Beginning the Novel with Christopher Bram

Explore Key Techniques and Core Attitudes for Successfully Beginning and Sustaining Book-Length Fiction in Any Genre

Your Instructor: Christopher Bram (author of Gods and Monsters)

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 16 Students Maximum

Price: $427

Class Description

Starting work on a novel can be both daunting and exhilarating. In this six-week online writing class, veteran novelist Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters and Exiles in America, will share key techniques and core attitudes for making a solid beginning on a book-length work of fiction. Very few people can write a novel in six weeks, but you should finish with forty or fifty pages and extremely useful ideas for moving forward. More importantly, you will learn how to start the machine rolling and that will make you want to finish.

In addition to discussing your work, this class will examine three very different novels that offer examples of good technique and fine prose: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Aquamarine by Carol Anshaw, and The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera.

What This Class Covers

First Lecture and Assignment - Finding Your Story:

Just as artists sketch and doodle on paper before they begin a picture, novelists jot down notes before they commit to a project. We will explore the importance of playing on paper before you actually start writing.

Second Lecture and Assignment - Finding The Voice:

Not only must writers decide if a story will best be told in first-person "I" or third-person "he/she" (or even second-person "you'), they need to discover the tone or attitude of voice. Still playing on paper, you will find what works best for the story you want to tell.

Third Lecture and Assignment - Finding A Beginning:

Finally, you will write your first chapter--or what you think is your first chapter. Writers sometimes begin a novel too early in the story--or even too late--but then find by trial and error the best place to begin.

Fourth Lecture and Assignment - Finding Ways To Continue:

You will write your second chapter, establishing more clearly what direction you're taking and the pace. We will explore the best use of dialogue in fiction: real but not too real.

Fifth Lecture and Assignment - Finding Good Feedback From Friends:

While you write your third chapter, you will begin to digest the responses of your teacher and the others in class. When are the comments useful? When do they get in the way?

Sixth Lecture and Assignment - Finding Reasons To Finish:

Now that you've made a solid start on your project, you need to think ahead to the ending. You don't need to know exactly how it'll end, but you do need a clear direction. We will resume sketching and see how stepping back from a work-in-progress can be helpful.

Goals Of This Class

  • Explore the novelist's art from the vantage point of an accomplished professional
  • Choose a genre that best expresses your deepest personal themes and interests
  • Create characters the reader will identify with and remember
  • Learn to stay flexible and have fun in the drafting process
  • Finish with at least 40-50 pages of a new novel, plus excitement, motivation, and strategy for where your project will go next

Additional Info

Read Chris' Essay, 'Three Things I Learned From My Students'
A list of important tips for teaching classes and writers workshops.

Read Our Q&A With Christopher Bram - 'Beginning the Novel' with LitReactor's Christopher Bram
5 Questions with LitReactor's latest instructor and the author of 'Gods & Monsters'

About Our Classes Class FAQs