESE FALCON by Dashiell Hammett ISSAC'S STORM by Erik Larson ANTIGONE by Sophocles ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST by Ken Kesey WISE BLOOD by Flannery O'Connor CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger WAR OF THE WORLDS by H.G. Wells THE INVISIBLE MAN by Ralph Ellison UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN by Italo Calvino THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY by Michael Chabon THE PAINTED BIRD by Jerzy Kosinski EVENSONG by Gail Godwin THE SHIPPING NEWS by Annie Proulx HISS OF DEATH by Rita Mae Brown SUMMER'S SISTERS by Judy Blume THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY by Jonathan Stroud GET SHORTY by Elmore Leonard THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins THE GOLDEN COMPASS by Philip Pullman THE QUEEN'S GAMBLE by Barbara Kyle THE NOTEBOOK by Nicholas Sparks MATCH ME IF YOU CAN by Susan Elizabeth Phillips HARRY POTTER (series) by J.K. Rowling CLAUDIUS THE GOD by Robert Graves POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver FIRST FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN by Mitch Albom SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd LIFE OF PI by Yann Martel WIZARD OF OZ by L. Frank Baum THE HAND OF FATIMA by Ildefonso Falcones de Sierra THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald SOUND AND THE FURY by William Faulkner THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy THE SUN ALSO RISES by Earnest Hemmingway YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS by Michael Neff CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME by Mark Haddon HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain
  6. Literary and Genre Novel Writing At Your Own Pace Below you will find our program syllabus. In our quest to get you as close to the brass ring as possible, we've developed this series of multi-genre commercial writing courses that enable you to write or rewrite your novel a step at a time, and at your own pace, while also reality-checking all core and peripheral elements of your work-in-progress. Initial focus is placed on developing story premise and proper market position, major antagonist and protagonist features, primary plot conflict(s), and overall setting decisions. The next set of crucial elements are addressed in turn (see syllabus below) and addressed again, as appropriate, by Algonkian editorial faculty once the sell sheet stage is achieved. How long will it take you to write or rewrite your novel to commercial or literary quality? Everyone is different, and it depends on a host of factors. However, you will subtract at least two years of trial-and-error rewrites off the time frame using our methodology and editorial guidance. Btw, the methodology we utilize in the courses we refer to as the "model-and-context method." In other words, we demonstrate practical application of necessary and advanced technique as learned from a suitable variety of masterful fiction authors in a variety of genres (models), then guide you to apply said craft as appropriate and necessary in the context of your work-in-progress. NOTE: WRITERS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO READ THE FOLLOWING NOVELS IF TIME DOES NOT PERMIT - ALL ARE REFERENCED IN CONTEXT DURING THE COURSE OF THE PROGRAM The Program Syllabus Art of Novel Writing - Part I - Eight Course Modules Module I The Act of Story Statement and Protagonist's Goal; Conjuring Your Breakout Title; Market Positioning and Vital Comparables; Utilizing the Short Synopsis Pitch to Create and Define Novel Basics Including Rising Plot Action, Exposition, Backstory, Climax, Denouement, and Theme. Works studied or referenced: ISSAC'S STORM, ANTIGONE, ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, COLD MOUNTAIN, HISS OF DEATH, SUMMER'S SISTERS, THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, THE HAND OF FATIMA, THE GREAT GATSBY. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module II Choosing the Antagonist; Antagonist Role in Energizing Plot Lines and Defining Dramatic Tension; Social Reaction and Psyche Profile of Antagonists; Traits and Physical Nature of the Antagonist; Anecdotes Featuring Your Antagonist; Antagonist Relation to Three-Level Conflict Dynamic. Works studied or referenced: THE KITE RUNNER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE GREAT GATSBY, LES MISERABLES, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing a Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module III Using the Hook Line to Bait and Test Your Commercial High Concept; Hook Elements; the Coming of the "Agon" and Creating the Three-Level Conflict Dynamic; Writing Conflict Lines; Using the Right Setting to Maximize Opportunities for Unique Circumstance, Complications, Character and Verve. Works studied or referenced: ISSAC'S STORM, HISS OF DEATH, SUMMER'S SISTERS, THE BARTIMAEUS TRILOGY, THE HAND OF FATIMA, THE HUNGER GAMES, SOUND AND THE FURY, THE ROAD. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module IV Personality Types and the Counter Trait; Importance of Backstory; Elements of Character Animation; Protagonist Makes Plot or Vice Versa; Sympathetic Character Factors in the Hook; Defining the Transformational Character Arc. Works studied or referenced in Module: CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME, FIRST FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN, SECRET LIFE OF BEES, LIFE OF PI, BEL CANTO, PATTERSON AND GROSS, WINESBURG OHIO. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module V Synopsis as a Planning Tool; Methods for Delivering Exposition; How Does Theme Define and Pervade the Novel? Character Symbolism and Making a Theme Statement That Will Layer Into the Novel. Works studied or referenced in Module: ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, WISE BLOOD, THE SUN ALSO RISES, RHINOCEROS (the play), MAN'S FATE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VI Coming of the Six Act Two-Goal Novel; Act 0 - Developing the Backstory; Act I, Part I - the Critical Act of Opening Scene, Foreshadowing the Primary Conflict, In Media Res; Act I, Part II - Inciting Incident, Exposition Parceling, the MacGuffin, Theme Start, Antagonist Intro With Possible Minions. