Basic Info
  • Fiction
  • Novel

You’re writing a novel, which means, if you’re anything like me, you’re swimming in questions. What point of view should I use? What does my main character want and what’s keeping him or her from getting it? How much backstory should I include? Which events should I put in scene, and which are okay to summarize? Where do I begin and where do I end? Do I have any subplots or multi-plots? What themes does my story suggest, and how can I support them? Which images might become central structural elements? These problems are urgent; finding the answers—your answers—is crucial to shaping a successful manuscript. During our week together, we’ll probe these and other questions through mini-lectures and discussion, close readings of published work, and writing exercises targeted to help you find some answers. We’ll share and give feedback on new work produced during the week. You’ll leave equipped with a deeper understanding of your main character and deeper insight into the plot and structure of your novel. This class will work best for writers who are at least 40 - 50 pages into a novel-in-progress by the beginning of class.

Amy Hassinger


Amy Hassinger is the author of three novels: Nina: Adolescence (Putnam 2003), The Priest’s Madonna (Putnam 2006), and After the Dam (Red Hen Press 2016). Her writing has been translated into five languages and has won awards from Creative Nonfiction, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Illinois Arts Council. Her work appears in many publications, including The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, The Writers’ Chronicle, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. She earned her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and serves as a Faculty Mentor in the University of Nebraska’s low-residency M.F.A. in Writing Program. Originally from Massachusetts, Amy now lives in Urbana, Illinois, where she produces the micro-podcast “The Literary Life,” sings in a jazz trio, and bothers her children.