Starts 7 August 2017. Leave your pants behind and learn how to plot your way to a finished novel

Writers’ HQ’s new ONLINE CREATIVE WRITING COURSE means you can learn the fundamentals of plotting your story, wherever you are in the world. Designed to fit around everyday life and a busy schedule, you will start with a simple idea, and finish with a comprehensive outline of your novel ready to be first drafted.

They say everyone has a novel inside them – the tricky part is getting it out without painful invasive surgery. This in-depth online plotting course contains everything you need to plan out your story from start to finish so that your rip roaring ready to get that first draft out, without too much swearing.

Over the six weeks, we’ll help you to build a practical understanding of story structure and plotting. By the end, you’ll walk away with a comprehensive outline of your story and a plan for what to do next (clue: write!).

Exercises, examples, group discussion, swearing and crying will enable you to grow your fictional world and build your story plan, taking it from ‘idea in your head’ to ‘actual real story that’s ready to be properly written’.

You’ll learn the fundamental elements that make up every good plot and the basics of story structure; explore who is in your story, what their roles are and how to make compelling characters; how to add tension and conflict to your story; how good beginnings, middles and ends work; how to break your story down in chapters and scenes and more; and what to do with your outline once you have it.


  • Daily online classes and exercises to lead you, step-by-step, towards a comprehensive chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene outline of your story, ready and waiting to be first drafted.
  • Lessons from brilliant authors who are at the top of their game, including Costa Award winning Emma Healey, Polari Prize nominated Paul McVeigh, and Bridport Prize winner Vanessa Gebbie.
  • Lessons on story structure and how to make your story fit or break the rules.
  • How to turn big picture chapter ideas into unputdownable scenes with believable and complex characters.
  • A private student forum to discuss ideas, techniques and get advice from your tutors and fellow writers.
  • Dedicated support by email from Writers HQ founder and all round lovely person Sarah Lewis.
  • Access to the course materials for 12 weeks
  • Access to our super sekrit and utterly lovely social media community.
  • Weekly inspiration, whip-cracking, writing exercises and prompts
  • Optional extra: Sarah or Jo to critique your final outline and give solid, constructive feedback

And all at the ridiculously cheap price of £140, or £170 if you want to include a critique of your outline. Press the big yellow booking button up there ->


Course Curriculum

Week 0: Get ready
READ: The Beginning FREE 00:20:00
Pull on your grown up pants. Novel writing is a serious business.
VIDEO: Catriona Ward on getting started FREE 00:05:00
Where do you start? Catriona Ward has some things to say
EXERCISE: What’s the big idea? FREE 01:00:00
In which we write some stuff down and truly begin the beginning.
EXERCISE: The Casting Call FREE 01:00:00
He's alive. ALLIIIVEE!
DISCUSS:  Ready to go? FREE 00:20:00
Groundwork laid. Ready to dive in feet first?
Week 1: The Colour And The Shape
READ: Foundation garments for a shapely story 00:45:00
What is story structure? Do I need it? How can I get me some?
WATCH: Authors on starting, planning, and thinking 00:20:00
Get the advice of supreme beings Emma Healey and Vanessa Gebbie
WRITE: emotions, morals and castles 01:00:00
Time to work out the point of your story.
WRITE: The Ridiculously Reductive Four Point Plot Planner 00:45:00
Here's where your story starts to take shape, albeit a very flat kind of shape.
READ: Planning non-linear stories 00:05:00
A quick note on dual timeline narratives or an otherwise unconventional mode of storytelling.
WRITE: The Slightly Less Reductive Seven Point Plot Planner 01:00:00
The next step in your plotting journey *cue X Factor music*
Discussion: And relax 00:20:00
Well done, soldier. We’ve reached the end of Week 1 and you are a HERO.
Week 2: Finally, the beginning
READ: The Magical 16 Point Plot Planner Of Your Dreams 01:00:00
It really is magical
WRITE: Making people 01:30:00
Time to get to know your cast a little better
DISCUSS: Let us begin 00:30:00
What does your beginning need to include, and how do the guys on your book shelf do it?
WRITE: Chapter 1 00:30:00
Time to nut out that opening chapter. Let's go!
WRITE: Chapters 2 and 3 01:00:00
Chapters 2 and 3, we're coming for you.
WRITE: Chapters 4 and 5 01:00:00
Guess what this unit's about...
Week 3: And now the middle
READ: Sculpt Your Middle For A Firmer Figure 01:00:00
Getting from A to B via the rest of the alphabet
READ: Productive Procrastination 00:45:00
Rest your brain a while, but also sneakily learn about the shape of stories.
WRITE: the middle, part 1 of 3 01:00:00
Time for more chapter outlining...
READ: Writing by layers 00:45:00
Time to start building up the details, bit by painstaking bit
WRITE: the middle, part 2 of 3 01:00:00
Ahoy! The midpoint! We're half way there!
WRITE: the middle, part 3 of 3 01:00:00
Third act here we come...
Week 4: In a surprise turn of events, let's look at the end
READ: Elements of a Rising Climax and Exciting Finish. 01:00:00
WRITE: The final chaps V1 00:45:00
Entering the final phases of that first story sweep
WATCH: Authors talk about tricky bits and moving on 00:20:00
Find out how pro authors force their way through blocks, struggles and hiccups.
WRITE: The final chaps V2 00:45:00
Penultimate chapter planning. Eeek.
WRITE: The final chaps V3 00:45:00
Entering the final phases of that first story sweep
WRITE: One more quick go round 01:00:00
And then time for a break
Week 5: And then?
READ: Smaller units 01:00:00
How to break your beginnings, ends and middles into chapters, scenes and more.
WRITE: What’s the point and what can you see? 01:00:00
Turn three of your chapters into a scene-by-scene outline
WRITE: But then, so then 01:00:00
Turn some more of your chapters into a scene by scene outline
WRITE: The midpoint! 01:00:00
Make a break for the midpoint!
DISCUSS: Chapter to scene surgery 00:30:00
Come discuss this technique. How's it working out for you?
Week 6: Getting ready to write
WRITE: Let’s take it to the bridge. 01:00:00
Get the final scene notes down on the page.
WRITE: Another iteration 01:00:00
A fluff cutting sweep before you begin
READ: Nip tuck 01:00:00
How to declutter, lose the fluff, and make sure everything is neat and tidy.
DISCUSS: Plotstorming 02:00:00
Share your outline on the forums, get feedback, adjust as required.
Book your place nowCOURSE STARTS ON August 7, 20173 SEATS LEFT
  • £140.00£170.00
  • August 7, 2017STARTS ON
  • 6 Weeks
  • 20 SEATS


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