Crafting a Novel
  I: Administrative Information   II: Course Details   III: Topical Outline(s)  Printable Version
Section I: Administrative Information
  Total hours: 42.0
Credit Value: 3.0
Credit Value Notes: N/A
Effective: Fall 2016
Prerequisites: N/A
Corequisites: N/A
Equivalents: N/A
Pre/Co/Equiv Notes: N/A

Program(s): Creative Writing
Program Coordinator(s): N/A
Course Leader or Contact: Jo-Ann Brodey
Version: 20160906_02
Status: Approved (APPR)

Section I Notes: N/A

Section II: Course Details

Detailed Description
Examine a practical, step-by-step approach to developing and building a novel. Topics include: developing characterization; establishing goal, motivation and conflict; understanding and using viewpoint; moving the story forward with dialogue; structuring scenes; sustaining tension; understanding the concept of "show, don't tell" and weaving plot strands. In-class seminars also include: manuscript preparation, synopsis and query letter writing; researching the markets; copyrights, contracts and agents. Ample time will be allowed each week for you to read your work in class and receive feedback. Individual assistance will also be available.

Program Context

Creative Writing Program Coordinator(s): N/A

Course Critical Performance and Learning Outcomes

  Critical Performance:
Learning Outcomes:

To achieve the critical performance, students will have demonstrated the ability to:

  1. Students will have a solid start on their novel and the skills necessary to see it through to completion
  2. Understand what a novel is and what it takes to properly craft a book that will appeal to an editor
  3. Develop characters that come to life on the page
  4. Use dialogue effectively to move the story forward
  5. Use viewpoint to their advantage
  6. Understand the importance of goal, motivation and conflict
  7. Plot a story from beginning to end
  8. Understand that writing is rewriting
  9. Know proper manuscript preparation
  10. Write a synopsis and query letter that will hold an editor's attention
  11. Research the market they are interested in reaching
  12. Students will complete a new assignment each week in order to build the foundation necessary to finish their novel after the classes end. In-class reading of assignments is a large part of the program and vital to developing the critiquing skills necessary to edit and polish their own work.
  13. Students will understand the demands of writing and develop the skills and discipline necessary to see the work through to the end.

Evaluation Plan
Students demonstrate their learning in the following ways:

 Evaluation Plan: IN-CLASS
 Character sketch5.0%
 Elevator pitch5.0%
 Query Letter15.0%
 Partial Manuscript (including Readabout in class)50.0%

Evaluation Notes and Academic Missed Work Procedure:

Provincial Context
The course meets the following Ministry of Colleges and Universities requirements:


Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition
PLAR Contact (if course is PLAR-eligible) - Office of the Registrar

  • Not Eligible for PLAR

Section III: Topical Outline
Some details of this outline may change as a result of circumstances such as weather cancellations, College and student activities, and class timetabling.
Instruction Mode: In-Class
Professor: Multiple Professors
OptionalOtherNone Recommended reading, examples, exercises and handouts will accompany each lecture.

Applicable student group(s): Continuing Education Students
Course Details:

Week 1   Plot!                  

  • What is plot?  What exactly is a novel? 
  • Goal, motivation and conflict.  The concept of risk
  • Introduction to the genres of fiction.
  • Assignment:  in class writing assignment


Week 2   Characterization and Viewpoint

  • Creating memorable characters
  • Character Arc
  • Importance of the character sketch
  • The rules of viewpoint
  • Choosing the right viewpoint
  • Mystery/crime genres
  • Assignment:  Character sketch for your protagonist.


Week 3  Novel Structure and Openings

  • Three Act Structure for novels and outlining       
  • The importance of a strong opening
  • How to Open  - what should be there
  • Manuscript Prep – ALL assignments will be submitted in proper manuscript format
  • Literary genre
  • Assignment due:  Character Sketch


Week 4  Dialogue that Rocks!

