How to Write a Novel: Structure & Outline

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10/10 stars
based on  43 reviews
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Cost $295
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Course Details

Cost

$295

Upcoming Schedule

  • In Session

Course Provider

edX online courses
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Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of California, Berkeley, are just some of the schools that you have at your fingertips with edX. Through massive open online courses (MOOCs) from the world's best universities, you can develop your knowledge in literature, math, history, food and nutrition, and more. These online classes are taught by highly-regarded experts in the field. If you take a class on computer science through Harvard, you may be taught by David J. Malan, a senior lecturer on computer science at Harvard University for the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. But there's not just one professor - you have access to the entire teaching staff, allowing you to receive feedback on assignments straight from the experts. Pursue a Verified Certificate to document your achievements and use your coursework for job and school applications, promotions, and more. EdX also works with top universities to conduct research, allowing them to learn more about learning. Using their findings, edX is able to provide students with the best and most effective courses, constantly enhancing the student experience.

Provider Subject Specialization
Sciences & Technology
Business & Management
23470 reviews

Course Description

Have you always wanted to write a novel? Have you started a novel only to run out of steam halfway through? Led by international best-selling authors and professors from The University of British Columbia’s world-renowned Creative Writing MFA program, this is part of a series of courses designed to take your novel from concept to completion.

Outlining is a crucial step in the novel writing process, one that fuels creativity and prepares the writer to stay on track and avoid common pitfalls. Through hands-on weekly exercises with a focus on craft and process, as well as insights from the real-world practices of accomplished authors, this course explores the core elements of fiction writing necessary to build an outline. You will learn the fundamentals of character development, world-building and the basics of storytelling architecture. You'll work intensively on your own creative project and hone your outline through feedback and d...

Have you always wanted to write a novel? Have you started a novel only to run out of steam halfway through? Led by international best-selling authors and professors from The University of British Columbia’s world-renowned Creative Writing MFA program, this is part of a series of courses designed to take your novel from concept to completion.

Outlining is a crucial step in the novel writing process, one that fuels creativity and prepares the writer to stay on track and avoid common pitfalls. Through hands-on weekly exercises with a focus on craft and process, as well as insights from the real-world practices of accomplished authors, this course explores the core elements of fiction writing necessary to build an outline. You will learn the fundamentals of character development, world-building and the basics of storytelling architecture. You'll work intensively on your own creative project and hone your outline through feedback and discussion with fellow writers.

In the tradition of the UBC MFA program, this course draws on the work habits of established authors to help writers move quickly toward creating a blueprint for a successful draft. Whether you’re seeking literary fame or working on a project to share with family and friends, this course offers the tools and skills necessary to plan a novel others will be excited to read.

The course is recommended for professional and aspiring writers, writing groups, participants in NaNoWriMo, teachers and anyone who has ever dreamed of writing a novel.

Reviews 10/10 stars
43 Reviews for How to Write a Novel: Structure & Outline

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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.

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Sophie C profile image
Sophie C profile image

Sophie C

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 7 months ago
This is a superb course for anyone who has a novel they want to write. I started with no idea how to realise the ideas in my head, and no confidence in putting these ideas down on paper. Within a matter of weeks I now have a detailed and growing outline, developed characters and a clear goal. Nancy and Annabel are assured and inspirational teachers with a fantastic level of subject knowledge. I have enjoyed every second of this experience and can't wait to start the next course.
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student

10/10 starsCompleted
1 year, 7 months ago
This course is superb for learners who are self-motivated and disciplined--which you have to be anyway, to write a novel. The instructors have an impressive range of knowledge about novel architecture and the process of novel writing. Their experience in working with beginning novelists helps to illuminate their presentation of the material and their responses to questions during live office hours. If you want to learn about the narrative structure of novels, and learn how to produce a viable story, this course is for you. The assignments are very helpful, and the online community of learners is supportive, smart, and inspiring.
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Sophie G profile image
Sophie G profile image

