Internet Explorer 7, 8, and 9 are no longer supported. Please use a newer browser.
Concourse works best with JavaScript enabled.
UCLA logo

372847: Novel I

  • Spring 2020
  • Section 1
  • 3 Credits
  • 04/11/2020 to 06/13/2020
  • Modified 05/07/2020


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.


The objective of this course is for students to:

• Have a clear understanding of how to get started on writing a novel

• Have a clear understanding of character through want/need and gift/flaw as well as arc

• Have a clear understanding of plot as conflict with an antagonist that challenges a protagonist along the course of their arc, as well as an understanding of how to write a crisis, climax and resolution of a novel.

• Have a clear understanding of setting as conflict

• Have a clear understanding of basic ideas about voice in fiction. • Have a clear understanding of theme

• Have a clear understanding of the revision process.

• Begin to explore the paths to publication

• Complete the first chapter of your novel or up to twenty pages and create an outline for the finished novel in a supportive but challenging and inspiring environment.


By the end of the course, students will:

  • Have a clear understanding of how to get started on writing a novel
  • Have a clear understanding of character through want/need and gift/flaw as well as arc
  • Have a clear understanding of plot as conflict with an antagonist that challenges a protagonist along the course of their arc, as well as an understanding of how to write a crisis, climax and resolution of a novel
  • Have a clear understanding of setting as conflict
  • Have a clear understanding of basic ideas about voice in fiction
  • Have a clear understanding of theme
  • Have a clear understanding of the revision process
  • Be able to write a first chapter of a novel and an outline using each of the above techniques and able to begin to explore the paths to publication


Students will read the following stories (links will be provided):

"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

"What You Pawn I Shall Redeem" by Sherman Alexie

"Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" by Joyce Carol Oates

"Mr. Pirzada Comes To Dine" by Jhumpa Lahiri

"The Flowers" by Alice Walker

"Bullet in the Brain" by Tobias Wolff

"Sonny's Blues" by James Baldwin

"Sweat" by Zora Neale Hurston

"The Birds" by Daphne DuMaurier


For students taking the class for a grade, grades will be based on attendance (20%) and participation (30%) in all classes. Attendance means being present at every class meeting. More than three absences will result in a failing grade. Participation includes discussing stories, presenting about a published story to the class and reading and critiquing other student work. The rest of your grade will depend on completion of written assignments, including pages and outline, in-class exercises and reading assignments (50%). Creative work will be graded for a demonstration of thought to lessons learned in class up to that point, as well as on timeliness. Please follow guidelines and do a thorough edit of grammar, spelling, etc. before you turn your pages in.

Late work can be turned in for credit but not evaluation. If you miss your day to present, you will not be able to make it up on another day.

Letter Grade


Grade Point Average (GPA)













Course Policies

Work-Shopping Guidelines

Sharing our manuscripts can be a very exposing experience. Please, above all, be kind and respectful of one another. Try to focus on the technical aspects of the writing and not judge or critique the writer as a person.

Be specific and constructive in your criticism. In other words, don’t just say, “That was great,” or “I didn’t like that” but express exactly why something worked or didn’t work for you. Always try to start with positive, honest feedback.  If something does not work for you, use the principles we have learned in class and your own knowledge of literature to express specifically why it might not work. You may offer suggestions as to how to solve the problem but it is not necessary to do so. Try to avoid being overly didactic if you do suggest specific changes. A calm, neutral and observant tone is best. 

Stay focused on the work at hand and do not divert onto unrelated topics. It goes without saying that you should avoid personal attack or insults of any kind.

The Writers’ Workshop

Instruction in the Writers’ Program follows the guidelines established by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) guidelines for the teaching of creative writing, which include a “challenging writers’ workshop” as a hallmark. They define this as
…a seminar in which students critique one another’s work under the mentorship of an accomplished writer-teacher. The workshop is writing intensive, offering each student multiple opportunities for submission and revision of creative work. (AWP)
This method of instruction is considered the gold standard for developing writers at all levels of expertise, and workshopping is a key learning tool in nearly every course offered by the Writers’ Program. Workshopping teaches you to read and respond to written work from a variety of perspectives, and hearing critique of your own writing will help you understand how successfully your work achieves your goals. Every student is expected to participate fully in workshopping activities as defined by and guided by Writers’ Program instructors.

Scope of Work for Instructors

Each Writers’ Program instructor has signed an agreement to teach the curriculum in their course, following a syllabus of their own design with approval by the Writers’ Program director. Instructors are never obligated to read, review, critique, respond to, or otherwise address student work that has not been developed for their course or in response to specific assignments in their course. Individualized instruction like this falls into the category of a consultation, which is a separate service your instructor can provide through special arrangement with the Writers’ Program.

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

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:

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 Service for Students with Disabilities Office at (310) 825-7851 or by email at [email protected]. For complete information see:


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:

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.

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, 1145 Gayley Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90024; Voice/TTY: (310) 825-7031. View the University’s full Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence at

Additional Items

Protecting Privacy and Data During Remote Instruction

This class/meeting is being conducted over Zoom or Conference Room Adobe Connect. As the host, I may be recording this session. The recording feature for others is disabled so that no one else will be able to record this session. No recording by other means is permitted. This session will be posted on the Canvas class website unless otherwise notified. If you have privacy concerns and do not wish to appear in the recording, do not turn on your video. If you also prefer to use a pseudonym instead of your name, please let me know what name you will be using so that I know who you are during the session. If you would like to ask a question, you may do so privately through the Zoom chat by addressing your chat question to me only (and not to "everyone"), or you may contact me by another private method. If you have questions or concerns about this, please contact me.

