The Heart of Story Challenge:

3 Days to a Stronger, More Marketable Novel

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Where: Online
When: April 4-6, 2023
Time: 5:00-6:00 pm PT / 8:00-9:00 pm ET
Price: $99

You love your protagonist and care deeply about their story—but does your reader feel the same way?

In this powerful 3-day challenge, you’ll learn how to generate strong emotion in your reader at three different levels, and dramatically increase the power (and marketability) of your novel.

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Myth: A great plot is the key to a successful novel.
Reality: Making your reader care about your protagonist (and their story) is the key to a successful novel.

In my recent class for Jane Friedman, I shared the way that emotion is generated in fiction at three different levels: the structure, the storytelling, and the prose.

It proved so popular that I’ve decided to take this further, by sharing exactly how to make this happen in your novel at these three different levels.

Over the course of this powerful 3-day challenge, you will:

  • Develop (or strengthen) your protagonist’s character arc for maximum impact
  • Zero in on (or strengthen) the key scenes of that character arc—the ones that will have a powerful emotional effect on your readers
  • Master the art of conveying emotion on the page, where “the rubber meets the road”—during and following those key scenes

Too often, writers are aware of how emotion operates in their novel at one or more of these key levels—but not how it works on all three, and the powerful connections between them. (For more on this, check out one of my most popular posts for Jane’s blog, The Alchemy of Emotion.)

Master those three levels, and those powerful connections, and you’ll take your novel to the next level, whether you’re still in the planning stages, headed into a big revision, or putting the finishing touches on it before sending out your query letter.

By signing up for this challenge, you’ll receive:

  • The Heart of Story Workbook (to complete before our first call)
  • 3 powerful 1-hour live trainings
  • Replays of all challenge trainings (if you can’t make them live)
  • The chance to receive “hot-seat” coaching on your workbook submission

Our live calls will feature time for Q&A, to ensure that everything I’m sharing here—and how to apply it to your work-in-progress—is crystal clear.

Bonus! The first 50 people to register for this challenge will be automatically entered into a drawing to win a free consultation with me on the first 50 pages of their novel. (This can be redeemed at any time, so no problem if you don’t yet have a complete draft.)


"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

Ready to bring your novel to life?

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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.