Let me guess: You're here because you have a story to tell, or maybe just an idea for a story. It might be completely fictional-- something you've made up. It might be inspired by another story from history or TV or literature. It might come from your own life and experiences. But there's a story you are starting to think about developing, a start you want to develop into something bright and strong and great.
You're not crazy! And you're not alone.
I'm Alicia Rasley, a novelist and writing teacher. I know what it's like to be preoccupied with a story idea. When I get the idea for a story, I can't stop thinking about it. I even dream about it!
I speculate about the characters and their motives and past. I draw maps of the story setting. I try to plot out the story events so I can figure out how it all starts and ends. I guess you can say I get obsessed with creating an entire story out of just an idea.
This sense of being preoccupied-- even "occupied"-- by a story inspired me to write an essay about this weird experience of having a story take over your brain: Multiplicity. Read it and see if you're having a similar experience with your attention being taken over by your own imagination and this story that won't let you go.
We're Not Crazy! We're Creative.
What I have learned is... we're not crazy. We're creative. We're imagining characters and events-- creating something out of nothing. Some of us will be writing scenes and conversations and setting description and character history.
the next step is to take that story idea and develop it-- design a
strong plot structure and build powerful events and intriguing
I'm here to help you develop that story idea into a dramatic, coherent plot with sympathetic characters--so you can write the great story you're imagining now. So let's get started.
In this course, we'll work through the entire plot of your story, so you'll have the super-structure of the three acts, the framework of the nine turning point scenes, and the design of the characters.
When you get done with the course, you'll have a fully developed plot with dramatic events and deep characterization. You'll be able to draft the prose of the story, knowing that the structure is strong enough to hold the rising intensity of your events.
You'll avoid the waste of time and creativity because you'll be plotting with a plan, and with the expert guidance of Alicia, a master writing teacher with years of experience in publishing and editing.
Coaching and Connection
And you won't be left there all alone with your idea and your plot! You'll be able to take advantage of constant interaction with Alicia and her team. Along with the course come four 30-minute one-on-one coaching calls with Alicia, where you can get immediate and in-depth help on any aspect of the plotting and characterization process. You can even schedule them for after you finish each module, so we can brainstorm off what you've been working on.
You can also join our Facebook group to exchange ideas, ask Alicia questions, and gain access to specialized advisories, podcasts, and exercises.
Writing is often such a solitary activity! But in this Plot Blueprint course, you don't have to be alone with your thoughts and questions. You can connect with other writers and share your experience and understandings.
And you'll have time to discuss your own story with Alicia, who with her years of experience as an author and editor can quickly pinpoint problems and offer solutions.
You can do it-- plot that story and build those characters-- and we can help!
Over the years, I have taken many courses and workshops and worked with many agents and editors to grow my craft, and Alicia's joyful and smart approach definitely stands out. She is unflinchingly supportive and excited, as she zooms right in on the most important issues in the story that need development. She helps you see all the elements of storytelling such as plot, characters, and setting together as one. The advice she gave me over phone and email propelled my skills to another level quickly and efficiently. Katia Raina-
Flaubert's revisions on the manuscript of Madame Bovary
So ... interested? Here's how we'll get to work on building your story:
Four modules taking you through the entire process of imagining, structuring, and deepening your plot and characters:
1: Introduction—Get to know yourself as a writer, and get to know your story.
2. Plotting the Three Acts—Structure your story in three acts, from
- Act 1: Setting up the characters and conflicts
- Act 2: Increasing the action and building to the crisis
- Act 3: Exploding the conflict in a dramatic climax and then resolving the story.
3. Designing the Nine Turning Points- Craft three major plot points in each act, to create a powerful progress from set up to conclusion.
4. Develop the characters—Deepen and individualize your story by plotting the journey, goal, and strengths of the main characters.
Then we’ll have several ways to plot all of this together, the three acts, the nine turning points, and the three character elements.
Along the way, we’ll have exercises and assignments so you can immediately apply each aspect to your own story. You will be able to fill out concise workbooks for each module, so that you’ll have a written record of your insights and planning to consult as you write the story.
The Plot Blueprint classroom will also provide you with a library of great resources: Articles and books I’ve written about plotting, character-building checklists, sample plot outlines, lists of helpful links, blog posts about writing and editing… I’ve been writing about writing for years, and I have a lot of information to share!
You get permanent access, by the way. In fact, if you decide you want to write a sequel to this story, you’ll be able to work through those four modules for the new plot too! (I bet it will be a breeze the second time with all your new skills and insights.)
