Novel in a Year Class

2019 IS FULL. WE ARE NOW SIGNING UP FOR 2020.

Instructor: Richard Thomas
Email: writingwithrichard@gmail.com
Skype: richardgthomas3
Class Hours: Fourth Thursday of each month, 3 hours, 7:00 to 10:00 PM CST.
Length: 52 Weeks
Class Size: 8 students

COURSE STATEMENT:

Are you ready to take the next step? I constantly talk about writing short stories, finding your voice, and developing as an author. That’s all very important. But the end goal for many of us is to write a novel (hopefully LOTS of novels). That’s probably the best way to access innovative small presses, and the most common path to acquiring an agent, and landing at one of the big five publishers (and selling your film rights). This class will cover pre-writing (development), writing, editing, and submitting. The end goal is to have a novel over 66,000 words by the end of the year. Not only have I written three novels, but I’ve edited and helped other authors get their work published. The reason I’m teaching this class is to be there to help others go through the process—surrounded by talented peers, and with a safety net and published author to help guide, nudge, push, and advise.

COURSE OBJECTIVE:

To outline, write, edit, and submit a novel in one year.

I’d add PUBLISH here, but we all know the submission process can take months, or even a year (or longer) not to mention the editing, marketing, design, and promotion that will come once you’ve sold that book.

BOOKS REQUIRED:

None. But if you’re looking for good books on the craft, here are my four favorites: On Writing by Stephen King, Writing 21st Century Fiction by Donald Maass, Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer, and Thrill Me! by Benjamin Percy.

OVERVIEW:

There are two ways you can come to this class—with a novel written, or not. I will accept students either way. I expect that MOST will come to class with nothing written yet (aside from some notes, ideas, and maybe a handful of scenes). Either way, here are my thoughts and notes on how the year will play out.

You will have daily prompts. Those will be on Facebook, in a private, secret group. We will meet via Skype once a month for about three hours, where each author will get 20 MINUTES to talk about any aspect of their novel. You can talk about what is blocking you, exciting you, or eluding you. You can toss out ideas about the plot, questions about clarity, or how you might subvert your genre—you name it. There will be 12 Skype calls a year.

January—Development and Outline (one month)

We will spend the first month using daily prompts to sketch out your book. We will talk about a wide range of topics, including but not limited to: narrative hook, inciting incidents, plot, character, setting, internal and external conflicts, tension, cast, genre, theme, expectations, innovation, structure, format, climax, resolution, and denouement. (Sound familiar?) If you already have a novel written, you will use the daily prompts to check your work, and go deeper. At the end of the month you will share your content with the class, and give feedback to your peers in a timely manner (a week for outlines, please).

February through June—Writing (six months)

This is where the rubber meets the road. I will give you daily prompts that will push you to write. The early prompts will be about the beginning of the novel—the hooks, the setup, the cast of characters, the pace, early foreshadowing, etc. Then we will look at how the plot unfolds, and how deep you go with secondary plots, themes, and characters. As the book grows we will continuously look at the development of your characters, how we feel about them, sympathy and empathy, how the protagonist/s resonate, the enemy and other villains, and overall voice, tension, and depth of story. As we approach the end, we will make sure this story is staying true to character, surprising us along the way, and being as innovating, fresh, and personal as is possible. All of this is leading to that powerful ending—the climax, resolution, change, and denouement. Does it all add up? Does it work? How do we feel? And what was the journey like? Did it give us everything it promised? If not, then that’s the next stage—editing. You will turn in 11,000 words a month (that’s only about 350 words a day). Our goal is to get you over 65,000 words for the year. Most presses want at least 60,000 for a novel. At the end of the month you will share your content with the class, and give feedback to your peers in a timely manner (a month for this writing and developmental editing, please, also known as a read and respond). If you already have a novel written, you will use the daily prompts to check your work, and go deeper.