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VII Act II - More Hook: Story Statement Redux, Establishment of Major Goal, Primary External Conflict or Complication Begins, First Major Plot Point and Plot Line, Protagonist Psychology, Rising Action; Act III - Plot Line Evolution, Minor Reversals, Complications, thee Levels of Conflict, Major Reversal Time, Plot Points. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Module VIII Act IV - New Rising Action and Suspense, Conflict Levels Revisited, the Final Puzzle Piece, Surprise or Twist, Climax, Victory at a Cost; Act V - Denouement, Loose Ends, Theme Resolution, End of Protagonist Arc. Works studied or referenced in Module: CATCHER IN THE RYE, WAR OF THE WORLDS, MISERY, COLD MOUNTAIN, THE MALTESE FALCON, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GLADIATOR AND CITIZEN KANE. Multiple Assignments and Readings Focusing on All Critical Elements Related to Developing Competitive Commercial Novel Structure and Premise, and Applying Lessons Learned to Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part I Program Sample. Primary elements studied and applied in the eight modules of Part II: The act of creating narrative suspense. Dynamic description and competitive narrative cinema. Utilizing character personality to create tone and verve. The four levels of storytelling viewpoint. Levels of successive narrative transformation. Complications and conflict in fiction narrative. Approaches and experiments in masterful dialogue. Establishment of active and aggressive style. Coaxing imagination and unpredictability in narrative and storytelling. Art of Novel Writing - Part II - Eight Course Modules Module I Mastering the Art of Point-of-View: Four Levels of Third Person Point of View; Advantages of 3POV; Effective First Person POV Transition From 3POV; Choice of Viewpoint Character and Effect on Tone; Four Stage Narrative Transformation. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module II Mastering the "Art of Fiction" Narrative: Spatial Orientation in the Scene, Quality Ruminations to Add Dimension and Arc, Transforming the Quiet Set and Circumstance with Imaginative Leaps of Interior Monologue, External Complications, Emotions, Musings, and Narrator Observations. Writing Concise and Artful Dialogue, Mastering the Right Genre Style and Voice. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module III Mastering the Art of High Impact Subject Matter and Issues of Proper Narrative Composition : Creating Social Energy and Conflict, Ways to Aggressively Milk Imagination, Complex Visual Phenomena Reflecting the Human Condition. Creating the Color, Movement, Sounds and Smells of the Meta-Cinematic Narrative Experience. Injecting Pre-event complications, and Fantastical Circumstance Creating "Delayed Cognition" Technique. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module IV Mastering the "Art of Fiction" Narrative: Complex Description of Characters Using Both Third and First Person POV, Metaphor Sketching to Describe Unique Characters, the "Single Statement of Impression," Deriving Unique Metaphors From Setting, Using the "PDQ" to Brainstorm Approaches to Challenging Subjects in Prose Narrative, Details of Face and Body Movement, Charged Emotional States, Occasional Acts of Bold and Imaginative Appearance. Balancing Prose For High-Impact Subject Matter VS. Upmarket Prose Narrative. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module V Mastering the Art of Narrative Composition: High-Impact Subject Matter VS. Upmarket Prose Narrative, Mastering Style and Voice, Using FIGHT CLUB to Write Your Own Version In Order to Practice Those Narrative Elements Make Chuck Palahniuk a Great Author; Using THE RIVER KING to Write Your Own Version In Order to Practice Those Narrative Elements That Make Alice Hoffman a Great Author. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VI The First 5000 Words of the Novel Hook Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules : Four Levels of 3POV Narrative, Level III Narrative Minimum, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Interior Fantasy, Ruminations or Musings, At Least Five Minor Complications. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VII Self-Coverage Narrative Scorebox and Reference to Part I of Program Regarding Act I and Act II as Appropriate For Inclusion of Proper Plot Elements, Sympathetic Character Elements, etc.. the First 50 Pages of the Novel Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules : Brilliant First Person POV, or All Four Levels of 3POV Narrative; Level III Quality Narrative Minimum Striving Towards Level IV, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Ruminations and Musings, As Many Minor Complications As Necessary. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, and All 50 Pages With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample. Module VIII Post Coverage: the Next 50 Pages of the Novel Incorporating Elements From Prior Modules (for a total of 100) : Brilliant First Person POV, or All Four Levels of 3POV Narrative; Level III Quality Narrative Minimum Striving Towards Level IV, Transitions to Reflective Interior Monologue, Ruminations and Musings, As Many Minor Complications As Necessary. Narrative That Allows For Color, Sound, and Smells; Narrative That Creates Impact On the Page in a Dynamic and Cinematic Manner. Color, Tension, Curiosities, Mystery, Conflict, and All 50 Pages With a Goal of Not a Single Quiet Paragraph. Works studied or referenced in Part II Modules: THE RIVER KING, CLAUDIUS THE GOD, THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE CONCRETE BLONDE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, UNDER THE JAGUAR SUN, THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND KLAY, THE ALCHEMYST, GET SHORTY, THE PAINTED BIRD, LOLITA, EVENSONG, THE SHIPPING NEWS, POISONWOOD BIBLE, YEAR OF THE RHINOCEROS, WISE BLOOD, FIGHT CLUB, WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Step by Step Narrative Creation and Enhancement Writing Assignments Utilizing Element-Specific Scenarios and Each Writer's Novel-in-Progress - Part II Program Sample.
