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The Secrets of Structure: Shaping Your Powerful, Publishable Novel or Memoir

April 10 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDT

Virtual Event Virtual Event


You’ve got a beautiful, wild, and free first draft…now what?

You know it takes more than shifting some scenes and checking the spelling to create a finished novel or memoir that hooks agents, sells to publishers, and attracts readers. But how do you stride through the next draft with a clear map…and where should you be going? 

Plenty of craft books and workshops teach story and sentence—very few discuss whole-book structure. With examples from published work both literary and commercial, we’ll look at how dramatic structure works and what type will suit your book. In this 90-minute live webinar, you’ll learn how to shape a powerful story with engaging characters and a strong hook. We’ll cover where to start, how to decide what events belong in your book, and how to write—and live!—a powerful ending. You’ll discover how to find and polish your unique narrative voice while honoring the conventions of your genre. And you’ll take away key tools to make your next draft smoother and stronger, and your book much closer to publication-ready.

Suitable for those with an idea, a draft, or a terrifying pile of material, you’ll discover how to tell the right story about the story you need to tell.

In this webinar, you will cover:

  • The DIFFERENCE between STORY, PLOT, and STRUCTURE, and how each guides your sequence of events.
  • STARTING your novel or memoir with an engaging hook in the very first pages (and the promise your prologue must make).
  • How to know exactly WHAT EVENTS BELONG in your book…and what to let go.
  • The difference between DRAMATIC SITUATION (ho-hum) and DRAMATIC ACTION (wow!)
  • Knowing HOW MUCH worldbuilding, backstory, and family history to keep in the next draft—and the easiest way to make sure your story starts in the right place.
  • What THEME is and how to bring out the themes of your story as you revise. (Tip: it’s not the moral of the story!)
  • Using mystery to CREATE TENSION in memoir, genre fiction, and literary fiction.
  • Allison’s SELF-EDITING SUPERPOWER that will revolutionize your next draft—no matter how much you’ve already revised.

This webinar is ideal for …

  • Novelists who know they need more, but they’ve lost the creative excitement of the first draft.
  • Memoirists in anything from a first to a fifth draft who know their manuscript “isn’t quite done…” but don’t know what “done” will look like.
  • Creative writing students and graduates of MFA programs who want to expand their writing craft with conscious practice.
  • Developmental editors who want to grow their knowledge of story and structure and better communicate that knowledge to their author clients.
  • “Plotters” who want to build on the structure they have with more freedom and creativity, and “Pantsers” who need to anchor and focus their storyline.
  • Writers hearing feedback that their book lacks tension, needs a stronger hook, or the story is “hard to follow” or “didn’t grab the reader.”

Closed captioning is available. ✔
All registrants receive the recording.


Allison K Williams Headshot

ALLISON K WILLIAMS is the author of Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro From Blank Page to Book. She has edited and coached writers to publishing deals with Penguin Random House, Knopf, Mantle, Spencer Hill, and St. Martin’s as well as independent & literary presses. She’s guided essayists and humorists to publications including the New Yorker, Time, the Guardian, the New York Times, McSweeney’s, Refinery29, Hippocampus, the Belladonna, and TED Talks. As Social Media Editor for Brevity, she inspires thousands of writers with weekly blogs on craft and the writing life. As a memoirist, essayist, and travel journalist, Allison has written craft, culture, and comedy for National Public Radio, CBC-Canada, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, Creative Nonfiction, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Kenyon Review Online, Travelers’ Tales and Flash Nonfiction Funny. Allison holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and spent 20 years as a circus aerialist and acrobat before writing and editing full-time. She leads the Rebirth Your Book writing retreats series.

Questions? Email


April 10
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDT
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Allison K Williams
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