Intro to Novel Writing

Teacher: Mary-Beth
Customers Who Have Viewed This Course: 1582

Foundations of the Novel

0 Course Introduction 02:06

A short introduction to the course and why you should write that story!

1 Lesson 1 - Introduction and Overview 25:10

Course Objectives: 

  •          To gain a fundamental understanding of the CRAFT of writing, including terms, applying technique, and building a novel
  •          To exercise CREATIVE muscles coming up with the best possible story using the student’s talents, gifts, and interests and encouraging the student to know the reader, genre, and theme for the story
  •          To be COURAGEOUS and make it to the final product of having a solid grasp on building a novel and knowing what to expect during the process

2 Lesson 1 - Review Video 10:58

Review of the student worksheet

3 Lesson 2 - You! 15:05

To help the student understand the importance of writing about things they know and have experience with and to facilitate exercises where the student identifies their own personal interests and experiences that may be useful in their novel writing.

4 Lesson 2 - You! - Worksheet Review Video 08:50

Review of the student worksheet

5 Lesson 3 - The Reader 16:40

To encourage the student to evaluate and describe the person they most want to read their novel. Through identifying their reader, the student will be better equipped to write a novel that will speak to and entertain their target audience.

6 Lesson 3 - The Reader - Worksheet Review Video 06:10

Review of the student worksheet

7 Lesson 4 - The Idea 15:30

Coming up with a brilliant idea isn’t as easy as one might think. In today’s lesson, the student will hear about how some famous authors came up with the ideas for their books. The lesson also explores techniques the student can use to stimulate ideas.

8 Lesson 4 - The Idea - Student Worksheet Review 05:37

Review of the student worksheet

9 Lesson 5 - Theme 12:40

The student will gain an understanding of the importance of theme in a story and should be able to identify possible theme ideas for their novel.

Theme is the subject of a piece of literature. It is the idea or ideal the story supports, shows, and singles out through the actions, speech, and thoughts of its characters. 

In order to write a gripping story that connects with the reader on a deeper level, the student will need to consider theme and what theme their story will best represent. Much about the theme will be developed during the writing process, but it is good to have considered theme and understand its importance.


10 Lesson 5 - Theme - Worksheet Review Video 04:07

Review of the student worksheet

11 Lesson 6 - Genre - Part 1 14:52

This lesson and the next will examine literary genres and genre conventions. Today’s lesson focuses on genres. Genre is an important ingredient in writing a novel. Knowing your genre can help you construct your story.

12 Lesson 6 - Genre 1 - Worksheet Review 09:20

Review of the student worksheet

13 Lesson 7 - Genre - Part 2 11:40

A continuation on genre, this lesson will focus on having the student select the genre in which he/she would like to write. In addition, the student will identify basic genre conventions for the genre chosen and will evaluate how those genre conventions can aid in the writing of the novel. 

14 Lesson 7 - Genre - Part 2 - Worksheet Review 06:54

Review video for the student worksheet

15 Bonus Lesson - Formatting 13:57

The publishers or agents formatting guidelines are always correct, but today's lesson goes over a basic format that's a good place to start. Students are advised to always follow the submissions guidelines of the agent or publisher. 

16 Bonus Lesson - Formatting - Review Video 02:41

Review of the student worksheet

Setting and Character

17 Lesson 8 - Setting 19:30

Knowing where you are is crucial. In today’s lesson, student’s will hear about the importance of defining the setting for their novel. 

Setting is more than simply where and when the story takes place. In some cases, the setting serves as an actual character or even the antagonist. Today, the student will focus on the main points to setting and will apply this lesson to their own work in progress.

18 Lesson 8 - Setting - Worksheet Review 07:37

Review video for the student worksheet

19 Lesson 9 - Characters - Part 1 15:00

Getting to know the characters is essential to writing a good story. This lesson will focus on some of the main character types in fiction. By examining character types, the student should gain a better understanding of what characters to include in his/her novel.

20 Lesson 9 - Characters 1 - Worksheet Review 03:38

Review video for student worksheet

21 Lesson 10 - Characters - Part 2 19:15

As the student progresses in the novel writing progress, the focus will turn to their creation of the novel and the groundwork required to write it. Today’s lesson is the first in a series where the student will be required to spend some focused time thinking about and getting to know their characters.