  7. MODULE SAMPLE FROM THE PROGRAM The sample below is one part of a single module in the second half of the novel writing program. The purpose of this is to simply give you a sample of the module, not define all that came before. FOUR LEVELS OF THIRD PERSON NARRATIVE POINT OF VIEW Let's get right to the point on this issue. Yes, we know that CATCHER IN THE RYE and HUCKLEBERRY FINN would never have been famous novels without the engaging first person voice of their protagonists. And yes, first person seems to be in vogue with paranormal YA and some fantasy here and there, however, third person point of view is the best way to relate a dynamic work of fiction, hands down. Unless the first person voice is so remarkable, unique and/or compelling that the novel could not exist without it, third person is strongly advised. For purposes of this study, we define four levels of third person point of view (3POV) as follows: Author-POV 3POV Distant 3POV Close 3POV First-Close The Author-POV or APOV, refers to the author, the detached or "omniscient narrator" who steps in now and then to set the scene or make artful commentary at the right time (just *please* don't address the reader directly because that is so irritating and breaks the reader's immersion into the fictional dream). 3POV Distant or 3POV-D occurs at such time the narrative focuses on a specific character and we watch her or his actions as if we are the camera actively filming this character. 3POV Close or 3POV-C takes us into the character's head and camera viewpoint shifts to the character, i.e., we see or experience, for the most part, only what the character is viewing or experiencing. 3POV First-Close or 3POV-FC dives deeper into the character's head and effectively mimics first person POV, but naturally without the usual limits of first person POV because the author can cut from the 3POV-FC and pull all the way back to APOV. CONTINUE READING AND RETURN HERE FOUR STAGE NARRATIVE TRANSFORMATION What's one of the best ways to ensure a publishing contract? Master the art of writing fiction narrative, of course. But what does that mean, and are you sure you know the difference between relatively quiet fiction narrative and verve-packed narrative? Are you setting your standards high enough? Are you aware of the level of craft and attention to detail that will make you a great writer with not only a solid career, but a huge number of conference appearances wherein you can, with little effort, and in front of hundreds of people, act like a legend in your own mind? Writers set standards for themselves, often ignorant of how high the standards need to be raised in order for them to be as competitive as possible in this current marketplace. Rather than tell, let's show examples of how to take somewhat ordinary, perhaps even vaguely interesting narrative, and make it as competitive and energetic as possible by adding imagery, metaphor, emotion, more active verbs and better sentence structure. CONTINUE READING AND RETURN HERE MODULE ASSIGNMENT (three parts) as follows: PART 1 In 3POV, use the following scenario to write a scene. The scenario as follows: your protagonist narrator attends an antique car show (you choose location, season and types of cars), observes the cars, the sounds, the smells, the people, meets someone they know (you choose character), dialogue ensues. Then quite suddenly, the car show is invaded by a large gang of hooded men (you choose color of hoods and accents) who "steal the show" and hold the cars hostage, demanding the wealthy and terrified owners wire money to the gang's bank in Hungary via iPhone, or else they will bullet-riddle the priceless cars into mangled junk. Then something goes terribly wrong. But why? You figure it out. And btw, the character your protagonist met earlier is killed by a stray bullet. Your protagonist must act. What will she or he do? Fight? Escape? Save someone else? All of above? A few things: Consider this a scene in a novel. Confine the length to not more than 1,000 words. You must transition effectively through all four levels of 3POV as defined in this Module. You must elevate the prose narrative to a level commensurate with Level 3 as defined in this Module. PART 2 Utilizing the same scenario and bulleted goals above, now translate it through a completely different viewpoint. Choose any character you wish, just make certain the character you choose brings their own viewpoint and tone to the work, e.g., an eccentric friend of the protagonist, the person who gets shot, one of the gang, the snobby manager of the car show, a child with his parents? 1000 word limit. PART 3 Taking a favorite narrative sample from your own work-in-progress, or a suitable work, elevate it to the third level of narrative transformation, as defined above, and transition through all four 3POV levels. Limit of 500 words.
  8. Algonkian Novel Writing and MS Revision Courses Pre-MFA, Post-MFA, or No MFA - Get Your Novel on a Realistic Path to Publication In Cooperation and Partnership With Algonkian Writer Conferences and the New York Pitch Applying the Six Act Two-Goal Structure to Writing the Novel Algonkian developed the Six Act Two-Goal novel structure for writers of book-length fiction and nonfiction. The plot-point and reversal method will be utilized by all writers in the novel writing program to effectively brainstorm and outline a competitive and suspenseful plot for the commercial novel, regardless of genre (SF/F, thriller/detective, historical, etc.). Upmarket or literary fiction work with a strong plot also benefits. In short, the approach combines Siegal's "nine act structure - two goal" screenplay (very much like the Syd Field three act except that the "reversal" from Field's structure becomes the "Act 5" in Siegal's version) with the Field classic three act. The Two-Goal Structure, Siegal maintains, creates more dynamic plot tension due to the insertion of PLOT REVERSAL later in the story, and we concur with this. In the opening hook, the protagonist(s) are focused on a major goal begun by the first major plot point that starts the second act (in the Field model), but by the middle of the second act, or later, they realize they have pursued the wrong goal. The protagonist(s) are forced to alter their course and struggle for a more accurate goal or means to achieve the final end (even if that doesn't happen the way they expect). The fusion of the Siegal and Field models thus becomes a tighter six act model for the novel or narrative nonfiction. NOTE: the sample below is one part of a single module in the first half of the novel writing program. The notes are in the context of other modules which came before and defined the progress of the novel up until this point. ___________ ACT THREE TO FIRST MAJOR REVERSAL (Page 50+ - 250+) Plot Line Evolution: Minor Reversals - Complications - Thee Levels of Conflict - Major Reversal Time - Plot Points - The Martians are Winning The dramatic pursuit of the protagonist's major objective evolves. Plot tension is rising. The FIRST GOAL (a means to the final end) within the context of the bigger overall objective is pursued (as we noted in prior lessons), but this must eventually lead your protagonist to a dead end, and with potentially serious consequences. This becomes the FIRST MAJOR REVERSAL. In other words, we thought we were on the way back to Kansas until we realized the broomstick must be stolen. We thought an escape from home prison was possible in MISERY until our captor whacked our leg with ten pounds of iron. NOTE: This act pulls out all the stops to create tension, angst, conflict, and issues for the protagonist and appropriate characters to resolve: MINOR REVERSALS TAKE PLACE: protagonist(s) struggle, perhaps score small victories of one sort or another, but these are almost always reversed. For example, in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, McMurphy organizes the inmates and theatrically pretends to watch the World Series in defiance of the Big Nurse, but she makes her will known later and punishes him. MINOR COMPLICATIONS TAKE PLACE: in other words, things happen that have a notable negative physical or emotional impact on the