Write Your Novel Fast & Sure Master Critique Lab

For serious beginners and advanced writers ready to plunge into a plot and manuscript in a “let’s-get-it-done” environment

Create, write, revise your novel in this advanced critique lab with professional writing coach and author Christine DeSmet, based on her popular online course, workshops, and one-on-one coaching. Build and improve everything, from idea stage through actual pages. Create a more saleable concept, logline, synopsis, plot, protagonist's internal journey, fatal flaw, antagonist, setting, scenes, voice, style, and punctuation. Writers get six months of coaching and 100 pages plus synopsis critiqued. Additional critique meetings and pages may be added for an extra fee for those wishing to continue to the end of their novel.

At a glance

What: Write Your Novel Fast & Sure Master Critique Lab

When: Last offered Sep 20, 2017. Check back for next offering.

Where: 21 N. Park St., Rm. to be announced, Madison, WI

Cost: $575

Continuing education credit: 180 hours (18.0 CEUs)

Instructor: Christine DeSmet

Registration closed

For additional information, contact Christine DeSmet: 608-262-3447


Start this lab with only an idea for your novel, or come to revise

What matters is that you're ready for advanced, professional instruction in a friendly atmosphere that will help you love writing your novel or revising it in a serious way.

You have the option to send a few pages to the instructor prior to the first session—or not. It's okay to attend Session 1 with no pages. Get oriented first, if you like.

You receive a critique on your first 100 pages—and that offer is good even after our meetings are done. Work with the instructor anytime within 6 months of the start of this lab—included in your fee. Critiques beyond 100 pages are available with your instructor through our regular UW-Continuing Studies Writing Critique Services.

Questions? Please contact your instructor: christine.desmet@wisc.edu, 608-262-3447.

Topics covered (not necessarily in this order)

Give your novel momentum

  • How to approach tackling a novel. Or revising it. What’s helpful to do first, second, third and so on. Your “concept” as a guide in writing, revising, selling.
  • Your genre’s promise and reader expectations. Understand what you’re doing in literary, mainstream, popular culture genres, and any other form.
  • Corralling your character’s “journey” and character “arc.”
  • Novel story structure in a nutshell.Pacing issues.
  • Creating a plot “beat sheet” vs. an outline vs. free-wheeling.

Your best novel-creation or revision tricks

  • The Logline and Central Question: necessary tools.
  • Are your plot points strong enough? How your novel can trick you.
  • Strengthen the Fatal Flaw and Transformational Arc.
  • Quick tips to improve your hooks: Page 1, chapters, scenes, endings, & more.
  • Voice: What it is, how to find your voice, how to polish it.

Character deepening

  • Corralling your character’s “journey” and character “arc.”
  • Character depth: 20 key questions that always change things.
  • What characters do you need? Who can you lose?
  • Point of view issues. Third, first, something else? Alternate chapters among characters or not?
  • Incorporating theme and issues: Tips for being elegant instead of clunky and preachy.

Good scenes = Great novels

  • The spine of your story = the clothesline of key scenes.
  • What makes a scene “good”?
  • The “set-piece” scene. How many should you have?
  • Dialogue techniques of the rich and famous authors.

Setting sells novels

  • Essential techniques. Big mistakes that ruin your sale.
  • Page 1-2 checklist for setting.
  • Setting as character, metaphor, plot.
  • How to deal with time, eras, and transitions.

Onward to publication

  • Feedback on your query letter.
  • Feedback on your short synopsis.
  • Marketing goals. The easiest way to get an agent or publisher.