Workout for the Novel (Online Writing Workshop)

by Kathy on March 16, 2010

 

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For those contemplating,  or already embroiled in, a novel, Workout for the Novel offers a series of exercises to help you think through and develop your idea, as well as an invaluable forum for feedback and discussion. Each week we focus on a particular aspect of the novel you are developing:  your main characters, the best place and way to begin the story, overall structure, plotting, voice, and the structure and use of chapters. Some of the exercises generate writing that might later be used or incorporated into the novel and some are writing/think-pieces about the novel in progress which help you to see it more clearly. Students are in small groups of four to six. The course is open to beginners and more experienced writers alike, and it is equally useful for first draft or revision.  Allow at least  four hours a week – but remember,  those hours can be whenever, wherever and however you choose!

$225 for 8 weeks

Please use contact form on the menu to the left for further information. You can also use the RSS feed (above)  to keep in touch about future courses

Workout for the Novel is not running in 2013, though part of it will be offered as a face-to-face workshop at The Writers’ Centre in Norwich, 14th June.

 

Payment by cheque or by PayPal here

Comments from participants

“An excellent course. It was informative and stretching, certainly, to help me think outside the box. I feel I got a real sense of how to construct a novel, and just wish I’d done this ten years ago!” – Sue Goldswain, Victoria, BC, 2009.

“I felt I needed to do some revising of my story but was overwhelmed at the prospect and found it impossible to view it objectively. The exercises  were very good.  They provided a ‘way in’ to my story and also helped me to reflect on the nature of a novel.  I now feel I have a framework on which to build a future novel, and expect to refer back it frequently. I loved all the feedback. The other writers while honest looked for the positive and their enthusiasm was catching. Perhaps the most useful thing was the questions.   Kathy’s comments were incisive and thought–provoking. I liked the intensity; getting weekly feedback was highly motivating.” Gillian Campbell, 2009 Workout participant. Gillian’s novel  has been accepted for publication by Brindle & Glass.

“I’ve found this course hugely beneficial. It’s helped me, through the well thought-out tasks set each week, make step by step progress with developing a broad, overall view of my novel as a whole living, malleable “thing”… I’ve asked myself lots of questions, been asked lots of questions, and been prompted by the tasks to come up with ideas and answers in a way that I wouldn’t have managed on my own. I started this course with a handful of random scenes, only a few months into writing this first draft. I now have a much more focused sense of where the novel might be heading. It’s given me an energetic “kick” start, which is just what I wanted.” – Jane Rusbridge, UK, author of The Devil’s Music, Bloomsbury, 2009.

“The course has been wonderfully helpful.  As a totally novice writer I did not have the framework to start attacking the rewrite. The exercises are very good challenging, informative.  As for the group feedback ‘If somebody calls you an ass, you can tell them to go to hell!  But if 10 people call you an ass, get a saddle!’  (I live in Texas!) It’s really true in any creative discipline.You have to know what others see in what you created.” C. Ellen Hart,Texas, 2010

“I’d rate the course as excellent for anyone serious about tackling a novel. The weekly exercises encourage the budding novelist to wrestle with many of the major, practical considerations required to get the project underway, and to try solutions that work for them and the particular story they have in mind to tell… Absolutely the best thing you did for me was to use the ‘track changes’ option to edit my chapter on the fight between the rat and the dog. I saw the difference in the power and simplicity immediately and have both versions on file for future reference when writing scenes that ‘show.'” David, 2009

Deeply, deeply engaging. It made me think about many issues that I simply did not know underlie the craft of writing a novel. It allowed me to participate in a community of like-minded peers who are living the struggle and joy that I am finding in writing. It taught me a great deal about the discipline I need to move from an initial idea to a finished work.” – Roelf Woldring, Toronto, 2009.

“The course far exceeded my expectations. With each exercise I found I moved a step forward, which, in my experience of this difficult process, is quite an accomplishment. In writing my own submissions, I was forced to face some of my weaknesses, which I do a ridiculously good job of ignoring. Reading the submissions of my group members, was instructive as well – it’s so much easier to spot the errors in the writing of others. That having been said, it also makes it easier to return to your own work and face the same issues with a renewed understanding. The site was very user friendly. In terms of your responses it worked well for you to wait until we’d all had our say. You have a real talent for cutting to the quick in a most charming and supportive manner. It’s quite astonishing how you do it.” – Renate Mohr, Ottawa, 2009.

