The Novel: A Master Class
Professor David Gilmour
Welcome to the 50,000-word club. Not for tourists. Writing, certainly at the level of a professional novelist, is not a hobby. It’s a calling. A distinguished New York editor, when asked how he picks a novel for publication, responded, “I read the first sentence. If I like it, I read the second. If I like the second…” You know where it goes from here. So that’s where we start, where all literature starts: with a story.
We're also going to discuss and deeply consider this essential question: How should I work? How you work is as important as having a good story: Do you do it in the morning, in the evening? For two hours or, like Balzac, for twelve. Until you discover how to work, you won’t.
Other concerns: Many young writers misunderstand the role of dialogue: they think it’s a sort of time-out, a place to ease-up. It’s not. Good dialogue pushes a story forward as fast and with more muscle than prose. And then there’s the issue of "finishing things." Bars all over the world are full of ex-patriots who never "quite finished" their novel and it's haunted them ever since. You must finish what you start, even if it's terrible. You can't rewrite something until you know how it ends.
In this class, students are expected to finish a first draft manuscript of at least 50,000 words by April (2,000 words a week, every week, no excuses, attendance compulsory, punctuality non-negotiable). To appreciate the gravity of how we do things in a Master Class, try and talk to someone who has already taken it. As I said, it’s not a course for tourists.
All students are invited to submit a 500 word audition piece for this course.
But please, no science fiction or fantasy writing. This is not the right course for those genres. In addition, students are encouraged, if possible, to talk to former students of this course.
Admission is by application. Deadline: August 15, 2019.
Beyond this date, further applications will be considered based on availability until the start of the course.
Prerequisite: Application Required.
Distribution Requirement Status: This is a Humanities course
Breadth Requirement: Creative and Cultural Representations (1)