You want your readers asking questions about your story as they go, but “Why should I care about this?” is not one of them. One of the main reasons that readers get bored before finishing is because the story isn’t structured properly. A structured novel that includes plot hooks and exciting events that happen at the right time can grab a reader’s attention and never let go.
Using J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter novel as an example (because we like to learn from the best), this course details how to structure your story so editors, agents, and readers never want to put it down. Planning your novel’s structure does not mean you need to write a complete outline, but gives you a basic sketch that includes plot points, character motivations, stakes, and settings. (Also, you’ll be prepped and ready to go just in time for NaNoWriMo!)
Module 1: The Opening Line (Week 1) Learn how to write an opening line that grips readers’ attention and encourage them to read further. This module goes over the questions you want your reader asking from page one.
Module 2: Introducing Characters (Week 2) Learn how to get readers to care about your characters the moment they appear in the story. This module details several techniques to get others invested in your characters, and you will outline your own characters’ backstory and motivations in the assignment.
Module 3: The First Chapter (Weeks 3 & 4) The first chapter of your novel needs to accomplish many things, including hook, tension, and character introductions. Learn how to bring everything together so your first chapter shines.
Module 4: Stakes and Settings (Weeks 3 & 4) Learn how to increase a story’s stakes so your plot doesn’t fall flat, including the overarching stakes for the world and the personal consequences for the main character. You will also determine the best possible locations for scenes to take place.
Module 5: The First Plot Point (Weeks 5 & 6) Though your novel is full of plot points, this one is the most important. If you don’t put it in the right spot or don’t include it at all, the story’s pacing will feel off and readers’ attention will lag.
Module 6: The Second Plot Point (The Midpoint) (Weeks 5 & 6) Halfway through your book, something amazing happens: everything changes for your main character! This plot event is what keeps your book from dragging.
Module 7: The Third Plot Point (Weeks 7 & 8) This is the point where your main character is set on her path and nothing can tear her away from the final conflict of the story. Things pick up and your character faces the lowest of points as they head to the climax.
Module 8: Character Arcs (Week 7 & 8) Stories are interesting because characters change. This module gives a brief overview of the types of character arcs your main character can go through and what that means for the story’s ending.
Module 9: The Climax (Weeks 9 & 10) How do you finish your novel with a bang? How do you drive the moment where your protagonist and antagonist meet in a clashing conclusion? This is the point that makes or breaks your book in terms of reader satisfaction.
Module 10: The Ending (Weeks 9 & 10) Most novels include a cooling off period after the slam-bang finish of the climax. Here, you have to decide whether to tie off loose ends or not, whether your story ends sad or happy, and how to conclude the novel in a satisfactory way even if it is part of a series.
Structuring Your Novel: Essential Keys for Writing an Outstanding Story by K.M. Weiland (Discount code for students courtesy of the author)
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Duration: 10 Weeks
Dates: August 19, 2019 – October 25, 2019
Delivery Mode: Online
Regular Fee: $99* (plus applicable taxes)
Early Bird Price until July 10, 2019: $79* (plus applicable taxes)
Mythmaker’s Guild Members: Free
Auditors: $49* (You will not receive feedback on your assignments)
* Fees do not include cost of textbooks or applicable taxes.