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Your Novel Roadmap

Plotting and Planning Made Easy

"Daniel respected my work and vision on a profound level but also had a keen editorial eye and a stroke of literary genius that took everything I’d written to the next level.

He was immensely patient, comforting, and encouraging -- is it weird that I think of him as my literary midwife? Because I totally do."

-- Tawni Waters, the award-winning author of The Long Road Home, The Beauty of the Broken, and Siren Song.

 

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Novels Are Hard to Write

If you write novels, you know that the absolute worst thing is getting stuck.

If you get stuck with a short poem or a short story, maybe you can just leave it and come back later.

Maybe you can just force yourself to stay in the chair and finish the piece through sheer willpower, even though you know it isn't any good.

But that simply doesn't work for a novel: you can't just take a shot of bourbon and write the remaining 40,000 words in one sitting. The work required is just too great. And once you've spent a year researching and dreaming up your characters, you probably won't want to put the manuscript away at the first sign of trouble.

After all, you love this story and want to finish it. You've told your friends about it. And you've already invested a huge amount of time.

I know from my own writing career how miserable getting stuck can be. You can spend months (even years) not sure where to go next with the story. Or you can finish the draft, show it to your literary agent and mentors, and find that they don't quite love it.

And then you can spend months (even years) re-writing, trying to figure out what parts of the book need to be fixed, and what parts need to be kept.

This, by the way, is what happened with my first novel-project, The English Teacher. That novel was about an English woman in Taiwan, getting in trouble with business ventures and ghosts.

I loved the characters. So did my agent. But despite months of rewriting, we never got the story, the plot, or the conception of the book quite to where we thought it was ready. And when we finally sent it out to the big publishing houses, they agreed, and rejected the manuscript.



Here's How I Can Help

This course is the result of four years of PhD research into the craft of fiction -- as well as my long training in the science of teaching and skill development.

In other words, I will be teaching some very simple, clear techniques for creating a complex, exciting novel.

This is the gameplan: the end of this five-week course, you will have developed amazing skills at plotting a novel-length story.

After five weeks of discussion with me and the other course participants, you will have not only begun drafting your next novel, but you'll also have mastered skills that will serve you over your writing life.

What if, during this course, you were able to learn a series of strategies and habits that would let you plan out a successful novel draft over and over again?

What if, when you finished a draft, you already knew how to critique it, and spot moments where the story went off track?

Imagine how much easier the rest of your novel-writing life would be: you would be able to dream up successful stories more easily, and write first drafts with less stress and fewer false starts.

And -- best of all -- what if you could reliably create a compelling, attention-grabbing first fifty pages, an initial section of a book that you could show to agents and editors and get them excited to read more? That first section of a novel would be like your "calling card," or a "minimum viable product."

You could submit that section to contests, or give it away on your website, or share it when people asked what sort of writer you were.

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This is a five-week guided training course in plotting and planning.

You'll complete the course with a full plan / outline for your next book (or a plan for the revision of your current manuscript). You'll have written several key scenes, and you will have developed a compelling narrative voice for the book, too. And you will have received useful, constructive feedback on your project from me and the other participants in the course.

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By the way: the specific shape of this course came from you, the writers who have visited my blog and joined my mailing list.

All this year, I've been asking people about their biggest problems with novel-writing, and dozens of writers have emailed me back with their frustrations and hopes.

It was quickly clear that plotting a novel was the largest area of concern for my readers. How to get started? How to design a compelling story? How to fix a completed manuscript that beta readers kept critiquing?

I knew I could help. I showed a plan of the course to fourteen advance readers and requested their feedback.

Of those fourteen novelists who saw the advance materials, seven have now purchased the course.

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There are a lot of online writing courses out there. Many of them look very good.

I've designed this course, however, to be really practical and hands on.

In weekly short videos, I will be explaining techniques for winning a reader over in a novel's opening pages, for designing a surprising plot twist, and for developing a well-told dramatic scene.

But I won't just be describing those ideas. You'll also have prompts and worksheets to help you focus on a new novel idea (or to spot problems in a completed draft).

If you want, you can be writing your novel through the entire length of the course.

And, in our private discussion group, I'll be giving live Q&A sessions each week, answering questions and helping you apply the ideas to your own work. And I'll be present in that discussion group every day, helping you get feedback on your ideas.

Finally, at the end of the course, I'll be available for a one-on-one phone call, so we can discuss your novel plans and spot any remaining problems.

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I love to teach. I love talking to writers about their craft and their goals.

Whether you are a "pantser" or a "planner" -- whether you like to just get writing or prefer to create a detailed scene-by-scene outline -- I'll show you how to better prepare for the writing process.

And you'll get writing on week one of the course.

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P.S. The course will be open to new registrants until Thursday August 10th. After that, the shopping cart will close and the course will begin.

After midnight on August 10th, the course will be closed to new writers until I run it again -- likely at a higher price. So if you are interested in this course, make sure to sign up before midnight on the tenth.

Your Instructor


Daniel David Wallace
Daniel David Wallace

Daniel David Wallace is a writing coach, novelist, and editor.

Daniel recently completed a PhD in the craft of fiction. He spent those busy four years studying how to teach writers how to create better stories -- and with less stress.

Thousands of writers have signed up for his online courses on style, plotting, and finding one's voice. His novel-in-progress is represented by the literary agency Inkwell Management, and as the editor in chief of Burlesque Press, he has edited and published award-winning authors. With his brilliant wife, he created and co-hosted The Hands On Literary Festival, an annual conference in New Orleans for writers, readers, and scholars.