22 Lesson 10 - Characters 2 - Review Video 02:12

Review video for the student worksheet

23 Lesson 11 - Character - Part 3 20:15

By this point, the student should have some idea about their main character and hopefully some of the other characters in their novel. Today’s lesson focuses on the internal and external needs of the protagonist. These needs serve to drive the plot of the story and are very important.

24 Lesson 11 - Characters 3 - Review Video 06:04

Review video for student worksheet

25 Lesson 12 - Point-of-view 22:45

Students should already be familiar with the three main types of point of view. Most of this lesson will be review, but there is a section toward the end where an example of closer 3rd Person POV is given and free-indirect style is introduced. Students might not be familiar with these specific types of the third person POV.  

26 Lesson 12 -POV - Review Video 03:32

Review video for the student worksheet

Plot Overview

27 Lesson 13 - Intro to Plot 24:12

The serious story building begins today. With the foundation laid, your student should be well-equipped to begin thinking through their plot and working on the skeleton of their story. This lesson will focus on the essentials of a good story. Students will jump into story building by getting to the heart of their stories.

28 Lesson 13 - Intro to Plot - Review Video 03:13

Review video for student worksheet

29 Lesson 14 - Plot Overview 22:16

This lesson is an introduction to the major elements of plot. We will continue discussing these plot points over the next several lessons with the goal of having the student eventually apply these necessary pieces to their own novel idea.


30 Lesson 14 - Plot Overview - Review Video 04:55

Review of the student worksheet

The Beginning of the Novel

31 Lesson 15 - The Hook 22:38

First impressions are priceless. The hook for a novel is the first impression the story makes on the reader. Today’s lesson explores some of the fundamentals of a good hook for a novel. 

32 Lesson 15 - The Hook - Review Video 05:25

Review of the student worksheet

33 Mid-term Exam 00:00

Once the student has successfully completed Lesson 15, the mid-term exam may be given. NOTE: If the student is writing a novel as part of the course, the facilitator may opt to omit the mid-term and give a mid-term grade based on the progress of the novel.

34 Lesson 16 - The Scene 15:30

Understanding the tools is crucial, and one tool that’s often overlooked and underestimated is the power of the scene. We will spend time this lesson reviewing the parts of the scene and what separates the okay scenes from the ones that really move a story forward.

35 Lesson 16 - Scenes - Review Video 04:16

Review of the student worksheet

36 Lesson 17 - A Good Start to the Novel 22:44

Getting off to a good start with the novel is crucial. This lesson will focus on information your novelist should be considering for inclusion in the beginning portion of their story. We will also explore how to share this information without seeming like we are telling the reader.

37 Lesson 17 - Establishing Story - Review Video 03:40

Review of the student worksheet

38 Lesson 18 - The Inciting Incident 14:21

Something needs to happen to get the real story started. Today’s lesson examines the catalyst for change in the novel—the Inciting Incident. Inciting incidents can be as huge as a cyclone picking up a house and carrying it away or as small as bumping into a stranger on your way home from school.

39 Lesson 18 - Inciting Incident - Review Video 02:53

Review for the student worksheet

40 Lesson 19 - The Setups 14:18

Stories can sometimes stall a little toward the middle of the introduction. That might be surprising since we just got started, but often after the exciting opening hook and the inciting incident, writers will either hurry things up too much or drag them out too far. It’s tricky. 

Today’s lesson takes a look at building from the inciting incident to the World Change. The main focus of the lesson is the setup. Setups and payoffs strengthen a story by creating links throughout the story that give the reader a sense of being a part of the story.

41 Lesson 19 - Setups - Review Video 05:00

Review for the student worksheet

42 Lesson 20 - The World Change Event 12:55

Good stories force the protagonist to change. Whether the main character is falling in love or facing a supernatural villain, the first main turning point of the novel changes the world of the protagonist. 

We discuss what this world change looks like and how it is important to change the main character’s world and introduce him/her to a new world or way of looking at things. Various types of world change dynamics will be looked at during the lesson today. Usually the external need of the character is a driving force in the world change event at this point in the story.

