Planning and plotting your novel PLus

Master plot and write your first chapters. Through the PPN + approach, you'll level up your plotting skills and create engaging stories.

a writing class using the character-first method

Why this program is special

After I created my course, Plotting and Planning Your Novel, I could tell I had stumbled on to something special. Writers kept sharing comments about how deeply the course had helped their storytelling skills.

However, it is simply a truth of this world that great ideas are sometimes not enough to produce results.

For some writers, PPN the course was enough: they went through the workbooks and prompts, absorbed the lessons, and they raced on to write their next book. Great.

For other writers, they were dealing with a serious problem that made it hard for them to actually write their novel: life.

Yes, real life. Ugh. Yes, life can be beautiful and magical and all that stuff -- it has scenic views and kittens and boardgames -- but let's be honest -- our lives can also be a real burden when we are trying to write a novel. 

People are always asking you to do stuff (some of those people are our family members). That coffeeshop where you like to write sometimes just closes for the day without warning -- not helpful! 

Even worse: as time goes on, you start to suspect -- maybe I'm part of the problem, too.

I do get distracted a lot: I want to write but somehow I keep re-watching that hospital TV show with the talking skeleton. 

I know I am supposed to write a "shitty first draft" -- but I keep revising chapter one over and over.

I know I need to change something about my outline -- I'm just not sure how...

This is why I created Plotting and Planning Your Novel Plus. You already have the ideas. Now you need guidance, feedback, accountability, and a process -- so you can actually write that book -- and write it well. 

PPN Plus is a three-month long program designed around “milestones.” These milestones give you targets to meet in your planning, pre-writing, drafting, and revising. Each milestone you reach, my co-coach and co-teacher, the incredible bestselling author Allison Saft, will prepare individual feedback and advice for you based on the work you’ve sent in.

In addition, I will be available to answer your questions each week, either by voice memo or by written comment. Each week of the program, I’ll record a video responding to each question in turn, advising you on what I think you should do next.

Finally, we will have a group discussion area, where you can share notes with other participants in this small group, set accountability goals, and post pages for feedback.

Now, before I go on, I do want to highlight something about PPN Plus that is different, perhaps, to other programs you might have heard of. While we will meet for an inaugural session over Zoom, there will not be weekly Zoom meetings for the full group. Why not? Well, PPN Plus is all about getting writing done. The focus is really on you completing sections of your planning or drafting and then getting feedback from Allison and myself.

And in past iterations of PPN Plus, it turned out that different participants wrote at very different speeds and were focused on specific areas of their own projects. So it wasn’t clear if a weekly get-together Zoom was helpful for this particular program. 

I do have a seasonal weekly meeting program – it’s called the Writing Circle – and you are welcome to join it as well – but the pace and goals of that program are very different to PPN Plus.

In other words: PPN Plus will guide you through a series of interlocking advice and feedback frameworks, supporting your progress. You'll get help via...

  1. My plotting manual that invites you to understand your story on a deep level.
  2. Our welcome session where we set goals.
  3. Our half-day virtual retreat halfway through.
  4. Feedback on your milestones from Allison.
  5. Weekly Q and A with me.
  6. Team work and accountability with your peers.
Here’s the plan:

  • There are 12 seats for each round / cohort.
  • We work together for three months.
  • The goal is to plan out and start writing (or re-writing) a novel.
  • The program is designed for stories in a wide range of genres and styles. The general intent is to help you write a compact, well-structured story that engages and fascinates your reader.
  • You’ll work through a series of “milestones,” or focused planning prompts, that will help you build up a great plot. In other words, you’ll submit a new milestone every few weeks, and then you’ll get feedback on those milestones to help you plan the next part of your book.
  • The program is based on the techniques of my plotting course, Plotting and Planning Your Novel. You’ll get life-time access to that course as part of the program. The milestones of PPN+ correspond to the plotting framework described in the course — this is a way to build or re-think your story, using those ideas, with the support of a group of fellow writers and expert writing advisors.
  • I will run the program with the help of a coordinator, Leo, and a co-teacher, Allison. Allison will provide written / recorded feedback on each milestone you send in. She’ll also be available for a few one-to-one phone calls during the program.
  • I will oversee and advise on the feedback Allison is giving (she went through my PPN course and we almost always give similar feedback).
  • Dwight will make sure you can find everything and that your documents get to Allison.
  • The program has guidelines for your schedule (when to send in each milestone), but it’s also flexible. Some writers move faster than others, and that’s no problem.
  • We will sketch and write as we go.
  • This is a program with a deadline: it’s not a membership or subscription with an infinite duration. The goal is to get writing! And so the program will end at the three month mark. The magic of a deadline is meant to focus everyone’s attention and keep our energy up.
  • We will have epilogue / reunion sessions afterwards, however!
  • This is a group coaching program and I will maintain, to the best of my ability, a supportive, inclusive atmosphere for all the writers in the group. We will support and encourage one another.

I only want people to sign up who will benefit from the program. Here are some reasons a writer might not be a perfect fit (at least for this particular round):

  • This is not primarily a workshop class. The program is designed so that you know exactly what to send Allison, in what order (the milestones), and she’ll be able to give targeted, specific feedback because she will know what to look for. We may workshop individual chapters / outlines / milestones, but the focus is more on creating rather than assessing. If you and other participants want to share manuscripts during the program, that’s fantastic, of course.
  • By the same token, it’s also not a developmental editing or copyediting service. I find that I can work a lot faster, and give better advice, when we discuss the outline / idea of a novel, rather than reading and commenting on the full manuscript, page by page.
  • Another way of putting this: this is meant to be a teaching / learning / creating experience. We’ll discuss techniques for writing a story, and then we’ll try them out, and we’ll discuss and assess each other’s ideas as we go. We’ll improve our plotting skills as we sketch out a novel. If that doesn’t sound appealing, that’s 100% fine — sometimes a writer is more at the “I really just want someone to lightly edit the story I’ve written” stage — but this might not the best program for that person right now.
  • Equally, sometimes a writer is not ready to re-think, re-see, re-order their story, or accept (supportive) feedback on the pages they’ve written. Sometimes they just want to write! Or they dislike getting critique. That’s completely fine, of course, but it might not lead to a great experience in this particular program. This program is designed to get you asking, “What if I…?” about your story.
  • For some people, writing an outline and starting the first draft in three months sounds spot on. For others, it sounds a little slow, or a little fast. The good news is that the program is flexible enough to accommodate a range of writing speeds. However, if you usually only need three weeks to finish a novel, or at least five years to pick a main character, this might not work out well, just because you will be out of sync with the materials / Allison’s feedback speed / the group experience. If that’s you, let me know and I can suggest some alternatives.

Our class was composed of people from all over the world so we got to meet fellow writers from all over! Everyone’s stories were different but we all participated in the process of plotting, character development, dialog, ideas.

-E. Wilmerding

It was an incredibly positive and affirming experience. Daniel has a lovely way of keeping us on track as well as helping us be as constructive and positive as possible.

-PPN+ Participant

I don't know that my new story will be so much better, but it now has a fighting chance! I was able to extrapolate technique from reading others' works-in-progress and listening to feedback at the sessions. It's very different from simply reading a book, regardless of whether it's well or poorly written, because in the sessions we could see the thinking behind the words, the creativity and the angst of each author.

-PPN+ Participant
A picture of me, Daniel Wallace

Daniel David Wallace

Creator of Plotting and Planning Your Novel

Your Teacher

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, "Writing Related." 

I'm currently working with a publisher on a novel set in Taiwan: it involves unhappy English teachers and a ghost.


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Copyright - Daniel David Wallace 2021