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Steering the Craft

An Introduction to Novel Writing









"The world's full of stories... All you need may be a character or two, or a conversation, or a situation or a place, and you'll find the story there. [...] I like my image of 'steering the craft,' but in fact the story boat is a magic one. It knows its course. The job of the person at the helm is to help it find its own way to wherever it's going."

Steering the Craft: A 21st Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story by Ursula K. Le Guin 

Over the course of this eight-week workshop, participants will explore what makes their voice as an author unique, how to craft a compelling journey for their character(s), and how to create a strong sense of physical and cultural place within their novel. Along the way, we will learn about various elements of craft that go into constructing a literary narrative (point of view, pacing, physical description, and more).

By the end of the workshop, participants can expect to either complete the first draft of a novel chapter, or rework a piece that they have previously completed. 

Writers of all genres are welcome.

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Schedule and Syllabus (Oct-Dec 2024)

This is a general overview of the workshop. Each weekly session includes readings, discussion questions, and writing exercises. While the sessions are organised by theme, exercises relating to more technical elements of craft will be woven into the sessions in a way that supports the overarching theme. 

26th Oct Sat | Introduction

Why write a novel? What are the unique aspects of this literary form, and what makes it best suited to the story we want to tell?  ​

2nd Nov Sat | Creating a Protagonist  

Who is your leading character? What is their history, and where are they headed, and why?   

9th Nov Sat | Conflict within Relationships 

Conflict is a testing point that shows us who your character is. How does your protagonist live in relation to other people in their world, and how do they respond in times of interpersonal stress and crisis? 

16th Nov Sat | World-building I (Culture, Politics, Sociology)

How can we create a strong sense of place? Whether we are writing about historical Rome or modern-day Singapore, what are the socio-cultural factors that we can bring out to capture the zeitgeist of the era? 

23rd Nov Sat | World-building II (Environment, Geography, Economy) 

Cobblestone streets, futuristic sky bridges, rowdy taverns and sleek rooftop bars... what are the physical touchstones of your novel that ground your reader in material reality?  

30th Nov Sat | Narrative and Plot 

How do we structure all of that information about character and world-building into a coherent, logical plot? 

​(one week break)

14th Dec Sat | Workshop

21st Dec Sat | Workshop


Workshop readings will draw on the work of Anita Brookner, Aanchal Malhotra, Jeanette Winterson, Anna Mazzola, Philip Pullman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Tan Twan Eng, Alfian Sa'at, Ng Yi-Sheng, and others. 

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Learning Outcomes

This course is designed to be beginner-friendly. No prior experience in writing is required, but a good command of English would be beneficial. Over the course of this workshop, we hope to help you: 

  • Craft a narrative that is coherent and compelling 

  • Gain the tools to write a full-length novel

  • Gain confidence in having your work critiqued in a small-group setting, and

  • Feel inspired and encouraged in moving forward with your writing 

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Registration Details

Dates: 26th Oct, 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th Nov, (one week break) and 14th, 21st Dec 2024


Time: 9.30am - 12.30pm* on Saturdays   ​


Location: Your MOTHER Gallery, 26A Rowell Road. Nearest MRT - Farrer Park.


*Do note that those who are more than 30 minutes late will be turned away. 
Workshops are capped at 6 pax. 

Recommended for ages 18 and above. 

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SGD 350 for all eight sessions 

*Receive a 10% discount if you submit your work to Voyage: A Literary Journal

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About the Facilitator

Stacy Ooi has been facilitating creative writing and art sharing sessions since 2018. She has designed and led workshops on fantasy writing and novel writing. Her work is published in Blue Heron Review, as well as the tide rises, the tide falls. She dreams of a world where we are gentle with each other. 

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