right here, write now

Creating the Novel: A Seven-Week Writing Seminar

Creating the Novel

This seminar is for beginners and mid-career authors of mainstream as well as genre novels. Topics include concept, character growth, plot progression, scenes, structure, narrative tools and staying focused. Each session includes an hour of instruction and an hour’s critique of a student manuscript by the instructor and the other five students. The class is limited to six students.

The class is intended for writers wishing to pursue a publishing career. The sessions will be designed to deepen students’ abilities to evaluate their writing with an eye to marketplace considerations as well as compelling fictional elements.

Comments from past students:

“Inspiring! Includes knowledge on everything from the writing life to the entire process of creating your best and destined novel (from brainstorming to revising). Kay is a wonderful facilitator for all, beginners through published authors. Really hoping to experience this again!” — Susan

“I feel so prepared and encouraged to revise my current work and to start another novel. And I feel connected to others following their own writing paths.” –Marlene

DATES: Sessions will be held every other Wednesday, February 13 through May 8.

TIME: 6:30 – 8:30 PM

PLACE: Kay Kenyon’s home

COST: $300


•   Must apply to attend. (See below: “To Apply for the Class”)

•   Membership in Write on the River. Join here.

•   Must be 18 years of age or older.

•   Have at least 30 pages of a novel written and ready for critique.

•   For six of the seven sessions, commit to reading 30-40 pages of a classmate’s manuscript, and be prepared to spend 7-8 minutes in verbal critique of each session’s manuscript.

•   Attend all sessions and be open to all fiction genres.

CANCELLATION IF NEEDED: If the class is not filled by January 25, the class will be cancelled, and payments already made will be refunded.


Kay Kenyon is a novelist with three recent novels from Simon & Schuster. 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 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. More about Kay here.


 February 13. 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 27. The engine of the novel: Character.

What makes a major character memorable? A look at inner journey, relation to plot problem, personality, backstory and character growth. As well, we will look at elements of the supporting cast. Critique: manuscript #1.

March 13. The shape of the novel: Acts, meaning, and movement.

The four stages of character arc and how they relate to the plot. The mission of each act lights the way to your major character’s choices on the journey. How structure guides pacing and rising intensity. Critique: manuscript #2.

March 27. Plot development.

A closer look at how turning points guide us. A consideration of setting, the forces of opposition, the plot contributions of the supporting cast and practical planning tips. Critique: manuscript #3.

April 10. Plot execution.

We’ll look at strategies to keep the story compelling with tools such as classic openings, subplots, disinformation and flashbacks. As well, we’ll drill down on the essential tool of scenes and the vital elements that comprise them. Critique: manuscript #4.

April 24. Narrative techniques.

We’ll concentrate on two of the most important tools of the novel: point of view and dialogue. A consideration of the pros and cons of POV choices, and the path to believable, dramatic dialogue. Critique: manuscript #5.

May 8. Revision and staying on target.

Principles of story revision. Assessing feedback. 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.

TO APPLY FOR THE CLASS: (Deadline is January 15th)

•   Send seminar coordinator Melody Kreimes an email at mkreimes@nwi.net with the following information:

•   A brief description of your writing experience and your career hopes.

•   Your novel’s genre and title,

•   Whether it is a children’s, middle grade or adult novel.

•   The opening fifteen pages of your novel as a Word attachment. Use 12 pt Times New Roman font, double space, one-inch margins, and put your name on every page. To make your excerpt easier to read, please use standard manuscript format. (Explained here.)

•   The deadline for receipt of your email with the above information is January 15th.

•   By January 20th we’ll notify applicants if they’ve been selected to participate in the class.

•   Students will be sent a payment link to submit payment before January 25th.

•   At that time if you are not yet a member, you’ll need to join Write on the River.

Kay regrets that she will be unable to make agent recommendations or read full manuscripts.


Thank you for your interest! If you have questions, you can contact Melody at mkreimes@nwi.net.