Sophie G

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 1 month ago
If you have a vague, globular notion of one day writing a novel, this course will help you break your dream down into achievable, bite-size pieces. The rest is up to you.
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student

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 7 months ago
This course was extremely helpful for me! I have just started to write a rather big novel without making an outline. The main goal of this course is to create a detailed outline of your novel. It provides you with the tools of analysis and understanding of how to manage your writing process if you are stuck. Nancy and Annabel are very amiable and answer all questions in detail. This course contains useful assignments, self-questionnaires, and interviews with real writers which help to hone your skills and to manage your writing process, or even to strengthen your self-assurance anytime you need. In brief, this course equips students with the skills they will need to start writing a novel and puts first major stepping to your writing. Thanks Nancy, Annabel, and Andrew for such a great idea of making this course for us, beginning authors! :)
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Valerio Gambetti profile image
Valerio Gambetti profile image

Valerio Gambetti

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 7 months ago
Great instructors, key information provided in short lessons. Challenging but rewarding assignments. Quick pace, at least for me as I was a complete beginner. I am Italian, English is not my first language, however the instructors are very clear, as well as the course itself. The assignments are all in English but they are all doable and it does not really matter what your first language is, as long as you can understand English.
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Catherine Lamond profile image
Catherine Lamond profile image

Catherine Lamond

10/10 starsCompleted
2 years, 7 months ago
This was my first experience of novel writing and online ed. I loved the course and the Canadian content, particularly as I am from Scotland and living in BC. Excellent material, well presented and great assignments.
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Kat Gaidukova profile image
Kat Gaidukova profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 0 reviews
  • 0 completed
2 years, 7 months ago
This was the first formal course I've taken on creative writing and it sure was very illuminating for me. It met my expectations and provided me with the writing path I was hoping and looking for. It also motivated and inspired my novel writing. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone as novice as myself to the subject.
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David Johnston profile image
David Johnston profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
2 years, 7 months ago
I signed up for the deadlines and discipline I felt I lacked. The course not only served that purpose, but provided sage advice on how to keep focused and to avoid avoidance. I'll miss the charming instructors' lessons and weekly hangout. Or at least once I'm done with the second instalment of the course, which I will definitely take.
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Johanna van Zanten profile image
Johanna van Zanten profile image

Johanna van Zanten

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 1 month ago
I thoroughly enjoyed the two courses, the excellent course materials, the friendly and knowledgeable instructors and the format. It was for me as a self-directed mature learning the perfect venue to come to an outline and a complete draft of my novel's manuscript. Am waiting with baited breath for the last part: editing your manuscript....
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 2 months ago
I enjoyed the depth and expertise in this course. I've taken a lot of workshops and read a lot of books on writing, but this provided a real breakdown and I really enjoyed learning how to analyze other stories. That was an unexpected bonus.
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Teresa Wasney profile image
Teresa Wasney profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
Enjoyable, informative, and practical course. You won't regret taking this course and applying all that you will learn here to complete your outline and learn about the structure of a good novel. The instructors are great. They are knowledgeable, interesting, provide practical and useful information and also impart their own wisdom based on their experience as successful writers. Recommended.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 3 months ago
If you are serious about committing to a novel project this an absolutely wonderful course to help set you in the right direction. The instructors are amazing and provide valuable insight. This is a great opportunity to look at your project holistically, taking it from a seed to a fully rooted tree.
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Emily Gera profile image
Emily Gera profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 3 months ago
Amazing course, incredible teachers. I came in to this class with only a vague idea for a novel and having completed the course I now have a totally comprehensive outline. Now I'm completely ready to tackle my novel head-on and no longer feel terrified by the blank page. I Can't wait to take more classes from Annabel and Nancy (and Andrew)!
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 3 months ago
This was a very worthwhile course for me. The content is excellent and the instructors are knowledgeable and personable. Instructors responded to questions in weekly hang-out sessions. My goal was to obtain practical knowledge that I can put to use right away, and all my expectations were met or exceeded. The homework assignments were challenging and thought provoking; they contributed greatly to my learning. Thank you!!!!
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Student

