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“Writing a novel is like trying to find your way out of a forest without a compass,” say instructor Michael David Lukas. “Or maybe it’s like whittling with a butter knife. Or perhaps it’s more like trying to teach yourself heart surgery from a comic book. The point is: it’s hard work. My first novel took me seven years to write and (despite my ardent hopes otherwise) the second hasn’t been much easier or quicker. It’s hard work, writing a novel. But it’s also immensely rewarding and fun. Yes, fun. And it requires (at least) three things: inspiration, craft, and practice.”
Each class will include at least one writing exercise designed to hone your craft—ie. character development, narrative arc, and sense of place. You will also explore point of view, time, and the dynamic tension between scene and summary.
“Class discussions will touch on more practical aspects of the writing life, too,” says Michael, “such as overcoming roadblocks, creating imaginative spaces, and developing a writing practice to fit your schedule and aspirations.
Readings will include excerpts from novels such as Freedom, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, A Visit from the Goon Squad, and Annie John, along with sections from James Wood’s How Fiction Works and a number of author interviews from the archives of The Paris Review.
Through writing exercises, discussions, and close readings, this class will help you develop the tools needed to start (and finish) your novel. Towards the end of the class, you will workshop short pieces from your novels-in-progress, “with an eye towards revision” says Michael, “and charting a course for the future.”
Michael David Lukas has been a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey, a night-shift proofreader in Tel Aviv, and a waiter at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Vermont. His first novel, The Oracle of Stamboul, has been translated into more than a dozen languages and was a finalist for the California Book Award and the NCIBA Book of the Year Award. A graduate of Brown University and the University of Maryland, he is a recipient of scholarships from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Summer Writers’ Institute, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and Elizabeth George Foundation. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Slate, National Geographic Traveler, and Georgia Review. He lives in Oakland, California.