You could spend $40K on an MFA—and hundreds more on books on craft—and still be in the dark with your novel.

Or you could work with me for four weeks and nail it.

Where: Online
When: September 5–30, 2022
Enrollment: 16
Pre-sell Price: $625 ($700 after June 22, 2022) SOLD OUT!

It’s a dirty little secret in the writing world: you can rack up $40K+ on an MFA, and/or read 40+ books on craft, and still have no idea how to write a publishable novel.

That’s because creative writing programs generally focus on the short story, which is easier to workshop—and because when most authors teach, whether in person or through their books on craft, they tend to teach their own method and structure, which may or may not work for you.

If you’re tired of wondering what you’re doing—and, frankly, tired of the BS—pull up a chair, crack open your laptop, and prepare yourself for a serious download. In the course of just four weeks, you’ll learn the fundamental principles of publishable fiction, regardless of genre, and gain the tools to recognize when your novel meets the standards of the marketplace. Period.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Covered in this course

Week One: Character

Character is the muscular system of the novel—the part of the story that defines its shape, sets it in motion, and, ultimately, makes it feel real. Topics covered in week one of this course include:

  • Why character arc is THE key to connecting with your reader and making them care about what happens in the story
  • Your protagonist’s backstory and internal issue
  • Problems, obstacles, and changes
  • Climax—the moment of truth
  • The “inside game,” and why it’s critical to creating an emotional experience for your reader
  • Best practices for POV
Week Two: Plot 

Plot is the skeletal structure of your novel, and it’s not just a series of events—it’s a series of events that connect via the articulation of cause and effect, giving the novel a solid, workable structure. Topics covered in this week of the program include:

  • Ground situation and exposition
  • Plot points and reversals
  • Tension and stakes
  • Plot vs. subplot
  • The neuroscience of cause and effect, and why it matters
  • Best practices for narrative drive
Week Three: Goals and Motivations

Your characters’ goals and motivations are the nervous system of your novel, the part that connects plot to character. (It’s also responsible for sending those key signals to the reader that will allow them to follow the story.) Topics covered in week three of this course include:

  • Motivation and stakes
  • Conflict, challenge, and pacing
  • Action and reaction
  • Lower-order goals vs. higher-order goals
  • The neuroscience of desire—how understanding your character’s goals and motivations is key to your reader’s understanding of the story
Week Four: Bringing Your Novel to Life

In the final week of this program, we'll bring these three critical systems of your novel's anatomy together into a single document, an outline that will bring it to life--whether you're settling down to write your first draft or headed into a developmental revision. In this final week of the program, we'll cover:

  • How to create a fundamentally sound overall blueprint for your novel, regardless of what comes most naturally to you as a writer
  • Choosing the right plot for your character
  • Choosing the right character for your plot
  • Genre considerations
  • Multiple protagonists/POVs
  • Spontaneity vs. structure

Praise for Susan's Outline Coaching

"Wow, Susan. You've told my story back to me with more clarity and precision than I could have described it for myself - and so I can see what needs adjustment there. You got it. I'm practically crying :)"

- P. Kealey

"This is such helpful feedback - I'm amazed at how much you're already in the story with me.

I can't thank you enough - this is like gold."

- S. Brelvi

"I can't really describe adequately in words how grateful I am for your wisdom and guidance in helping me develop my novel."

-C. Yee

Praise for other classes

Story Medicine

"If you are a writer with a sincere desire to weave social justice issues and diverse characters into your fiction,  this course is highly recommended!"

- D.L. Diener

“An invaluable how-to guide on conveying authentic emotion in fiction.”

- A.S. Gunn

“I am finding myself bringing to light beliefs that I have about the world that I've never been able to express. You’re allowing me to see that that's exactly what I need to write about. That there are others who may see themselves in my work and be acknowledged. That my book may free them to go off and change the world in ways that I could not.”

- T. Thayer

“Getting all the feels from this Story Medicine course. I’m so glad to have found it!”

-E. Rice

“The last few weeks have been so rough.... Rage. Despair. Gah. I've thought more than once, why write when the world is on fire? And yet, that's exactly when and why we must write, right?!?!?! If you need a boost, I highly recommend checking out the offerings of Susan DeFreitas. The four interviews in her master class are light-your-work-on-fire inspiring. Ditto the full course Story Medicine: Better Stories for a Better World, which I thought was just terrific."

-J. Langdon

“I registered for Story Medicine back in October and I'm LOVING IT!!! In fact, I submitted a short story for an anthology call. The story is very strong because of your course. I'm proud of it and hope it gets accepted. I'll keep you posted!"

-K.A. Phillips

About Your Instructor

An American of Indo-Guyanese descent, Susan DeFreitas is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won a Gold IPPY Award, and the editor of Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin, a finalist for the Foreword INDIES. Her work has been featured in the Writer’s Chronicle, LitHub, Story, Daily Science Fiction, Portland Monthly, and High Desert Journal, among other journals and anthologies. An independent editor and book coach, she specializes in helping writers from historically marginalized backgrounds, and those writing socially engaged fiction, break through into publishing. She divides her time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Portland, Oregon.

Ready to bring your novel to life?

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