July through November—Editing (five months)

Okay, this is not only the most painful part of the process (in my opinion) but also the most exciting. What, you doubt me? This is where you give your novel an honest evaluation, listen to your classmates, and trim the fat. There is something hypnotic and invigorating about looking at each chapter and seeing what works (which is probably MOST of it) and then tweaking, trimming, editing, and polishing—making each section sing. Then we get to go through a number of times to check the grammar, make sure the tense stays consistent, develop the setting (all five senses), enhance the feelings we have about our characters, and make sure their actions match their morality and abilities, while not only embracing the genre/s you are writing in, but subvert those expectations. If you promise us a cheeseburger, you better deliver, but the bun, the meat, the toppings—that’s where you can make it your own. You will not turn in edits each month, but will instead work toward a goal of a final, polished novel, which you WILL share with your peers. (Final feedback from YOU is another read and respond, talking about the overall experience, but from me, it will be a full line-by-line edit.)

December—Submission

You didn’t think I’d abandon you after it was all written, did you? This is where we will do research on small presses, agents, and the big five publishers (and their imprints). We will use a variety of tools and resources to figure out where to send your work. And then you will SEND YOUR BOOK OUT! (My final edits are due back to you 30 to 60 days after the class ends. I need time to do my best work, but I also don’t want to hold you up.)

WHO IS THIS CLASS FOR:

  1. Advanced students who are looking to take their writing to the next level.
  2. Experienced authors who have penned many successful short stories, and/or published widely, and are eager to take on the long form. They should have a strong sense of their voice (including strengths and weaknesses).
  3. Authors who are firmly entrenched in one genre, and feel they have a strong understanding of what is expected and/or those looking to subvert the expectations of that genre.
  4. Authors who are writing cross-genre and/or hybrid fiction, and are looking to break the mold and innovate across those genres.
  5. Writers who have the time and discipline to commit an entire year of planning, writing, editing, and submitting this novel.
  6. Authors who are excited about THIS BOOK and are willing to put their blood, sweat, and tears into this narrative. Story should have the depth to go 66,000 words or more.
  7. Writers who have enjoyed my other classes.
  8. Author who have enjoyed my own writing, editing, and publishing (including Gamut and Dark House Press).

PAST SUCCESS:

Other authors and clients I’ve worked with have sold novels to Angry Robot Books, JournalStone, Crystal Lake Publishing, One Eye Press, Post Mortem Press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, Kraken Press, and Perfect Edge Books. Many writers have also landed agents after working with me. Work I’ve edited has been nominated for the following awards and prizes: Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, Thriller, Nebula, Folio, and Pushcart.

COST/FINANCING:

This was tricky, but basically what I wanted to do was look at my rates for a developmental edit ($4/page) of a novel, as well as a line-by-line edit of a novel ($8/page), and then the class. For 66,000 words, if the average page is 250 words that’s a 264-page novel. So those costs would be $1,056 + $2,112 = $3,168. My workshops are $800 for 16 weeks and my Dark Fiction Class is $1,200 for 16 weeks, so you COULD extrapolate those out to between $2,400 and $3,600 a year. That would put the grand total at somewhere between $4,268 and $6,768. I decided to price it at $5,000. Here are the discounts:

  1. Full Price (with payment plan): $5,000
    (12 months—$416/month; 24 months—$208/month)
  2. Past Student (10% off, with payment plan): $4,500
    (12 months—$375/month; 24 months—$187.50/month)
  3. Past Student (20% off, paid in full): $4,000

For payment plans, there are two obvious options—12 months or 24 months. If you’d like to have the class paid off in full before we start, do 12 months. If you need to stretch it as far as possible to get the lowest monthly rate, do 24 months. I’m willing to work with you all to make this possible. All payments are by Paypal invoice. Other means are possible as well.

