How to plot a novel, from idea to outline in six weeks
Learn how to plot a novel from beginning to end and make your stories compelling, complex and memorable
Writers’ HQ’s 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 you’re 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’s in your story, what their roles are, and how to make your characters compelling; how to add tension and conflict to your story; how good beginnings, middles and ends work; how to break your story down into chapters and scenes and more; and what to do with your outline once you have it.
WEEK 1: THE COLOUR AND THE SHAPE
What are you *really* writing about? What’s the fundamental human truth at the bottom of your novel? What shape is your story? Get that first, very brief, very reductive outline nailed
WEEK 2: FINALLY, THE BEGINNING
The Magical 16 Point Plot Planner of Your Dreams
WEEK 3: AND NOW THE MIDDLE
Why the midpoint is the most glorious point of your story
WEEK 4: IN A SURPRISE TURN OF EVENTS, LET’S LOOK AT THE END
Make your end kick-ass awesome
WEEK 5: AND THEN?
Turning chapters into scenes
WEEK 6: GETTING READY TO WRITE
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!Liz Plotstormers
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.Rosemary SgroiPlotstormers
Now I am a Plotstormer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I love this course. So much great actionable advice on how to plot a novel, starting from 50,000 feet up and getting closer and closer until you’re at ground level….I was struggling with a novel I’ve been wanting to write for years now – have charged into NaNoWriMo every November for the last four years, hoping to get ‘er done, and with the exception of one year (in which I got 50,000 words of…backstory!), I’ve stumbled out of the gate and never hit the final target for the month. This year I’m more hopeful – because I have a much better idea of where I’m going with the story. This was something I hadn’t taken the time to think about in advance. Now I have, and I realize that was the missing piece – now I know what I want to do, I know things may change along the way, but I also know I have my Magical 16-Point Plot Planner lurking in the background of my files, waiting to rescue me – or to be adapted to fit the story as things morph and change. And it’s been great hanging out with other writers who are working out their plots as well – seeing the process and how it’s working for other people – getting to contribute to their work and getting their wonderful suggestions and help for my own. All hail Plotstormers! I’ll be using what I’ve learned over and over and over….
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.AndrewPlotstormers
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.Colette BatterbeePlotstormers
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.ElliePlotstormers: How To Plot Your Novel
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…LornaPlotstormers
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.Stuart WhitePlotstormers
Plotstormers – guidance, structure, encouragement ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I wasn’t convinced any kind of online writing course could benefit me, having heard other writers’ tales of disappointment, but I would have no hesitation in recommending this one – and indeed anything else Writers’ HQ put out. Excellent in every way, refreshing and full of wisdom.Jan TchamaniPlotstormers
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.AmandaPlotstormers
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.Mark SadlerPlotstormers
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!VickiPlotstormers
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.JeanninePlotstormers
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.Stephanie HuttonPlotstormers
Cross our palms with silver and we’ll fill your brains with knowledge
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