  • Conversation vs Dialogue 
  • Dialogue Punctuation made easy
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Fantasy genre
  • Assignment:  Elevator pitch


Week 5  Endings and Chapter Breaks

  • Chapter Breaks
  • Scene transitions
  • Endings – You must satisfy the reader!  Ending expectations for each genre
  • Romance genre
  • Readabout


Week 6  Query Letter

  • Your Query letter is your calling card
  • How to say what’s important in one page
  • Setting – Setting as Character
  • Children’s Lit
  • Readabout
  • Assignment due:  Elevator pitch


Week 7   Show Not Tell

  • Show Not Tell – how to turn good writing into great writing
  • Weaving in backstory – how to bring in backstory without slowing the pace
  • Horror genre
  • Readabout


Week 8   Research

  • Research – bringing reality to fiction
  • Saggy Middle Syndrome – what to do when your story slows down
  • Assignment due:  Query letter
  • Western genre
  • Readabout

Week 9  Synopsis

  • Why is a synopsis necessary and why is it so hard to write?
  • Preparing a synopsis that will keep an editor reading
  • Suspense/Thriller genre – the 9 stages of Suspense
  • Readabout


Week 10  The Business of Writing

  • All about publishers, agents, royalties, advances, contracts, submitting your manuscript
  • Science Fiction genre
  • Readabout


Week 11  Amazon and Self-publishing

  • Should you self-publish?  Pros and Cons
  • How Amazon works
  • Revision and Editing
  • Readabout
  • Synopsis due


Week 12  Marketing

  • Marketing your novel once it’s published
  • Copyright
  • Access Copyright and PLR
  • Readabout


Week 13  Screenplay

  • What is a screenplay?  How is it different from a novel?
  • Screenplay manuscript format and lingo
  • Readabout


Week 14  Where to Go from Here

  • Keeping the muse with you
  • Handling rejection
  • Associations to join
  • Readabout
  • Assignment due:  The first 25 pages of your manuscript, in standard manuscript format

Sheridan Policies

All Sheridan policies can be viewed on the Sheridan policy website.

Academic Integrity: The principle of academic integrity requires that all work submitted for evaluation and course credit be the original, unassisted work of the student. Cheating or plagiarism including borrowing, copying, purchasing or collaborating on work, except for group projects arranged and approved by the professor, or otherwise submitting work that is not the student's own, violates this principle and will not be tolerated. Students who have any questions regarding whether or not specific circumstances involve a breach of academic integrity are advised to review the Academic Integrity Policy and procedure and/or discuss them with the professor.

Copyright: A majority of the course lectures and materials provided in class and posted in SLATE are protected by copyright. Use of these materials must comply with the Acceptable Use Policy, Use of Copyright Protected Work Policy and Student Code of Conduct. Students may use, copy and share these materials for learning and/or research purposes provided that the use complies with fair dealing or an exception in the Copyright Act. Permission from the rights holder would be necessary otherwise. Please note that it is prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote. It is also prohibited to reproduce and/or post a work that is not your own or your own work with the intent to assist others in cheating on third-party commercial websites including but not limited to Course Hero or OneNote.

Intellectual Property: Sheridan's Intellectual Property Policy generally applies such that students own their own work. Please be advised that students working with external research and/or industry collaborators may be asked to sign agreements that waive or modify their IP rights. Please refer to Sheridan's IP Policy and Procedure.

Respectful Behaviour: Sheridan is committed to provide a learning environment that supports academic achievement by respecting the dignity, self-esteem and fair treatment of every person engaged in the learning process. Behaviour which is inconsistent with this principle will not be tolerated. Details of Sheridan's policy on Harassment and Discrimination, Academic Integrity and other academic policies are available on the Sheridan policy website.

Accessible Learning: Accessible Learning coordinates academic accommodations for students with disabilities. For more information or to register, please see the Accessible Learning website (Statement added September 2016)

Course Outline Changes: The information contained in this Course Outline including but not limited to faculty and program information and course description is subject to change without notice. Any changes to course curriculum and/or assessment shall adhere to approved Sheridan protocol. Nothing in this Course Outline should be viewed as a representation, offer and/or warranty. Students are responsible for reading the Important Notice and Disclaimer which applies to Programs and Courses.

[ Printable Version ]

Copyright © Sheridan College. All rights reserved.