“To uncover the plot of your story, don’t ask what should happen, but what should go wrong. To uncover the meaning of your story, don’t ask what the theme is, but rather what is discovered. Characters making choices to resolve tension – that’s your plot. If your protagonist has no goal, makes no choices, has no struggle to overcome, you have no plot.” – Steven James (Story Trumps Structure)
“The bigger the issue, the smaller you write. You don’t write about the horrors of war. No. You write about a kid’s burnt socks lying on the road. You pick the smallest manageable part of the big thing, and you work off the resonance.” – Richard Price 

Reading Assignments:


Keep in mind that there is no one way, no right way, to structure your novel. Choose what works best for you and for the story you’re telling.

“… that there is some external formula to be downloaded, a schematic that will allow someone to insert tab A into slot B and blammo! there’s a best-selling story or script. Let me be clear: It. Does. Not. Exist. Stories are not born by following someone else’s rules; they are not the product of number crunching or trend analysis; they come from a very deep and personal place in the creative heart that needs to talk about things that matter. … but once inspiration goes through the crazy-straw of your talent it comes out as something profoundly and uniquely your own. And yes, it’s important to know the rules of writing, but only inasmuch as they provide a safety net for experimentation, bending or breaking them as needed once we understand that stories can look like whatever we want them to look like.” – J. Michael Straczynski, Becoming a Writer, Staying a Writer
1.) 25 Ways To Plot, Plan And Prep Your Story – by Chuck Wendig
2.) The Snowflake Method For Designing A Novel – by Randy Ingermanson
3.) This Simple Story Structure Changed My Life – by Jerry Jenkins (and Dean Koontz)
4.) What Does It Mean to Move the Plot? – by K.M. Weiland
5.) Structuring Your Novel Visual Chart – by K.M. Weiland
6.) Story Structure: 10 Simple Keys to Effective Plot Structure – by Michael Hauge
7.) How to Choose the RIGHT Tense for Your Novel – by Joe Bunting


1.) Conflict and Suspense – by Tameri
2.) Unraveling Conflict, Tension, and Your Plot – by Kaitlin Hillerich

Beginnings & Endings

1.) How to Write a Prologue – by Katherine Luck
2.) The 21 Best Tips for Writing Your Opening Scene – by Stephanie Orges
3.) Story Resolutions: Mastering the Happy-Sad Ending – by Gilbert Bassey
4.) How to Create an Unhappy Ending – by Chris Winkle
5.) 4 types of Endings – by Write On!
6.) How to end a story: Write satisfying closing chapters – By Jordan
7.) What is an Epilogue: Four Powerful Tips for Writers – by Reedsy


Writing Assignments:

1.) After reading the first assignment, choose a “physical” plotting method that resonates with you, such as using index cards. Even if you would rather fly by the seat of your pants, try this anyway.
2.) Sketch a rough outline of your novel. Remember this is a ROUGH outline, and may change many times over the course of your writing. If you have spaces you don’t know how to fill yet, that’s ok. Make note of them, so you can go back and fill them in later. What are the major incidents that challenge your character’s inner life and what happens as a result? What does your antagonist want and how is he working hard to reach his goals? These are just some of the questions you’ll want to think about and answer in your outline.
3.) Write a possible opening scene to your novel, hooking the reader in, introducing the main character, the mood, and the setting. You should have at least 3-5 paragraphs for this exercise.


Class Discussion:

1.) Discuss the articles you read. Where there any that were more helpful than others? List 1-2 things you learned that maybe you hadn’t known or thought of before.

Getting in the Mood:

1.) Write for 15 minutes: Choose any scene you want, whether it’s one you have planned for the middle, or the end, and write the first 3-5 paragraphs. 
2.) Split into smaller groups, if necessary. Each person gets a chance to read their 15 minutes of writing. 
3.) After each person reads, others give feedback: a) What worked? b) What needs more work? Be as specific as you can.

Group Assignments:

1.) Get into small groups of 2-4 people. You can base your group members on your physical plotting method, if you’d like. Read over (or read aloud) each member’s outline and talk about what works and what doesn’t. What would make it worse? What would improve it? 
2.) Have each member read aloud their opening scene. Did it hook the listener? Did it make you want to keep reading past the end? Did it introduce the main character, the setting, what his problem is… What did you (the listener/reader) like about it? What didn’t you like about it? The writer should be sure to take notes on the group’s thoughts for later.

LTWF: Beginner Course Syllabus