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350329: Novel Writing I: Introduction to Novel Writing
ENGL-X 462.71

  • Winter 2017
  • Section 1
  • 3 Credits
  • 01/18/2017 to 03/29/2017
  • Modified 02/08/2017


That novel is inside you waiting to emerge, but knowing how and where to start can be daunting. This course provides you with weekly assignments, group interaction, and instructor feedback to help you explore various methods of writing your first novel while learning the key craft points of plot, structure, characterization, point-of-view, sense of place, and voice. The goal is to complete the first chapter of your novel by establishing an intimacy with your characters as you artfully shape their journey, and to develop an overall concept to guide you through your story. Required for students considering the long-fiction sequence.


Reading everyone's pages and contributing to workshop and discussion groups will be enough work that I'm not going to require outside textbooks. There are any number of good books on writing and it's always worthwhile to read them--particularly if you feel stuck--but your focus for the next ten weeks is on writing and on attentively reading your classmates' work.


For those receiving grades, here's how I break things down:

Assignment Breakdown:

Assignment Type


Percentage of Final

First Three Pages of Chapter One




Draft of Chapter One



Revised First Chapter, due at the end of Week Eight



Outline, due at the end of Week Seven



Class Participation




100 Points


To receive full marks for participation, you must post all required critiques and contribute at least two comments to each week's discussions. Comments posted regarding your own work do not count towards your participation grade. Students may lose marks for submitting less than a full chapter for their fiction project, however, this is a qualitative grade. In other words, merely submitting the chapter and outline on time does not guarantee you 100% on your fiction submission. However, anyone who submits all assignments on time each week, participates in discussions, does all assigned critiques and completes the chapter and outline will get an A in this course.




Grade Percentage

Letter Grade

















Course Policies

Course Objectives

Participants will:

  • Develop a compelling concept for your first novel
  • Write a strong opening and a completed first chapter.
  • Draft an outline for the whole novel.

Class Overview

In the first part of the course you will generate several ideas for novels and weigh their merits against each other and against any project you may already have in mind, expanding upon the initial concept so that you have the seed of a story that excites you. Once you have decided what book you're going to write, we will move on to getting it off to the best possible start by crafting an opening and then expanding it into a first chapter. In selected workshop weeks, you will begin the process of incorporating your classmates' gentle feedback (and mine, too!) into the work in progress, shaping what you have on the page to make it as strong as possible.


For ten weeks, we will join together as a community and take a creative writing journey. In order for our community to flourish and for everyone to fully benefit from this course, as individuals and as a group, everyone must agree to conduct themselves in a manner that fosters a supportive and respectful environment.

This brings us to the issue of online courtesy. Ever misunderstood the tone of an email? Responding to one another's work without the context provided by facial expressions, vocal intonation, gestures, etc. can pose something of a challenge. We will, as with any good discussion, find ourselves disagreeing about the published reading assignments or certain elements of craft in one another's work. Therefore we must make a concerted effort in our postings to be polite and respectful. Please read the lecture on workshop etiquette carefully so that you understand my expectations.

It is important to remember that posts by your fellow students will almost always be well-intended: if something strikes you as ‘off’ or even offensive, please do consider writing to me to discuss it before firing off a scorching reply.

(For those newer to the dynamics of online discussion, some guidelines to getting along on the Internet, known as "netiquette", can be found here.)

How do I grade participation? To get full credit for participation, you must complete all assignments and post two follow-up messages in each week's discussion fora, responding to the comments or work of others each week. Comments can be kept short, but I do look for more than simple answers like "I agree" or "Good point!" when responding to others. Additionally, students who only post comments in threads relating to their own stories and exercises will not receive full points.

Guest Lectures           

The writing community on the Internet is vibrant and active, and throughout the course I will post links to articles about writing and publishing written by people around the world. These may be viewed as optional guest lectures, to be read in the moment or saved for a less busy time. They are not meant to add to your workload, but to offer you an opportunity to deepen our discussions of writing, to expose you to points of view beyond my own, and to provide a glimpse into the dynamic world of fiction-writing and its current practitioners.

Lectures posted to past classes can be found here:

Underage Students

As UCLA's principal provider of continuing education, the majority of UCLA Extension courses are designed for the post-baccalaureate professional-level student. Enrollment is therefore normally reserved for adult students 18 years of age and older. The Writers’ Program may consent to enroll younger students based on special academic competence and approval of the instructor. Minors who enroll in a Writers’ Program course without first receiving permission from both the department and the instructor are subject to withdrawal.  To request approval, please contact the Writers’ Program at 310/825-9415.


Feedback on Assignments

  • To receive full participation marks in any week, workshop or otherwise, you must make two other posts in the Canvas Discussion groups, by the end of the week, regarding anything other than your own work. Responses to someone else's critique of a novel you read are okay, as are comments on guest lecture/links, questions about writing, or any contribution to the weekly discussions.

Due Dates & Late Work

You will be expected to complete AND POST all the assignments and to have joined in on the week's discussion NO LATER than 11:59pm* every SUNDAY. I am strict when it comes to this deadline. You can never know what the week ahead holds-emergencies, computer meltdowns or illness-so I suggest that you post early whenever possible. What this means is:

  • If you turn in your writing submission late in a workshop week, I will not provide feedback on it for that week.
  • If you turn in your assigned critiques late in a workshop week, you will receive zero participation marks for that week and I will not provide feedback on your submission until all late critiques are turned in.
  • Finally, if you turn in your first chapter or outline after their deadlines, they will not receive a grade.

