How to Write a Novel – A Comprehensive Introduction

Date(s) - 18/01/2018 - 08/03/2018
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

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Norwich High School

  1. How to Write a Novel – A Comprehensive Introduction

This course will introduce students to the challenges and pleasures of writing a long work of fiction. We’ll look at every aspect of novel-writing, from the initial urge to attempt it through to the nuts and bolts of characters, plot, theme, point of view and suspense. It will loosely follow the plan set out in the tutor’s book 102 Ways to Write a Novel.

Beginners are welcome; all you need is a pen. If you don’t feel you have a story to tell, don’t worry: that’s an excellent qualification. Novels are works of craft that can turn on a tiny incident, and be spun into a gripping tale through imagination and technique.
Each course session will involve plenty of creative exercises to get you writing and imagining.

Week 1: Before you start. Consider your motives; think about what sort of novel you want to write; how far you should write for a market; the role of the storyteller; making time and space for writing.

Week 2: The Research Phase. Find a subject; the unreliability of inspiration; originality; ways to research.

Week 3: Building Character. Start with characters or start with plot? The ‘character CV’; observe yourself and others; introduce your character; motivation

Week 4: Building Plot. The definition of a plot; conflict; use character to generate plots; understand suspense and mystery; subplots

Week 5: Types of prose writing. Description, exposition, dialogue, narrative and thoughts; letters, diaries and other media.

Week 6: Language and structure. Adjectives and adverbs, the comma splice, slang and dialect; sense data and imagery; emotional content.

Week 7: Point of View. First, third and second; God’s Eye View.

Week 8: Revising and publishing. Incorporate revision in a daily schedule; handle and use criticism; present your manuscript, find an agent, find a publisher; online publishing, translation, copyright, royalties.








About the tutor: I have been writing novels, non-fiction and journalism for twenty years. Among my books are Why Not Catch-21? (Frances Lincoln, 2007; paperback 2008), an exploration of the derivation of book titles; The Oxford Despoiler (Old St, 2009; paperback 2009), a Victorian detective mystery; Poisoned Pens (Frances Lincoln, 2009; paperback 2010), an anthology of splenetic writers; 102 Ways to Write a Novel (Old St, 2009), non-fiction under the name Alex Quick; All the Materials for a Midnight Feast (Old St, July 2011), a novel about the peace movement of the 1980s; Natural Desire in Healthy Women (Old St, 2014), a novel about the contraceptive rights movement of the 1920s; Poetryhaters (Old St 2017), non-fiction, forthcoming.