protagonist or those he/she cares about. These are not as strong as minor reversals, but action must be taken to overcome them. McMurphy takes the inmates out for a boat ride, but conflict at the dock with the boat captain and a need to make a quick escape takes place (ONE FLEW OVER). And know that "minor complications" can be fairly serious. In WAR OF THE WORLDS the major character had to bludgeon an insane minister to death in order to prevent him from giving away their hiding place to the Martians. Whether upmarket or genre, MINOR COMPLICATIONS combine with MINOR REVERSALS to continually spike the narrative and story. It can't be easy for the protagonist and/or her companions. If too easy, you inevitably build to classic mid-novel sag. Tension runs out, wheels spin, and an inexperienced writer pads the middle with lumps of dull narrative and quiet situation. Ugh. "Best Wishes" rejection letter on the way. Off to a minor eBook publisher who will publish you if you have more than 100 Facebook members. Note: as a bonus, complications and reversals also assist greatly in maintaining all three levels of conflict. Also, prior to climax, we may have a smart and strong reversal or complication which serves to introduce a twist or an unexpected event in the story (sometimes called a MIDPOINT CLIMAX). Pinch Points Reveal the Antagonist Aims Sans Filter Pinch Points take place: an example or a reminder of the nature and implications of the antagonistic force, that is not filtered by the hero's experience. We see it for ourselves in a direct form as in a brief cut away scene that describes an impending thunderstorm, a peek into the villian's mind. There should be two and they should be at about the 3/8 mark and the 3/5 mark in the manuscript. In ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST a pinch point took place at the 3/5 mark when the Big Nurse informed the assembled hospital staff just what kind of cruel fate was in store for McMurphy. Crisis Point or FIRST MAJOR REVERSAL = Second Major Plot Point In Stephen King's MISERY, after the captive author protagonist has his knees sledge-hammered by Kathy Bates (God, that hurt!) to prevent him from trying to escape again, he knows he's been using the wrong means to pursue the master goal (ie, to escape). He must now reboot and choose another path, a second goal to achieve the master objective or goal (escape). To accomplish, the author conceives a new plan of theatrical cooperation with his captor, the new goal within the master goal being to trick her into passivity and lure her into a trap whereupon he can knock her senseless. In general, at this point, backstory issues, mysterious strangers, twists and turns and events all point out that your protagonist is on the wrong track, and the antagonist graph is rising. The Martians are conquering Earth and the Big Nurse is slowly tightening a noose around McMurphy's neck. Once more, success seems possible. INTERNAL CONFLICT IS ON THE INCREASE ALSO. Of course, and so is interpersonal conflict. All three levels of conflict are rising! But back to the protagonist for a moment ... Why should she or he turn back now? Why doesn't he/she? What's at stake? Is there a DILEMMA? What makes your protagonist realize the unavoidable importance of her/his original goal? What gives it new meaning? Does someone die? Do the stakes raise? Does reputation suffer or threaten to diminish? We must have a answer. This is true drama. Storytelling at its finest. MODULE ASSIGNMENT as follows: List at least three minor reversals and three complications that will take place in this Act (you will likely have more). Place them in the context of the story and sketch the circumstances for each--not more than 50 words each for a total of not more than 300 words. In 100 words or less, note how your minor reversals and complications will contribute to the three levels of conflict. Note your "mid-point climax" if you have one. If not, why not? See the note above. Work up a twist or unexpected event. In 100 words or less, sketch the nature of your antagonist pinch points. Why do they occur when they do? What are the circumstances? Sketch the first major plot reversal. Set the scene for us. What happens? Why? What is the aftermath? Finally, what is at stake for the protagonist? Why doesn't he or she turn back now? And if she or he does turn back or retreat for a short time, what remotivates them back to the struggle?
  9. Develop, Write, or Rewrite Your Breakout Novel Step-by-Step Courses Followed by Editorial Consults and Agent Query Process Originally brainstormed by the faculty of Algonkian Writer Conferences, this program was later tested by NYC publishing professionals for practical and time-sensitive utilization by genre writers (SF/F, YA, Mystery, Thriller, Historical, etc.) as well as upmarket literary writers. Now you'll find it designed not only for those currently in the process of writing the novel, or beginning one, but for those rewriting it as well. The ultimate goal is to get you as close to the brass ring as possible, to make your novel as commercially competitive as it needs to be on all levels while avoiding critical missteps and bad advice. And it does not matter what stage your novel is currently in, or where you are in your writing life. The program steps and methodology, as well as the faculty, enable you to learn and grow as a writer together with your novel, and at your own pace. Your work is thoroughly reviewed by our faculty (see the FAQ for details) and together you set publication goals, engage in necessary manuscript edits, and at the appropriate time, initiate the agent discovery process and the writing of the query letter. Faculty consists of New York Pitch Conference workshop leaders, in particular Paula Munier and Michael Neff. Algonkian Novel Writing Program Links Novels and Authors Studied Frequently Asked Questions Program Syllabus - Part I and II (with program samples) Application Form - Registration ___________________
  10. Algonkian Novel Writing and MS Revision Courses Pre-MFA, Post-MFA, or No MFA - Get Your Novel on a Realistic Path to Publication In Cooperation and Partnership With Algonkian Writer Conferences and the New York Pitch Why is This Novel Writing Program Unique? A number of significant things, as follows: Our "model-and-context" and "cross-module method" approach to studying and applying proper technique on all vital levels while your novel is being effectively developed and edited at the same time. Our detailed 16 module syllabus that exhaustively covers all the major novel elements as well as the authors studied or referenced. The array of fiction works studied and referenced in the program modules. The books and analytical fiction articles studied in the program. Our layer by layer approach to teaching you how to write multi-angled and unpredictable cinematic narrative, taking show-don't-tell to its ultimate expression. Our program faculty which consists of seasoned NYC professionals who have not only sold and developed major commercial projects, but who are also fiction writers themselves with publication records; and as a bonus, the faculty are literary agents actively looking for new projects for both film and book purposes. Keep in mind, it is always in our very best interest to get you an agent or book contract, since this is great publicity for our program. The fact that advice and critique on all levels derives exclusively from faculty professionals. In our opinion, this approach is crucial. If you wish to learn how to build your own house, and then actually do so, or invest your money wisely and then actually invest it, you know better than to seek advice from inexperienced non-professionals. Why? Because the issues are important and the stakes are high. Why should they be less high when you are writing a break out novel with the goal of becoming a career author? How Much Hand Holding is Necessary? From experience, the designers of this program knew that every writer entering it would most likely require serious ms rewrites as well as instruction in advanced narrative and structural technique, and therefore, be insufficiently close to a publishable manuscript. The