Five Steps to Creating an Airtight Plot
Five Steps to Creating an Airtight Plot
What’s keeping you from finishing—or starting—that story you’ve been dying to tell? Why haven’t you completed that novel you’re burning to write, the one that’s been percolating in your head for weeks, months, maybe even years?
If you’re like a lot of writers, you might be stuck on plotting. Wrestling your characters and ideas into a strong, cohesive, propulsive story can get overwhelming, especially when you get “lost in the forest,” so deep in the woods you can’t see daylight—or the way out. Maybe all those ideas swirling in your head get muddled together and you can’t figure out what’s intrinsic to the story, or what goes where. Maybe you just lose steam and are thinking of abandoning the project altogether.
But plotting doesn’t have to be a many-headed Hydra. Whether you’re just beginning your first manuscript or you’re a seasoned writer with many stories under your belt, whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, the five simple steps I lay out in this course will give you a solid, actionable road map for your story—a clear, workable guide to make sure you’re keeping momentum strong as you propel readers steadily through your story to a satisfying, cohesive conclusion. The course includes detailed worksheets and diagrams for each step to guide you through the process as you create a complete working plot and structure for your story.
How to Train Your Editor Brain
Writers read—it’s advice authors are given only slightly less often than “writers write.” But curling up with a good book isn’t the same as reading (or watching) analytically as a writer to understand and learn our craft.
Just as athletes learn from analyzing video of other games, or artists by studying the masters, writers develop their craft by studying other storytellers and analyzing how they elicit reaction and engage their audience.
Using plenty of examples from books, movies, and television (as well as commercials, journalism, and song lyrics!), this course offers plenty of specific techniques for developing and deepening your knowledge of story craft that you can practice every day, by doing things you’re already doing—reading books and watching movies and TV—but shifting your focus from simple enjoyment to objective analysis. You’ll learn:
- How to assess a story’s strengths and weaknesses by observing its effect on you, the reader/viewer, and tracing back how the author elicited it
- How to analyze and dissect specific story techniques–like creating suspense, maintaining momentum, developing character–to see what makes them effective (or not)
- Techniques for bringing an objective, assessing eye to your own writing
Deepen your mastery of story craft and become a stronger, more skilled writer and editor—without ever touching the keyboard (or even getting off the couch!).
How to Find and Fix Middle-of-the-book Sag
Is there anything more thrilling for the creative soul than starting a shiny new story? That sexy little minx seduces you effortlessly, promising you a dazzling future, and in the heady flush of new love it feels as if this perfect communion between you will never end.
And then comes the middle of the book.
When a manuscript loses its momentum, generally the issue is one of several culprits:
- The plot has lost its cohesion
- The characters aren’t progressing on their arcs
- The story stakes have deflated
- Tension and suspense have lagged
But when things get tough, that doesn’t mean the story isn’t worth fighting for. Figuring out the problem and propping up the sag can often add even more depth and dimension. Let me show you how to diagnose what’s stalling out your story–and give you practical, actionable tools to get it back on the road.
Seamlessly Weaving in Backstory (Without Stalling Out Your Story)
Believable characters and the world they live in don’t just spring to life fully formed at the beginning of your story. Ideally, if you’ve developed them fully, they are “real,” three-dimensional people with complex backstories and experiences living in vividly relatable worlds that have shaped who they are at your story’s “point A,” and inform the journey they take in your manuscript.
Yet how can you fluidly weave all that depth and complexity into your story without stalling pace and story momentum by getting bogged down in info dumps, flashbacks, or just too much exposition?
In detailed, example-filled lessons, this course offers clear, practical guidelines for lacing in backstory to develop and reveal who your characters have been without slowing down the story of where they’re going.
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I’m Tiffany Yates Martin.
In my publishing career working as a book editor on hundreds of manuscripts—both published and prepublished; for major publishers as well as indies; bestsellers and newer authors—I have more than 25 years of experience in seeing what can keep an author’s story from being as effective as it can be, and what makes it marketable and competitive.
As an editor as well as a teacher leading workshops and seminars in writing and editing across the country, I’ve developed clear, useful, hands-on tools for helping authors learn to spot these areas, along with practical techniques for addressing them, and I share those techniques in my online courses.