Welcome to the Character First workshop

The online class for frustrated writers who want to get unstuck on their novel, learn natural storytelling skills, and begin drafting fresh pages with the support of an expert teacher and their peers.  

The Character First Workshop banner

This workshop is a tried and tested approach that will inspire you, solve plotting problems in your story, and untangle all of that conflicting writing advice you worry you have to get right.

Take the two-minute video tour

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Tickets are $77 each with an option to add on individual feedback from me. I will close registrations after 40 writers sign up to keep the class focused and supportive -- so don't wait too long to register.

I want to highly recommend working with Daniel. He knows what he is talking about. He offers lots of value and he over-delivers on the class.


Book your calendar:

MEETING one: September 9th AT 2PM (US EAST COAST TIME) 

MEETNG two: September 19th at 3pm (US EAST COAST TIME)



Does this sound familiar?

"How do I get started?"

So many writers have great ideas for a story, but when they begin sketching out chapter one and two, they struggle to figure out what to include and what to leave for later. 

"My friend said chapter eight was kind of confusing..."

Then, if you can get the novel going, you can often find that your beta readers and writing circle seem have trouble following along. They are somehow confused about the most basic and obvious parts of your story. 

"I feel like it's wandering off course..."

This is frankly the worst place to be: you start to feel unsure about your own story. Your instincts are telling you that something isn't right, but you're not sure what to fix. And revising chapter three yet again doesn't seem to help.

Here's the good news: your writing instincts are correct!

If you've experienced any of the writing stresses I've described above, you probably have started worrying that there must be something wrong with you as a writer. 

"Maybe I'm just not very good at this..."

"I don't have enough training..."

You're still pushing on, of course, and you're still writing, but those doubts are there, slowing you down, and they are likely causing you a lot of grief. 

Here's the good news: I disagree!

There isn't anything wrong with your writing skills. In fact, the desire you have to get your story right, and your worry that chapter seven isn't unfolding the way it should, is a sign that you are a serious writer who has real goals for your novel.

The issue you're facing is simply that writing a novel is a complex, demanding task. There is nothing within you that you need to change. Rather, you just need an approach that will streamline the writing process for you, show you how to focus on the right question at the right time, and clarify how you deliver your unique vision on to the page.

That's why I created the Character-First plotting approach. And I'm teaching the essentials of that system live, in this workshop.

Writers just like you love this workshop

Daniel is a natural teacher who somehow manages to make each workshop session both calming AND exciting.


 There are so many great things in this class that have been an eye-opener for me. The prompts are really good for me to get me thinking about aspects I wasn't attentive to, and having to work under pressure to do the assignment during the class forces me to come up with something here and now.


When the workshop ends....

Here's my vision for you. 

We'll meet as a class for two training sessions, each with their own prompts, handbooks, and low-stress writing assignments. Plus we'll share ideas and pose questions in the class discussion site, and you'll be able to bounce ideas off of me and your peer review partner.

At the end of the workshop, you'll have a perfectly clear sense of what your reader is looking for in a chapter of your novel. You'll know why your friends and beta readers kept complaining about chapter eight, and you'll also know how to re-write that chapter so they stayed engaged and eager to keep reading.

Indeed, you'll have a fresh understanding of what a novel is, and what aspects of storytelling you need to focus on in order to tell a compelling tale.

Plus you'll have already sketched out, or begun, or written in full (depending on how fast you type) new scenes and moments in your story, so it will be easy to return to the story with fresh eyes -- and start making steady progress.

And -- just as a bonus -- you'll be able to describe your novel to other people way better than before. When an editor or agent asks you that terrifying question: "What's your novel about?" -- you'll know exactly how to respond.

testimonial image

"I cannot tell you how much I value and still think about your writing advice and strategies. The book I wrote after we worked together landed me my agents at InkWell, and back in May, we sold two YA fantasy novels to Wednesday Books/Macmillan."

To other writers: Daniel truly has a gift. He’s one of the most patient and encouraging teachers I’ve had."

- Allison Saft, author of Down Comes the Night and A Far Wilder Magic

Buy your ticket here


Entry to the workshop, all handouts, and on-going replay access


What's included

  • Two workshops
  • Live Q and A
  • Writer discussion forum
  • Partner feedback
  • Extra bonuses and discounts

This class is perfect for you

... if you want to tell an engaging, compelling story that is easy to read, and yet not "dumbed down" for your reader.

... if you want to write the kind of story you love to read.

... if you want to stop doubting and worrying if you're doing this "writing thing" the right way.

