See also:
Novel II Critique
Up next:
Novel II First Draft—Part 2
Novel II First Draft—Part 1

Novel II First Draft, Part 1 is a 10-week workshop, which includes lectures and worksheets. The focus is on writing the first draft of a novel. The prerequisite is Fiction I, or the equivalent; Level II courses work best when students know the fundamentals.  Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

The Novel First Draft classes work differently than other 10-week Workshops; they are devoted to powering through the first draft of a novel rather than critiquing. If you prefer to receive critiques on your novel, then take Novel Critique.

Gotham has two separate programs for Novel First Draft—Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 should be taken first. If, after Part 1, you wish to continue working on your first draft, then take Part 2.

A novel is a world into which a reader disappears for hours or days at a time, navigating through time and space and human psychology. We live with the characters, be they a glamorous bootlegger living the high life, or a mixed-up teenager on hiatus from prep school, or a pair of runaway twins who branch into separate lives over the decades.

Writing a novel is a long haul—a steep climb over hundreds of pages that must work as a unified and engrossing whole. Here you’ll learn the specialized techniques of novel writing and how to market your work.

As Toni Morrison says: If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.

About Novel Writing
Novel II First Draft—Part 1

When you are ready to take the plunge and start a novel, especially if a first-timer, showing up for this course is where you want to be!

Wendy Lass-Luzi

business manager


Fiction I encompasses short stories and novels. After Level I, students have a choice of Short Fiction Writing II (focusing on short stories), or Novel II Critique or Novel II First Draft (focusing on novels).

If you’re working on “genre” fiction, you may take either a Fiction/Novel course or one of our genre courses: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Romance, Mystery.

If you’re working on a YA novel, you may take a Fiction/Novel or “genre” course, or you may take a Children’s Book course, where the full spectrum of children’s books will be covered.

Upcoming Classes NYC COVID Info

To ensure everyone's good health, students in NYC classes must provide proof of full Covid vaccinations (the initial series of Covid vaccines plus at least one booster). We will accept your Covid vaccine card (or a digital scan), a NY State Excelsior digital card, or another form of government-approved proof. We will contact you before class begins about showing us proof. Masks are encouraged, but not required. We'll provide masks for those who need them.

More Covid details


Registration fee $25, paid once per term

See Payment Options

To register for a 10-Week course, you need to pay in full to guarantee your place in class. Or you can pay a $95 deposit plus a $25 registration fee (total $120) to temporarily hold your place, but tuition must be paid in full 10 business days before your class starts or you risk losing your spot.



The aim of this course is to power through a large portion (or all) of your first draft without stopping for feedback or self-doubt. You get craft and inspirational information, weekly worksheets, and a support group, but there is no critiquing of student work (aside from teacher feedback on your worksheets). Course components:
     Worksheets (to help develop your novel)
     Weekly word-count goals

Gotham has two separate programs for Novel First Draft—Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 should be taken first. If, after Part 1, you wish to continue working on your First Draft, then take Part 2.

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes 
Each lecture contains two sections: craft information and inspirational advice. 

Week 1
Fuel/Sticking to It: Finding the white-hot idea that will keep you fueled. Techniques for staying the course. 

Week 2
Protagonist/Psychological Barriers: Creating a protagonist’s desire and dimension. Ways to “show” the protagonist. How to break through your psychological barriers.

Week 3
Beginning/Don’t Look Back: Structure. Outlines. Sketching your Beginning. How to keep moving forward no matter what. 

Week 4
POV & Voice/Reading: Finding the right point of view. Reasons to read while writing. Types of things to read.

Week 5
Middle/Brainstorming: Strategies for creating a rising action. Sketching your Middle. The art of brainstorming. 

Week 6 
Cast & Subplots/The World Around You: Figuring out your cast. Subplots. Drawing ideas and inspiration from the world around you. 

Week 7 
World/Love of Language: Creating the specific world of your novel. Relishing and enlivening your language. 

Week 8 
Scenes/Patience & Surprise: Elements of a good scene. Allowing the patience for letting things unfold. Finding the surprises of discovery.

Week 9 
Protagonist II/The World Inside You: Finding and revealing the protagonist’s past. Discovering the protagonist’s evolution. Drawing ideas and inspiration from what is inside you.

Week 10 
End/What’s Next?: Climax and resolution. Sketching your End. Finishing the first draft. Revision. Friends and feedback.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.


Arlaina Tibensky
Arlaina Tibensky

Arlaina Tibensky is the author of the novel And Then Things Fall Apart (Simon & Schuster). Her short stories and nonfiction have appeared in One Story, SmokeLong QuarterlyMcSweeney's, Madison ReviewThe Dinner Party DownloadNew Stories from the Midwest 2018 (New American Press), the New York Times, and elsewhere. She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University.

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Katherine Taylor
Katherine Taylor

Katherine Taylor is the author of the novels Valley Fever and Rules For Saying Goodbye (both Farrar, Straus, and Giroux). Her essays and short stories have appeared in Elle, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Ploughshares, ZYZZYVA, Southwest Review, Town and Country, Prairie Schooner, and Shenandoah. She holds a BA from USC and an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University.

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Kristin Rockaway
Kristin Rockaway

Kristin Rockaway is the author of the novels Smart Girl Summer, Life, Unscheduled (both Montlake), How to Hack a HeartbreakShe’s Faking It(both Graydon House), and The Wild Woman’s Guide to Traveling the World (Center Street), as well as the young adult novel My Epic Spring Break (Up) (Underlined). She’s written essays and blog posts for Fresh Fiction, Frolic, Novel Novice, We Heart Writing, and Women Writers, Women’s Books. She holds a BA from New York University.

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Scott Alexander Hess
Scott Alexander Hess

Scott Alexander Hess is the author of five novels, including Skyscraper, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, The Butcher's Sons, named a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015 (both Lethe Press), and the novellas, A Season in Delhi, The Root of Everything & Lightning (all Rebel Satori Press). His work has appeared in HuffPost, Genre Magazine, The Fix, and Thema Literary Review. He co-wrote “Tom in America,” an award-winning short film, and curates Hot Lit, an LGBTQ+ themed monthly newsletter. He holds a BJ from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an MFA in Fiction from The New School.

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Susan Breen
Susan Breen

Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series, originally published by Penguin Random House/Alibi and rereleased by Under the Oak Press, as well as the novel The Fiction Class (Plume/Headline Review UK). Her short stories have appeared in American Literary Review, the Chattahoochee Review, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, as well as the anthologies Best American Nonrequired Reading and Murder Most Diabolical. She holds a BA from the University of Rochester and an MA in Economics from Columbia University.

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