“The course was fabulous for me. I didn’t really know how to approach writing my book, what key pieces I needed to think through. Now I am in a totally different place, and ready to sit down and start writing. I found all of the weekly exercises very useful, as well as the order in which the exercises were given. Each one oriented me to key pieces of writing my book. I really appreciated your direction each week on what kind of feedback to provide to my group members. Your input was very directed and specific, and I felt either confirmed my instincts or provided me with a very effective lens from which to view my book.” – Karen Clark, Salt Spring Island, BC, 2009.

“I loved it. I looked forward every day to new postings. Found it quite demanding but that was good. I was worried that I would never get my novel right and the course made me see that a close third viewpoint and present tense would make all the difference. I learned to trust the input of the group and to see things as a reader would.  I learned a lot by trying out different approaches, looking at plot, character and so on, in depth, revising the first chapter, killing my darlings. Suddenly realised how to end the novel in a convincing way, which was wonderful. I felt that you looked long and hard and gave advice that was thoughtful and considered and fairly easy to assimilate.” – Jackie Jacques, UK, author of Someone to Watch Over Me, Piatkus Books.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this course. I learned basic concepts, and got specific ideas for ways to improve my own work. The site worked very well, no problems. It was easy to navigate and was well organized. I enjoyed reading the general discussions, liked the diversity of opinions. The weekly sessions were all useful, and took me through the basics of novel writing, from using description to developing character to pacing the plot. The format of completing a weekly task, then posting it for the group, then giving and receiving feedback, kept me on track.The order of the sessions was particularly well thought out, starting with a general overview of our original plan (in a fun way!), and ending with a map of where we now intend to go. The most useful for me was week #4, structure because I hadn’t really considered that enough before. The most daunting was week #6, chapter, because it suddenly brought all the various elements together. I was amazed at all the thoughtful and insightful comments I received. There’s an opportunity to learn from both giving and receiving feedback. It was nice to have a small group because it takes a fair amount of time to read others’ work – although I found taking time to read critically was valuable to me as a writer.” – Anna Wozniak, Victoria, 2009.

“I really enjoyed the course. Working fulltime and writing on the subway to and from work meant that the online/anytime schedule really helped. The site does everything it needs to do in a simple easy to understand format. The best insight I received was on the pacing and detail of the exercises where you had us create scenes. I really enjoyed your approach as well as learning which authors you follow & respect and I really appreciated your comments on my chapter – extremely useful. Thanks for your invaluable feedback and advice.” – Francis Vanderhoven, Toronto, 2009

“My overall feeling about your course is that it was wonderful. I finally saw the light and that was thanks to your repeated comments that I had to concentrate on people doing and thinking things. The course worked extremely well for me and I enjoyed everything about it. The group I was in worked fine for me. Their comments on my work were thought-provoking and helped goad me on to make improvements, but your comments were my break-through. I suddenly feel I know exactly what I should be doing. I just have to get busy and do it.

Regarding structure and function of the site, it suited me just fine. I would rate it vg and I would also rate the weekly sessions and exercises vg. It seemed to me they led me on in a logical manner until I finally saw the light.” – Catharine Dixon, Ontario.

“I came to the workout with an idea and now have the first chapter and a clear path to the end.” – Michelle Glennie, Montreal, 2009.

“The course far exceeded my expectations. With each exercise I found I moved a step forward, which, in my experience of this difficult process, is quite an accomplishment. In writing my own submissions, I was forced to face some of my weaknesses, which I do a ridiculously good job of ignoring. Reading the submissions of my group members, was instructive as well – it’s so much easier to spot the errors in the writing of others. That having been said, it also makes it easier to return to your own work and face the same issues with a renewed understanding. The site was very user friendly. In terms of your responses it worked well for you to wait until we’d all had our say. You have a real talent for cutting to the quick in a most charming and supportive manner. It’s quite astonishing how you do it.” – Renate Mohr, Ottawa, 2009.

“It was absolutely fabulous!! I found it all both fascinating and extremely useful, and I’m SO glad I signed up for it. I came to love the women in my group and I hope to keep in touch with them. Our projects were certainly different, but there was a lot of overlap and connection. They were all very insightful and supportive, keen-eyed but kind; they pointed out many useful elements in my work and I also really learned from reading their comments on everyone else’s work.I am a bit of a techno-peasant but even I found my way around the site after a while. Whenever you suggested questions (to ask of ourselves or the others) I found they provided important keys into the writing. Nothing was redundant. I learned a tremendous amount from the group’s posts, both on my work and on everybody else’s. Also, analyzing their work was great for stretching my novelizing (sorry!) muscles. Although I’ve been editing books for years, they’ve mostly been non-fiction, so scrutinizing things like plot structure and point of view were somewhat new to me. You always had very useful and relevant things to say. I don’t know how you had time to do it all!:” – Marlyn Horsdal, editor, Salt Spring Island, BC. Marlyn’s novel  Sweetness from Ashes  was published by Brindle & Glass in 2010.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Nadine Kilkenny May 5, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Hi Kathy,

I took your online CREW 120 course and really liked it. I have the beginning of a novel, and would really like to take your online course Workout for the Novel in the fall. If there is a list, please put me on it.

