A Novel Approach

A Year Long Workshop to Get Your Novel Written

If you’ve been saying for years “I’ve got to get that book written!” this is your opportunity to make it happen.

Starting January 12th of 2009, A Novel Approach is your weekly commitment to work on your book. We will hold a bi-weekly workshop every second Monday that targets various key aspects of writing a novel. In class we will be doing on-the-spot exercises working with storylining, plot, character development, narrative structure, story development, etc.

Then in the off-week between classes, you will continue the work begun in class, supplemented by take home exercises, with a goal of producing 12 pages (3,000 words approximately) before the next class.

By New Years Day, 2010, you will have the first draft of your novel finished and ready to begin shopping it to agents and publishers. (If you do the math: 12 page times 26 weeks is approximately 78,000 words or 300 pages, a solid first draft of a novel.)
Your commitment:

    – to come to as many of the 26 bi-weekly workshops as possible.
    If you can’t make a class, to check the website for the assignments
    and information afterwards. (In the event of a snowstorm
    cancellation, class will be held on-line).
    – to produce at least 12 typed manuscript pages every two weeks. You are certainly welcome to produce more, but in order to achieve your goal, you should be producing at least 6 typed pages per week. (Note: even if you simply type up the in-class exercises you will be halfway to that biweekly goal.)
    – to post your writing on the private website for the group.
    This will not be accessible to the public.

Our commitment:

    – to give you exercises to spark your imagination, your creativity
    and your fingers on the keyboard

    – to give you bi-weekly take-home exercises to help you produce
    your novel week by week

    – to provide a members-only website where you will post your
    work- in-progress and have the opportunity to interact with your
    fellow students between workshop dates. We will be encouraging
    interaction between colleagues on this journey, but the emphasis
    is on the process of producing the novel, and not on formalized
    feedback on each other’s work.

    – to provide you with support and inspiration in the long middle
    stages of your novel when the beginning is behind you and
    the end is nowhere in sight

    – to accompany you on your journey by working alongside you
    producing our own novels at the same time

    – to give you feedback on your manuscript in March, June and October

    – to celebrate the completion of your first draft with you and
    your colleagues on January 4th of 2010

Regarding the “A Novel Approach” website:

    – it creates an opportunity for you and your classmates to watch each other’s novels grow over the course of the year

    – it provides a simple way of sharing manuscripts

    – it is password protected – only members of the group are able to access it

    – only you are able to edit or change your work

    – it provides a central place to reference the information from past classes

    – all homework assignments will be listed on the website for those who missed a class or those who would like to revisit an assignment

    – it provides a location for a back-up copy of your work in progress. This makes it possible for you to work on your manuscript 24/7 from anywhere in the world you have Internet access (PLEASE NOTE: Students should always have two copies of their manuscript – one on the website, but also one on their own computer or USB)

    – it has a chat feature where participants can converse

    – it provides an alternate way of hosting a class in the event of a snowstorm

The Specifics:

When: Monday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30

In-Class Dates (every second Monday):
January 12 and 26
February 9 and 23
March 9 and 23
April 6 and 20
May 4 and 18
June 1, 15 and 29
July 13 and 27
August 10 and 24
September 14 and 21
October 5 and 19
November 2, 16 and 30
December 14 2009
FINAL DATE: January 3, 2010

Where: Uxbridge/Port Perry/Brooklin area
Exact location will be decided based upon number of participants and announced the second week of January.


$1150 (or $1035 for WCDR members) if the entire amount is pre-paid.

If participants would like to pay by installments, the total cost is $1300, payable as follows:

$500 payable upon registration
$350 due April 6th
$300 due July 13th
$150 due October 5th (Note: if a WCDR member, this October payment will be waived).

To Register for this workshop CLICK HERE.

To give us an idea of where you’re at with regards to your novel so far, please fill out the form available by clicking HERE.

Workshop leaders:

Susan Lynn Reynolds, BSc. Psych., is a writer and an accredited writing instructor in the Amherst Writers and Artists method. She has studied with Natalie Goldberg, Pat Schneider, Barbara Turner Vessalago, Orm Mitchell and Richard J. Ray, and has been teaching creative writing for over 12 years. Her 1992 novel Strandia won the CLA’s national YA Novel of the Year award, and she has won the Timothy Findley Creative Writing Prize three times for her short stories and poetry.

Her area of specialty is the therapeutic use of journaling and memoir, and her thesis on that topic received the Canadian Psychological Association’s Award of Academic Excellence in 2006. She has been leading writing workshops for female inmates at Central East Correctional Centre for four years, a program for which she received the 2007 June Callwood Award for Outstanding Volunteerism. She is currently working on her Masters degree and continues to teach advanced creative writing at Durham College and to lead writing workshops on various topics, including memoir, life writing and erotic writing.

James Dewar wears many hats. He enjoys the challenging and often hectic demands of a career as a freelance website designer, writer and editor. He serves as Vice President of the Writers’ Circle of Durham Region where he takes pleasure in developing ways to help writers gain confidence in their writing and presentation, but is often found attending symposiums and workshops due to his belief that learning is essential to productive creativity.

James has edited and published 6 chapbooks for emerging talents and is working on two new projects. While enjoying his emergence as a popular featured performer on the Toronto poetry scene, he attends many readings in support of other writers although he has decided to give up his usual Monday evenings teaching Advanced Creative Writing classes at Durham College to co-facilitate this course. He is currently working on his second novel and is enthusiastic about the opportunity to both inspire other writers to finish their novels and work on completing his own as well.

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In the summer of 2013 I was invited to do a TEDtalk on “Shining the light on our Changing Communities”. I talked about the therapeutic writing program I do with incarcerated women. You can view the talk here.

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