"This course single-handedly developed my writing ability and technique more than anything else I have done in recent years."

Chris Woodland, England

"The modules on scene building, plot planning and character development were most helpful in taking my ideas further than just a vague concept. I'd never really thought about story writing in these ways before.

Now I really analyse what each scene adds to the narrative.

I feel better equipped and more self assured that I will be able to produce better stories, with a good flow, good tension, logic and drive. The course has given me a lot of confidence to see a novel through to the end."

Do you ever read a story or novel and think, “Wow, if only I could write like that!” 

Maybe you get ideas for stories, but when you get home from work it’s a lot easier to stick to your usual routine than it is to stare at a blank page, wondering where to start

Or maybe you write the stories, but your work isn’t where you want it to be. You send it to agents or publishers and hear … crickets. When you re-read it, you know something is off but you don’t know what it is.

Or maybe you’ve sold a few stories or written a strong first novel. You might have an agent, a publisher, and another story idea in mind. Then you learn the truth about writing: with each project, you’re starting from scratch.

You’d give anything to find out how authors create a compelling story, one that makes readers lose themselves in the experience.

Welcome to STORY SMARTS: Your direct route from idea to finished draft.

No more wheel-spinning. No more endless hours of writing scenes you need to throw out. Use these strategies to improve ALL your fiction, short or long.

This course is for you if:

  • You love stories and dream of publishing excellent fiction one day;
  • You want to understand how to create a story or novel that works before you invest hundreds of hours in writing, scrapping, and rewriting;
  • You’re ready to write with more confidence and less wheel-spinning;
  • You have a project in mind;
  • You’re ready to do the writing in each module and participate in the 2 video group coaching sessions with the instructor. (These sessions alone are valued at more than the course registration fee!)

"I've bought and started several courses on fiction writing. None of them presented the subject in as clear a manner as this course. After working through the modules step by step, my story has almost written itself. I now have the knowledge and tools to write many more."

Chris D., Canada

What you'll do:

In the introduction, we’ll look at an overview of the modules and the tools you’ll need. You’ll block your time for doing the course.

In module 1 we’ll start with a definition of the big picture and an overview of the areas involved. You’ll do some writing about your story or novel. Seven sentences, to be exact.

In module 2 you will create or deepen a character that will compel readers to turn the page. In a timed writing, you will write a new scene for your novel or story.

Module 3 looks at what scenes need. You’ll write a big scene, maybe the biggest scene in your story.

Module 4 looks at how to create a plot that shows your character in action. You’ll do three timed plot-building exercises.

*First Group Coaching Session*

In module 5, you will learn about pacing and tension, and how to use those to keep the reader turning the page. You'll identify the sources of tension in your story.

In module 6 we will examine cause and effect, which creates the spine of your story or novel. You’ll run tests to see if your story engine works.

Module 7 looks at concept, premise, and theme. You will draft a compelling premise (or three) for your tale.

Module 8 is about effective storytelling structure.

*2nd Group Coaching*

In the Epilogue, you will get a step-by-step process for taking your project to the end of a complete, well-structured tale.

Your Instructor

Hi, I’m Pat Dobie–writer, editor, coach, and book doctor working with writers all over the world. My clients have gone on to get agents, achieve traditional publication, self-publish successfully, and win awards.

I’ve taught fiction writing live to hundreds of beginning and intermediate writers, and coached writers on book-length projects from concept development through to publication.

I’m looking forward to taking you through fiction’s big-picture fundamentals with STORY SMARTS, a 5-week "learn by doing" workshop with your story or novel as the project.

Let me help you create a story that works!


Do I need a finished story or novel?

No. You should have a project in mind, but it doesn’t need to be too far along. In fact, working on the big-picture fundamentals before you get too far into the writing will save you time in the end. 

I'm new to writing fiction. Will this course work for me?

Yes it will! Just give yourself more time to work on the between-class homework and be sure to pop into the forum for help.

I'm short on time. How long will it take?

This workshop will SAVE you time–you’ll stay out of the weeds (plot holes, missing motivations, gaps in logic) and save yourself from having to do substantial rewriting.

But to answer your question, each video module (including the writing stints) takes from 20-60 minutes. You get 2 modules most weeks, on a Friday. I’ll lead two group coaching sessions with time for Q&A.

Is it self-paced?

Yes and no. The modules will be released on a schedule. You can do each week’s module(s) in one evening or spread them out over the week. The online forum is always open. The group coaching sessions happen live, by Zoom, and are scheduled in advance.

Do I need to complete certain modules before the coworking dates?

No. The Zoom sessions are to talk about craft questions and the writing life. If you’re behind on the modules that week, you’ll still get lots out of them!

How much is the course?

195 USD

For this you get...

  • 8 video modules
  • 14 writing exercises
  • 2 live Zoom sessions with the instructor & other participants
  • a curated list of resources to keep you going after the course, and
  • a workbook to keep and refer back to as you bring your novel or story to THE END.

How do I register?

Click the button below and you'll go straight to the checkout page.

5 Weeks, 8 Modules

course schedule Story Smarts