NOTE: If your novel goes over 66,000 words, I will bill for the additional length. So, in the developmental stage, that’s at $4/page, which I will bill when we go over (billed in June). With the finished novel, that’s at $8/page, billed when I turn in the completed edits (January or February of 2020). So, if the developmental edit ends up at 70,000 words, I’d bill an additional $64. And if the final manuscripts balloons up to 76,000 that would be an additional invoice for $320 (due upon receipt of the full edit).  

FINAL THOUGHTS

I think this class will go a long way toward making your novel happen. Obviously, the heavy lifting is on your end—I can’t write the book for you. But by having my input and guidance during the conception, writing, editing, and submission, I think your chances for success are very high. And the input of your peers is valuable as well. I was part of a similar group, Write Club, for many years, and it helped me a lot when I was writing Transubstantiate and Disintegration. Also, I won’t accept any students that I don’t think are ready to do this. You must have the determination, the talent, and the imagination.

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions!

Thanks,
Richard

BOOKED Podcast Interview about The Soul Standard

BookedTSS

I finally had a moment to sit down with Robb and Livius to discuss The Soul Standard (Dzanc Books), my latest project, a novel-in-novellas, written with Nik Korpon, Axel Taiari, and Caleb Ross. We talk about how the book came to be, my novella, Golden Geese, how the stories linked up and our process for that overlap, and much more. Stop by and give it a listen. Axel Taiari shares this episode with me, to give us his stories.

To hear Nik and Caleb talk about their stories and process, GO HERE.

To hear the original review by BOOKED, GO HERE.

This is Horror also put up an excellent review, read that HERE, and here’s a quick excerpt:

The Soul Standard is unlike anything else you’re likely to read this year, or this decade. Think Sin City meets Blade Runner meets David Lynch and you’ll begin to have an inkling of what’s in store for you, but only a very small one. These four brilliant authors have brought their collective genius together to paint this unflinchingly violent, oppressively bleak city with the adroitness of world class painters, drawing vivid images on your imagination in varying shades of gray and frequent splashes of red. Dzanc Books has a reputation for only publishing the very highest quality fiction and The Soul Standard does nothing to tarnish that rep.”

Description:

Across four different districts of a city that has torn itself to shreds, four different interweaving tales (each written by a different author) play out. In “Four Corners,” a morally dubious banker must keep his employer happy at any cost. The next story, “Punhos Sagrados,” concerns a boxer who finds himself torn between honor and the woman he loves. “Golden Geese” follows a hardened criminal with a terrifying condition who must come to terms with the life he’s led. Finally, “Jamais Vu” provides a stunning denouement as a man searches endlessly for his missing daughter, a task which is complicated by a peculiar condition: his inability to recognize faces. Told in rugged, bare-knuckled prose, The Soul Standard is a nonstop thrill-ride down the darkened avenues and through the shadowed alleys of a nightmare town.

My third novel, Breaker (Random House Alibi) is out TODAY!

BREAKER_Out

Today is the release day for my third novel, Breaker (Random House Alibi). It’s also the second book in the Windy City Dark Mystery series, but it’s a stand-alone title, so you don’t have to read Disintegration (but I hope you will). I hope you enjoy it!

DESCRIPTION: Living alone in the dusty apartment where he grew up, Ray Nelson is a mystery to his neighbors and an unbeatable foe to the brutal men he fights in the ring for money. But a life defined by sinister secrets doesn’t stop Ray from trying to do the right thing for his dangerously high-flying sister. Or for Natalie, the young girl living next door. As a sadistic murderer’s ominous white van trolls for young victims throughout the Windy City, Ray is determined to protect Natalie from both predators and a bleak future. When she sees a bruised and beaten Ray return from late-night fights, Natalie spots a kindred spirit. Still, she cannot imagine the darkness just beneath, or what’s hidden in the rooms he calls home. Now, as the horrors of his own past creep back to life with a twisted vengeance, Ray may not even be able to save himself.

