Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Novel Experiment

John Vanderslice at the University of Central Arkansas is teaching class in which his students write a novel - and entire novel - during the semester. He's writing one too. The goal: 55,000 words.


Will it be a great novel? Will theirs? I don't know, but that's not really the point. The point of the class is to learn about novel writing, and there's no better way to learn than to actually write one. So that is what I have to ask of them and what I am asking of them. To feel it and fight through it every step of the way, start to finish. When the semester is all over, not only will they have finished a draft of a novel, but they'll really know and appreciate all that someone must rise to, deal with, and overcome to complete a major creative project like a novel. Of course, plenty of revision will be ahead for them once the semester is over--for me too--if they want to truly complete their novels, but at least they will have the experience and satisfaction of getting through a whole draft. That's a significant accomplishment, especially considering that completing the first draft seems to be the biggest obstacle against novel writing for most of my students. Many of them start and stop one. Then start and stop another. Then a third. And so on. (They've told me this themselves.) But this semester they'll have no choice but to finish.

To read the rest of his post at his blog, click here.


1 comment:

Robbi said...

Intriguing. One wonders how many students he will have left by the end of the semester. But how great the novels are is really beside the point. How will he grade them? Intriguing.

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