Sunday, January 20, 2013

Announcing: My Online Plot Master Class!

I'm pleased to announce that Writers Digest University and I will again be offering an online, eight-week version of my Plot Master Class, starting later this spring!

Goodness, what a clogged sentence. To detangle it, with elements in order of importance:

  • Plot Master Class:  An extremely in-depth course on the elements of plotting, including purpose, stakes, structure, subplots, and pacing. The goal is to help you understand the point of your novel, how your plot can and should serve that point, and what revisions you need to do to make that plot as tight and powerful as possible. (My book Second Sight goes into some of this, but the class covers it in much greater depth and detail, and also reflects various revisions in my own thinking on plot since I wrote the book.)
  • Online:  You'll read lectures and complete associated exercises interrogating your manuscript and its plot, with the opportunity to ask as many questions of me as you'd like in the online discussions.
  • Eight-week: I've taught this class as a one-day workshop at various locations around the country; this course distributes those lessons over eight weeks, allowing participants more time to absorb the material and complete the exercises.
  • Starting later this spring:  March 14, to be precise, with homework to be completed before the course begins.
  • Writers Digest University and I:  I developed the materials, and Writers Digest University offers the online setting.
  • Again:  The current session of the course started in November and is coming to an end now; I've really enjoyed it, and the participants say it's been useful to them!
The most common question I get about this course is "Do I have to have a completed draft of a manuscript?" My instinct is that it will be most useful to people who have completed a first draft of a manuscript and are ready to dig back into it, see what they have, and start polishing it up. (After all, the first exercise is to make an in-depth outline of your current book, and later exercises involve analyzing said outline.) But I've heard from a few past students that they took the course without a completed draft, and it helped them figure out where they wanted to take their books.

If you're interested, please check out the full course description and register here. Any other questions on the course, I'm happy to answer in the comments. Thank you!

19 comments:

  1. Do you happen to know if Writers Digest University offers units for this class?

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  2. I confess that I do not know what units are, nor are they mentioned on the registration page. So my guess is no.

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  3. Cheryl, I am SO glad I am now following your blog :) I wouldn't have known about this otherwise. I do have SECOND SIGHT, having purchased it before seeing you (and helping you sell it) at the 2011 NJ SCBWI Craft Day (I made you a couple of personalized bookmarks), and have only read pieces of it so far, already gleaning such valuable info!

    At present, I'm only just now getting into the plotting process and am really tempted to join this class, though can't afford it (though the fee is definitely worth it!). Maybe I'll work something out 'cause, although you stated it's best to have a first draft done (I'm rewriting the whole thing, so that first draft is almost useless), I'm thinking it would be helpful BEFORE I begin. If I can find the funds, I'm there!

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  4. Hi, Cheryl.

    I'm a fan of _Second Sight_, and I would love to take this class. Do you allow students to post their homework assignments to you privately?

    (In an online class I took through an RWA chapter, I described the novel I was working on in eight in-depth homework assignments. At the end of class, another student posted a note saying that she had read my homework assignments with great interest and that she planned on changing the plot of her novel to make it more like mine. I'd like to avoid another experience like this.)

    Thanks! I will check back throughout the day; there are currently 14 spots left, and I would like to take the class if I can post assignments privately.

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  5. Hi Anonymous,

    Actually, the homework assignments don't have to be shared with me or the class at all -- they are for your personal writerly benefit, not public consumption. Some students in the last go-round DID choose to share their letters/outlines etc. in the public forum for comments, and there's a way you can communicate privately with me through the system if you'd like me to see something. But I think of the class as being "plot therapy," somewhat, where I teach you some methods for thinking about and analyzing your plot through different eyes, and you do the work on your own, with me as support and not judge.

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    1. Thanks, Cheryl. I appreciate the speedy response!

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  6. Fall over happy that this is my 40th bday gift from my husband!

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  7. Hi Cheryl

    Saw above that people in the class are allowed to send things to you during the course... If you saw something you thought was promising or you really liked from a student, would you allow them to query you? How much personal contact would someone in the class get from you, and would you prefer to work with someone who has been in your class and gone through their novel in this way? Sorry bout all the questions, I'm curious!

    --Addie.

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  8. Hi Addie,

    I can tell you that the level of personal contact would be determined by the student -- if you ask questions, I'll answer them as best I can. Your other questions here, I'm hesitant to answer, because I really would rather not have students enrolling with the thought that they'll get their manuscript in front of me as a submission, or they'll gain some preferential treatment by doing so. . . . I'm a teacher in this class, using my knowledge as an editor, not an editor trolling for new work.

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  10. Would absolutely love to but as a college student saving to study abroad it just isn't possible right now. So going to cross my fingers that it's offered again a year or two down the line -- it sounds awesome!

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  11. Will you offer this class again? I see it is full. Very interested.
    Shelley
    PS. Heard you speak in NY last year and would love to take this course.

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    1. I may offer it again if this next session continues to be enjoyable and manageable for me.

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  12. Drat! I wanted to take this course and it's full.
    I do hope you have a great time and offer it again.

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  13. Oh no! I was going to sign up for this but it's full!! I hope you choose to do another session. Will you announce here on the blog if you open up any additional spaces or a future class?

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  14. Fingers crossed.
    Shelley

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  15. Hi Cheryl,

    I'm very excited about this class. I've done book maps before but is there a specific format you recommend, some examples you can share? My email somehow stripped the link for the book instructions.

    Thanks very much. Can't wait for March.

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  16. Thanks for sharing information about the innovative online plot master class. Please post the course duration and schedule to make it easier for the foreign students to enroll.

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  17. WHen will you be giving this again?

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