Build Your Narrative Engine: The First Ten Pages, with Rachel Howard, Jan. 8th (via Zoom)

Rachel Howard

SATURDAY, JAN. 8th  | In this practical one-day course you will identify the essential three C’s of your book’s opening pages—Conflict, Character, and Clock—so that your narrative engine is ready to rev.

Through a combination of lecture, discussion of readings, and student work-sharing, we will identify the key aspects of your book’s story to set into place in the opening pages. Each student will have a chance to share his or her book opening for targeted, practical feedback.

Why do some memoirs and novels take off from the first page, while others stall out before the end of chapter one? More importantly: How can you make sure the story you’re writing gets all the necessary gears lined up on those all-important first ten pages?

This combination craft lecture and trouble-shooting workshop will focus on the three Cs of narrative engine: Character, Conflict, and Clock. What’s clock, you say? Glad you asked. It’s a simple but elusive element that’s crucial to your story’s drive—but many writers don’t realize their pages are missing it. Character and conflict are also more complex than they first appear. Drawing from the teachings of novelist David Haynes and Lisa Cron’s excellent book Wired for Story, this class will demystify all three Cs, then lead you through exercises and instructor feedback to identify Character, Conflict, and Clock in your narrative. Does your character have a compelling inner issue? Is your conflict harnessed to a theme that makes it meaningful? You’ll leave this class with the major story elements of your memoir or novel clarified, and your narrative engine ready to rev.

This class will meet on Zoom. Registered students, please contact the instructor directly for Zoom details.

Rachel Howard is the author of a novel, The Risk of Us, and a memoir about her father’s unsolved murder, The Lost Night described as “enthralling” by the New York Times. Her personal essays have appeared in StoryQuarterly, Zyzzyva, Gulf Coast, O, The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the New York Magazine, and elsewhere. She received an M.F.A. in fiction from Warren Wilson College, and later served there as interim director of undergraduate creative writing. She has also taught in the M.F.A. program of Saint Mary’s College. More on Rachel at


Number of sessions: 1

Date: Saturday, January 8

Time: 10:00am – 2:00pm Pacific Time

Course fee: $125

Details Price Qty
Course Registrationshow details + $125.00 (USD)  
Early-Bird Registration (thru 1/1)show details + $112.50 (USD)  

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