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First Chapters: Please Allow Me to Introduce My Novel
“It was a pleasure to burn." -- Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
Novels (like people) only get one chance to make a good first impression. The opening chapter is that opportunity, and in this course we’ll read, examine, discuss, and write first chapters of novels. We’ll explore how an effective first chapter immerses us in the voice of the narrator, introduces a series of themes and problems, indicates character desires and fears, and most importantly enchants and inspires its readers.
We’ll read between 8-10 first chapters, including some chosen by students. Authors will include Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mohsin Hamid, and Julianna Baggott. We’ll write short reaction papers and hold discussions in small and large groups. In the second half of the quarter, students will compose their own first novel chapter of around 8-12 pages, and we’ll workshop them in class. The final goal is to have a revised first chapter, a short outline for the rest of a book, and an increased knowledge of writing original and irresistible opening chapters.