Best-laid plans: a self-guided outlining seminar

This course will lead you through the steps of drafting a blueprint for your next novel. By the end of the seminar, you will have a solid outline, broken into either chapters or major scenes. Work at your own pace in our user-friendly Moodle site. 

Darling Axe writing courses replicate the workshop-style curricula of many university MFA programs:  

  • Comprehensive guides on various craft topics
  • Directed activities and writing prompts
  • Supplemental resources and short-story reflections
  • A tangible goal and final product (e.g. a novel outline)
  • Affordable access: only $50 USD


Get started 

Course summary

This course is full of content, and that can be overwhelming to some, but I highly recommend you dive right in. And while you're at it, set some deadlines for yourself. One of the most important qualities of successful authors is their dedication to the craft—their discipline in sitting down each day and working, whether that's researching, outlining, drafting, revising, or polishing. With this in mind, I recommend setting realistic goals for this course and sticking to them.

If you can devote a couple hours per day, aim to finish one unit per week—all the readings and prompts in addition to the main outlining task.  For those with busier schedules, aim for two weeks per unit. 

  • Unit one: The running summary—your nutshell vision
    • Focus: Character motivation and plotting basics
  • Unit two: Balancing the beginning and end
    • Focus: Finding your story's heart
  • Unit three: Fleshing out the dynamic middle
    • Focus: Character arcs and rising conflict
  • Unit four: Plotting by scene or chapter
    • Focus: Considerations of structure, voice, and POV 


Get started 

Your instructor

David Griffin Brown, Darling Axe senior editor and creative writing instructor

David Griffin Brown is an award-winning short-fiction writer and Darling Axe senior editor. He has 20 years' editing experience, and 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.





Get started