A Novel Becomes Your Textbook

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A favorite novel can be the basis of a creative writing workshop or course.

First, select a novel for your group.

Second, “chunk it” — by assigning a set of pages to be read prior to each group meeting.

Third, discuss these pages with your group. Look closely at the details. This is like a verbal ‘close reading.’

—–What features do you see?

—–What works?

—–What doesn’t?

—–What aspects might you apply to your own work?


—Workshop a Novel


Use A Novel As A Textbook for Creative Writing:

1. Select the novel you wish the group to read.

2. Chunk into pages. Assign the pages to be read prior to each group meeting.

3. Discuss the novel as a group.

WRITE THE TITLE OF YOUR CHOSEN BOOK HERE:__________________________________________

Some possible questions:

What hooks you/the reader into the story?
Who is introduced in the first chapter? Are there too many characters introduced at once?

Is the setting obvious from the beginning? Does this help pace the story?

How does the amount of dialogue balance with the amount of action?
Does this author use long or short paragraphs and sentences?

Is there a question on the first page?

How varied are the dialogue tags? (“said,” “answered,” “whispered”) Does variation help or distract?
How is the writer showing a pause in dialog? By saying “she paused” or by inserting a non-dialogue paragraph?

Is internal dialogue shown in italics? Is there too much?
How is setting worked into the story as it progresses? Is the ‘reveal’ achieved at an effective pace?
Is there subtext going on? Are the characters thinking something different than what they’re saying?
Can you imagine yourself there?

When you get to the end of the book, was the question introduced in the first chapter answered?


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