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HomeCalendarPlotting Your Book Out Chapter by Chapter with Instructor Abigail Drake

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Plotting Your Book Out Chapter by Chapter with Instructor Abigail Drake

Tuesday, October 3, 2023, 7:00 PM until 8:00 PM
Additional Info:
Event Contact(s):
Dan E Arndt
Online Classes
Registration is required
Payment In Full In Advance Only
Available Slots:

All Pennwriters Courses are conducted in a “live” presentation format utilizing the Zoom platform. If a conflict arises based on the required meeting times, please contact the instructor and Online Courses Coordinator to find a possible solution. ALL sessions will be recorded.

4 recorded 1-hour Zoom sessions, Tuesdays, 7:00pm - 8:00pm
4 assignments (one per week)


Does the thought of plotting out your book give you hives? Are you currently dealing with a wonky manuscript or clunky concept that feels wrong, but you don’t know why?

Cheer up, brave writer. No book is unfixable. You just need a handy dandy, step-by-step method to analyze the structure of your story, and figure out where you went wrong. That’s what this system is—a simple way of mapping out your manuscript to make it better, stronger, and more appealing to readers.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve already written your book or you’re just starting out. There are certain key elements you need to incorporate to make your story go from “meh” to “marvelous.”

Wipe away those tears and let’s get to work. It’s time to polish up that beautiful book of yours and make it shine.

In this course, we will: Learn about story structure, plot points, pinch points, and rising action. We’ll discuss in detail what should happen in each chapter of your book, and why it’s important to follow a certain order (and why things could fall apart if you don’t). We’ll figure out not only how to map out a story before you write, but also how to fix a story you’ve already written that isn’t working. And we’ll utilize real world examples from popular books and movies to do this (Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Legally Blonde, and Die Hard).

Week One: Starting Off Right

The first chapter of your book is the trickiest, and also the most important, section of your book. Often a reader will decide if they like the book and want to continue reading based on the first chapter alone. Because of that, we’re going to devote the entire first session of our workshop to making sure you do it well. We’ll discuss the opening image, the hook, the set-up, the catalyst, and the theme, and we’ll talk about making your first chapter so incredible that your reader can’t wait to start chapter two.

Week Two: Act I 

This week we’ll discuss the reaction to the catalyst, and what will lead your character to the decision that will bring them to Act II. We’ll tie in examples from popular books and movies so that you’re able to not only learn the concepts but see how they are applied successfully in the real world. We’ll also go over homework and questions from the first session, and how we can apply what we’ve learned.

Week Three: Act II

This is where the dangerous “saggy middle” can happen in your novel, and no one wants a saggy middle! In this lesson, we’ll go over Act II chapter by chapter, discuss the introduction of the B story, the promise of the premise, and red herrings. We’ll hit the midpoint, talk about going from victim to warrior, and how to make your charter look back and reflect on the choices they’ve made and how they’ve changed. Act II is the meat of your story, and often it’s where many good stories fall short. This session will show you how to avoid that and other common pitfalls.

Week Four: Act III 

Although shorter than Act II, Act III is also something you need to get right. This is what you’ve been building up to all along, the incredible climax of your phenomenal book, and you have to give it the respect it deserves. Lots of writers try to rush it, because they can see the finish line and they are eager to be done. In this class, we’ll talk about how to make the ending of your book as amazing as the beginning, and how to reach a satisfying conclusion that will make your reader eager to purchase more of your work. 

Customer Benefits/Takeaways:

Detailed, easy-to-follow instructions on plotting
An understanding of the process
Real world examples
Instructor feedback on exercises

About the Instructor: 

Abigail Drake is the award-winning author of twenty-one novels, but she didn’t start her career in writing. She majored in Japanese and economics in college, and spent years traveling the world, collecting stories wherever she visited. She collected a husband from Istanbul on her travels, too, and he is her favorite souvenir.

Abigail is a coffee addict, a puppy wrangler, and the mother of three adult sons. She writes contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and young adult fiction, and has taught workshops for many different writing organizations. In her spare time, she blogs about her dog, Capone, and teaches in the writing and publishing program at Lincoln Park Performing Arts High School.

In 2019, Abigail was awarded an honorable mention for her book "Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone" in the Writer's Digest Self-Published E-book Awards. She is the winner of the 2017 Prism Award for her book "Traveller", the International Digital Award for her young adult novel, "Tiger Lily", and the Stiletto Contest for "Love, Chocolate, and a Dog Named Al Capone." In addition, she was named a finalist in the Golden Pen, the Golden Leaf, the Dante Rossetti Book Award, and the Cygnus Award for Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction.

Abigail is represented by Lauren Bieker of FinePrint Literary Management and she is the cofounder of Romancing Your Muse ( For more information, visit her website at

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