Michelle Hoover is the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University and teaches at GrubStreet, where she leads the Novel Incubator program. She is a 2014 NEA Fellow and has been a Writer-in-Residence at Bucknell University, a MacDowell Fellow, and a winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Award. Her debut, The Quickening, was a 2010 Massachusetts Book Award “Must Read.” Her latest novel, Bottomland, is the 2017 All Iowa Reads selection.
She is a native of Iowa and lives in Boston.
Michelle Hoover is co-founder and current head of the GrubStreet Novel Incubator program, a competitive and affordable MFA-level course in novel writing. Spanning 11 months, the course accepts ten fiction writers every year who are interested in a deep revision of their novel drafts, a comprehensive craft-based study of the novel form, and a thoughtful introduction to the publishing world.
Academic programs, MFAs in particular, teach the craft of fiction using the short story as a template. These programs are useful for learning the craft of short fiction, and a full course of study at the MFA level is a rich and worthy endeavor, but there is no evidence that learning to write a successful short story teaches you how to write a successful novel. In fact, it may even be counterproductive, given that the processes, aesthetics, requirements and skills of novel-writing can seem as different from story-writing as poetry is from prose. More importantly, we believe it takes at least a year to effectively revise a novel, to explore its possibilities and maximize its potential, to truly know “what it wants to be.” Along the way, students need consistent fellow readers – emerging writers and also trained eyes – who understand the world they are trying to build, who can discuss big-picture issues of character development, plots and subplots and structure alongside sentence rhythm and figurative language.
In the Novel Incubator, unfettered by the academic/semester schedule, GrubStreet has developed a program from the point of view not of the institution but of the aspiring novelist. Unique in shape, the curriculum gives students a rich, authentic and artistically valuable experience directly applicable to the specific art of novel-writing. Ours is one of the only programs where a student’s entire novel will be thoughtfully critiqued at least twice by the instructor, an objective outside reader, and classmates, and where all craft discussions and readings will be novel-centered. We want to emphasize that we are not offering a formula or advocating a particular novel aesthetic; we aim simply to investigate the various forms successful novels and apply what we learn to our own books.
Michelle Hoover is currently the Fannie Hurst Writer-in-Residence at Brandeis University, where she teaches advanced Fiction workshops and works with students individually on honors and thesis projects. Previously, she taught writing for more than ten years at Boston University, and has also run undergraduate and graduate writing workshops at Emerson College, Bucknell University, Wellesley College, St. Olaf College, Smith College, UMass-Amherst, as well as the Cape Code, Wesleyan, and Bread Loaf Writers Conferences.