right here, write now

Creating the Novel: A Seven-Week Writing Seminar

Creating the Novel

Note: This Seminar is now FULL. If you’d like to be added to the Waiting List, please email Kay at tko@kaykenyon.com

Write On The River presents a seven-week writing seminar from Kay Kenyon.
This seminar is for beginners and mid-career authors of mainstream as well as genre novels. Topics will include concept, character growth, plot progression, scenes,structure, narrative tools and staying focused.
Each session will include an hour of instruction and an hour’s critique of a student manuscript by the instructor and the other five students. Following the seminar’s conclusion, participants can stay in touch with the instructor and each other in a private on-line chat room.

DATES: First session is on Thursday, February 15 (to avoid Valentines Day) and will run every other week after that on Wednesdays until May 9.
TIME: 7:00 – 9:00 PM.
COST: $250
 Membership in Write on the River. Join here.
 Must be 18 years of age or older.
 At least 30 pages of a novel ready for critique. (May submit up to 40 pages.)
 For six of the seven sessions, print out and read 30-40 pages of a classmate’s manuscript, and be prepared to spend 7-8 minutes in verbal critique of each session’s manuscript.
 To get the full benefit of critiques, keep an open mind about different genres. Although we all have preferences for what we like to read and write, storytelling techniques are much the same across the categories of fiction.
 Commit to attending all sessions.
REGISTRATION: Registration open until filled. If the six spaces are not filled by February 1, the class will be cancelled and payments refunded.  Note: This Seminar is now FULL. If you’d like to be added to the Waiting List, please email Kay at tko@kaykenyon.com




Kay Kenyon is a novelist with three novels published or forthcoming from Simon & Schuster. In a starred review, Publishers Weekly called her most recent novel, At the Table of Wolves, “A superb adventure”; During her twenty years in publishing, she has sold fifteen novels to major publishers and numerous short stories to anthologies. She has taught at the Pacific Northwest
Writers Conference, the Willamette Writers Conference, Surrey Writers Conference, and Write On The River. She has been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, the John W. Campbell Award, the Endeavour Award, and twice for the American Library Association Reading List Awards. Kay is a founding member of Write On The River.


A novel proceeds from moment to moment, sentence to sentence, and scene to scene. But the novel is also a whole experience, a journey from unknowing (on the part of the major character) to discovery. In other words, it is a story. How do we create a sense of the whole when we are inevitably proceeding from page to page? There is no set way, but there are classic approaches that offer valuable guidance. Using time-honored storytelling techniques, we can find our way forward to create a believable, memorable journey that the reader can enjoy and even learn from.
To that end, this seminar will provide an overview of the traditional tools of novel writing. My challenge as an instructor is to present story techniques clearly and also to help students address issues. My hope is that you’ll have many a-ha! moments during our seven weeks together and that you’ll discover opportunities in your story to bring what you already know, and what you
will learn in class, to bear.
Stories are not only told by writers, they are experienced by readers. That’s why each class will include manuscript critiques. The feedback can’t tell you what to change and what to keep; it can only shed light on how another human being (actually, the six of us) have reacted to what you wrote. Was there confusion, interest, disappointment, impatience, or emotional connection? We don’t gather in critique to deliver conclusions, problem solve, or pass judgment. We simply read and express our experience of that read. The writer should feel free to accept or reject; learn, laugh, or leave it be. No one can tell you for sure what you should write.
It’s your story. Your exciting privilege is to make all the decisions. Yes, it can be intimidating, but the reward is that you are the sole artist of your creation. We’re here to help, to shine what light we can onto an exhilarating journey. It will be instructive at many levels. And it will be fun.
Join me and five of your fellow travelers for Creating the Novel! — Kay



February 15. The foundation of story.
What is a story, and why do we read them? We consider the fundamentals of the novel in the broadest sense, considering questions of concept, theme, character and originality.
February 28. The engine of the novel: Character.
What makes the major character memorable? A look at inner journey, personality, backstory, and character growth. We’ll address the supporting cast and consider the forces of opposition.
Critique: Manuscript #1.
March 14. The shape of the novel: Acts, meaning, and movement.
The four stages of character arc and how it relates to the plot. Uses of the turning points of the novel: plot points I and II, midpoint, and climax. How structure guides your story choices.
Critique: Manuscript #2.
March 28. Plot development.

This session focuses on the basics of constructing the plot, including idea generation, rising action, the interplay of protagonist and antagonist, devices to apply pressure and a consideration of the satisfying ending. Critique: Manuscript #3.
April 11. Plot execution.
We’ll look at strategies to keep the story fresh, cogent, and meaningful with tools such as pacing, flashbacks, information, surprise and revelation. Discover the essential tool of scenes and the vital elements that comprise them. Critique: Manuscript #4.
April 25. Narrative techniques.
We’ll delve into the more fine-grained tools of the novel such as point-of- view, subplots, foreshadowing, withholding, openings, exits, and dialogue. Critique: Manuscript #5.
May 9. Staying on target.
The novel as a journey: what has shifted, what is the story trying to tell you? We will learn some diagnostics to use in evaluating needed changes. Lastly, we’ll discover some tracking tools that will keep us from getting lost in the novel. Critique: Manuscript #6.

Note: This Seminar is now FULL. If you’d like to be added to the Waiting List, please email Kay at tko@kaykenyon.com