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We say it all the time – writing a novel is a marathon, but you don’t have to do it alone.
This class package aims to help writers get through the beginning, middle, and end of writing a novel. From setting yourself up for success in the opening pages, to the art of pacing and the mechanics of structure, all the way to getting you through the final (and longest) mile, novelists will walk away from these four classes with the tools they need to reach that finish line. In addition, everyone who purchases the package will also be invited to an exclusive class package meet-up.
Before purchasing, be sure to check the dates. As always, there are no refunds on classes.
Each class can be purchased individually by clicking on the class title.
Can’t make it to every class? No worries! All registrants will have access to the class recordings for the duration of the package, plus an additional month.
“Starting Your Novel: How to Create an Opening in Dialogue with your Ending” with John Pipkin
Saturday, October 1, 2022, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT
A good opening is the key to unlocking the rest of the story. This class is intended to give writers useful strategies and techniques for starting a novel.
Sometimes writing the opening of a novel can seem a daunting challenge, an obstacle to writing the rest of the book, especially when the long-arc of the novel seems to be stretching off into the invisible distance. But a well-written opening can actually help you structure and outline the rest of the story, and the process of writing an opening offers a writer the opportunity to explore the story’s main ideas.
We’ve all heard that an opening needs to “pull a reader into the story,” but what exactly does this mean, and how do you do it? Should you begin with character? Plot? Setting? Theme? A short sentence? A long winding sentence? We’ll look at a variety of published examples of effective openings, and we’ll do some brief in-class writing assignments to identify ways to figure out what kind of opening may work best for your novel. We’ll look at how research can be helpful not only for finding useful content for an opening, but also for providing new ideas for new stories. Also, we’ll discuss how the opening of a novel is in dialogue with other parts of the novel.
Often when the ending of a novel isn’t working, it’s not because of the ending itself, but because something in the beginning of the story still isn’t fully developed. Knowing how to revise the opening can help make your whole novel feel like it is arising organically out of the opening pages.
John Pipkin is the Director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Texas-Austin and also teaches in the low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University. Originally from Baltimore, he holds a Ph.D. in 19th-century British Literature and is the author of the critically-acclaimed novels: Woodsburner (Nan A Talese/Doubleday 2009) which won the New York Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter (Bloomsbury 2016). He has received fellowships to MacDowell, Yaddo, Dobie-Paisano, and the Gullkistan Center for Creativity in Iceland. He is also the recipient of the 2021 Harry Ransom Award for Excellence in Teaching at UT-Austin.
“The Components of Novel Structure: Looking Under the Hood of Our Fictional Worlds” with Stacey Swann
Saturday, October 15, 2022, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT
There are many metaphors for a book. It can feel like a world unto itself, conjured like magic, or a living and breathing animal with a life of its own. It can be a vehicle that transports or a doorway that pulls us in.
Sometimes, we may be tempted to not approach our novels with a clinical mind; if we pull out an x-ray machine or open up the hood, if we start diagramming and labelling, could we damage the spirit of the book? I say no! Successful novels need both the messy magic of our subconscious as well as our own inner auto mechanic. We need a familiarity with the parts to make sure they are all working together for the most harmonious whole. In this class, we’ll open up the hoods of our novels to see if all the parts are running at their best. First, we’ll look at our point of view choices and the “clock” of our novel. Then we’ll move on to discussing throughlines and arcs. Finally, we’ll take a look at just a portion of the many organizing structures used in fiction. By the end of the class, you’ll see your work in progress more clearly and have the tools to for your future repairs!
Stacey Swann’s debut novel Olympus, Texas (Doubleday) is an Indie Next Pick, a Good Morning America Book Club selection, and was longlisted for The Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Swann holds an M.F.A. from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her writing has appeared in Texas Highways, LitHub, Electric Literature, NER Digital, Epoch, and other journals. She splits her time between Austin and Lampasas.
“The Art of Pacing: Macro and Micro Methods to Keep Your Story Moving” with Chaitali Sen
Saturday, October 22, 2022, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM CDT
Neither readers nor writers want a story to stall, sputter along, or sprint ahead at breakneck speed.
Every part of your story has an appropriate pace, but how do we find it? Hint: It’s not all in the plot. The right narrative pacing comes from decisions large and small, from word choice and sentence structure to scenes and description to action and character arcs. In this three-hour class, we will explore all of the factors that affect the speed of the story and practice various ways to modulate pacing so that the reader is pulled along compellingly from beginning to end.
