Fall 2003
Fully Enrolled

HUMS 648
"The Big Breath:" A Novel-Writing Workshop

Basch,Rachel N.

09/08/2003 - 12/13/2003
Wednesday 06:00 PM - 09:00 PM

Olin Library 327B

William Gass called the novelist ?a big-breath writer.? This workshop is a conditioning course for anyone game enough to sign on for the marathon that is the writing of a novel. Whether one is in possession of a completed draft of a novel or at the beginning stages of plotting out a longer work, this course will provide essential technical and artistic guidance. John Gardner considered ?novel-writing not so much a profession as a ... way, an alternative to ordinary life-in-the-world.? The cooperative of the workshop will offer the most necessary of all benefits to one engaged in the ?way,??community.

E.L. Doctorow compared writing a novel to driving at night. In order to complete the journey, one need only see the bit of road just ahead. The aim of this workshop is to illuminate the whole highway. Students will be asked to bring in chapters of their works-in-progress for critique by the class. The primary focus will be on identifying and crafting a viable structure for the novel, as well as developing complex characters powerful enough to generate palpable, sustainable tension. Throughout the term, we will look at published work in an attempt to uncover the components that make great novels sing. Among the writers whose work we will study are: Edith Wharton, Graham Greene, John Updike, Tim O?Brien, Ron Hansen, Jane Smiley, Alice McDermott, and Susan Minot.

Rachel Basch (B.A. Wesleyan University; M.A. New York University) is the author of two novels. The Passion of Reverend Nash (W.W. Norton) was named one of the five best novels of 2003 by The Christian Science Monitor. Degrees of Love (W.W. Norton, Harper Paperbacks) was translated into Dutch and German and was a selection of The Hartford Courant's Book Club. Basch's non-fiction has appeared in Parenting and on The Huffington Post, and she has reviewed books for The Washington Post Book World. Basch was a 2011 MacDowell Colony Fellow. She recently received the William Van Wert fiction prize for an excerpt from her new novel, The Listener. She currently teaches in Fairfield University's MFA program.


Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 15

Texts to purchase for this course:

Register for Courses

Contact glsinquire@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. 
Copyright Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459