REVIEWS: “…this is a hard book to put down…” “…this guy is fantastic, with gripping figurative language…” “…the alleyways are a bit darker, the white vans more ominous, the strays more starving, and the snow a little colder…” “…a gripping story…” “…this story got under my skin and keeps nudging at me to spread the word…” “Richard Thomas shows that he is a master of neo-noir fiction and that he understands the psyche of broken and damaged people…” “…do NOT miss this one…” “…worth reading just for the sheer beauty of expression…”

BLURBS: “Richard Thomas’s Breaker is a modern noir fever dream: brutal, lyrical, evocative. But it also exhibits surprising tenderness—its shattered characters find strength in one another, and beauty in the pattern of the cracks.”—Chris Holm, author of The Killing Kind “Gritty, raw, powerful, visceral—that’s all you need to know about Richard Thomas’s novel Breaker. It’s a ‘gotta read this’ book.”—Les Edgerton, author of The Genuine, Imitation, Plastic Kidnapping

Curbside Splendor and Dark House Press named “Best Indie Book Publisher” by Chicago Magazine

 

In case you missed it, Curbside Splendor (and Dark House Press, which I run) were just named Chicago Magazine’s, “Best Indie Book Publisher.” Great article in the magazine, and online. Our three titles for the year, THE NEW BLACK, which I edited, ECHO LAKE by Letitia Trent, and AFTER THE PEOPLE LIGHTS HAVE GONE OFF by Stephen Graham Jones, are pictured in the story. Honored.

Up in 2015 is EXIGENCIES, another neo-noir anthology I’m editing (all new stories), the first book in the Joshua City Trilogy, THE DOORS YOU MARK ARE YOUR OWN by Okla Eliott and Raul Clement, and Vile Men by Rebecca Jones-Howe. 2016 will give us Steve Himmer’s SCRATCH. More news to come.

I’ve signed with Random House Alibi for TWO BOOKS.

BIG NEWS! I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve signed with Random House Alibi for a two-book deal. The first book is DISINTEGRATION—the second is still TBD. This will only be available in eBook format, to start. For those that know me, you’ve been hearing about this book for many (six?) years—a neo-noir transgressive thriller that is a mix of Dexter and Falling Down, the story of a man who sees his family die in a car crash right in front of him, and falls apart. I think it’s some of my best work to date. Special thanks to my agent, Paula Munier for supporting me, and believing in my voice, and this novel. I’m really excited to work with Dana Isaacson, my editor at RHA, as well—he’s been at Random House for many years, and has done a lot of great work for them. There is a target release date of May 2015. Thank you all of my friends and peers that kept telling me this book would find a home. That day has come.

My review of Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye by Paul Tremblay is live at The Nervous Breakdown

I’ve been a fan of Paul Tremblay for a couple years now. It started with a story here, a story there, and then I picked up some of his crime/mystery work. But I don’t think I really became a serious fan until I absorbed his powerful writing in the collection, In the Mean Time. It blew me away. Ever since, I’ve been a diehard fan. He’s a gifted author, but also an editor, and very supportive of other authors as well. This title, Swallowing a Donkey’s Eye (ChiZine Publications) is a satirical look at a dystopian society where Farm and City dominate the landscape. The powerful element of satire is truth, and hidden behind the humor is a dark, layered and touching story. Check out the full review for more information.

My review of My Only Wife by Jac Jemc is now live at The Nervous Breakdown.

If you are looking for a unique voice, then you’ve found it. Jac Jemc has a poet’s heart, and she brings that POV to her longer fiction. My Only Wife (Dzanc Books) is a haunting, touching and ultimately unsettling novel. I loved it. For the full review, head over to The Nervous Breakdown. Also, Dzanc Books is one of the best independent publishers out there. I’ve linked this book to Amazon, but you can also purchase directly from Dzanc. Be sure to check out some of their other titles, and their imprints, Starcherone, Other Voices, and Black Lawrence Press (where I’ll be editing an anthology out in 2014).