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Writing the Novel: The Basics with Karleen Koen

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Sul Ross University
Alpine, TX

7/21/2013 to 7/26/2013 From 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Online registration for this event is now closed. There might be one or two slots still available.  If interested, please email informing us of your intention to purchase a ticket and which workshop you are interested in. We will arrange sales on a first come/first served basis until the class is full.


Orientation is Sunday evening, July 21.
Classes run Monday through Friday, July 22 to 26, from 10 am to 4 pm

$299 for members/ $359 for nonmembers

What combination of skill and talent allows a writer to birth a novel? Come explore the places of creativity, tenacity, and technique in this workshop that also highlights essential elements in a novel: scene and sequel, story question, character, and more. In each class, short, concrete writing exercises sharpen shills, boost confidence, and remind that a writer writes. You’ll begin to examine style—your own and another’s—by questioning techniques in your favorite fiction. The care and feeding of your writer, the courtship of your muse, and the slaying of inner dragons will also be discussed. A special notebook filled with writing tips and techniques is included as part of the course. Karleen Koen presents this class in Houston, but only at the Summer Retreat is there time for the broad overview that is writing the novel.

Work will not be critiqued.

Required text: Your favorite novel, romance, mystery, western, science fiction, vampire, literary, popular, e.g., your truly favorite novel, not what you talk about to impress.

Class for: beginners, also blocked, stalled, scared, floundering, weary and wounded writers.


  • Beginnings: Your and the Novel’s
  • Plot: The Motor of Story
  • Creativity: Your Silent Partner
  • Character: Seeds and Shaping
  • Fear: Going on Anyway

Table of contents from Something Novel, a notebook of writing advice and techniques culled from the books Karleen Koen considers helpful:

  • Beginning
  • First Draft Wisdom
  • Character
  • Dialogue
  • Viewpoint
  • What is Story
  • Story & Structure
  • Building Structure
  • Ending
  • Ain’t Working
  • Time to Write
  • Writing Life
  • Writer’s Voice
  • Writing a Novel
  • Query Letter
  • Final Words
  • Books on Writing
  • Publishing: agents, websites, writing groups

About the Instructor:

Karleen Koen is a seasoned writer/editor and novelist whose first novel, Through A Glass Darkly, was a New York Times bestseller. Her most recent novel Before Versailles was a best historical fiction pick by both The Library Journal and RT Book Reviews. Her books have been Book of the Month Club main selections and Indie Next bestsellers. Former editorial positions include editor of Houston Home & Garden Magazine, managing editor of the University of Houston’s feature magazine, and director of editorial services for the University of Houston. She teaches a continuing education course at Houston’s Rice University about the novel and was a writer-in-residence at the Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico. She is the author of four novels.


Recommendations for Summer Retreat/basics:

Karleen started out with a room full of people who weren't really sure if they could write.
The curriculum and exercises were useful. But mainly, I think Karleen communicated something intangible.
And turned us all into writers.
Thanks, Karleen.
--Marion Hughes '09

I found the summer workshop very much to the point in getting me started on writing. Karleen has been there...seen it all and it shows up in her responses and directions. It also helps that i really loved the two books that I had read ahead of time--Dark Angeles and Through a Glass Darkly.
--Anna Fay Williams '09

It all began with: “writers write” … those simple but profound words from Karleen Koen set a week in motion that pulled me out of a cloud of serious writer’s insecurity in the summer of 2009. My first novel was finished in November of that year (and is currently in “expansion phase” with a fine NYC literary agent). Book number 2 is underway, and books 3-10 are sitting in the mind’s queue…
Best money - and time - ever spent!
--Jan Chapman '09

Karleen touched a part of my creativity that had been locked away, almost forgotten. In freeing it, she also freed me from the writer’s block I had been battling for months. I never thought I had a book in me, but Karleen is responsible for my realizing I do have one to write and for instilling the confidence to get me started on it.
--Janet Kilgore '11

For more details on the Writers' League of Texas Summer Writing Retreat and information about lodging, click here.

Refund Policy:

We're sorry, but no refunds can be made. Please make sure you can commit to the dates before purchasing. Tickets are transferrable, so if something unforeseen arises you can make arrangements to have someone go in your stead. Simply alert the office via phone (512.499.8914) or email ( to pass along the name of your replacement.

Problems Registering?

If you are having issues registering online for any reason, you can sign up for the retreat via mail. Please send us your contact information, a check for the registration fee, and indicate which class you are interested in taking.

Mail check to:
The Writers' League of Texas
611 S. Congress, Ste. 505
Austin, TX 78704