A course by best-selling author Gail Anderson-Dargatz

Writing a novel or even a short story can seem like a daunting task. But once you learn to identify elements of craft and how the pieces fit together, the process of writing fiction is just plain fun. The focus of this course is on just that – process — from finding your big idea, to developing your characters and conflicts, to structuring your project and revising. We’ll also explore the publishing world and how you might get your work out there. Along the way, you’ll get a real-world view of what it means to be a writer, from bestselling author Gail Anderson-Dargatz and others.

With the mentor option, you’ll also receive critique and comments on your final project from either Gail or another published fiction writer.

What the course looks like

All units contain two lessons, three craft exercises, a journal exercise and a project submission assignment. Each exercise starts off with tips on the topic and, for those who want to know more, is followed by links. The course is illustrated with original cartoons and gifs drawn by Gail. In short, course presentation is fun and engaging.

For the project submissions, you’ll be asked to apply what you’ve learned in the unit to your own story or novel. One unit builds on the next, so you’ll construct your project in stages as you work along. By mid-term, you’ll have a rough draft of about 2,000 words of a novel chapter or story. For your final project, you’ll have a revised short story or chapter of a novel project of about 4,000 words.

You’ll also be asked to keep a journal on what you’ve learned both in the course and through study of your “mentor” story or novel. By the end of this course, you’ll have a good start to your project, and a clear idea of how to develop it further and find an audience.

Teachers, the course comes with a teacher’s guide and rubrics for marking and giving feedback on the project submissions. Choose the Supported option and the student will receive critique and comments on their final project from either Gail or another published fiction writer.

The Base course is $125 CAD per seat, while the Supported course is $175 CAD per seat, both payable upon student activation. There is a limited number of Supported seats available.

Below, you’ll find a quick overview of the course units. Contact Kumuni to view a demo version of the course, containing Unit 2.

Unit 1: Playing with the Building Blocks of Fiction

We’ve all heard that phrase: “Show, don’t tell.” But what does that really mean? In this unit, we’ll look at the basic modes of storytelling and how to write vivid scene that allows the reader to experience events right along with the characters.

Unit 2: Finding Your Big Idea

We spend so much time and energy on a story or novel project. How do we know when an idea is worth pursuing? We’ll look at ways to find that “big idea”: the main idea behind your fiction project, one that offers you the emotional energy to see your project through to the end. You’ll also learn how to find the material you’ll use to feed your muse and construct your story or novel.

Unit 3: Getting to Know Your Characters

We get to know fictional characters the same way we get to know real people: through what they say and do, and how they interact with others in a given situation. In this unit, we’ll look at ways you can make your characters come alive on the page for both you and your reader.

Unit 4: Deciding on Point of View

Writers are smart to settle on point of view at the start of a project, as changing point of view changes everything. What is the best perspective from which to tell your story? Here, you’ll experiment with point of view options to decide which suits your project.

Unit 5: Choosing Your Situation and Setting

Situation is the hot mess you throw your protagonist into, so it’s a useful place to start talking about story and plot. Have you chosen a situation that offers enough opportunity for your protagonist’s conflict? In this unit we’ll look at how to use both situation and setting to build story and convey emotion.

Unit 6: Developing Conflict and Structure

Developing conflict and structure is the writer’s most difficult task. Fortunately, most of the heavy lifting has been done for us by the writers of the past. In this unit we’ll look at existing story structures that will offer inspiration for your story or novel project.

Unit 7: Revising

Writing is rewriting, a process of layering. Here we’ll explore some of the ways you can gain distance from your work in order to see it more clearly, most importantly from peer critique. As well, we’ll cover approaches to revising that will bring your writing up to the next level.

Unit 8: Publishing

Planning to make big money from your writing? Well, probably not. But there are many ways to find a home for your project, and publishing can offer opportunities you might not have considered, like travel. In this unit we’ll look at the realities of publishing, how to ready your work for submission and check out some of the many opportunities available to writers.

About the author

The course content and cartoons were created by internationally bestselling author Gail Anderson-Dargatz. Gail has taught creative writing for more than twenty years, nearly a decade of which was at UBC within the optional-residency MFA program. She now offers developmental edits and works with writers from around the world through her own online teaching forums.

Gail’s books have been published worldwide in English and in many other languages. Her novels The Cure for Death by Lighting and A Recipe for Bees were international bestsellers and were both finalists for the prestigious Giller Prize in Canada. Her most recent literary novel, The Spawning Grounds, was again a national bestseller and was nominated for several awards. She also writes literacy learner novellas for adults and teens working to improve literacy skills.