43 Lesson 20 - The World Change - Review Video 05:23

Review for the student worksheet

The Middle of the Novel

44 Lesson 21 - Raising the Stakes 15:32

A big part of keeping the story moving forward is adding more and more complications into the protagonist’s life. This is sometimes called “raising the stakes.” 

This lesson will review the pieces necessary to build a strong middle for the story. Many authors have a hard time keeping the middle of their story from sagging and slowing. Today’s lesson looks at ways to keep the middle moving.

45 Lesson 21 - Raising the Stakes - Review Video 04:44

Review of the student worksheet

46 Lesson 22 - Positives and Negatives 18:41

More work on the middle of the novel happens today. Students will look at scenes moving from positive to negative and how using the shift of polarity can help drive a story. Movement in scenes indicates that something is happening for the character and that the story is going somewhere. The student will also take a closer look into the mindful moment in the middle.

47 Lesson 22 - Positives and Negatives - Review Video 01:52

Review of the student worksheet

48 Lesson 23 - The Bleakest Moment, Mid-point Climax, World Change 13:53

Prior to the major climax of every story, there is often a climactic moment in the middle where the protagonist may have a great win or hopeful moment that is overshadowed by an event or revelation that causes the protagonist to feel beaten. These events serve to continue to raise the stakes for the protagonist and develop/solidify the protagonist’s call that’s going to push him/her into the end of the story and the final showdown.

49 Lesson 23 - The Bleakest Moment - Review Video 04:10

Review of the student worksheet

The End of the Novel

50 Lesson 24 - Building to the Climax 18:01

Today’s lesson gets to the one moment the entire story has been building toward—the climax. Students will take a look at elements necessary for the start of the end of their story and will look at what makes a climax work in a story.

51 Lesson 24 - Building to the Climax - Review Video 04:44

Review of the student worksheet

52 Lesson 25 - The Resolution 18:01

The story is drawing to a close, but it’s far from over. The resolution of the story is an important element in good story telling. Wrapping up a story well can be the difference between someone loving your story or walking away shaking their head. Today’s lesson looks at the elements of good endings and at how the Major Moment is useful in the final wrap-up.

53 Lesson 25 - The Resolution - Review Video 04:25

Review of the student worksheet

Editing and Finishing Well

54 Lesson 26 - Editing - Part 1 19:00

Finishing the first draft is really only the beginning. After the first draft comes the editing process. Some writers love to edit, and others can dread it. Either way, it needs to be done. All good writers understand this and work hard to learn how to become better editors as they become better writers.

55 Lesson 26 - Editing 1 - Review Video 05:10

Review of the student worksheet

56 Lesson 27 - Editing Characters 11:36

Characters are key to your story so it’s good to give them an edit all to themselves. This lesson emphasizes the importance of creating strong characters. In the Character Edit, the student will focus on the development and continuity of the characters in their story.

57 Lesson 27 - Editing Characters - Review Video 06:44

Review of the student worksheet

58 Lesson 28 - Editing the Words 21:20

This edit of the manuscript can be time-consuming. Not only does it involve going through the story word-for-word, but it also requires the author to stretch himself/herself to come up with new and better ways of saying what is meant. 

Out of all the edits, this one can be the most beneficial in every area of writing. Eliminating overused words is crucial whether you are crafting an email or a cover letter. And writing that uses strong verbs and nouns can have more of an impact than paragraphs laced with flowery adjectives and adverbs.

59 Lesson 28 - Editing the Words - Review Video 05:57

Review for the student worksheet

60 Lesson 29 - The Final Edit 19:08

The final edits of the manuscript focus on the grammar, typos, and getting your story in the best possible shape. This lesson reviews some of the items that will need to be reviewed/edited prior to the manuscript being completed. The lesson will also describe the beta reader edit and what to expect.

61 Lesson 29 - Beta and the Final - Review Video 03:09

Review of the student worksheet

62 Lesson 30 - Finishing Well 24:29

People have many different reasons for writing a novel. Today’s lesson gives an overview of the next steps after the novel is complete and how to continue on the journey when the going gets hard. 

63 Lesson 30 - Finishing Well - Review Video 01:55

Review for the student worksheet

64 Final Exam 00:00

The final exam for the test. Incorporates terms and concepts taught throughout the course.

