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Novel Writing Project FAQ

Is this program for me?

The Novel Writing Project is designed for advanced writers. This is a broad and malleable description. However, here are some questions for you to consider:

How much time have I spent writing? If you’re considering the Novel Writing Project, you ought to have spent countless hours working on your craft. Though there’s no clear definition of what “countless hours” means, the best qualified candidates will likely have written many short stories, given writing a novel serious consideration and/or effort, and, of course, spent years of their life reading. However, there are those rare exceptions of writers who have not spent years honing their craft who would still qualify. If you have questions about your ability, please contact the teaching artist or the Loft for advice.

How committed am I to this idea? By far and away the most important quality of the prospective student is this: How hard are you willing to work? If the answer to this question is: As hard as I have to in order to finish a novel in the next year, then you’re probably a good candidate.

How will the variances in abilities in the class be accounted for? What if I’m by far the best or worst writer to sign up, won’t that put me at an advantage or disadvantage?

As in any writing endeavor or workshop environment, there are going to be students who are more advanced or more naturally gifted than others. This is inevitable. But one of the great gifts of the workshop environment is that there’s room for everyone. In fact, having writers with a range of skill and experience actually enhances the workshop by making it more dynamic. Don’t worry about being the best or worst writer. Everyone will be treated with the same respect and given the same attention as everyone else.

How much time should I plan on spending on this project?

Most everyone will be balancing many aspects of life. Work, family, hobbies, travel...everyone’s busy. And the prospect of enrolling in such a time consuming project can naturally seem daunting. It's hard to say just how much time will be required of each student because everyone writes and reads at much different speeds. You can, however, expect to write at least 10 pages each week. This means that in 30 weeks, the student will have a first draft of roughly 300 pages or an average novel. That draft can then be revised and edited over the last 20 weeks of the year.

In addition to the writing commitment, we'll be reading seven novels over the first half of the project. Most of the novels are relatively short, and any can be read before the class starts. On top of the novels we’ll read, we’ll also be reading each other’s work. On average, you’ll be asked to read between 2 and 5 hours per week over the course of the Novel Writing Project. Consider this as you remember you’ll be attending class once per week for 3 hours each night in the winter/spring, once per month for a full Saturday in June, July, and August, and again once per week for 12 weeks, 3 hours a night in fall/winter, in addition to the 4 one to one meetings with Peter.

What if I’ve already written a novel, and would like to have it workshopped? Will this class still work for me?

Yes. Though not necessary, having part or all of a novel completed at the time the Project starts is fine. There will be plenty of opportunity to learn from your classmates, visiting writers and publishing professionals, and the teaching artist.

I write genre fiction, is this class still a good fit for me?

Again, yes. Though most of our reading will focus on literary fiction, we’ll discuss other genres as well.

This sounds like a major commitment. Will The Loft or the teaching artist ensure publication of my novel at the end of it?

It is an enormous commitment, and it shouldn’t be entered into lightly. But there’s no such thing as a guarantee in this business, and neither the Loft nor the teaching artist can ensure publication. We will, however, commit to arming you with the knowledge of how to navigate the publishing world once your project is complete. We will also commit to a dogged curriculum in the craft of writing. If you commit in turn, when we finish, you will be world’s wiser in the art and craft of the novel, and ready to take your book to market.

Who’s teaching this course, and what credentials does he have?

The teaching artist is a dedicated and excited teacher and writer. He has an MFA from the University of New Orleans and a PhD from Western Michigan University, where he taught creative writing and was editor of Third Coast. He’s a regular book reviewer for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the San Francisco Chronicle. He has published three novels, most recently a book called Wintering that came out with Knopf in 2016. Most importantly, this novel writing project is something that he’s developed in concert with the Education Department at The Loft in the interest of offering a more advanced and thorough course for the advanced writer interested in undertaking a novel project.

It looks like there’s a pretty stellar line-up of visiting writers and publishing professionals. What’s their function?

The teaching artist has worked hard at procuring a list of distinguished class visitors. The function of their visit is to provide alternative perspectives on everything from craft to practice to experience in the publishing world. They will be eager to offer their expertise in whatever field they come from. Please, don’t ever use their visits as an opportunity to promote your own work.

Am I required to attend one of the information sessions in October before registering?

No, you are not required to attend; they are simply a chance for people to ask individual questions of Peter Geye and Loft education staff, should the information here not be sufficient

I know I can’t expect to be published by participating in the novel Writing Project at the Loft; but what can I expect?

Many different experiences make up the Novel Writing Project over the course of the year; it’s a class, a cohort, a workshop, a networking opportunity, a mentorship, dedicated writing time and space, an online support community, and a chance to foster creative, professional, and personal relationships with individuals on the same path

If you have additional questions that haven’t been covered here, please contact the Loft education department at 612-379-8999.