I sit here religiously every morning-I sit down for eight hours every day-and the sitting down is all. In the course of that working day of 8 hours I write 3 sentences which I erase before leaving the table in despair…. Sometimes it takes all my resolution and power of self-control to refrain from butting my head against the wall.

 Joseph Conrad

Keep asking the question, “why?” As you reach the start of your second week you will have a stack of 5×7 character cards that spell out intimate details about the personal life of each and every character in your story, down to their waist measurement and favorite color. [The novelist Vladimir Nabokov, by the way, composed all of his books on index cards.]

You will have a one page summary of what your book is all about, basically the ‘plot’ of your novel. You will also have begun to write your novel and have [admittedly in very rough language] the opening of your book.

One last assignment for you before we get serious and start using the techniques and short-cuts you’ll learn in this course.

Begin by writing about what you know, if not the book itself, then something about the place or people in your book. It’s a lot easier to get started if you are writing about people, places, and things with which you have already grown familiar.

Writing Trick: Try writing first in longhand, then on a computer. This will give you two passes at the prose before you start editing.

Your Assignment: Write the opening page of your book. At least 250 words, double spaced on one side of one piece of paper. Email that page to me at:jpcoyne@optonline.net for comments and evaluation and a grade!

Writing Log: Words Written ____