fullscreen background
Skip to main content

Spring Quarter

Spring Registration Now Open
Most Classes Begin Mar 28
shopping cart icon0


« Back to

NVL 09 W — Writing the Novel from Back to Front

Quarter: Spring
Date(s): Mar 28—Jun 3
Duration: 10 weeks
Drop By
Drop Deadline: Mar 31
Unit(s): 3 Units
Tuition: $805
Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Limit: Limit 17
Status: Closed
John Irving said, “I don’t start a novel … until I know the end.” Are you trying to write a novel but have no idea where to start? Imagining your last scene can lead to your first one, especially using story structure. Structure is the spine of every novel, helping the “flesh” of character, dialogue, and setting to hold together. In this course, we will study story structure to find the spine of your novel so you can get creative with it, helped by John Truby’s The Anatomy of Story and Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story.

Students will produce three pages of work (750 words) per week for the first six weeks, respond to reading and discussion questions, and complete exercises in mapping out essential plot points, outlining psychological and moral needs, and other tactics. In the final four weeks, we will be workshopping up to 5,000 words each from two or three students every week. By the end of the course, students will have a synopsis, techniques to map out their novel (including the use of reveals, reversals, and moral choices), and a last chapter from which they can work backward.

This is an online course. For more information about the Online Writing Program, visit our FAQs.

Caroline Leavitt, Author

Caroline Leavitt is the author of ten novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You. Her essays, stories, and articles have appeared in Salon, Psychology Today, New York, Parenting, The Chicago Tribune, Parents, Redbook, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and numerous anthologies. She also teaches in the online UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has reviewed books for People magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Lisa Cron, Wired for Story (ISBN 1607742454)
(Required) John Truby, The Anatomy of Story (ISBN 0865479933)