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Plot and structure are the "big picture" ingredients of fiction. A good plot can turn a novel into a page-turner. The right structure will make a story more resonant and compelling and amplify its themes.

"Creating a successful structure or plot for a story or a novel can be especially challenging for writers,” says instructor Elaine Beale. "But without a good grasp of these ingredients, many writers find themselves stuck."

This one-day workshop is designed for writers who want to better understand how to develop a coherent plot that engages the reader and a structure that brings a story to life. The class will cover key concepts such as story arc, causality, flashbacks, plot twists and revelations, as well as techniques for creating momentum, and how character development and plot are intertwined.

Drawing on examples from published novels and short stories, participants will look at how a writer’s choice of structure can create tension and heighten a story’s impact. The workshop will also include in-class exercises in which students try their hand at plotting and brainstorm solutions for the plot or structural problems they may be encountering in the stories they’re working on now.

At the end of the day, participants will find themselves far better equipped to successfully integrate these "big picture" ingredients into their fiction.



    Elaine Beale’s second novel, Another Life Altogether, was published by Random House in 2010. It has received praise from the Boston Globe, Lambda Literary, Curve Magazine, the Bay Area Reporter, and Publishers Weekly, among others, and it was featured in Oprah Magazine. Elaine was the winner of the 2007 Poets and Writers California Writers Exchange Award and has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She has taught creative writing for more than a decade.

  1. Saturday, July 28, 10:00am-4:00pm
  • Elaine is an excellent, dynamic teacher and very organized with materials and communications. Her critiquing of our writing was extremely valuable. In addition to her considerable experience, she has a gift for it. . . . I wish she could always be my reader, and would definitely take another course taught by her and recommend her classes to others.

    Adele Mendelson
  • I am a big fan of Elaine's classes. She immediately puts the novice at ease and her enthusiastic love of the craft is contagious.

    Rick Kelley
  • Elaine knows her stuff, obviously, and articulates her insights in an inspiring style. She respects how challenging writing is and accentuates that by constantly providing positive support. She is warm, honest, and helpful for fledgling fiction writers!

    Karolina Garrett


Sat, July 28
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


2121 Bonar St, Studio D, 2nd Fl
Berkeley, CA United States
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Registration Deadline

Registration closes 24 hours before the start time for a class.

Refund Policy

There is a cancellation fee of 15% included in each registration. The Writing Salon will not issue a refund if a cancellation occurs within 48 hours of the class start time.

The Writing Salon cannot provide refunds, transfer payments, or offer makeup sessions for classes a student might miss, for any reason.

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