aim and method of the program is to get you as close as possible via the modules, and once done, a faculty consultant assumes control from that point in order to provide professional editorial input and hands-on query guidance. NOTE: if you are participating in this program as an Algonkian alum you do not have to register a payment for it, however, to gain the benefit of indefinite and private editorial consults, an arrangement for compensation must be made with the professional developmental editor on staff--whatever both parties agree is appropriate and necessary. Having noted this, however, faculty will review final sell sheets prior to query, and for all writers regardless. Feel free to contact us on this issue. Once you are in the editorial consult and agent query phase, your communications with a faculty member are not limited to a set number of emails or phone calls, but are indefinite in consideration of the fact that varying projects and writers require varying amounts of time to come to successful completion. Does Every Writer Have the Potential to Succeed? Nearly everyone has the potential to write a breakout novel and go on to become a successful commercial author, but precious few finally accomplish the task. Do we know why this is the rule? Writer conferences, author workshops, books, ms editors, and even the most pointless of MFA programs play a part in a writer's evolution, but none of these provide the overall pragmatic means and method to finish the job (and quite often, not even to start it). If this were not the case, an imaginative and ambitious writer would only have to attend an MFA program at Iowa, for example, and become a published author in due course. But this rarely if ever happens, despite expenditures in the range of $30,000 to $80,000 (Iowa Grad Program for two full years). And aside from this lack of comprehensive and realistic training, many other factors come into play that hamper the aspiring commercial author, everything from prickly skin to incompetent writer groups to misunderstandings of market dynamics. Consider. Would you try to build a livable and quite stylish home on your own without an architect and a professional home builder simply because you had the ability to hammer a few boards together with nails? Of course not. You would acquire the expertise and skills before you began. And yet, new writers approach the creation of a thing equally or more complex, such as the writing of a competitive commercial novel, in the belief they can do so because they have a story idea, can type words on a page, and have read a few magazines about writing. They consult with other new writers as ignorant as themselves and proceed to build a house called a novel, but one that will not risk their lives because fortunately for them, it is all on paper. What Type of Aspiring Authors Should Apply? Serious, self-starting writers willing to conceive, write and craft their novel in the due course of completing this program, and who are willing to accept critical guidance from professionals in the business. We emphasize "serious" because this program is rigorous and challenging, and not like a college extension cyber-class or a typical online workshop. The more knowledge and skills you acquire, the more you apply, returning as necessary to edit until a review by a faculty editor takes place. Aspiring authors, regardless of manuscript stage, benefit from this approach and editorial mentorship. It's about starting with the first sentence and proceeding to the denouement. The program methodically addresses all structural, premise, and narrative aspects of your novel, and in a manner beneficial to making it more competitive while also evolving your writer skill set, no matter your level at the start of the program. How Does This Program Apply to All Genres? The art of good storytelling never changes. The courses and modules approach the art of writing commercial fiction in a manner that applies to upmarket/literary and all commercial genres. See the Six Act Two-Goal Novel page on "Novel Writing on Edge" to get an idea of what we're talking about. The courses accomplish three primary goals. They enable you to: Learn and practice advanced premise-plot and character technique. Learn and practice advanced narrative and prose style craft. Learn and apply said technique, narrative craft, and knowledge to your own work-in-progress. Come to a firm understanding of the role today's market plays in getting your novel published. Genres we work with include upmarket/literary, general fiction, SF adult and YA/MG, fantasy adult and YA/MG (as well as New Adult), urban fantasy, mysteries of all types, detective/true crime, suspense/thrillers, women's fiction both serious and light, as well as paranormal romance. What About Start Date, Time Involved? There is no arbitrary start date. You begin the first module and proceed through the next 15 modules once you've entered the program, or at such time you decide to begin. In theory, you might wish to review a few modules first, take some notes and consider before starting the first assignment. Once you have begun, you progress through the program, writing or rewriting your novel a step at a time at your own pace, returning to prior modules as needed and editing further based on new skills developed and knowledge gained. The amount of time it will take any particular writer to complete the entire novel writing program, receive professionals reviews, return to edit their work, and move on to the agent query process (or else to further project development), will depend entirely on each writer's background knowledge, skill set, and novel manuscript quality upon entering the program. Also, given the fact that most people work and have other lives, we estimate a minimum of 18 weeks to complete the program--though if it takes longer, so be it. The cost of the entire program is $799.00. There are no extra fees for consultations, query letter prep, or any other related activity deemed necessary by faculty. Additionally, our writers can also take whatever breaks or hiatus they need, for whatever reason, and suffer no detrimental issues as a result. How Do I Graduate? Successful completion of Parts I and II. Application of work, editorial direction, and critical lessons learned to your novel-in-progress manuscript as evidenced by story development outlines, prose samples, and other criteria as deemed appropriate by program faculty. Completion of the self-coverage novel scorebox. Completion of all extra assignments and readings related to the program. Completion of faculty review and adoption of further edits as necessary. Joint approval of your publication plan going forward.
  11. Exposition and End Game This select forum thread is dedicated exclusively to Algonkian alums who wish to post sell sheets of their completed SFF novels, or novels-in-progress, for the purpose of showcasing them to literary agents and TV/Film reps. We will inform these professionals of new high-concept projects and invite them to stop by regularly during 2021. If they wish to request something immediately, or at a future date, they will either contact you directly, make a post, or else contact us. It is also possible they might wish to video conference with you. The scenarios are various, but all is casual. There is no set schedule. This is how we want this to work going forward. The end game is simple: get worthy novels published. Everyone wins. Sell Sheet Posting Procedure After starting a new topic in this forum, your topic subject line should appear like so: "TITLE OF NOVEL IN CAPS, Genre - Your Name, e.g., THE GOD BENDER, Epic Fantasy - Sandra W. Cohen The sell sheet elements as follows (have patience and peruse the NWOE articles before posting): Your name Novel title(s) (you might have more than one) NWOE on titles Genre Comparables (important to get it straight - NWOE on comparables) Hook Line (conflict with core wound - NWOE article) Short pitch (200 words or less - examples) Prose Sample (up to 500 words with dialogue) You may post two novels, but each in a separate topic. No more than two. You may also include a little bio about yourself after the sell sheet bullets.
