The novel reading club for fiction writers

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What's the best way to improve your writing craft?

Some people say you should just read and just write. And it's great advice. But my experience is that it's harder than it seems to pull out the lessons and techniques from a novel we are enjoying -- or not enjoying.  Often the writer hides their tactics and set ups rather effectively, and the reader is left with the wrong impression of how a plot point or twist landed so well. 

Some people recommend courses or how to books. And it's great advice. But my experience is that often these courses seem rather abstract, rather grand and theoretical, making it hard for you to apply their ideas to your own work -- or even to see their examples in the books you read. 

That's why I created "Reading with Daniel." It is a novel-reading club aimed at writers who want to improve their craft. And it only costs $99 for a year's membership.

The group is a low stress way for you to improve your craft skills and build your understanding of how stories work -- by reading great stories. Each month in the reading club, we focus on a fun, interesting, well-written novel, and you will be able to read it alongside me, or just read part of it, or simply follow my craft analysis of particular moments or plot developments.

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At the heart of the club will be the weekly newsletter. Every week, I send out to subscribers an email discussing a particular moment or scene in that month's novel, pointing out what we can learn from it. This is an upbeat, positive, craft-focused examination of the story -- not a book review or a critique -- and each email will assume that every successful novel has something to teach.

A key point: most of the newsletters will focus on a specific moment in the story, one that you can learn from even if you weren't able to keep up with the reading that week. 

The newsletters will be archived in a private "course" area for club participants, and as long as you subscribe, you will have access to all the past emails I sent out, creating a great craft library for you to turn to.

Every four weeks or so, I will also send out an additional audio message commenting, perhaps in a more personal, informal way, on an aspect of the novel that struck me.

Both the letters and the audio messages will link to a page for subscribers to comment, discuss, and ask each other questions about the novel and this week's craft technique. In other words, you'll be able to see what other writers in the group have noticed about the passage we're discussing -- without having to worry about keeping up with yet another Facebook group.

Once a month, you'll be invited to a Zoom meeting where I'll teach from a passage from the novel, with the text shared on the screen as we talk -- so everyone can learn from and enjoy the story whether or not they kept up with the reading. The focus of each meeting will be learning how to become a better writer from the examples of published novels: we will share moments in the story that worked for us or surprised us.

Those meetings will also be recorded and preserved in our club archives.

Weekly newsletter

A specific craft tip from the novel of the month, delivered each week to your inbox. 

AUdio messages

An informal, personal response from me about the conversations we've had about the novel.

Reading calendar

A printable schedule, sent out before we begin each novel, showing you what pages each week will cover.

Monthly Meetings

Every month we will meet to study a craft lesson from the current novel.

Comment areas

Share your opinions and discuss with other participants.

In other words: some months, you might be highly active, reading the novel beside me, commenting in the comment threads, attending the Zoom meetings. Other months, you might just enjoy the craft lessons that arrive in your inbox. It's your call. This reading club is designed to fit flexibly into your life.

What kinds of novels will we read? If you've seen me teach or taken one of my courses, you'll have a sense of the kind of books I like to use as examples: intriguing, well-paced novels that are fun to read and valuable to examine. In the first year, we will read a range of genres, styles, and time periods, although with a bias towards recent or recent-ish novels (late 20th and 21st century). I will collect recommendations from subscribers like you, and you are welcome to suggest future novels for us to look at. The goal is to cycle through genres and writing styles so that, over a year, everyone in the group sees books that speak to their writing goals and craft challenges.

Maybe you don't normally read science fiction or cozy mysteries or social horror, for instance, -- we all know what we like -- but the focus in each month will draw out techniques of pacing, dialogue-writing, POV -- not to dwell on the genre-specific elements.

The club will be designed so that, even if a particular novel was not something you would normally read, you will still be able to gain skills and expertise from the discussion. And, to repeat a point from earlier, if you have a week or a month where life is too all-consuming (I am very familiar with that experience!), the newsletters will simply arrive quietly in your inbox, assuming nothing about how much reading you had done or not done, still pointing out in a warm, straightforward way, a clever, funny, or moving moment in a passage of writing.

about my teaching

Elizabeth R. Alix

Author of Maple Hill Chronicles

Tannis Laidlaw

Mistery Writer

Quenntin Ashby

Urban Fantasy Writer

The plan and the offer

A healthy pace: I believe in creating sustainable, organic, low-stress experiences for writers -- and for myself. This is meant to be fun and valuable for both you and me. So I will monitor how the pace feels for the group and adjust if we need to move slower or faster. My guess is that "a novel every month" will be a little too quick for the easy, low obligation mood I'm aiming for, and we might read nine in the club each year, instead of twelve. Some weeks, I might invite a guest author to compose their thoughts about a particular moment in a story; sometimes we might pause between novels and the week's email will be, for a refresher or palate cleanser, an analysis of a short story or piece of flash fiction. Each year, I will probably take a week off analysis altogether for Christmas.

Each month (assuming we are sticking to the monthly reading schedule), you will receive in your inbox a printable reading schedule, showing you what pages each meeting or email will draw from, as well as links to learn more about the novel and its author

Memberships include:

1. A discount on the price, reducing a membership to $10 a month or $100 a year.

2. Free life-time access to my new online course, offering techniques for reading books more deeply and absorbing their craft: "Five Ways to Read a Novel." This course costs $37 to the general public.

tawni waters bio pic

"Daniel respected my work and vision on a profound level but also had a keen editorial eye and a stroke of literary genius that took everything I’d written to the next level.

Is it weird that I think of him as my literary midwife?"

- Tawni Waters, I.L.A. award-winning author of Beauty of the Broken, The Long Ride Home, Siren Song and So Speak the Stars.

A picture of me, Daniel Wallace

I'm Daniel David Wallace, novelist, teacher, & PhD researcher

testimonial image

"I cannot tell you how much I value and still think about your writing advice and strategies. The book I wrote after we worked together landed me my agents at InkWell."

To other writers: Daniel truly has a gift. He’s one of the most patient and encouraging teachers I’ve had. He gives the type of feedback that energizes rather than discourages, the kind that makes you feel like you can rebuild your novel—and rebuild it stronger."

- Allison Saft, bestselling NYT author 

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Daniel David Wallace

Host of Reading with Daniel

Hi, I'm Daniel. I'm a writer, teacher, PhD researcher, and book editor. I create easy-to-implement techniques that help you master the craft of fiction.

I've given lectures on plot at the AWP conference and other writing festivals around the US, and my work has been read at the Iowa Writers Workshop. My fiction has won the Hodges prize, the Toni Brown scholarship, and I've published short stories and essays in many journals. In my regular life, I teach advanced writing skills at a great university. 

Since I started teaching online, I've worked with hundreds of writers as a coach and teacher. Over seven-thousand writers subscriber to my newsletter.

Julia Brown testimonial

"Not all good writers are good teachers, but Daniel David Wallace (a talented, thoughtful writer himself) is a terrific instructor.

Daniel is attentive to plot, structure, character, and other high-level narrative elements, but you’ll appreciate his ability to zoom in closely on language and sentence-level concerns.

If you can take a class with him, do it!"

- Julia Brown, editor and literary author

Copyright - Daniel David Wallace 2022