5 Steps to an Airtight Plot

Whether you’re a plotter or pantser, learn to chart an actionable road map for your story


Tiffany Yates Martin


Live on Oct. 5, 2022, or watch recording


Novelists who feel stuck on plotting


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

What’s keeping you from finishing—or starting—that story you’ve been dying to tell? Why haven’t you completed that novel you’re burning to write, the one that’s been percolating in your head for weeks, months, maybe even years?

If you’re like a lot of writers, you might be stuck on plotting. Wrestling your characters and ideas into a strong, cohesive, propulsive story can get overwhelming, especially when you get “lost in the forest,” so deep in the woods you can’t see daylight—or the way out. Maybe all those ideas swirling in your head get muddled together and you can’t figure out what’s intrinsic to the story, or what goes where. Maybe you just lose steam and are thinking of abandoning the project altogether.

But plotting doesn’t have to be a many-headed Hydra. Whether you’re …

  • a new writer just beginning your first manuscript, or
  • a seasoned writer with many stories under your belt, or
  • a plotter who likes every step planned out in advance, or
  • a “pantser” who likes to write by the seat of your pants, or
  • a reviser wrestling with revisions

… the 5 simple, straightforward steps in this course will give you a solid, actionable road map for your story—a clear, workable guide to make sure you’re keeping momentum strong as you propel readers steadily through your story to a satisfying, cohesive conclusion.

In this Oct. 5 class, authors will learn:

  • Why plot doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and how yours can stall right out of the gate if you don’t lay the proper groundwork
  • How to define and identify the major “mile markers” for your plot that will begin to create the framework for the entire story
  • How to determine what steps to map out on the route toward each major mile marker
  • How to chart your structure on a clear, specific diagram that will serve as a practical, visual road map to focus your first drafting at every step of your writing—whether you like to know every single step of the journey before you begin, or leave yourself open to discoveries and development along the way
  • How to “proof” the road map before you even begin to make sure you don’t wind up on detours, in dead ends, or lost in the forest.

At the end of this course, you will have a specific, actionable, adaptable tool to keep you on course throughout the entire first draft, and be ready to start writing all the way to “The End.

Who should take this class

This presentation is useful for new and intermediate novelists. The course can help if you:

  • Are intimidated to even sit down and begin the story you’ve been dreaming of
  • Are starting a new story and want a clear framework to guide you and give you the best chance of success
  • Are stalling out, losing momentum midway through a story that started strong
  • Have finished a draft and aren’t sure how to assess and revise to make it cohesive, tight, and polished
  • Want to know how to create a practical, actionable “road map” for your writing that you can adapt to your style, your voice, and each individual story, whether you’re a pantser or a plotter

Who might be disappointed by this class

  • While some nonfiction examples will be offered, this class doesn’t deal with the challenging problems of memoirists (e.g., author lapses in memory or very long gaps between events). Instruction leans in the direction of novel-length fiction.
  • Short story writers may want to look elsewhere for a class more attuned to their needs.
  • This class was previously run in October 2021. While examples will be different this time, the core instruction remains the same.

What’s included in all of Jane’s classes

How do I attend the live class?

This class uses Zoom webinar technology (see system requirements). You will join through your Internet-connected computer or mobile device.

When you register, you will receive an email from Zoom on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:30 p.m. EDT / 10:00 a.m. Pacific
  • Fee: $25

The webinar is broadcasted via the internet with live audio delivered through your computer or mobile device speakers. The visual presentation is displayed directly from the presenter’s computer to your computer screen. The Q&A is managed through a chat-style submission system with questions read and answered by the presenter for the entire class to hear.

Closed captions are provided during the live class. We use Zoom’s automated closed caption service (powered by Otter), which is about 80%+ accurate. We also use Otter AI to generate an unedited transcript, provided with the recording.

About the instructor

Tiffany Yates Martin has spent nearly thirty years as an editor in the publishing industry, working with major publishers and New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling and award-winning authors as well as indie and newer writers, and is the author of the Amazon bestseller Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. She’s led workshops and seminars for conferences and writers’ groups across the country and is a frequent contributor to writers’ sites and publications. Under the pen name Phoebe Fox, she’s the author of six novels, including her most recent release, The Way We Weren’t (Berkley/PRH).

Thank you for such a wonderful presentation! I was truly bowled over by how much information you are able to provide and how it clarified so many aspects of writing that have been causing confusion.

Barbara Solomon Josselsohn

A thousand thank-yous. I have taken many writing classes over a number of years. I’ve been taught how to plot, I’ve pantsed through a couple of practice books, and I’m working on a BIG (pantsed) one. For this class I came in with something new, barely an idea, an entirely blank “page” to do the assignments. I must tell you, this has been one of the best writing experiences I have ever had.

Nancy B.

Tiffany’s presentations are very well planned, organized and beautifully delivered. Her slides touch on just the right number of key points, which she explains in depth. The excerpts illustrating her points are extremely helpful. I’ve learned so much in each presentation.

Nancy A.

All students receive the following

  • Access to live class. After roughly 75 minutes, Tiffany will take questions during class using in-class chat/text. The class will end after roughly 90 minutes.
  • A recording of the class—audio and video. This is especially helpful if you have a conflict with the class time or something comes up and you can’t make the session. Each registration comes with access to the archived version of the program and the materials for six months. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • Worksheets. You’ll receive five worksheets that walk you through every step of mapping out your plot, as well as sample “W”-style graphs for charting story scenes.
  • Presentation slides. All participants receive a copy of the slide presentation in PDF form.
  • Rough transcript. We use Otter to create an automated transcript of the entire webinar, which we’ll share with you in addition to the audio and video recording.

Event Attendance & Anti-Harassment Policy

We strive to provide an environment where all present—whether attendee, presenter, or staff—can feel supported. In order to ensure a welcoming event, here is what we expect from all who participate.

  • That the presenter and the presenter’s work be treated with respect by attendees and that all attendees treat each other with respect and a generosity of spirit.
  • That attendees will refrain from harassment of any sort including (but not limited to) comments or questions of a racist, homophobic, sexist/sexual, or threatening nature. This includes actions that disrupt or interfere with anyone’s ability to participate. Offenders will be disconnected from the live event.