Craft focus: introduction to novel plotting

Course Dates: 17/01/21 - 07/02/21
Time: 10:00 - 17:00
Location: Online

If you've made a start on your novel, but need help getting it into shape, this course provides a flexible template that will help you to overcome the obstacles ahead.

This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.


What is the course about?

This course is designed for students who have begun work on their novel, but need support to fashion their ideas into a coherent narrative that flows naturally from beginning to end. You'll be provided with a flexible template for plotting a novel, which will give you the structure you need without compromising your vision or personal style.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

- Creating and developing primary and secondary characters
- Mapping out a three-act structure so that your novel follows a natural course of beginning, middle and end
- Reading like a writer (with reference to specific case studies) and absorbing the lessons you need to improve your own writing
- How to shape, organise, and if necessary discard your ideas for the good of the novel as a whole
- Tightening the plot structure of the novel during the editing process.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- Create effective primary and secondary characters
- Demonstrate an understanding of the basic principles of a novel’s story arc
- Apply these structures to your own writing to improve the flow of your story
- Confidently begin to revise your own material into a workable whole.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

For students who have been writing on their own and would like support. Ideally, you'll have attempted to produce a first draft (in part or whole) of a novel and now seek guidance and objectivity. As a minimum, you should have an idea and some initial notes for a novel you wish to write.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

Weekly homework will be set. There is a short reading list. In class, there will be writing exercises individually and in groups; discussions of principles of plotting; analysis of published work; group debate in a positive, challenging environment; reading and writing assignments; assessment of the work of your peers. Students are expected to participate in classroom activities.

All writing courses at City Lit will involve an element of workshop. This means that students will produce work which will be discussed in an open and constructive environment with the tutor and other students. The college operates a policy of constructive criticism, and all feedback on another student’s work by the tutor and other students should be delivered in that spirit.

For classes longer than one day regular reading and writing exercises will be set for completion at home to set deadlines.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Please bring a pen and paper.

Reading list
The Hound of the Baskervilles by A C Doyle
Night Train by Martin Amis
The Final Solution by Michael Chabon

These books should be readily available from libraries.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You may be interested in our full length Novel writing course, or our two-term course How to write novels, which offers an in-depth syllabus and opportunities to workshop your writing in a supportive environment. When you're ready, you can progress to one of our advanced workshop and receive more feedback as you work towards publication.

All students are invited to join us at Late Lines, our regular performance night for City Lit writers. Students are also encouraged to submit their work to Between the Lines, our annual anthology of creative writing. For the latest news, courses and events, stay in touch with the Department on Facebook and Twitter.


Customer Reviews 4 item(s)

Write a review

Reviews below are by students who have attended this course, regardless of the course teacher. Please be aware you may not be booking onto a course with the same teacher.

This is a great course for anyone interested in novel writing. We had a mix of students who were just starting out and those who had already spent a lot of time on their work - and I think everyone benefitted from and enjoyed it. The tutor was both knowledgeable and intuitive and provided a safe and stimulating environment for people to explore theirs and others' work.
Course Rating
Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 14/02/2020)
This was a very helpful course to help ploy a novel. The tutor is excellent and very kind and helpful. It has really helped me think about how to structure my novel
Course Rating
Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 09/02/2020)
great course it
Course Rating
Review by Anonymous / (Posted on 09/02/2020)
Highly recommended. The tutor was brilliant, with useful knowledge to share.
Course Rating
Review by Hannah / (Posted on 12/07/2019)
Tutor Biographies
Jonathan Barnes

Jonathan Barnes is the author of three novels. He writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and the Literary Review and has contributed to the Arts pages of The Lancet. He is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Kingston University. He is also the author of several full-cast audio dramas from Big Finish Productions, featuring characters from Sherlock Holmes, Frankenstein and Doctor Who.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.

This course has now started

Course Code: HW205

Full Sun, day, 17 Jan - 07 Feb '21

Duration: 4 sessions (over 4 weeks)

Full fee: £199.00
Senior fee: £199.00
Concession: £80.00

Call us to check if you can still join the course 020 7492 2717 (depart num)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.