Maybe It’s Not Your Plot

Struggling to revise? Your problem may lie not in what happens, but in why it happens.


Susan DeFreitas


Live on April 14, 2022, or watch recording


Beginning to intermediate novelists working on a revision


Closed captions by Otter; transcript provided with recording

You’ve put your novel through revision after revision, added and subtracted developments and subplots, but still, you can tell there’s something missing from the story, something that’s not quite right.

Sound familiar?

Plot is the number one issue that writers of fiction tend to wrestle with in their work, and the number one reason they seek out the services of book coaches and freelance editors.

But these publishing pros know a secret: 8 times out of 10, the issue with the novel isn’t what happens, it’s why it happens, what those events mean to the protagonist—and, ultimately, what they mean to the reader.

In this 90-minute live webinar, author, editor, and book coach Susan DeFreitas will share some common issues with novels-in-progress that appear to be issues with the external business of plot, but in fact are issues with the internal business of character.

These issues include:

  • Lack of clarity about the ending of the novel, or an ending that somehow just feels “off”
  • Excessive wordcount, and lack of clarity about what to cut
  • An effect of emotional flatness, a sense of “needing to get more emotion” in the story
  • “Almost, but not quite” agent rejections
  • Uncertainty about how much backstory to include
  • Lack of tension in the story, despite the presence of clear conflicts, threats, and challenges
  • Confusion about what happens at the climax of the story

Who should take this class

  • Writers who have completed at least one full draft of a novel
  • Writers with an idea for a novel who are still working out what happens in the story
  • “Pantsers” tired of endless rewrites, seeking a more direct path to a publishable novel manuscript
  • “Plotters” ready to get beyond the formulaic dictates of various plot structures and understand what really makes a novel feel meaningful

This class isn’t suited for

  • Writers of serial mysteries or thrillers; these are forms that privilege plot over character
  • Writers who aren’t particularly interested in creating nuanced, three-dimensional characters
  • While memoirists are welcome to attend this class, the examples, discussion and Q&A will focus on fiction

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 information via email on how to join the class. If you don’t receive it within 1 hour of registering, please contact us.

  • When: Thursday, April 14, 2022
  • Time: 1:00–2:30 p.m. Eastern / 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

Susan DeFreitas is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won a Gold IPPY Award, and the editor of Dispatches from Anarres: Tales in Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin. Her work has been featured in the Writer’s Chronicle, the Huffington Post, the Utne Reader, Story magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Oregon Humanities, High Desert Journal, and elsewhere. 

Susan has edited and coached winners of the Oregon Book Award, the Colorado Book Award, and the International Latino Book Awards; her clients publish regularly through presses large and small, traditional and hybrid. She is the creator of Story Medicine, the course for novelists who want to use their power as storytellers to support a more just and verdant world, and she specializes in helping historically marginalized writers, and those writing socially engaged fiction, break through into publishing. 

She holds an MFA in Fiction from Pacific University, and divides her time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Portland, Oregon. 

I took a novel-writing class with Susan DeFreitas two years ago and it revolutionized my novel. I’ve now published the first chapter as a short story and landed an agent. Susan ROCKS.

Emily Wortman-Wunder

This entire course is extremely helpful and your recommendations are spot on. My gut was already telling me where the trouble areas were, but until now I didn’t have a framework of technique to guide me in revising. Extremely valuable!

TK Greenleaf

This class has been such an eye-opener. I’ve always wondered what made one story stand out from another from the get-go. I get it now. Priceless.

Hugh Dufour

All students receive the following

  • Access to the live class. After roughly 75 minutes, Susan 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 30 days. You do not have to attend the live event to access the recordings.
  • 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.