The fundamentals of craft for fiction writers

Craft isn't everything, but it is very useful. 

In this live class, I'll teach five sessions on the essentials of writing fiction. 

This class is intended to fill out, begin, or develop your understanding of the craft. My goal is to be simple, clear, and concrete, showing you how to apply the techniques to your own writing and how to check if you are "doing it right."

But while the experience will be streamlined and straightforward for you, the content will draw on my Master in Fine Arts, my PhD in English Literature, and my years of self-study in Taiwan and Syria, when I sat at a desk circling words in old works of literary criticism and philosophy.

Each live session in the class will be a talk from me about one big area of craft. The goal is be to give you, over the weeks of the class, a broad education in the craft of fiction. 

In each topic, I would try to teach 3 or 4 useful ideas that you could put to work in your own writing. And you'll be able to discuss the ideas with your fellow students in our private discussion forum. 

Five sessions will not be enough to cover everything, of course, but it will be a startling and transformative guide to your study of the novel.

And if enough participants wish, we could meet again later for another five topics.

The topics for these first five sessions will be:

  • A guide to third-person narration
  • The truth about Show Don't Tell
  • Plot: unity and repetition
  • How to work with exposition and backstory
  • Flat and round characters

Join Fundamentals of Fiction now

60 participants, max

This will be a private and supportive space where there are no "dumb questions."

Discord Forum

You'll be able to share paragraphs and pages of your work for peer review

Five live-taught sessions

We'll meet at 1pm NYC time on Thursdays. You'll receive on-going, no deadline access to the replays.

Options for 1-to-1 feedback

You can upgrade your ticket to work with me directly

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.

How will this work?

We will meet five times, at 1pm US east coast time on Thursdays:

The many styles of Third-person POV Narration: March 7th, 1pm on Thursday (NYC time)

The truth about Show Don't Tell: March 21st, 1pm on Thursday (NYC time)

Plot: unity and repetition: April 4th, 1pm on Thursday (NYC time)

How to work with exposition and backstory: April 11th, 1pm on Thursday (NYC time)

Do all characters need to be "round": May 2nd, 1pm on Thursday (NYC time)

I want this to feel relaxed and unhurried, so I am picturing a mostly every-other week schedule. However, you'll notice a gap in the schedule in the second half of April -- this is a combination of school holidays and my birthday. 

Each session will be camera-off for you -- it will be primarily a talk delivered by me with time for Q and A. 

Note: due to the live nature of this class, there is not really a standard refund policy. If you are unhappy, let us know and we will try to work something out.

There are three pricing options

My intention, for the future, is to offer this class for around $200.

I saw, however, in your questionnaire answers, that price is a big concern to many people. That's why I am going to keep the price low for this initial set of lectures. The first 40 people who join up can get full access to the workshop (live access and ongoing replay access) for $137.

In addition, if you join for this launch round, you can continue to sign up for future rounds of this class "Fundamentals of Fiction" for a discounted price. 

This price tier primarily offers peer-to-peer feedback in our private community forum. I've deliberately kept it low cost to keep things as accessible as I can.

There are two higher tier tickets that get you more feedback.

- the "case study" ticket. A small number of writers will be able to pay $200 (if they wish) to be featured as "case studies" for the class. You'll send me a few pages or a chapter, and I'll use your writing as one of my examples for the class. I will be respectful, encouraging, but I'll also point out moments where I think you could improve. Note: I imagine that this will be small-scale, paragraph-level feedback -- it is not meant to be a review of your entire story or outline.

Note: I can imagine a situation where I just can't connect one writer's work to a relevant lesson. In that case, I'll refund you the fee for this "case study" feedback. 

- the "personal feedback" ticket ($400). After the lecture series ends in May, you'll be able to send me a chapter or two from your writing. I'll record a detailed video -- just for you -- responding to your craft decisions and suggesting how to improve on a paragraph or sentence level. Again -- this is not meant to be a novel-review, but rather a guide to helping you put into action the techniques of this class.

Third-person POV Narration

How to use third person omniscient vs free indirect style vs deep POV

Plot: unity and repetition

Starting with Aristotle's idea of "unity" in plotting, we will study the magic of how plot helps to create meaning in fiction

Do all characters need to be "round"

Do we need to be sympathetic to all our characters? Does the writer need to be kind to villains? Do side characters need to change?

Show Don't Tell

What does this really mean? Are you allowed to write "he thought..."? How is it a useful framework?

How to work with exposition and backstory

Novels are obsessed with memory and time and ideas. How do we keep our plots moving forward if we are also sharing what happened before?

about my teaching

Elizabeth R. Alix

Author of Maple Hill Chronicles

Tannis Laidlaw

Mistery Writer

Quenntin Ashby

Urban Fantasy Writer

Join Fundamentals of Fiction now

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Daniel David Wallace

Host of Reading with Daniel

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.

I've given lectures on plot at the AWP conference and other writing festivals around the US, and my work has been read at the Iowa Writers Workshop. My fiction has won the Hodges prize, the Toni Brown scholarship, and I've published short stories and essays in many journals. In my regular life, I teach advanced writing skills at a great university. 

Since I started teaching online, I've worked with hundreds of writers as a coach and teacher. Over twelve-thousand writers subscribe to my newsletter.

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

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Copyright - Daniel David Wallace 2024