Best-laid plans: how to outline a novel

Outlining a novel: a workshop-based course for fiction writers

Next offering: September 30 to October 25

Whether or not you're gearing up for NaNoWriMo, this course will lead you through the steps to drafting a blueprint for your next novel.

Course summary

The curriculum for this course is styled after an MFA workshop, but is open to new and veteran writers. Participants will outline their manuscript in stages over four weeks, with ongoing support from the instructor as well as other workshop members. Short story and craft discussions will inform the process, and there will also be a weekly writing prompt to help you situate scenes and characters within your developing structure.

  • Week one: The running summary: a short outline
  • Week two: Balancing the beginning and end
  • Week three: Fleshing out the dynamic middle
  • Week four: Plotting by scene and chapter

Participant expectations

To get the most out of this workshop, we require a commitment from each participant.  Everyone enrolled is expected to engage in discussions; your workshop group will rely on you for comments, suggestions, and encouragement. Workload requirements:

  • Submit a growing outline each week (adding ~1000 words per week)
  • Read weekly submissions and give feedback to 3-6 group members
  • Read a weekly resource article and short story
  • Apply insights from resources and story discussions to your workshops
  • Participate in ongoing discussion

To achieve all of this, aim to set aside 15 hours per week.

Your instructor

David Griffin Brown – Darling Axe senior editor and author of Sky to Sea and the Sparrow War

David Griffin Brown is an award-winning short-fiction writer and Darling Axe senior editor. He has 20 years' editing experience, and he has also spent 15 years working as a staff trainer, English teacher, and writing instructor. David completed his MFA in creative writing through the University of British Columbia, and he also holds an undergraduate degree in anthropology through the University of Victoria.  David's two debut novels, Sky to Sea and The Sparrow War are both represented by the Donaghy Literary Group.


Limited workshop space

We keep our classes small to ensure that each participant has ample feedback from the instructor, and also to keep discussions focused.  Reserve your spot before the workshop fills up!

Reserve your spot today!