*Deadlines and times are based on the PACIFIC TIME ZONE.

Underage Students

As UCLA's principal provider of continuing education, the majority of UCLA Extension courses are designed for the post-baccalaureate professional-level student. Enrollment is therefore normally reserved for adult students 18 years of age and older. The Writers’ Program may consent to enroll younger students based on special academic competence and approval of the instructor. Minors who enroll in a Writers’ Program course without first receiving permission from both the department and the instructor are subject to withdrawal.  To request approval, please contact the Writers’ Program at 310/825-9415.

Institutional Policies

All Grades are Final

No change of grade may be made by anyone other than the instructor, and then, only to correct clerical errors. No term grade except Incomplete may be revised by re-examination. The correction of a clerical error may be authorized only by the instructor of record communicating directly with personnel of Student and Alumni Services.


Your instructor may post the interim grade Incomplete/I if at the end of the class your overall work is of passing quality but a portion could not be submitted for understandable reasons (e.g. illness). It is your responsibility to petition your instructor for permission to submit work late and to provide an explanation, and it is his or her sole decision whether to accept the explanation. If permitted, the Incomplete/I grade will be posted and a time frame defined for you to submit the missing work, ranging from one to twelve weeks. Incomplete/I grades that remain unchanged after twelve weeks will lapse to F, NP or U. Receiving an I grade entitles you to submit only the missing work your instructor has agreed to accept late, and does not allow other work to be retaken or oblige UCLA Extension to provide continuing access to course materials via Canvas. The Incomplete/I grade is not an option for courses that do not bear credit, such as 700, 800, or 900-level courses. For complete information, see:

Student Conduct

Students are subject to disciplinary action for several types of misconduct or attempted misconduct, including but not limited to dishonesty, such as cheating, multiple submission, plagiarism, or knowingly furnishing false information to the University; or theft or misuse of the intellectual property of others or violation of others' copyrights. Students are encouraged to familiarize themselves with policy provisions which proscribe these and other forms of misconduct at:

Sexual Harassment

The University of California is committed to creating and maintaining a community where all individuals who participate in University programs and activities can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of harassment, exploitation, or intimidation. Every member of the community should be aware that the University prohibits sexual harassment and sexual violence, and that such behavior violates both law and University policy. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence, and will take appropriate action to prevent, to correct, and when necessary, to discipline behavior that violates our policy.

All Extension students and instructors who believe they have been sexually harassed are encouraged to contact the Department of Student and Alumni Services for complaint resolution: UCLA Extension, Suite 113, 10995 Le Conte Ave., Westwood; Voice/TTY: (310) 825-7031. View the University’s full Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence at

Services for Students with Disabilities

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, UCLA Extension provides appropriate accommodations and support services to qualified applicants and students with disabilities. These include, but are not limited to, auxiliary aids/services such as sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices for hearing-impaired individuals, extended time for and proctoring of exams, and registration assistance. Accommodations and types of support services vary and are specifically designed to meet the disability-related needs of each student based on current, verifiable medical documentation. Arrangements for auxiliary aids/services are available only through UCLA Extension’s Office for Students with Disabilities at (310) 825-0183 or by email at [email protected]. For complete information see:

Additional Items

About Your Online Course Materials

Please note the following about online course components at UCLA Extension:

  • Students must have basic computer skills, including the use of word processing software, email, and the ability to use internet browsers, such as Safari, Firefox, or Chrome.
  • Students are responsible for meeting the technical requirements of Canvas and familiarizing themselves with the Canvas Learning Management System.
  • Students are responsible for keeping a copy of all assignments and work submitted, and to be aware of all assignments, due dates, and course guidelines.
  • Students are encouraged to keep and/or download a local copy of their assignment files, as access to the online environment of a specific course is limited to 30 days after the final course date, as listed in the course catalog.

    If you need assistance downloading student materials from your course, please contact Canvas Support or the Office of Instructional Enhancement.

UCLA Extension Enhanced Support

Email: [email protected]
Phone: Toll-free at (866) 269-7289 (US only) or (310) 206-4563.
Monday - Friday, 7am to 6pm (Pacific Time).
The UCLA Extension course management team assists both students and instructors with Canvas-related technical support, as well as general administrative questions.

For support on learning more about Canvas or addressing a technical issue:
Click on the ''Help'' link in the upper right corner of the screen from within the Canvas LMS, where you can chat live with a live technical support agent or submit a ticket for assistance.
Or visit the Canvas Help Center:


Note: each course week runs from Monday to the following Sunday night. Assignments can be posted anytime during the course week, with 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Sunday being the final due date for that week's assignments. Late assignments will not be awarded grades.






Getting Aquainted, Gearing Up

Greetings, lecture, discussion, brainstorming exercise.


The Weight of Ideas

Lecture, discussion, more brainstorming.


Workshop Etiquette

Lecture, discussion, writing a novel hook.


Hooks and Beginnings

Lecture, discussion, feedback on hooks.


The Mechanics of Suspense

Lecture, discussion, completed first chapter of novel.


Nice, Smart or Funny?

Lecture, discussion, feedback on chapters.


Talk, Talk, Talk

Lecture, discussion, completion of 3-page novel outline.


Highs, Lows and Transitions

Lecture, discussion, feedback on outlines, and revision of chapter one.


Revise, or Plow On?

Lecture, discussion, feedback on revisions, and finishing plans.


On to Joy!

Lecture, farewell discussion.