This course is not open for enrollment.

How's this going to work?

The course has three main sections:

  1. A step-by-step course on planning and plotting a novel. These video lectures and text essays will be delivered by me. They will explain the framework for plotting a great novel. Each course unit will include worksheets for you to complete afterwards, so you can see how your novel-idea matches or veers away from the ideas I've proposed. The course materials will arrive week by week, so that you won't get overwhelmed with fifty different ideas on day one.
  2. A secret facebook group just for us, for the paying members of the course. Every day while the course goes on, we will gather to discuss writing ideas, to share our response to the lectures, and to get help with plotting and planning. You'll be able to share your novel ideas in a safe, supportive environment, and request help and feedback from the group. The group will a "pop-up." It will last only as long as the course, and then I will "freeze" it, so that you can return to your regular lives and get writing. As the month proceeds, I'll also be giving live video talks to the entire group, answering questions and offering new ideas.
  3. A final phone or video call with me. Once the facebook group has run its course, you'll have a one-on-one coaching call with me, so I can read your plan and initial notes, and you can get specific, personal advice on how to move forwards.
  4. Stretch goals: as long as twenty or more writers sign up, I will invite some of the most successful writers I know to hold live conversations with me and the group. You'll be able to listen in and ask questions about writing, editing, and publishing.

Units of the Course

Unit One: How does a novel work?

  • Exercises to get you writing!
  • The scope of your novel
  • The "page seventy" problem
  • The "page two-hundred" problem
  • The rule of five ones
  • Myths of novel-writing ("show don't tell" etc)
  • Crucial elements of storytelling

Unit Two: Hooking your reader's interest

  • Recap: "plot" versus a "relationship with a story"
  • The ethical appeal (desire and sympathy)
  • The logical appeal (setting and mystery)
  • The emotional appeal (struggle and action)
  • Advanced unit: sympathy for the narrator?
  • Four possible POVs and how to choose
  • One possible tense

Unit Three: Plot twists, sub-plots, and subtext

  • The puzzle of "plot twists"
  • Why most plot twists fail
  • A triangle of plot movement
  • "Surface" vs "depth" -- explict action vs. subtext
  • The progress towards the twist
  • After the reveal: moving towards the end
  • Advanced topic: a third level (sub-subtext)?

Unit Four: Scene design and fictional progression

  • Bickham's method explained in detail
  • How to build a novel in scenes
  • Advanced unit: four-column plot outlines
  • Re-cap: why a good narrator is crucial
  • Myths of novel-writing: omnscience is boring

Unit Five: Building to the finale

  • Only five dramatic questions
  • When the book starts cooking
  • The role of sub-subtext
  • The danger of "demoting" plot threads
  • Character growth and change

"He’s legitimately an expert who has unique and helpful information to share. His content is original and genuine and worth paying for."

-- Eva Langston, of evalangston.com

How to Buy the Course

A full registration costs $247: for the video lectures, the Facebook group and live Q&A sessions, as well as the one-on-one coaching call.

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I think the full course package is going to get you to a really good place. I'm going to work as hard as I can to teach you how to write a great novel. And this full package is far, far cheaper than taking a novel-writing course with me at my University.

There's also a payment plan available.

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However, as the father of a small baby, I know that money is tight sometimes, and I know that many of us, given the current economy, are watching our budgets carefully. So I'm also offering the "streamlined" version of the course, at $197. This price will include everything except the one-on-one coaching call. You will be able to watch the training videos, complete the worksheets, and take full part in the facebook group.

We just won't get to talk about your novel-idea one on one, that's all.

The streamlined version:

  1. Five units of novel-writing instruction (about twenty-five videos in total).
  2. Participation in the secret facebook group and access to extra teaching.

This will be $197.

Questions

Is there a payment plan? Or do I have to pay the full price at once?

There is a payment plan, definitely.

Why do we need a facebook group? Can't you just tell us what to do?

I think that I have great ideas, arranged in a carefully built sequence, for helping you write this book and many more in the future. But every novel is unique. By talking, sharing, and seeing what other people are doing, we will really make progress in our creative work. I'm also hoping that you will meet future writing partners and advisors in the group, and build working connections that will last a lifetime.

Okay. But then why is it a "pop-up" group? Why will it only last a month or so?

You're busy. You already have a lot of obligations. I want this course to feel like a special, focused time -- rather than a new duty you have to handle for an indefinite basis. If course participants, when the course is done, want to create their own secret group, unsupervised by me, that is obviously completely fine. It would be amazing, in fact.

What if I already have an MFA?

So do I. I studied my MFA with award-winning, world-famous authors. It was a fantastic program and it changed my life. But what I am about to teach in this course we did not really focus on during my degree.

You keep saying "novel." Is this course good for every genre?

The course will pull examples and techniques from "literary" fiction as well as historical fiction, romance, YA, and fantasy.

What if I'm a "pantser"?

You'll be in great company. You won't be required to write out detailed outlines. Instead, you'll learn what warning signs to look for, and how to keep the story flowing instinctively.

Example lesson: "Your novel's first chapter"

Here's one way I teach writers to grab the reader's attention


Praise for my free training series "Plot Your Novel"

I love helping writers with their craft. Here are just a few responses to my last course, helping novelists plan the first fifty pages of their next book.

One writer said:

And another said...

This course is not open for enrollment.

Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts in early August, and ends five weeks later.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own. P.S. During the course, materials will be released week by week. But when the course closes, you'll have access to everything, forever.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
We would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact us in the first 30 days and we will give you a full refund.