And most important, maybe, will be the four coaching calls! You can talk directly with me at any point, especially when you want to discuss possibilities for a particular turning point or character element. I will give affirmative, useful suggestions to help guide you to just the right decisions that will make your plot more coherent and dramatic.
You’ll also have access to a private Facebook group, so you can interact with me and other writers. There, you’ll be able to ask questions and share insights, and really enjoy hanging out with a community of writers.
Writing is so often a solitary process. But here, you won’t be alone! There’s nothing so fun as letting your imagination grow and explore, especially with other writers. So what do you think? Are you ready to get started on taking that idea and building a story from it?
When you’re done with The Plot Blueprint course, that’s what you’ll have:
- A complete plot with a strong structure leading to a dramatic ending.
- Powerful turning points along the way that keep the reader intrigued and involved.
- Deep and active characters who have good reasons to act and react to the plot events.
- New skills for designing scenes and focusing characters that can be used with future stories.
- Fulfilling contact with other writers who are in there with you, brainstorming, plotting, writing.
- Interaction with an experienced and positive story coach (me) who will focus directly and personally with you and your story.
Come join us! We’ll have fun along the way, and in the end, you’ll have that plot you’ve been thinking about, and you will be able to write and revise a strong and dramatic story.
Building a story is like building a house: You need tools. And you'll find plenty of plotting tools here in the Plot Blueprint course.
When you enroll in the course, you'll get access to all the modules and extras in the classroom.
But that's not all. You'll also be able to use a library of articles I've written about story building and design.
I'll also send you a monthly memo about how to solve some plotting issues that we encounter while plotting our stories.
You'll also be able to listen to the Plot Blueprint podcast, where we discuss in depth some interesting aspect of story, like "ambiguous endings" and "villains."
And to help you understand the Plot Blueprint examples, you'll be able to watch clips of Casablanca ("The Nine Turning Points") and The Godfather ("The Character Journey") with podcast commentary.
You'll also be invited to join a Facebook community, where you can talk with other story-builders. I'll also be doing Facebook Live sessions to answer students' questions.
And finally, I'll stay in constant contact! Don't forget about the four coaching calls, just you and me talking through any plot problems you encounter, or brainstorming plot events and character journeys.
This adds up to a comprehensive course that will take you all the way from idea to plot-- adding depth and drama at every point!
Get started now!
Hi, I'm Alicia Rasley, and when it comes to writing stories, I've about done it all. You know that Frank Sinatra song? "I've been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king." Well, I've been a writer, a winner, an editor, a sinner, a leader, a reader, a professor and a pupil....
Okay, I can't think of any better alliteration or rhymes. You get the idea. With varying degrees of success and luck, I've experienced a lot in writing and teaching writing. And now I am sharing that hard-won wisdom with newer writers-- writers like you who might not want to spend twenty years in the school of hard knocks before writing a successful story. I attended that Hard Knocks University, and I have the blood-spattered diploma. You don't have to, because I'm going to help you learn in a few weeks the most important elements of crafting a good story: The structure that supports and develops the story-- the plot/character framework.
Of all those different roles, I think what taught me the most about the importance of story structure was the editing. I remember sitting at a desk surrounded by piles of manuscripts submitted for -- well, actually, the submissions were all electronic by then, so I was surrounded by piles of pixels. But these were pixels that added up to stories created with love and suffering by dedicated and determined writers.
As I read the pages, I could tell how much pain and joy went into writing these stories. Those writers had put their minds and hearts into their stories, struggling over every scene and character. And I wanted to help each and every one of them make those stories better.
But there I was, representing the publisher. My job, basically, was to reject-- to reject every submission except the very few who got it all right-- the plot, the characterization, the theme.
So often I wanted to write a rejection letter to authors, saying the voice was good and the characters were interesting, but that the plot was a tangled mess. I wouldn't say it that way, of course! The worst part was, when I told them the plot was faulty, I couldn't take the time to tell them how to take it apart and build it back into a strong and coherent structure.
My job, sadly, was mostly to swiftly read a plot synopsis and first chapter, and then write a kind note saying, "Sorry, this isn't the sort of plot we're looking for."
Even as I'd sign those rejection letters, I'd identify with the writers. After all, I'd gotten a few (well, maybe more than a few!) rejections myself. Most persistent authors do. (Famously, JK Rowling got twelve rejections for the first Harry Potter book. Boy, I'm glad I'm not one of the editors who has to look back and think, "Really? I rejected HARRY POTTER?")
