How Does Your Story Grow? Announcing SPACE’s 2024 “Novel in a Year Series”

Twelve beautiful moons on a blue sky full of handwriting!

By Bronwyn Rivera

Once upon a time, in the realm of SPACE, six preceptors from the Creative Writing Sector gathered together to answer two questions: “How can we best support our community of writers? And how can we shape the modules we have so far into an optimized novel-writing sequence?”

Thus, the “Novel in a Year Series” was formed. Let us show you how it works:

Beginning in January 2024, the Creative Writing Sector team will host 12 lecture- and workshop-based modules dedicated to helping you take your story from idea to finished product. Are you looking to conquer that nefarious dragon, the “muddy middle”? Want to ramp up your characters’ emotional stakes? What about learning how to create a solid scene? No matter your goals, this is a mere taste of what the complete “Novel in a Year Series” entails. You’ll start writing on day one. Along the way, you’ll have the chance to track your progress in an optional journal, practice various writing techniques, and give and receive friendly Collaborative Feedback. And although the writer’s path may be solitary, you won’t have to walk it alone here. A group of experienced preceptors and encouraging peer-readers will accompany you every step of the way. No gatekeeping, no hostility, no unrealistic expectations. Only seedlings, saplings, and trees.

Seedlings, saplings, and trees? I thought we were talking about writing.

Indeed we are! A unique aspect of this series is the seedling-sapling-tree method proposed by our preceptors. Julian Barr describes this gentle, nurturing approach as follows:

“We encourage our stories to grow like plants. The seedling stage is very early on in the process when the work first comes into the world, needing care and attention. Then, perhaps after a few months, the story will become a sapling and start forming a trunk. A work in the tree stage is ready to stand on its own and maybe just needs some shaping to be the best darn tree it can be. Ultimately, the tree will reach a point in its growth and development where it will stand tall and folks can be truly proud of it.”    

We advise participants to enroll in all 12 modules for the most enriching “Novel in a Year” experience. But an integral part of SPACE is respecting our students’ schedules. Each workshop, therefore, functions on its own. Writers may come and go as they like. The only exception is Novel in a Year 11: Tree Workshop, specially designed for the series. However, should a writer find that their story isn’t ready for the Tree Workshop or any other late-stage revision, rest assured we completely understand. After all, we are here to celebrate milestones, not punish setbacks. Julian says:

“For most authors, we are our own worst critics, and we can be very harsh. We invent problems and shortcomings that don’t exist. So we don’t need help with that — we need to see what we’re doing well. What I love about our kindness-first approach is that we use honest appraisal to identify the positives and negatives. If we forget the author is a human being, I don’t know what the point is. We provide the framework to ensure that constructive criticism is genuinely constructive.”

Finally, as excited as we are to see this series take root and flourish, “Novel in a Year” is just one of several writing-based modules offered in 2024. For a complete list of classes in the Creative Writing Sector, please visit the Module Directory for more information. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact [email protected]

12 months. 12 modules. One incredible story. Ready to watch yours grow?

We look forward to seeing you in SPACE.

What’s the line-up? Glad you asked:

A very fluffy cat with an icy cold glare dares you to laugh at her pumpkin-shaped cozy bed.
Velcro Possumferret Kittoon-Balloon BagDragon would like to read your novel now.