A NEW Novel Approach

By definition writers are solitary souls, but as most who come through our courses soon realize, going it alone is not always the best approach. We need the support and encouragement of like-minded individuals to help us gather the strength to carry on.

Writing a novel is no easy feat. It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon and regular training is necessary to push through each chapter. Not to mention the psychological issues we deal with as writers. Everything from writer’s block, distractions, life, self-doubt plus much more. We can give you the tools to work through the pages, to work through the issues, but in the end, only the writer can do the work necessary to see the project through to completion.

In that vein, AWCS has redesigned A Novel Approach to create a unique and progressive “approach” to writing your novel.

Here’s what we’ve done:

A Novel Approach is now the program. Inside the program, you will find a bunch of different courses for every stage of completing your manuscript and having it ready for publication.

A Novel Idea, which was originally the prerequisite to apply for the year-long course has now been broken into three courses that will give you 28 weeks of instruction and more time in between sessions to work at your own pace.

Start with The First Three Chapters, move on to The Muddy Middle, and then The End. You will work through each section of your novel, as it pertains to you. Instructors will lecture and provide you with relevant writing exercises. They will lead group discussions and workshopping, although, workshopping is not a key component in these courses any longer. The idea is to have you continually generating material with some minor feedback along the way.

But don’t worry…you will have ample chance later to have your work reviewed. 

No applications necessary. Work on your novel at your own pace, take the courses as needed, as many times as you want, as long as you meet the prerequisite requirements or have equivalent experience.

The Courses

The First Three Chapters (8 weeks) – Start as you mean to go on with this 8-week course designed to lay a solid foundation for your book-length manuscript. Instruction will focus on characterization, voice, plot, setting, conflict etc. as they specifically apply to those critical first pages. While this course includes no formal workshopping, students can expect to share their work as it relates to a variety of writing exercises. By the end of the course, students will have generated a strong and focused beginning to their manuscript and be well poised to continue on their own, or in the next class.

Prerequisite: Short Story Level II or equivalent.

The Muddy Middle (10 weeks) – You’ve completed the first three chapters of your novel but not sure how to navigate through the most ominous part of your novel, The Muddy Middle. This course will focus on elements of fiction including rising action, maintaining momentum, story pace and arc, and structure. Learn how to write through those difficult scenes through focused writing exercises, group discussion and peer feedback, as well as symbolism, theme and more. You will also create a rough outline of your novel and learn how to write a synopsis. Outline and create a rough synopsis of your story moving forward. You will also discuss some of the common problems writers face such as writers block, escaping distraction, the busy writer, self-doubt. Find out what kind of writer you are and know that you are not alone.

Prerequisite: The First Three Chapters, A Novel Idea or equivalent

Participants must have a minimum of three chapters complete, more is recommended.

The End (10 weeks) – You’ve worked through the middle and you’re approaching that pivotal point in your work, the climax. The tension has peaked and now it’s time to wrap up the story. Through writing exercises, group discussion and peer feedback, learn what makes a good ending, how to tie up all those loose ends, climax, resolution, and change. Discuss common problems faced while trying to complete your manuscript.

Prerequisite: The Muddy Middle or equivalent

Participants must have a minimum of 2/3 of their novel complete.

Wait! We’re NOT done yet! 

Once you have completed your draft and are ready to start revising, we have a new year-long course for you. Again, no application process is necessary, but you must meet the prerequisite requirements.

The New Year Long Course

Chapter by Chapter is our new year-long course and is designed to get you through the revision of your first draft to have an almost polished second draft. Class meets every two weeks from September to June. No, your whole draft will not be reviewed and there is a heavy workshopping component to this course, but you should come away with an almost polished draft, and the tools to complete the remainder on your own. 

Chapter by Chapter (20 weeks) – You’ve completed the first draft and you don’t have a clue where to start with the revision. Through writing exercises, group discussion and peer critique you will learn how to edit your draft while examining various fiction elements in detail as they pertain to revision. You will also learn where to find publishers, the different options available for publishing, how to write a query letter and create the submission package. Discuss common problems writers face, and get well on your way to having a marketable draft. Heavy emphasis on workshopping.

The class meets every two weeks from September to June.

Prerequisite: The End or equivalent. 

Participants must have a completed first draft. Synopsis and/or outline may be requested prior to registration confirmation.

But wait…there’s even more!

After you’ve completed the revision of your manuscript and you think you’re ready to submit to publishers, check out The First Thirty Pages.

The First Thirty Pages (10 weeks) You have completed a novel and are ready to market your manuscript. Most publishers and agents request the first thirty pages as part of the submission package. In this course, you will re-examine your first thirty pages. Through editing and revision, make them shine and take that extra step to try and stay out of the rejection pile, and encourage the publisher or agent to request the entire manuscript. You will also learn how to research publishers, write query letters and synopses. Create your submission package.

Prerequisite: Chapter by Chapter or equivalent.

Participant manuscripts must be complete and almost ready for submission.

Ok. That’s it for now. But more new courses may be added along the way. 

Current Offerings