Is it a Story or a Novel? If it’s a Novel…

Novels are comfortable establishing lengthy histories. They have the time for it. Short stories typically don’t. In the short story, to quote Charles Baxter: “The god of Impatience rules.” Charles Baxter

If you cut out much of a character’s history, you also cut out motivations for actions. A novel can dwell at length on the subtextual considerations that occur prior to taking actions of consequence. In the short story “the protagonist simply acts, going from here to there without entirely grasping why she did what she did and often having no idea of how she ended up where she is now.” (Baxter) The “tyranny of the present,” in other words, rules over the past.


Because novels carry the burden of their characters’ histories, they need a sturdier structure.


For writers in the Puget Sound area who are working on a novel sagging under the weight of too much history and not enough story, there is a six-week class that will help. Please see details below. If you aren’t nearby or aren’t ready for a class, please see my last blog, “The Best Plot Chart Ever.”





When the Real Work Begins



Are you a fiction writer envisioning publication? Have a great idea that’s starting to unfold on the page? Not sure if the story really works? If you are ready to find out, we can help.


It’s all about story.


Publishing, and readers, expect more from writers than ever before. For a book to sell in today’s market, every novelist must carefully consider the architecture of their story – plot, pace, and progression.


There are no magic formulas, no keys guaranteed to unlock success. But there are four basic tests of a winning manuscript: Is the idea compelling and fully developed? Does the plot unfold in a series of meaningful events? Are the characters strong enough to carry the story to a pivotal moment? At the end, will readers feel the journey was meaningful?


Strong writing still matters.


A good idea is only the beginning – craft can make all the difference. Using the 5-focus story structure as its foundation, this course will help you assess where you are and what you can do next. By learning to utilize story building and character development tools, you can enrich your writing and strengthen your book.


You’re invited!


BEYOND THE FIRST 50 PAGES: When the Real Work Begins is designed to help novel writers who are seeking publication to put their best work forward. This course focuses on story structure and character progression in novel-length fiction, and is best suited for writers who have a work in progress with a minimum of 50 pages drafted.



  • 6 Workshop Sessions: Through a combination of instructor review & feedback, targeted discussion, and skill-building exercises, this craft-intensive course is designed to strengthen and support your writing and creative process. Small group format encourages group participation.


OPTIONAL EXTRA SESSION – an additional 30-minute private student-instructor consultation session (including a read and evaluation of up to 50 manuscript pages of your current work in progress) is available for an additional charge of $75. Extra session will be scheduled following the completion of the 6-week course.


  • Proven Techniques & Tools: Learn how to assess and refine your approach using the Bare-Bones Analysis, Story Spine, and Character Cards


  • Professional Teaching Team: Work closely with three respected publishing industry professionals, experienced instructors and published writers.

Enrollment is limited! 


To ensure that everyone receives personal feedback and guidance, enrollment is limited to 7 participants. Contact us now to reserve your space!


BEYOND THE FIRST 50 PAGES: When the Real Work Begins


Dates:              6 Sundays (February 21, 28 and March 6, 13, 20, 27)

(*optional critique session, if requested to be scheduled separately)

Time:               7-9 pm

Cost:                $375.00 (add $75 if also signing up for the optional private session)

Location:         Kenmore, WA 98028 (Specific Location TBA)


Registration Deadline: January 22, 2016


Registration is now open! For enrollment details and payment information, email us today at, or call (206) 491-0147.



Instructor Bios:


Scott Driscoll is an award-winning instructor with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, has taught creative writing for the University of Washington Extension for twenty years and makes his living as a freelance writer and teacher. Scott’s debut novel, BETTER YOU GO HOME, was released by Coffeetown Press in October 2013. For more about Scott, visit his website:

Jennifer McCord is a 30 year veteran of the publishing trade. Throughout her career, Jennifer has worked in nearly every aspect of the industry—as a writer, editor, instructor, and consultant. Jennifer lends her expertise in the book business to writers and publishers through her consulting and coaching business, Jennifer McCord Associates. Currently, she is also an Associate Publisher for Camel Press and Coffeetown Press. Jennifer can be contacted at
Roberta Trahan is the best-selling author of THE WELL OF TEARS and THE KEYS TO THE REALMS, the first two books in her quasi-historical epic fantasy series from 47North. Her post-apocalyptic science fiction novella AFTERSHOCK is also now available through Amazon Publishing’s new digital-first short fiction imprint, StoryFront. You can learn more about Roberta at





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