Starting the Novel
Starting with “Chapter One” often leads to freezing up in panic long before reaching “Chapter Two.” In this workshop, we’ll will focus on crafting scenes of your story, regardless of where they may fall in the finished novel. We’ll talk about strategies for creating and sustaining tension both in scenes and across the novel, through using timelines, ticking clocks, and chapter endings. We’ll begin by critiquing students’ overall plans for their novels, and then move into critiquing individual scenes from the novel. We’ll refer to E.M. Forster’s Aspects of the Novel.
Sarah Van Arsdale’s fifth book, The Catamount, a narrative poem with her watercolor illustrations, was published by Nomadic Press in 2017. She is the author of four books of fiction: In Case of Emergency, Break Glass (Queens Ferry Press, 2016), Grand Isle, (SUNY Press 2012), Blue, winner of the 2002 Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel, (University of Tennessee Press), and Toward Amnesia, (1996, Riverhead Books). She serves on the board of the Ferro-Grumley Award in LGBTQ Fiction, and curates BLOOM: The Reading Series at Hudson View Gardens. Her poetry and essays have been widely published in literary magazines; she has an essay on setting and atmosphere in fiction in a forthcoming issue of the AWP Writer’s Chronicle, and a memoir piece in a forthcoming issue of Bayou Magazine. She teaches creative writing in the low-residency MFA program at Antioch University, at New York University, and privately; in January, 2019, she’ll be co-leading a workshop in Oaxaca, Mexico. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts.