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First Chapters: Please Allow Me to Introduce My Novel
Novels only get one chance to make a good first impression. Chapter One is that opportunity, and in this course we’ll read, discuss, and analyze a variety of historical and contemporary novels with a particular focus on their opening chapter (and sometimes prologue). We’ll study strategies around world-building, characterization, creating the engine of a novel (its voice), and in establishing a lively, complex, and surprising world that a reader can’t wait to explore in greater detail.
Authors will include Daniel Alarcon, Jennifer Egan, Mohsin Hamid, Lysley Tenorio, and Julianna Baggott. During this first half of the quarter we’ll write short reaction papers, complete writing assignments that help us practice the basics of effective storytelling, and hold craft-based discussions in small and large groups
In the second half of the quarter, students will outline, write, and edit a first chapter of their own creation. We’ll practice how to introduce a series of themes and problems, indicate character desire and fears, and enchant and inspire ourselves and our readers. We’ll workshop our 8-12 pages openings in a supportive online environment. 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.