Novel in a Year Class

2020 IS NOW FULL. WE ARE NOW SIGNING UP FOR 2021 AT STORYVILLE STUDIO.

Instructor: Richard Thomas
Email: storyvillerichard@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! Sign up now at Storyville Studio.

Thanks,
Richard

Interview: Richard Thomas at Slit Your Wrists

Laurance Kitts did an excellent job of interviewing me over at Slit Your Wrists Magazine. Yeah, they’re not for the faint of heart, but they do good work. They published one of my stories, “Vision Quest” in their sister publication, Surreal Grotesque, and did a beautiful job of layout and design. We talked about my next book, Disintegration, as well as upcoming short story collections with Kraken Press and Snubnose Press, my influences, what made me decide to write in the first place, my first book, Transubstantiate, the bonus chapter about Madison in the signed/limited edition, and much more. And Laurance is an excellent writer himself, keep an eye out for his work, as well.

My review of The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock is live at The Nervous Breakdown

The first time I met Donald Ray Pollock was at a reading he did opening up for Chuck Palahniuk in St. Louis. It was a wild night, and I dragged my younger brother Bill out with me—he’d never seen Palahniuk read before. The event was packed, and the audience couldn’t have been more hip, more alive, more excited. I was there to see Chuck, but I’d picked up Knockemstiff a month before, the interlinked stories set in Ohio, and had been blown away. After Chuck got done tossing blow up dolls into the crowd, answering questions, and signing books, the crowd thinned out. When I was done getting my book signed, I wandered over to the short line in front of Don and had him sign my copy of Knockemstiff. He couldn’t have been a nicer guy, very kind and gracious. He was getting his MFA too—him at Ohio State University, and me at the low-res program down at Murray State University in Kentucky. I had no idea that he would go on to win many awards for that book, but it was the start of a conversation, a relationship, with one of the most talented and generous authors I know. Don has always made the time to support me and my work (he blurbed my story “Victimized” an esingle at Amazon, and would have blurbed my debut novel Transubstantiate if my press hadn’t screwed up). I was thrilled to get this from him:

“[‘Victimized’ is] as tough, ass-kicking and twisted as fiction gets. Imagine a Dear John letter that Hitler might have written to Lucifer right before he blew his brains out. Then crank things up ten notches.” –Donald Ray Pollock

The Devil All the Time builds on the rural depression and debauchery that is in Knockemstiff, taking these misfits out on the road where killing is a sport, and the various delinquents go about their dark lives with a sense of dread and desperation. Read the full review over at The Nervous Breakdown. Don is one hell of an author. Pick up both of his books, I recommend them highly.

I didn’t list other voices in my review of TDATT, but I thought of people like Benjamin Percy, Ron Rash, Willam Gay, Flannery O’Connor, Denis Johnson, and Daniel Woodrell, to name a few.

Podcasts – An Update of My Recorded Work

If you’re not absolutely sick of hearing my voice, here’s some stuff to consider—podcasts! With so much going on these days, I thought I’d post up some of my podcasts that I’ve done over the last couple of years. Two places that you should for sure keep on your lists, and subscribe to if possible (iTunes, etc.) are the Velvet Podcast series and the Booked Podcasts,who are currently running a series on the Warmed and Bound authors. Lots of great information and entertainment at both of these sites, so be sure to bookmark, get your RSS Feed on, whatever.

1. Episode 16: Great Writers Edit. Bad Writers Discuss Editing on a Podcast.

I join authors Caleb J. Ross (Stranger Will), Gordon Highland (Major Inversions) and Gavin Pate (The Way to Get Here). Nobody enjoys editing, but we all go at it differently.
Don’t mind the tornadoes in the background. I was hiding in the basement for a bit, if you notice me dropping off the recording for awhile.

VELVET PODCAST 016

2. Richard Thomas Booked Podcast Inverview

I join Livius Nedin and Robb Ols0n over at Booked Podcast to talk about Warmed and Bound, and a lot of other stuff: my novel Transubstantiate,
The Cult, Speedloader and my reviewing at The Nervous Breakdown. Great time.

BOOKED PODCAST SESSION 023

3. Episode 008: Don’t Pull My Hair Unless You Mean It

I join writers Nik Korpon (Stay God), Pela Via (Warmed and Bound) and Nic Young to grind out the topic of sex and violence in fiction
and their complex relationship to sadistic bedfellows, love and shock.

VELVET PODCAST 008

4. AWP Live Reading at Leela’s (Denver, Colorado)

Live reading from my novel Transubstantiate.

DENVER READING

5. BOOKS AND BOOZE

Questions and answers. You know the drill.

Kind words about Transubstantiate at Barnes and Noble.

Some very kind words from Jed Ayers (Noir at the Bar in St. Louis) about Transubstantiate in his Barnes and Noble column today, when talking about The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larson (which looks like a great book). I’m honored to be mentioned in the same article as so many fantastic voices. And TDDS looks like my kind of novel. Be sure to check it out. Just follow the link above.

Shroud Magazine gives Transubstantiate a great review.

Great review for the book over at Shroud Magazine (love these guys) but some harsh criticism for the typesetting and cover art.

Transubstantiate, when all the pieces fall into place, is an intricate and layered look at action and consequence, the struggle between mislaid control and frustrated effort of self-proclaimed gods of men and the people caught up in the maelstrom, told in a way that will make your head spin.”
–Anton Cancre

Excerpts from Transubstantiate in Vain #9

NOTE: Issue 9 is NOW OUT!

Vain does such beautiful work.  Some excerpts from my novel Transubstantiate are in here (I originally published my short story “Underground Wonderbound” a naughty little tale about a sex club in Issue #5 with Vain in 2009) as well as some beautiful artwork. I’ll also make an announcement when it actually releases, but they don’t make many of these, and do them all by hand, so be sure to get one. #9 has to do with the “fantastical” and my excerpts are the more surreal and fantastic from the book.