Book Bootcamp: Plot and Narrative Structure
Writers often hate to outline their books, feeling the practice restricts creativity and saps inspiration. But why set out on "the long sea voyage," as Melville called long-form writing, without some sort of map to your destination? Now in a special two-for-one, six-hour seminar, New York Times bestselling author Jenna Blum and debut novelist/ host of A Mighty Blaze’s A Thoughtful Bro, Mark Cecil, team up to give you the complete toolkit for charting your fiction or nonfiction book’s structure. You’ll gain a range of plot paths to choose from, enabling you to remain creatively inspired while providing a book backbone that will help you avoid that dreaded “so close and yet so far” letter from agents and editors. AND you might even feel that finding your story’s structure is….fun?
Jenna’s half of the workshop consists of lecture and discussion: why is a clear structure so necessary? What constitutes an outline? Can you think outside the traditional format, and if so, how? Jenna will provide outlines to her own books—both novels and memoir—to show how she used them to create crucial structure and reach her destination: The End. Jenna will also leave plenty of time for Q&A.
In Mark’s portion of the class, he’ll share his various methods of analyzing story structure, which helped him land a dream agent and an editor at Vintage Anchor for his upcoming debut novel, BUNYAN (which PS he honed in Jenna’s GrubStreet novel workshop!). Mark, a self-described “story freak,” will cover narrative models like Three Act Structure and Hero’s Journey, as well as exercises like causal chains, beat sheets, genre expectations, and how to boil your novel down to an addictively compelling tale. You can see Mark's website here: https://www.markcecilauthor.com/
Whether you take Mark’s suggestions or Jenna’s, you’ll leave class armed with an artistic arsenal of structure choices—and thanks to hands-on in-workshop exercises, a start on your own book’s structure.
Note: Ideal for participants currently working on a book or developing an idea for a book-length project (fiction or nonfiction) and come with writing implements of their choice. Writers will take home outlines/structures that worked and a preliminary structure for their books.
Instructor Update: Mark Cecil will be leading the full workshop on Friday, June 9th.
This class will take place in-person at our Center for Creative Writing in Boston's Seaport neighborhood.
GrubStreet's space will be mask optional when Boston's Covid-19 Community Level is low or medium. When the Covid-19 Community Level is high, our space will require masks. Please check GrubStreet's Covid-19 page for the latest info on masking and Community Levels before visiting in-person.
Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.
For more more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.
Previous Students Say
- "High-Energy Class"
- "Inundated with Great Info"
- Craft Lessons
- Class Discussion
- The Novel
- Book-Length Memoir