Writing Dramatic Plots 101: Dramatic Tension and Grand Structure

Barbara Vance, Author, Illustrator

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20 Lessons (1h 57m)
    • 1. About the Course

      8:44
    • 2. Foundations of Plot Building

      6:46
    • 3. Types of Plots

      5:52
    • 4. Plot vs Story The Essential Difference

      3:39
    • 5. Avoiding Useless Action: Keeping Your Story Focused

      2:21
    • 6. Plot Structure Basics

      2:45
    • 7. Building Suspense with Tension & Release

      5:29
    • 8. Crisis and Climax

      8:58
    • 9. Deviating from Plot Building “Rules”

      5:32
    • 10. Ensuring Satisfying Endings

      7:20
    • 11. Meaningful Change in Characters & Situations

      5:09
    • 12. Smaller Plot Components

      5:41
    • 13. Acts, Sequences, Scenes, Events, Beats

      5:16
    • 14. Literary Example Part 1

      10:10
    • 15. Literary Example, Part 2

      6:45
    • 16. Strong Beginnings

      5:49
    • 17. What to Include in Your Story

      4:08
    • 18. Chapters and How to Use Them

      4:30
    • 19. Best Practices & Practical Application

      9:05
    • 20. Final Thoughts and Class Project

      2:39
19 students are watching this class

About This Class

This is a foundations course that is a broad overview of the many and nuanced ways writers develop plots. It is two hours long, and it really sets the groundwork for how to plot out a dramatic narrative. Topics include (but not limited to):

  1. Understanding the main tenets of plot development
  2. How to deviate from these main tenets
  3. How to craft strong moments of tension and release for suspense
  4. The difference between plot and story
  5. Crafting a great climax
  6. Defining Acts, Sequences, Scenes, Events, and Beats
  7. How to start your plot
  8. How to avoid meaningless events and scenes
  9. The difference between scenes and chapters
  10. How to make your characters go through meaningful change

 We will look at literary case studies, define terms, and get our heads around so many of the storytelling “guidelines” you hear about.

The goal of the class is not to teach you rules!

It is specifically designed to help you assess plots for yourself, seeing how they adhere to guidelines and how they deviate from them. The better you are able to do this, the stronger your own plots will be. I want you to be self-sufficient writers who do not feel chained to guidelines that they do not feel suit the goals of their stories. 

This is a foundations course. I will be making subsequent plot courses that go into further detail; but this is designed specifically to prep you for what is to come!

Recommended Reading/Viewing

  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte (novel, 1847)
  • A Little Princess, Francis Hodgson Burnett (novel, 19
  • To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee (novel, 19
  • Dial M for Murder (film, 19
  • Hamlet, Shakespeare (play)

Optional Prep Work or Concurrent Classes:

If you have not watched the following two courses; I recommend doing so—you will get even more out of this one: