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.

***The August Plotstormers is SOLD OUT***

But don’t panic. There are still places on the Back to School Edition
Starts on Monday 25 September.

It’s that education-ey time of year. Kids are back at Grange Hill. You’ve packed the teens off to uni. It’s time for you to shift your own brain into action and get your novel sorted. Who knows, you might have a first draft ready for next year’s London Book Fair.

Just select your start date under the Book Now Button on the right.

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

Course Curriculum

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!
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.

Course Reviews


13 ratings
  • 5 stars12
  • 4 stars1
  • 3 stars0
  • 2 stars0
  • 1 stars0
  1. A solid foundation

    At the beginning of this course I had an idea for a novel that I could have comfortably written down on a single sheet of paper. Six weeks later I have a detailed narrative structure, with subplots and well-drawn characters. I have the confidence to take this outline forward and begin the actual novel writing process.

  2. I am converted

    Before the course, I was a solid pantser, but now I have truly seen the light. The way Sarah & Jo take you step-by-step through each stage, they make it impossible not to understand the theory of story structure and help you to put it into practice. So, after 6 short weeks (ARE THEY REALLY OVER?!), I can scarcely believe it, but I have a well-structured plan, with all the sub-plots in place, and I know what I want to happen and when. I just need to write the darned thing, now. If only they had a course for that… oh, wait a minute…

  3. Amazing journey of discovery

    I was a bit hesitant about doing an online course but I liked Writers’ HQ’s approach and the programme for plotstomers looked like the business. Over the last 6 weeks I have made such huge progress with novel. Really getting to grips with where story was going, characters’ motivation, that thing everyone mentions called “conflict”.
    The teaching material was excellent: just right amount and level. Support was good though I didn’t really get too involved with forum discussions as my head was buried in doing the plotting homework.
    Feel massively more confident now about actually writing the bloody novel. Will be going on to the next stage with Writers’ HQ.

  4. The scales have truly fallen

    I had an idea. I wrote it out for 60k words. Someone said it was more like a short story. I was stuck. Then I discovered Writers HQ… I’ve found my people. This course has literally transformed my work. I now have something that actually reads like the outline for a novel.

    The teaching methods, materials and support (both from Sarah and Jo, and my fellow plot-a-trons) has been superb. Sensible, practical, intense, with a good splosh of anarchy.

    I now feel more confident about the actual writing and am also happy that the original idea holds up. Thank you so much and I’m looking forward to the next course (9 month…). It’ll be AWESOME!

  5. Highly Recommended

    I came to this course with the complete first draft of a novel I had already written, but which (after a year of failing to rewrite it on my own) I knew needed more than just a bit of editing to make it work. Plotstormers has been a great way of completely deconstructing what I had to begin with, and then building it up again from scratch into first four, then seven, then sixteen units. The early weeks give you a brilliant introduction to various theories of plotting, soundbites from successful authors, and links to useful blogs and resources; this part is huge fun, and the video of Kurt Vonnegut explaining the shapes of stories is absolutely priceless. When it came to the actual writing bit, Sarah and Jo provided excellent support, encouragement and incisive feedback throughout (though be warned: the swearing is contagious. You’ll know you have a problem when your 2 yr old starts effing at random people in shops). In the latter weeks of the course the forums (fora?) became indispensible for sounding out ideas and identifying problems as well as helpful cameraderie. I lagged behind towards the end, but nevertheless this course has given me the boost I needed to get my novel back off the ground, or at least back onto the runway. I highly recommend it, and look forward to taking more Writers HQ courses in the near future.

  6. Useful Course

    I found the planning method taught in this course a bit of a straight-jacket in terms of developing an outline for a new idea. That said, I think it will be a useful tool to diagnose problems once I have an outline in place, so I can confidently say that this course has improved my novel planning process. I think I would recommend it to writers who have an outline they want to knock into shape, rather than idea they were trying to outline though.

    Using the forums was problematic, as the threads quickly became walls of text when people shared their work, which made it difficult to do a quick check-in, or participate in discussion (something I had limited time for). This was addressed part way through the course, when we were asked to make a new thread if we wanted work critiqued, and hopefully will be something that they look to improve for future offerings.

  7. Good stuff

    Excellent course. I have to say I never got the hang of the forums. But I’m probably getting old and not very online-attuned. I prefer classrooms with real people. But that’s my problem, not the course’s.

    Overall, a very good course, beautifully thought through.

    Recommended, even if like me you aren’t too hot on the virtual side of things.

  8. Plotstorming is Rough....but I loved it.

    It took me a while to get through the course materials. Mostly because of the huge monster in my head telling me I couldn’t, wouldn’t and shouldn’t get through it. It is a testament to Sarah and Jo’s skills, encouragement and general awesomeness that despite all this I kept finding my way back and eventually emerged the other side with a not just a plot, but a passion for my story that I feared was lost.
    The course is worth every penny, every bead of sweat and every tear. I feel like a better writer in a better position. Can’t thank you guys enough!

  9. Top notch course and the exercises are really challenging. It is hard work but it helps build a habit of writing too. I am really enjoying it a lot and surprised by how much I managed to do within those few weeks. Sarah has been an absolute brick really supportive and verifying or checking things in such a gentle and encouraging way. Go for it, you’ll love it.

  10. Top notch

    I started with a beginning and an end then changed the end, twice, got the middle and finally understood what plotting is all about and what a story arc truly is. Now I see holes and have an idea of how to fill them. Great attitude to teaching from WHQ crew.

  11. When there's something weird (in your story idea) and it don't look good...Who ya' gonna call? PLOTSTORMERS!

    Superb materials, featuring advice, ideas, exercises and tips from both Sarah and Jo, as well as a plethora of published authors, all contribute to making Plotstormers the course to take if you just don’t know how the hell your hero is going to find their mentor, or which character should die next, or who should kiss who and when (bleeeurgh!) – whatever kind of novel you’re wanting to write, whatever style you’ve had previously, the course will help to amplify, hone and refine your ideas into a coherent and detailed road map, directing you through the asteroid belt of your story!
    These guys rock, I had a blast and would recommend with reservation.

  12. Plotstormers

    Took me from vague idea to specific novel plan in six weeks. I don’t have any writing time, but guess what – it’s still possible. Supportive and clear – highly recommend.

  13. 7 Ideas in 7 Days

    A mysterious benefactor gives you a task a day and – shazam! – by the end of the week you’re a-fizzing with ideas. Tis witchcraft. Do it.

Enroll now -3 SEATS LEFT
  • £140.00£190.00
  • 6 Weeks
  • 40 SEATS
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