  12. Develop, Write, or Rewrite Your Breakout Novel Step-by-Step Courses Followed by Editorial Consults and Agent Query Process This novel writing program was brainstormed by the faculty of Algonkian Writer Conferences and later tested by NYC publishing professionals for practical and time-sensitive utilization by genre writers (SF/F, YA, Mystery, Thriller, Historical, etc.) as well as upmarket literary writers. It is designed specifically for those who are currently in the process of writing or rewriting the novel. The goal is to get you as close to the brass ring as possible, to make your novel as commercially competitive as it needs to be on all levels while avoiding critical missteps, bad advice, and exorbitant prices. And it does not matter what stage your novel is currently in, or where you are in your writing life. The program steps and methodology, as well as the faculty, enable you to learn and grow as a writer together with your novel, and at your own pace. Your work is thoroughly reviewed by our professionals. Together you set publication goals, engage in necessary manuscript edits, and at the appropriate time, initiate the agent discovery process as well as the writing of the query letter. Faculty consists of New York Pitch Conference workshop leaders, in particular Paula Munier and Michael Neff. ___________________
  13. Ben Chewey Reaction to Algonkian Novel Writing Program Readings The Art of Fiction by John Gardner 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? The Art of Fiction helped me as a writer by introducing me to the concept of aesthetic interest. Since the start of my writing career I was aware of the importance of a story having a cast and setting that stands out. John Gardner made it clear why it's important for every aspect of one's story to be organic, or at least as organic as possible from something that does not actually exist. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? What I can apply to my Zilos novel is to make sure that everything feels genuine. The second lesson I learned was the importance of a story's theme coming across organically and not beating a reader's head in with the themes. I realize that I must make sure that my story's themes are present, but not overbearing. Gardner emphasizes the importance of choices in subject, plot, character, setting and theme and that it all must come together with care and revision. This is another major lesson for me. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? No If so, what are they? I did not notice many major deviations from what John Gardner had to say compared to what I learned in the Algonkian program, but did see a few minor differences in aspects of subjects such as the flow of writing and style. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? The book by Donald Maass helped me as a writer because this novel was written by a literary agent and thus was able to give me a clearer idea on what to focus on to succeed in getting published. Writing the Breakout Novel did help me see clearly that any story's marketability depends on how one can sell a story's idea to readers' gut appeal and have them relate to the story's theme with something that is personal to them. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? One major thing that Donald Maass brought to light to me was the importance of how the matter of development can make or break a story so that it stands apart from others. I strive to insure my Zilos novel has enough to stand out, but I know it's inevitable that some parts of the story have ideas that would could be viewed as elements from already published works. Donald Maass showed me that it's important to have the development stand out from other stories, and while I tried that from the start I am determined to apply making sure the development unfolds in a way that will make my Zilos novel unique enough to be exceptional. A second lesson I learned from reading Writing the Breakout Novel is the "Psychology of Place". I have been aware of how important a novel's setting is for a while. Learning about the Psychology of Place gave me an even deeper understanding of how a story's environment is vital for shaping a reader's mood. I think I can apply this to my writing in the sense that I make sure each location sets the mood precisely for the reader. The third lesson I learned from his book is the importance of high tension over low tension or "Slack tension". I tried to make sure everything in Zilos has purpose, but it can be tricky figuring out how to flesh out the cast and world of a story without dragging things out. Going over how he emphasized how every page should have tension caused me to reexamine my novel to see if I can maximize how much tension is on each page to increase the chances the story can be a breakout. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? No. If so, what are they? There seemed to be a few small contrasts to the things Donald Maass recommended to do to pitch a story over what I have seen in the Algonkian novel writing program. I believe that this is based on when the book came out this was primarily due to the different state of the internet at the time. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? The Writing Life did give me a few new ideas for my writing, but it was a bit tricky since Annie Dillard seemed to write this more like a memoir. Nevertheless, it showed me how veteran writers pull off releasing successful books and the mindset it takes to achieve it. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? One lesson I learned from The Writing Life is the importance of keeping a coherent vision of what one's projected work of art will be. I have had a very clear vision of Rise of the Crimson Ravens since I started the first page. But of course, things change to match the situation. Seeing how Annie Dillard clung to her vision despite the "hoops" she had to jump through to get published gives me ideas on how to hold on to my vision despite what changes I might have to make to my book to get it published. Another lesson I learned from The Writing Life is the importance of a writer being shaped by literature. I have been aware for some time of how important it is for a writer to be aware of the world he or she is trying to break into. But seeing Annie Dillard's struggles showed just how important it is to be in synch with who you are trying to reach out to. That is why I want to insure I am properly shaped by the market I am trying to break into to guarantee that my Rise of the Crimson Ravens story is targeting the proper audience. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? No. If so, what are they? Due to The Writing Life being more of a memoir than a proper instruction book, the advice does not match. Even so, her personal processes do align with the lessons on the site in areas such as building character. Write Away by Elizabeth George 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? Write Away helped me as a writer by giving me deeper understandings of concepts I had previous knowledge of such as the hero's journey. Elizabeth did well to give examples that clearly showed her points. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? A lesson I learned from Write Away is the full nature of the Hero's Journey. While I have been aware of Joseph Campbell's contribution to writing for a long time, Elizabeth George's analysis gave me a new understanding of it and how it merges with the Seven-Step story line. From this I learned how to apply it to my story, and make sure that the main lead of my book, Zach Zilos' hero's journey unfolds in the proper order. Another lesson I learned from Write Away is the value of turning places into settings. As much as I desire my story to have unique locations, Elizabeth George showed me the importance of not just thinking up unique settings, but making sure they feel real no matter the type of story. That's why I'm going to insure that as many settings as possible have some resemblance to a real world location in some way. Her book makes it clear that a lot of research is involved in evoking the correct setting. Elizabeth George made me realize how important it is to have total discipline and to work on the crafting of plot, characters and setting. She emphasized that besides discipline and craft that it is important to have passion. That is another important lesson for me. I also feel that I was meant to write. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program? No If so, what are they? After looking Write Away over, the most noticeable deviation between the lessons in the Algonkian program and the lessons from Elizabeth George revolve around the Six Act Story Structure. Elisabeth seemed to prioritize actions over ruminations and other story contemplations as part of the structure.