... if you want to expand the kinds of scenes you feel able to write well.

I'm Daniel David Wallace, novelist, teacher, & PhD researcher

Hi, I'm Daniel. I'm a writer, teacher, PhD researcher, and book editor. I create easy-to-implement techniques that help you master the craft of fiction.

Something I love to do? Teach people in live classes. I love seeing writers make fresh breakthroughs and figure out why their writing has been holding them back for so long.

I've won awards like the Hodges prize for fiction and the Toni Brown scholarship, spoken at conferences and performed my stories to a crowd in Seattle, Philadelphia, Denver and many other cities.

I'm also the host of the annual plot summit, where I gather twenty authors each year to deliver four days of online plotting training to thousands of writers all over the world.

What is it like studying with daniel?

Buy your ticket here


Entry to the workshop, all handouts, and on-going replay access.

(The workshop is capped at 40 seats.)


What's included

  • Two workshops
  • Live Q and A
  • Writer discussion forum
  • Partner feedback
  • Extra bonuses and discounts

The essential details

The goal is simple: to help you write (or revise) a great opening to your novel -- how to write chapters one & two. I'll teach the essence of my "character-first" plotting approach, with a focus on how to begin a novel-length story.

This program will be taught over Zoom (the recordings will be posted after each event), with short assignments, prompts, exercises, and handouts for you to complete.

For the first session, we will meet at 2pm US east coast time on Thursday the 9th. I will then repeat that session, live, for anyone who couldn't make it, on Sunday the 12th at 4pm.

The second session will meet at 2pm Thursday 16th, US east coast time. I will then repeat that session, live, for anyone who couldn't make it, on Sunday the 19th at 3pm.

The main goal: to get everyone writing. We will plan out an opening chapter to a new novel in week one, draft that chapter in week two, and start adding and developing it in week three. 

So you'll finish the class with 10 - 20 pages of a brand new story (or the revision of an old one) written. 

In addition, each class will address a crucial fiction writing skill:

Session 1: how to begin your novel

Session 2: how to keep the reader on board as the story builds and develops

The goal, if you wish to keep up with the assigned projects, is simple: you will draft or revise the opening of a novel.

The class is capped at 40 participants to keep the live sessions fun and low-stress

schedule image showing the map of sessions and homework. The key info is that there are two sessions and homework / peer review / office hours surrounding them.

what you'll receive

Learn the "character-first" plotting approach in two live training sessions 

  1. 1
    Invites to all live sessions and ongoing access to all replays (watch at your leisure).
  2. 2
    Two workbooks to help you put the techniques into immediate use: the "messy middle" and the "dramatic moment" handbooks.
  3. 3
    Interactive prompts to get you writing live.
  4. 4
    Student discussion forum and peer partner feedback.
  5. 5
    Discounted tickets to the October plot summit.
Julia Brown testimonial

"Not all good writers are good teachers, but Daniel David Wallace (a talented, thoughtful writer himself) is a terrific instructor.

Daniel is attentive to plot, structure, character, and other high-level narrative elements, but you’ll appreciate his ability to zoom in closely on language and sentence-level concerns.

If you can take a class with him, do it!"

- Julia Brown, editor and literary author

I've been writing and studying writing for forty years. Daniel's teaching has helped me understand things, like pacing and flow, that I have struggled with for years.


daniel speaking in public

100% Satisfaction Guarantee

You are fully protected by my 100% Satisfaction-Guarantee. If you don't find the class valuable, just let me know within 30 days, and I'll send you a prompt refund. It's a no-questions-asked guarantee: I won't even ask you why you want your money back!



tawni waters bio pic

"Daniel respected my work and vision on a profound level but also had a keen editorial eye and a stroke of literary genius that took everything I’d written to the next level.

Is it weird that I think of him as my literary midwife?"

- Tawni Waters, I.L.A. award-winning author of Beauty of the Broken, The Long Ride Home, Siren Song and So Speak the Stars.

Get the essential insights of the character-first plot in two quick lessons

In my courses Plotting and Planning Your Novel and Writing Great Chapters, I teach a detailed, step-by-step, inspiration approach to re-awakening your love for storytelling -- and for solving your writing problems. 

They are great courses.

This workshop is the affordable, rapid way to learn the essence of that framework.

image of the course on an imac


How long do I have access to the course?

When does the course begin?

What if I'm really busy?

Is the course suitable for every genre of novel?

What if I'm writing a memoir?

What if I'm really rusty / I don't have an idea for a story yet?

Copyright - Daniel David Wallace 2021