Pursuant to the terms of the agreement between the vendors (Zoom/AdobeConnect) and UCLA Extension, the data is used solely for this purpose and the vendor is prohibited from re-disclosing this information. UCLA Extension also does not use the data for any other purpose. Recordings will be deleted when no longer necessary. However, the recording may become part of an administrative disciplinary record if misconduct occurs during a video conference.

Course and Instructor Evaluation

UCLA Extension values your feedback on course and instructor evaluations. We ask all students to take a few minutes to complete an end-of-course evaluation survey. Updates to the course and instruction are influenced by your feedback. Understanding your student experience is essential to ensure continuing excellence in the online classroom and is appreciated by your instructor and the UCLA Extension academic leadership.

Your participation in a survey is voluntary, and your responses are confidential. After instructors submit grades, they will be given an evaluation report, but this report will not contain your name.

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 UCLA Extension Learning Support Team.

UCLA Extension Canvas and Learning Support

For immediate 24/7 Canvas technical support, including holidays, click on Help (located on the menu to the left) where you can call or chat live with a Canvas Support representative.

UCLA Extension Instructional Design and Learning Support
The UCLA Extension Learning Support staff assists both students and instructors with Canvas-related technical support, as well as general and administrative questions.

Learning Support staff is available Monday through Friday, from 8 AM to 5 PM (Pacific Time), except holidays:

Campus Safety Escorts

For students taking classes held on the UCLA campus and in and around Westwood Village, the UCLA Police Department provides a free walking escort service every day of the year from dusk until 1 a.m. Community Service Officers (CSOs) are available to walk students, faculty, staff members and visitors to and from anywhere on campus, in Westwood Village, and in the village apartments. CSOs are uniformed students who have received special training and are employed by the UCLA Police Department. To obtain an escort, please call (310) 794-9255 and allow 15 to 20 minutes for your escort to arrive. For complete information, see:


Course calendar and related activities
When Lesson Notes
Week 1
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Introduction, including sign-ups for presenting your pages and outline, and sign-ups for choosing a story and presenting your report

Literary Element of the Week: Writing What You Love andWriting For an Audience

Writing Exercise #1: From the Heart: let obsession be your guide

Writing Exercise #2: From the Head: outline your novel with 12 questions

Writing Exercise #3: Writing a scene

Homework: Work on your pages. Read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Week 2
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Manuscript Critiques of Student Pages (3 students)

Literary Element of the Week: Character Gift/Flaw and Arc

Discuss Assigned Story

Writing Exercise #3: Write a scene where character demonstrates their gift in an active way and changes from beginning to end of the scene

Homework: Work on your pages and read “What You Pawn I Shall Redeem” by Sherman Alexie.

Week 3
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Manuscript Critiques of Student Pages (3 students)

Literary Element of the Week: Character Want/Need

Discuss Assigned Story

Writing Exercise #4: Write a scene where your character demonstrates their want in an active way but is met with an obstacle

Story Presentation

Homework: Work on your pages and read “Where are You Going, Where Have You been” by Joyce Carol Oates. Week 4

Week 4
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Manuscript Critiques of Student Pages (3 students)

Discuss Assigned Story

Literary Element of the Week: Antagonist and Story Problem

Writing Exercise #5: Write a scene where an antagonist obstructs your main character from obtaining their want

Story Presentation

Homework: Work on your pages and read “When Mr. Pirzada Came To Dine” by Jhumpa Lahiri.

Week 5
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Manuscript Critiques of Student Pages (3 students)

Discuss Assigned Story

Literary Element of the Week: Setting

Writing Exercise #6: Write a scene where setting adds conflict


Homework: Work on your pages 

Read "The Flowers" by Alice Walker and "Bullet in the Brain" by Tobias Wolff

Week 6
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Manuscript Critiques of student pages (3 students)

Discuss Assigned Story

Literary Element of the Week: Style

Writing Exercise #7: Write a scene, pick a partner, analyze your partner’s writing style including their use of point of view.  Define the style in terms of what works and what needs work.


Work on your pages and read “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin.

Week 7
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Manuscript Critiques of Student Pages (3 students)

Discuss Assigned Story

Literary Element of the Week: Crisis, Climax, Resolution

Writing Exercise  #8: Write a scene from the crisis, climax or resolution of your novel.

Story Presentation

Homework:  Work on your pages and read “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston.

Week 8
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Manuscript Critiques of Student Pages (3-4 students)

Literary Element of the Week: Theme

Writing Exercise #9: finding what you want to say about/to the world


Homework: Revise pages or outline or continue with chapter pages and read “The Birds” by Daphne DuMaurier. BRING IN A SCENE TO REVISE IN CLASS NEXT WEEK

Week 9
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Manuscript Critiques of Student Pages (3-4 students)

 Literary Element of the Week: The Re-writeDiscuss Assigned Story

Writing Exercise #10: Re-write a previous exercise with new knowledge


Homework: Revise pages.

Week 10
1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
The Biz

Week 10 Manuscript Critiques of Student Pages (3-4 students)

The Business of Writing: Genre, Marketing, Finding an Agent

Review and Party