  14. "The Art of Fiction" by John Gardner (a great primer for this commercial program) "Writing the Breakout Novel" by Donald Maass (another good primer) "Write Away" by Elizabeth George (a no nonsense primer, and humorous) "The Writing Life" by Annie Dillard (a look at the struggle) The Art of Fiction by John Gardner 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? What spoke to me the most regarding this book was the focus on the authenticity of a story. As well as the focus on "feeling" giving rhythm to sentences. It caused me to go back and look at my sentence variation. Was I using fragments to show frustration or jumbled thought? Did I have longer sentences to represent reflection and deep thought--symbolizing the descent into the thoughtful rabbit hole? I loved the statement: "The primary subject of fiction is and has always been human emotion, values, and beliefs." I fully believe this as a reader. It gave me a bit of a jolt of confidence to consider that my novel does explore these things, and that there is a place for it out there. I also loved: "Novelty comes chiefly from ingenious genre-crossing or elevation of the familiar materials." I had thought that perhaps my novel was too static of an idea. Or that it would not be worth reading if it did not involve space ships and dystopian concepts. The literary novel has always appealed to me, and this book helped me remember why. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? There were many. 1 "Thus, plot not only changes but creates character: By our actions we discover what we really believe and, simultaneously, reveal ourselves to others." Show. Don't tell. 2. "Fiction seeks out truth." At first, I worried that I may be too close to this material. But, once I read this, I realized that was okay. I could tell the truth, and it would not have to be my actual truth to be a universal truth to explore. This was pivotal to my confidence in the story. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program. If so, what were they? I do not think so. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? I loved this book. I found myself highlighting and dogearing pages left and right. One of the main things it helped me understand is that I am the only one who can write this specific book. "t requires that the author be true to his own 'voice.'" "These novels change us because their authors are willing to draw upon their deepest selves without flinching. They hold nothing back, making their novels the deepest possible expressions of their own experience and beliefs. There is purpose to their prose." "A breakout premise comes from someplace real." Inherent conflict comes from "anywhere that is not safe." All of these aspects really pushed me to understand that my novel was plausible, real, honest, and also...the "unsafe" place of conflict is in a cultural space that is not only hot right now in terms of women, but also always relevant. It pushes the reader to consider how women are treated every day in subtle situations. "How can you catch the mood of our times?" I could go on and on, but these are samples of what really brought my view of my novel to life. This book is what challenged me to do my first revision after starting this class. This is the book that made it click for me and helped me to understand conflict on every page and to keep the tension moving. I feel it made my writing much richer and more authentic. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? 1 That is is okay to reveal the key points of my novel out of order. I could do flashbacks to build the exposition and to keep the reader turning the page. I could employ the "tale told in flashback," as well as "the visitation story." 2. It also helped me develop my MC, Annie, even more. When I did my revision, I found myself thinking of this book and of the character development. I needed to make Annie more real. And to also up her motivation for her choices. Why was she willing to rot in jail for a man who had abused her? Thinking of this and pushing myself to keep it real and authentic, I had to come to a realization that it wasn't there yet. This book sent me back to the drawing board. And my work is better because of it. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program. If so, what were they? I did not notice anything. Write Away by Elizabeth George 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? I am glad I read this book after the previous one. I feel the previous book taught me how. This book, showed me. I really like that she took us on her writing journey. I also found that she had such practical tips for writing. I love, love her character worksheets. And I have used them in creating my fifth novel during NaNoWriMo. Her character worksheets helped me really get to know my characters. I thought I knew Annie and Johnny because I based them on people in my real life. But when rereading my novel, I found that they were very flat. I realize that we also had to do this in our module homework, but I really liked her layout. It helped me a lot. I also liked that this book reiterated that our characters need to be real. That we need to believe in them. That helped me, again, in shaping Annie to be more relatable. I also loved her breakdown of plot. "Plot is what the characters do to deal with the situation they are in." This helped me shape Annie. It was so simple. And made plot seem a little less scary when thinking big picture. All I had to do was ask: "What would Annie do next?" Her focus on scenery and landscape was also helpful in allowing me to see that I needed more detail. There were places in my novel where Annie feels frozen in time. I needed to freeze the reader. Annie taking stock of her surroundings and emitting small details she could hear, smell, feel, gave life to the concept of PTSD and what kind of trauma creates that. As well as how memory triggers it. I also loved her journal that she keeps about her daily writing on the novel. I truly wish I had done that from the beginning with this novel. And I will do it from now on. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? 1. Doing the work of character analysis, outline, and scene development definitely isn't the sexy part of writing, but it completely opens the mind to the creative side when writing. And building it first gives me space to play with the writing when it is time to put down the foundation. I have often just written with an idea in mind and characters in mind, but I naively believed the novel would build as I go. And that has felt creative and fun, but it also has created more revisions and work for me. 2. The novel journal is something that I am doing now. It is so helpful to go back and find notes and to see where it has grown or shifted. I can't imagine doing it any other way now. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program. If so, what were they? I did not notice anything. The Writing Life by Annie Dillard 1. How did the book help you as a writer? What overall aspects of it taught you something? This book taught me that it is okay to be a bit relentless with my needs as a writer. So it was more about giving me inspiration than writing techniques. I did not love it as much as the others because it felt a little more poetic and not as scholarly as the others. However, once I stepped out of looking for a lesson, what I got out of it was passion. It is okay to have passion. And with that passion, balance. 2. What two or three major lessons did you learn from the book that you can apply to your writing and/or your novel? 1. I learned that at some point, I will want to burn my work. I will hate it and wrestle with it. I think I have always done this on my own, but in those moments have felt like a failure. So to see someone successful writing about those feelings helped me. 2. I loved that she was relentless about her work. She seems fearless to dive in. I want to be that way and have been working to stop worrying what my family may think about this novel. To question why I wrote it. 3. Was there anything in the books that obviously conflicted with lessons and readings in our novel writing program. If so, what were they? I did not see anything.
