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As Anne Lamott says in Bird by Bird, even the most successful authors write crappy first drafts. So why not write it fast and get it over with? In this class, you’ll write a complete first draft of a novel or memoir. We’ll alternate lessons in story structure, character, and in-class writing exercises. The class is geared toward beginning fiction writers, but memoirists and writers of all levels are welcome. Individual conference with teacher included. Required text: Writing for Story by Jon Franklin.
Rebecca Agiewich is a writer, writing teacher, and the author of BreakupBabe: A Novel, which was a finalist for the 2007 Lulu Blooker Prize (a literary prize for books based on blogs). It was based on her popular dating blog of the same name, which won her many fans and scared off many potential boyfriends. She’s published essays and travel articles in a wide variety of publications, including Lonely Planet and MSNBC, and is currently at work on a middle-grade novel.
Teaching philosophy: Reward people with chocolate.
Writers I always return to: Since I’m writing for middle-grade, I like to read books for that age. I keep returning to old favorites like Judy Blume even though I should be studying current authors! One more recent middle-grade novel that blew me away was Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I also really liked Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, which was written in 1987 but has a timeless feel. I also really enjoy reading craft books. Three new favorites for me are Write Your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, and The Third Act: Writing a Great Ending for your Screenplay by Drew Yanno.
Favorite writing advice: “Lower the bar from ‘bestseller’ to ‘would not make someone vomit.’” -Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing month, in his book No Plot, No Problem, on how to write a rough draft of your novel in only four weeks.
Past Student Feedback:
“Rebecca was very instructive while also encouraging and she fostered what I felt was an inspiring and motivational environment, which was perfect given the volume of out-of-class writing. I came away from each class feeling encouraged as well as educated.” (Spring 2014)
“Rebecca was helpful, enthusiastic, and able to manage a variety of levels. Bravo!” (Spring 2014)
“The class made me work hard and get my butt in the chair! It also helped me ignore my inner editor long enough to keep writing each day without sabotaging myself.” (Spring 2014)
“This is the most I’ve written in years! I have been able to start my novel and plan to finish it in the upcoming months.” (Spring 2014)
“I really liked being pushed to just write – it’s such an important part of any project (duh!) but often so hard to find that motivation. Having the class put such an emphasis on the writing really helped me get my act together, and by the end I actually had a routine!” (Winter 2015)
“I loved every aspect. Rebecca does a great job of teaching while making the class fun.” (Winter 2015)
“The work on outlining especially helped me think about my own story. Also – great class participation!” (Winter 2015)
" I love that [Rebecca] treated a room full of sheepish would-be novelists as if our work, lives, and thoughts counted just as much as anyone else’s, and as if we are just as deserving of respect for our efforts. It helps enormously to be taken seriously and to be encouraged with such goodwill." (Winter 2016)