10/10 starsTaking Now
3 years, 3 months ago
This is an excellent course and I loved both of the instructors. I took this course without knowing too much about it but was delighted with the depth of the content and the delightful instructional videos. Both Nancy and Annabel have inspired me to begin something I have wanted to for a lifetime...write a novel! I taught high school English for many years but never thought I would put pen to paper and write something of my own.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 3 months ago
This course was highly recommended to me by a respected English 'Book Doctor' and it is really excellent. Although I have already published two books, my Book Doctor friend felt that learning the wisdom of outlining would improve my writing discipline considerably. He was right! Nancy and Annabel have immense knowledge, combined with a happy knack of imparting that knowledge with great charm and an infectious enthusiasm. Irresistible!
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 3 months ago
This was probably the best writing course I've ever done. It was so thorough and so pertinent to my writer's journey I wanted to hug both the fabulous staff and the clever writers from around the globe who attended. The penny finally dropped on how-why-when to plot for me, as it never has before.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 3 months ago
This is well-designed and the course leaders are full of heart and warmth. I've already published two books, but learnt plenty which I didn't know. I'd highly recommend.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 7 months ago
This course is well-designed and presented. The instructors, Annabel, Nancy and Andrew, are wonderful teachers with expert knowledge of how to structure your novel writing. The course assignments are sometimes challenging, but they are all achievable. The online module is user-friendly and easy to follow. I gained both knowledge and confidence from this course. Thank you so much!
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John Smith profile image
John Smith profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 7 months ago
This course was exactly what I needed to kick my project back in gear. I began a novel (my 3rd actually) about a year ago and it started quite well. But I felt that it was scattered or disconnected. Nancy, Annabel, and Andrew help me set up an outline that helped me create a more solid, flowing base for my story. And I really appreciated the fact that they answered my questions in the hangout. It was almost like being in a real classroom. I highly recommend this course.
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Sherine Elbanhawy profile image
Sherine Elbanhawy profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 7 months ago
I really loved this course and so much is packed into the 6weeks. The time flies by. You end up learning so much and realize all the holes/gaps in the novel that you needed to fill. Annabel and Nancy are amazing instructors, and really put so much time and energy to explain the process and reassure all your doubts.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 7 months ago
This was an excellent course. It provided practical tools for writing an outline and we immediately put these tools to work. Nancy, Annabel and Andrew give pragmatic advice and each has a great sense of humor, making the hangouts informative and fun. I can't wait to start the companion course!
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 7 months ago
This is a great course for a first time writer and also for a more experienced one who has issues with the outline process. I learned a lot and now have great tools to write the best outlines possible. Thank you!
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 7 months ago
I've now completed both courses in this series and I've enjoyed both immensely. The format works well for me and I appreciate being able to refer back to the tools and learning materials 'as needed'. That being said, i'm looking forward to the book (add me to the list of those wanting to receive an email when the book is available)!! Thanks. Great course.
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Student