And while most of those rejections were, you know, "kind," very few offered me any real insight into what I could do better. But... but I learned. The rejection letters always assured me I had a good "voice" (the style and grammar and all), so I stopped concentrating on creating just the perfect sentence and started working on crafting a better plot. And that's when the rejections stopped and the acceptance letters started arriving.
Now I have to say, I had a lot of help along the way. I wanted to learn writing from all angles, so I got a graduate degree in literary analysis (my Master's Thesis was, get this, "The Family Vault: Women Buried Alive in Poe's Short Fiction"). I joined the world's toughest critique group, where I read my stories aloud to other writers and editors who didn't bother to waste too much time on tact!
Once I was a published author, I joined major international writing groups, attended their conferences, and studied story elements in intense and focused workshops. I also took up teaching writing, at universities and graduate programs, but also in small-group workshops around North America. And then, as I said, I became an editor, evaluating manuscripts, buying the best ones, and then shepherding the author through the editing and publishing process.
And all that time, I never stopped coming up with new ideas and plotting new stories. I couldn't! Everything I learned sparked my imagination and led me to challenge myself to meet higher standards. I won a few big awards, and had one of the first Kindle (Amazon) bestsellers with a complexly plotted family saga, The Year She Fell. Talk about challenging myself! That story had five interlocking first-person stories with a story spread over two decades about a family that, shall we say, had a lot of secrets. "Never again!" I told myself.
But I learned a lot about plotting from jumping off the high dive there. And having the challenge rewarded with a bestseller, well, I learned from that too. I learned that many readers really appreciate a story with depth, but also a story that holds together and builds to revelation and resolution.
Wouldn't you know it... once I could add "bestseller" and "award-winner" to my name, other writers wanted to discuss plotting with me and to ask me questions. So I started a blog with my managing editor Theresa Stevens (nothing ever dies on the internet-- it's still there, long after we've both gone back to teaching and writing: www.edittorrent.blogspot.com) where we'd explore major writing questions ("how do I keep the middle of the story from sagging?") to minor editing issues (you should read our long-running rant stream about dangling participles!).
During this time, I was writing about writing for magazines and book publishers, and I gathered many of the articles on my Story Journey website. (Okay, it took awhile, as I had to figure out WordPress first. Okay, I still haven't figured out WordPress. But I did archive a lot of articles there! www.aliciarasley.com.) I started a new blog too, focused more on plotting than editing-- the Plot Blueprint blog- www.plotblueprint.com.
Enough bragging. Point is, you don't have to do what I did. You don't have to spent two decades writing and struggling and being rejected and studying and experimenting and learning from failure and success and spending big money on writing books and writing conferences. I've already done that. And I have gathered all my knowledge about plotting and characterization and distilled it into an accessible and logical format. (Storywriting isn't always logical, but plotting is!)
And with the magic of the internet, I can sit here in placid Indiana, and you can be wherever more interesting place you are, and we can work through your story together. What do you say? It will be fun, and it will be fulfilling. I love helping other people with their stories (so much easier than writing my own <G>), and I'd love to explore with you.
What do you say? Would you like the benefit of my years of toil, blood, sweat, rejection, rejecting, success, failure, thinking, learning, teaching? Would you like to work with a "a writer, a winner, an editor, a sinner, a leader, a reader, a professor and a pupil"? Well, you're in the right place. Let's get going!
Get started now!
StartDownload the Module 1 Workbook
StartLesson 1: Why Write? Why Write This Story? (17:17)
StartLesson 2: Know Yourself as the Writer (49:30)
StartLesson 3: Focus Your Story (28:45)
StartLesson 4: Discover Your Audience (28:16)
StartLesson 5: Why Write Now? (13:07)
StartLesson 6: Troubleshoot Your Writing Life (22:10)
StartChecksheet for coaching call: Module 1
StartDownload Module 2 Workbook for Plot Structure
StartLesson 1: Your Plot: Overall Structure (20:58)
StartLesson 2: Conflict with Purpose (42:59)
StartLesson 3: The Three Acts (25:38)
StartLesson 4: Act One (36:51)
StartLesson 5: Act Two (42:16)
StartLesson 6: Act Three (30:48)
StartChecksheet for coaching call: Module 2
Frequently Asked Questions
I hope you join us in the Plot Blueprint course! You can get started anytime, but first, be sure to take the Welcome Quiz. (It's not really a quiz! It's just a way to let us know what kind of story you're working on and what you're interested in learning first.) That way we can better individualize the coaching and connection elements of the course for you.
Be sure and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any trouble!