Week 1 Assignments: Type of Novel I Want to Write

Here’s an example of how you could use your weekly novel-writing journey to get your blog off the ground or perhaps give it a kick start. It’s not about sharing the actual words you write. It’s about sharing the experience with others. Gail is one of the 71 people “following” this blog from outside the fishbowl. She works at BSU, she’s an awesome photographer (she took my author head shots), and as far as I know, she’s never tried to write a novel before.

Gail is Writing

Okay, I’ve really struggled with this. The notion of coming up with characters I want to live with and follow for the next few months (or longer). And then, the notion that anything I possibly come up with is….well, kind of lame.

I’m thankful I have my photography career—and the resulting blog(s) that have charted that journey from the early days to where I am now—to remind me that, like anything, this is going to be a process. A process that is going to involve a lot of failures and overall sh-t before it gets better and/or easier.

So I’m just going to jump in. This story may end up being weak. The characters may suck. The plot may fall apart, but at least I’ll have made the attempt to create something in long-form. That’s more than I’ve ever done before.

Here’s where I’m thinking about going (with ALL of…

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To Do for Week 1: Introduction to Novel Writing

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Wow. 61 people 85 people are following this blog. I was totally not expecting this.

Thus, henceforward:

Students enrolled in the course at Ball State will be known as INSIDE (the fishbowl).

People following the course via the blog will be designated as OUTSIDE (the fishbowl).

There will be two types posts each week.

  • Do This: from ME, which will lay out the week’s schedule, the topics to be discussed, and any due dates. These will go up on Tuesday.

  • Report: from INSIDE students. They will “cover” the class for OUTSIDE students and share their experiences/epiphanies/progress/frustrations. Report posts will go up the following Tuesday.

(For those outside the fishbowl, there will be a little lag time for you between what I say we’re doing “this week” and the students’ reports.)

Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 7.50.56 PMOutside students are welcome to comment on this blog at any time, to share their own blog posts, and to use the hashtag #amnoveling as a pivot to record their writing sessions, etc.

Accountability: Anytime I say “Send me your weekly words,” I’m referring to INSIDE students only. That’s how I hold them accountable. However, I recommend that Outside students find someone to whom they can send their Weekly Words, too. The more you do to make yourself accountable for getting this work done, the more likely you are to benefit from this experience! Using social media is one easy way to do that. Think of it as “checking in” at Crossfit or sharing your run results via MapMyRun.

Getting Up To Speed

This weekend, the Outside students should probably spend some time:

Reading List: here are the books you can read along with us: Tom Perrotta, Election; Rex Pickett, Sideways; Julianna Baggott, Pure; Evan S. Connell, Mrs. Bridge. Read as many as you can!Screen Shot 2013-08-20 at 7.50.38 PM

Which of these are you willing to commit to?

  • write at least 2,000 words a week, every week.
  • read the books we’re reading.
  • reverse storyboard a book of your choice
  • start a blog yourself and share your journey
  • find a beta group (IRL or online) who you can trade work with this term

Week 1: Moving from “Story” to “Book”

In-class diagnostic

We’ll discuss:

  • How is writing a novel different from writing short stories? How do we have to write differently, think differently, read differently?
  • What will be your writing regimen this semester? Think about your answers to these questions.

Weekly Words: Practice Run: No word count minimum or maximum. Turn in via email to my gmail by Sunday 8/25 at 5 PM. Focus: Tell me about the novel you plan to write. You must tell me about:

  • The EVENT/S–the inciting incident, a few major plot points, a vague sense of what’s going to happen
  • The TYPE of novel you’re writing. Is it sci-fi-ish, a realistic coming of age story, a historical novel, a fantasy, a satire? If you aren’t sure, name a few other books and/or authors that you think might be similar or that you’re inspired by. I need to put the INSIDE students in groups according to the type of novel they’re writing. No word count minimum this week.

Start reading Tom Perrotta’s Election