Thanks,
Nadine

kathy May 5, 2010 at 7:36 pm

There is a list, and you are on… I look forward to working with you again, and will be in touch at the end of the summer.

Tara Hullah May 19, 2010 at 2:06 am

I tremendously enjoyed Crew120 as well. I am interested in taking this novel course for my story when it is available because there is a tornado of ideas to strategically organize. Thanks again, you really gave me confidence to write- something I enjoy but have never really embraced.

Tara

Ahava Shira June 14, 2010 at 4:52 am

Hi Kathy

I’d like to be put on the list for the fall novel writing course.

Thanks,

Ahava Shira

kathy July 3, 2010 at 5:06 am

many thanks for your interest. I’ll do a mail out soon. I’m pretty sure now that the start date will be October 8th, running for 8 sessions.

Jackie Jacques July 12, 2010 at 1:00 am

The crime novel I’m currently writing needs a good ‘going over’. I believe it would benefit from the Kathy Page treatment.

Love Jackie

Sarah Hegarty July 12, 2010 at 2:39 am

Hi Kathy,
Jane Rusbridge recommended your course to me – I’ve completed a novel, sent it to agents and received some(!) positive rejections… have started re-drafting, and am aware the end definitely needs re-working. In the meantime I’m working on my short stories, and have had one published and one longlisted for a prize. I feel I am getting bits and pieces right, but would really benefit from a fresh eye on my work. Do you think your novel course would be appropriate? If so, please put me on your list!
Best wishes, Sarah Hegarty

Molly Letkeman July 12, 2010 at 5:52 am

Kathy, I am so pleased to learn of this October workshop. It’s exactly what I need, and the timing couldn’t be better, especially as I am eager to participate in the NaNoWriMo Frenzy in November.

Great to see some of my CREW120 classmates here, as well. Hi, and hope you’re enjoying the summer.

See you in “class.”

Molly

kathy July 12, 2010 at 9:30 am

Hi Sarah, good to hear from you. Each time so far, I’ve had real mix of writers – some just beginning to map out their idea, others with a draft, or halfway through. Everyone does the same work.
What it would offer is a chance for you to look at the main elements of your novel through a series of different perspectives – think of it almost as an MOT (for the non Brits here MOT = MInistry of Transport Test, mandatory for older vehicles in the UK) and see where changes might be made….

kathy July 12, 2010 at 9:35 am

Hello again, Molly, Nadine, Jackie, Tara and Ahava.. It’s great to see this class building up already. I’ll email enrolment forms soonish. Have a great summer – and pass the word to writers you know.

Sarah Hegarty July 13, 2010 at 1:43 am

An MOT sounds just what I need! I’ll look forward to receiving enrolment form. Thanks, Sarah

Carrie July 17, 2010 at 10:34 am

It’s a CREW 120 reunion! Definitely interested in taking this course – sounds like a good way to get me off my butt and finishing the first draft of the Novel. Looking forward to receiving an enrolment form. Thanks!
C

Sharon Kuroyama August 17, 2010 at 9:00 am

Hello Kathy. I was interested in this on-line course last year but it was full when I went to sign up. Are there still spots left for this fall?

Sharon

kathy August 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Sorry if you were somehow left off my email list. But yes, there are places left & I’ll send you and enrolment form.

Francis Vanden Hoven September 10, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Kathy,

Just checked your website and I was very excited that you are offering another online course.
I really enjoyed your online course Feb 2009 and I have a new manuscript 90% through first draft.

Please let me know if you have any available space for Oct 8, 2010.
Congrats on the successful launch of The Find!

Best Regards,
Francis

kathy September 10, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Good to hear form you again and congrats on the new book. I do have a few places left. I’ll be adding a unit on dialogue, but other than that, the course is more or less the same.

susan palmer September 27, 2010 at 7:48 am

Kathy,

I would love to sign up for the novel writing course if it is still possible to get in. Thank you very much!

Susan Palmer

kathy September 27, 2010 at 11:03 am

Yes – will be good to work with you again. I think there are 2 places left now. Again, if anyone is interested, please contact me first, and by the end of this week.

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