Chaitali Sen is the author of the novel The Pathless Sky (Europa Editions, 2015) and short stories and essays which have appeared in Boulevard, Colorado Review, Ecotone, LitHub, Los Angeles Review of Books, New England Review, Shenandoah, and other publications. Her story collection A New Race of Men from Heaven was selected by Danielle Evans as the winner of the 2021 Mary McCarthy Prize for Short Fiction and is forthcoming from Sarabande Books in January 2023. The Pathless Sky was a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best First Fiction, and included on Idra Novey’s Buzzfeed list “10 Books That Challenge Our Political Landscape by Inventing New Ones,” Library Journal’s “Top Fall Indie Fiction,” and Mic.com’s “25 Essential Reads to Make Women’s History Last Longer than a Month.” She holds an MFA in Fiction from Hunter College and lives in Smithville, Texas.
“The Longest Mile: Finishing, Polishing, and Publishing Your Novel” with Gabino Iglesias
Landing the ending is one of the hardest things in publishing. In this class, we discuss endings, editing, pitching agents, and starting to build the buzz around your book.
Starting a narrative is relatively easy: having an idea or writing a single page is enough. Finishing a novel, however, is different. Fear increases as we approach the end. When is it done? How long should it be? What must the ending accomplish? When does editing truly begin? How and when should I pitch it to agents? What if indie presses or self-publishing are a better fit? In this class, we’ll discuss everything you need to do in order to finish your manuscript and get it out in the world.
Gabino Iglesias is a writer, editor, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, Texas. He is the author of Coyote Songs, Zero Saints, and Gutmouth. He is the book reviews editor at PANK Magazine, the TV/film editor at Entropy Magazine, and a columnist for LitReactor and CLASH Media. His nonfiction has appeared in places like The New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the LA Times, El Nuevo Día, and other venues. The stuff that’s made up has been published in places like Red Fez, Flash Fiction Offensive, Drunk Monkeys, Bizarro Central, Paragraph Line, Divergent Magazine, Cease, Cows, and many horror, crime, surrealist, and bizarro anthologies. When not writing or reading, he has worked as a dog whisperer, witty communications professor, and ballerina assassin. His reviews are published in places like NPR, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Criminal Element, The Rumpus, Heavy Feather Review, Atticus Review, Entropy, HorrorTalk, Necessary Fiction, Crimespree, and other print and online venues. He teaches at SNHU’s MFA program. You can find him on Twitter at @Gabino_Iglesias.
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Class & Event Registration Policy
Once a purchase has been made, registrations are not refundable and cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a registration and then find you cannot attend the class or event, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at email@example.com and let us know the name and contact information for the person who will be using the registration so that we can update the class or event roster.
Credit Card Transaction Handling Fee Policy
All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee. If you’d prefer to pay by check for membership, a class, or an event, you can use the provided forms on the membership or event pages and mail to: WLT, P.O. Box 14355, Austin, TX, 78704.
HOW WLT CLASSES WORK:Our classes offer a combination of lecture and practical exercises, determined by the individual instructor, on focused aspects of the craft and business of writing. Your fellow participants will come from a range of writing experience, from beginners to people with MFA degrees and published books. WLT instructors, participants, and administrators all work together to create a welcoming, supportive environment.
If you haven’t taken a class with us in recent years, feel free to email WLT Program Director Sam Babiak at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss whether our programming is the right fit for your needs.
HOW ONLINE CLASSES WORK:
Once you register for the class, you’ll receive an email with detailed instructions no later than 48 hours before the class date. You should expect 2-2.5 hours of direct teaching and 30 minutes of Q&A (for three hours total). If you need to leave the class early or can’t attend the class on that date, all registrants will have access to the recording for one month after the class date. No microphone or camera required, just an Internet connection capable of streaming video. All online classes are hosted on Zoom. To learn more about how Zoom works, click HERE.
Plan to log in to the online platform several hours before the class so that you can update your software or any other settings required to access the platform. (Updates usually only take a few minutes, but you don’t want to wait until the beginning of class.) Questions? Email us at email@example.com.
This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.
Writers’ League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts – Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to www.arts.texas.gov.
This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.
This project is supported in part by the Mid-America Arts Alliance. For more information, go to www.maaa.org.