  15. WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, by Donald Maass. I've had this book (and its companion book WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL WORKBOOK) on my bookshelf since it was first published, as well as Maass's other craft books. I find them extremely helpful, but primarily in the way of editing pages once they're written; less so in the realm of helping me plan and execute a first draft. I've attended the Breakout Novel Intensive (BONI) workshop Maass gives twice. (BONI is based on this book and his more recent ones, particularly WRITING 21st CENTURY FICTION.) The exercises provide insight and help in making sure there is "tension on every page" and in crafting a compelling story. This book (and its brethren) are on my "favorite writing books" shelf for their practical usefulness and overall help in improving the craft of writing a publishable novel in today's market. The two key lessons learned from this book really are the absolute necessity of constructing a solid character change arc not only for the protagonist but also for the opponent to make a solid believable conflict, and second, how essential it is to pull the reader in on every single page and have that "tension" everywhere--that you cannot possibly have too much tension. I have not found anything in this book that contradicts the NWP course. Instead, it offers a nice complement to the structure in this course. A WRITING LIFE, by Anne Dillard This book, and the one by John Gardner, were the least useful to me. I appreciate Ms. Dillard's struggle to produce her work, but...guess what? I already know that. Writing is HARD. Very hard. Her life and mine are so far apart in the particulars that few of her strategies and responses were of value to me--they simply do not translate well to my life. It's always interesting, however, to see how other writers cope with the writing life, even if they do not directly correlate to me. What I did enjoy was the beauty of her prose. She is an exceptional, talented writer, and it was a pleasure to read her prose, even if it is of less direct value to my needs. Nothing in her book exactly contradicted the NWP, though I was left with the impression that she is more of a "pantser" type of writer, who does not do a ton of planning (at least not explicit planning) before sitting down to write the first draft. I also assign her work to the more literary or mainstream category rather than genre fiction, which is what I write. That is pretty far from the structural approach NWP takes. However, I have friends who are pantsers and I recognize that not everyone has the same process. THE ART OF FICTION, by John Gardner Of all the books on the required reading list, this was the most difficult for me to slog through. I actively ended up disliking it and found it not at all useful. Oh, yes, there were certainly occasional pieces of good advice, but they were so buried--and so readily available from other books, including, for example, Maass's WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL--that this book simply did not compute for me. First, I should say that I found nothing particularly wrong with Gardner's advice. Nor did it contradict anything in the NWP. It's just that it was too simplistic and too buried most of the time. The most useful section was the 5 Common Errors piece toward the end--but Maass has all that covered more completely and with explicit techniques to fix them. I believe most of the problem is that it was written decades ago, when the publishing world was very different than today. For example, Michner was publishable then--and I sincerely doubt that today any unpublished writer who turned in a tome similar to ALASKA or CENTENNIAL would ever find a publisher to take it on. The advice seems highly appropos to the publishing world of the mid-20th century...not so much today. 21st century fiction is different from mid-20th century fiction in many ways. It's also more appropriate for those aspiring to literary fiction than commercial fiction today, though there's nothing wrong with the advice to generate quality characters, etc. The advice offered in THE ART OF FICTION didn't contradict the NWP. I got the sense that Gardner was focusing on the author as "artiste" rather than as craftsman. That could be why so many of the useful craft tips were buried under mounds of what I can only call "twaddle" (sorry, Mr. Gardner!) that it was barely worth excavating them. And none really struck me as more than superficial--they lacked the essential "how." When the book was first published, I'm not sure if there were many books on the craft of writing publishable fiction. In fact, the only one I know of for sure is Dwight Swain's TECHNIQUES OF THE SELLING WRITER, originally published in 1965. (Despite its age, I do still find Swain's book very helpful in understanding craft.) But, honestly, I'd put Swain's book far and away better than Gardner's. Swain is a very difficult read for a new writer and Gardner is less so, but Swain is clearer and more effective at conveying quality information. And with Swain, the focus begins at the sentence level, making sure that stimuli and responses are in proper order, carrying all the way up through the overall structure of the novel itself. I think my main issue with Gardner's book is that it is both too superficial and too "arty"--it places too little emphasis on useful techniques to achieve the desired story qualities and relies heavily on generalities without offering much if anything in the way of "how do I do this?" responses. The examples, of course, are wildly outdated too, but that's just a by-product of the era in which it was written. In all fairness, this may well be my problem rather than an issue with the book itself. I have an entire large bookcase on craft books on writing, some good, some not so much. This one is well into the "not so much" category. WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George I bought this book and read it when it was first published, in part because I do enjoy Ms. George's books, and because it seemed to offer excellent and specific advice. First, the book covers basic writing techniques and I particularly liked the strong emphasis on story being about characters rather than about "what happens." That to me is one of the biggest lessons any writer needs to learn. I don't really believe in "plot-driven" fiction because plot is what characters DO. But the most important advice is that of "Bum Glue". What you need to do to succeed is glue your bum to your chair and keep writing away. I loved that advice. The other aspect I particularly enjoyed in this book was Ms. George's description of her writing process. Somehow, understanding the process by which other writers produce books offers insight into how to do it. Ms. George's process isn't exactly the same as NWP, but then the reality is that all writers have to come up with a process that works for them. There is no universal process at anything much. But I didn't see anything in the book that I felt strongly contradicted anything in NWP.
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