8/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 7 months ago
Instructors are well put together and well spoken. I liked Andrew's R2-D2-esque presence; fun, silent, and fixing the tech. The downside was that I did not really know what an outline could be from the beginning so I did not really know what I was working towards. Images of other authors' outlines were posted in Week 6. Nice reveal, but this is a course, not a novel. My fellow Canadians, this a $400 course, not $300. Thank you, garbage Canadian dollar. I would value this course as CDN$300 with a couple tweaks, but I am having a hard time justifying the extra CDN$100 for a six week course. Feedback on assignments was minimal unless it struck a chord. The end of week 1-hour sit downs were nice. Getting interaction from the students and getting involved. Loved that. Didn't get too much out of them, but I did not participate as much as I could have. These sit downs are important to have to ensure the students this is not a cours... Instructors are well put together and well spoken. I liked Andrew's R2-D2-esque presence; fun, silent, and fixing the tech. The downside was that I did not really know what an outline could be from the beginning so I did not really know what I was working towards. Images of other authors' outlines were posted in Week 6. Nice reveal, but this is a course, not a novel. My fellow Canadians, this a $400 course, not $300. Thank you, garbage Canadian dollar. I would value this course as CDN$300 with a couple tweaks, but I am having a hard time justifying the extra CDN$100 for a six week course. Feedback on assignments was minimal unless it struck a chord. The end of week 1-hour sit downs were nice. Getting interaction from the students and getting involved. Loved that. Didn't get too much out of them, but I did not participate as much as I could have. These sit downs are important to have to ensure the students this is not a course on "re-run" mode and to answer many varied questions. Overall, this course has made my writing process concise and efficient. I recommend this if you have a few extra dollars lying around.
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Student

10/10 stars
3 years, 7 months ago
I've been thinking about writing a novel about war and peace in a distant land for more than 20 years. This is important to me, a means of working out my thoughts on experiences lived. But I could never get my thoughts in coherent shape. The content of the course is basic, but it helped me make a breakthrough and produce a detailed outline. I'm grateful to the instructors and highly recommend the course.
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Linda Janice Phillips profile image
Linda Janice Phillips profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
3 years, 7 months ago
My expectations were exceed by this course! I wasn't sure what to expect out of an online course, but I'm so glad I did this. My experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I've learned so much from this course and will continue with the next one. The instructors, Nancy, Annabelle and Andrew, really know about the subject of writing and communicate in an effective and helpful manner. Online responses to questions were prompt and good. I have no hesitation in recommending this course to anyone wanting to learn about creative fiction writing.
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Blake Fitzgerald profile image
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Blake Fitzgerald

8/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 2 months ago
This course was entirely successful in getting me to develop my ideas into a full scene-by-scene outline which I am now using to write the first draft of a novel. I am particularly thankful for the instruction on structure, detailing of major turning points in a classic three-act plot, and advice on creating and sticking to a writing plan. If you want to write a novel, but need to overcome creative inertia, this is a great place to do it. I will say that while I found most of the content very useful, the course was a little asymmetrical for my tastes. I would have preferred a week devoted to each act, rather than groupings of smaller, specialized topics in the second half of the course. It also would have been nice to get direct feedback from a TA on my outline, rather then rely on the required comments of peers, which more often then not seemed to be compliments made out of mere obligation and lacking in analytical advice. Still,... This course was entirely successful in getting me to develop my ideas into a full scene-by-scene outline which I am now using to write the first draft of a novel. I am particularly thankful for the instruction on structure, detailing of major turning points in a classic three-act plot, and advice on creating and sticking to a writing plan. If you want to write a novel, but need to overcome creative inertia, this is a great place to do it. I will say that while I found most of the content very useful, the course was a little asymmetrical for my tastes. I would have preferred a week devoted to each act, rather than groupings of smaller, specialized topics in the second half of the course. It also would have been nice to get direct feedback from a TA on my outline, rather then rely on the required comments of peers, which more often then not seemed to be compliments made out of mere obligation and lacking in analytical advice. Still, it is absolutely worth the price of admission, and you're liable to get a lot out of the course if you put a lot of effort in.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 2 months ago
Take this course! I have participated in a variety of workshops online and in person, and this one is the best by far. Amazing instructors, great content, and lots of laughs. I learned a lot and had fun while doing so.
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Student

10/10 starsCompleted
4 years, 3 months ago
Content and Instructors (including technical help) were outstanding. I received both practical tools in writing my outline, and confidence with their encouraging, open approach -- truly a fantastic experience. I got out of it exactly what I needed as a writer.
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