Course Description 

This course walks the aspiring writer through the fundamentals of storytelling and the building blocks of writing a novel. Each lesson will take the student deeper into the creation of a story and will equip the young writer with the necessary tools to finish the job.

The lessons cover a variety of story elements and provide students with worksheets and prompts to help them develop their writing. Facilitator notes are provided to help you guide your student through the process. A guide is also provided for those who wish to make a completed novel a part of the course. Even if the student does not write a novel during this course, he/she will be better equipped to take on the task of writing a full-length novel and will gain a depth of knowledge about story elements and structure that will be helpful in all types of writing endeavors. 


This course includes:

7 units

31 Teaching Videos

31 Review Videos

31 Student Worksheets (Review and novel prep)

31 Student Worksheet Keys (for parents)

30 Facilitator Guides (with lesson notes, additional activities, etc. for parents)

31 Review Quizzes

31 Review Quiz Keys (for parents)

1 Mid-term exam

1 Final Exam

1 Six-month (optional) novel writing plan

Approximately 12 hours of video



Course Goals:

Upon course completion, the student will have a firm grasp on the basic elements of a novel. In addition, the student will have a strong foundation and good start to completing a full-length novel. Ultimately, this course is designed to equip young writers to finish their first novel.


Target Audience:

Designed for students with a firm grasp on language, sentence structure, and the basics of story, this course is aimed toward high school and above.  Younger students may also benefit. However, some of the material may require outside study of terms, grammar, and story.


In addition, this course can be helpful to adult students seeking to take their writing to the next level.


Course Topics:

Unit 1: Foundations of the Novel

  • Introduction and Overview
  • You!
  • The Reader
  • The Idea
  • Theme
  • Genre 1
  • Genre 2


Unit 2: Setting and Character

  • Setting
  • Characters 1 - Types
  • Characters 2 – Details
  • Characters 3 – Needs
  • POV


Unit 3: Plot Overview

  • Intro to Plot
  • Plot Overview


Unit 4: The Beginning of the Novel

  • The Hook
  • The Scene
  • A Good Start – Establishing Story
  • The Inciting Incident
  • The Setups
  • The World Change Event


Unit 5: The Middle of the Novel

  • Raising the Stakes
  • Positives and Negatives
  • The Bleakest Moment, Mid-point Climax, and World Change 2


Unit 6: The End of the Novel

  • Building to the Climax
  • The Resolution


Unit 7 – Editing and Finishing Well   

  • Editing Overview
  • Editing Characters
  • Editing Words
  • The Beta and Final Edits
  • Finishing Well
  • Bonus Lesson – Formatting


Everybody has a story to tell. Keep on writing and share your story with the world. 

  • Teacher: Mary-Beth
  • Areas of expertise: Writing, editing, story development, documentation/technical writing
  • Education: English, B.A. with a writing and Bible minor
  • Interests: Reading, hiking, music
  • Skills: Directed and produced church musicals, Sunday school teacher to kindergarten first grade, eighth grade, and currently to college and young adults
  • Associations: Member of Word Weavers, the ACFW, and the Virginia ACFW, Christian Writers' Hub, and the Light Brigade writers' group
  • Issues I care about: Faith, hope, and love, caring for the helpless

I believe everyone has a story to share. Some are clever fictional tales that illustrate important ideas and truths, and others are real life experiences that can help strangers find hope in their tough times. As an acquisitions editor for a small press, I most enjoyed being a part of other people's writing journeys. It is a privilege to help someone else get a little bit farther down the road. My hope is that this course will encourage and inspire someone to tell their story. Maybe even you!

Test Preparation Document

Digital Quizzes and Tests Answer Keys Document

Facilitator Guides

Designed to help the facilitator have a quick overview of each lesson, the Facilitator Guide provides extra information, tips, and additional exercises to help the facilitator better guide the direction of the class. Most guides will have a lesson goal and a section with tips and activities. Guides also offer other information to help the facilitator better explain harder to understand concepts. 

Novel Writing Guide

This guide is designed for your student to get an idea of a writing plan for their novel. The actual 6-month guide can be edited to suit your writer's needs. 

Review Quiz Keys

An answer key to the review quizzes.

Student Worksheet Key

An answer key for the student worksheets.

Exam Keys

Answer key for the mid-term and final exam
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