Plot Essentials

Plot Essentials outlines the foundations of plot development, setting the groundwork for how to structure a dramatic narrative.

When the Foundation is Wrong, the story falls apart

Story Structure is Your Foundation

A story isn’t just a series of events, it is a carefully orchestrated experience in which plot events and
character development are strategically connected.

Plot Essentials demystifies the storytelling process by outlining the essential components that make a well-structured story and showing how they work together.

by the end of this workshop

You will understand how to...



dramatic suspense & release tension so the reader has a range of emotions.



an intriguing beginning that grabs the reader, a grand climax, and a satisfying ending.



character and plot development together to ensure a character-driven story.



your story into manageable sections, including acts, sequences, scenes, and beats.



only essential action. Avoid purposeless scenes that detract from the grand story.



your favorite stories and use those authors' techniques into your own writing.

No waiting to get started.
You can complete the course as soon as you want.

This Workshop will help you wherever you are in your storytelling journey

Who This Workshop is For

I know sometimes we see an opportunity and wonder if it is really suited for our particular needs.

Based on my 16+ years teaching story, this workshop was designed for you if you are a committed to writing a gripping story but are either unsure how to begin or stuck in the middle of a project with seemingly incurable writer’s block.

if you...

This course is for you.

I specifically design all of my courses for those currently writing or planning to write. Every writing exercise is also a reading analysis exercise so that you can dissect your favorite stories, learn what makes them great, and then apply that to your own work.

Pacing Is Critical

If you want your reader to be on the edge of her seat, you need to arrange your plot events so that they continually create and resolve dramatic tension at varying levels from the smallest beat, all the way up to the overarching story conflict.

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If you're ready to dive into your story then join Plot Essentials and let’s get started!


I was totally blown away. It's not just about the principles, the exercises were really helpful. I've been watching movies and dissecting stories on my own now with the tools I learned from this course. I'm learning so much more this way.

man 2 green


This course was truly amazing! For anyone who has a loose outline of what your story looks like but wonders about how to lead to those big moments, this is a must-watch. An incredible resource in one's writing journey. Thank you, Barbara!

woman yellow



What's inside...

We will begin by examining the types of plots that exist so that you can choose the story structure that is right for you. We will then move into addressing what makes purposeful action and when action is unnecessary. This is critical so that you don’t write useless scenes!

The next portion of the workshop addresses the basics of how plots are structured and how writers build suspense and tension in the reader through action and character development. We will then address how to break your overarching plot vision into smaller components.

Finally, we will discuss the basics of essential plot elements, including beginnings and how to determine chapters.

Workshop Lessons:

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This full workshop includes:

Break Free from Restrictive rules That Don't fit your vision

All of the lessons and the final worksheets are designed to help you not only write your own work, but also to analyze the stories you love best so that you can learn from them. No forcing your story into a formula.

If you're ready to dive into your story then join Plot Essentials and let’s get started!


A Track Record of Student Success

Hear What Plot Essentials students are saying

Sixteen years teaching thousands of students.

This class goes deep into the different parts of plotting and, crucially, highlights the best ways to make your novel dramatic and keep the reader reading. I really enjoyed it and learned a great deal. I especially loved the outtakes at the end! Thank you for another great class, Barbara. You are very inspiring.

woman 3 yellow


This is the third of Barbara's classes I've binged in recent weeks. She always quickly gets into detail, and the good stuff just keeps coming. Not only do her courses kickstart my creativity and impact the quality of my writing, but I'm already reading in a much more critical style as well. Brilliant.

bearded man 2 green


Amazing class! Super engaging, had me taking notes and hanging on every word, and got my creative juices flowing! So grateful for this class, I’ve already bookmarked several of Ms. Vance’s other lessons to begin now that this one’s finished. Thanks again!!!

Woman Purple Ponytail


Barbara is one of the more knowledgeable teachers I have found. Many of her examples come from great works of literature rather than pop-culture, which appeals to me. She incorporates some visuals in the course to show plot and character advancement. Her course is longer than others so I listen to a couple of chapters at a time.

woman 3 yellow


I said it all before and I can't say it enough. Barbara is a brilliant and very engaging teacher. Her content is amazing, and I have learned so much. Her latest course is great for building a foundation of knowledge regarding the basics like structure and plot development. English is not my first language, but I never struggle understanding anything. I have taken all of Barbara's classes and I can't wait until she releases her next one. #BarabaraVancefanrighthere

woman green


Really good class. It was very helpful for me and easy to understand, although I am a total beginner in writing. I think Barbara provides a great mixture of theory and practical tips, to get a better understanding of storytelling. Also, I feel very motivated to reread all my favourite books from this new point of view. Thanks for that!

Bearded Man Purple


Incredibly helpful! Once of the absolute best teachers I have ever had in my life! I’m almost finished taking every one of her courses and they are all fantastic.

woman 2 yellow


Risk Free | Guarantee

100% Risk-Free Money Back Guarantee

My Plot Essentials Workshop will give you the clear overview you need to decide your narrative perspective and start writing. It is actionable, thought provoking, and designed to help you write the best story in less time.

I have taught character and story development for years to THOUSANDS of students, and I know what works.If you take the workshop and don’t feel like you don’t have a clearer sense of your story’s perspective and how to write it, simply reach out to us, show us you have made an effort, and we will refund your full investment.

Full details here >>

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Are you ready to start plotting your story?

I have taught thousands of students and creative professionals how to craft their stories, and this workshop will provide the overview you need to get going. It will introduce essential plot-building concepts without overwhelm, and it will absolutely help inspire your work. I genuinely recommend getting started with Plot Essentials if you are motivated by any of the following:


You Don’t Want to Waste Time Writing the Wrong Way

My students and clients range from professional storytellers with MFAs in creative writing to beginners just dipping their toes in the storytelling waters, but one thing they all have in common is a tight schedule. It is hard to carve away precious hours to write in between work, family, and life. This workshop will give you the necessary tools to make the best decisions for your story so that you don’t waste your time writing chapters that end up being tossed.


You're Ready to Reach New Levels of Creativity

Outlining your story in advance can supercharge your creativity and make writing infinitely easier. When you make a skeleton of your story, you are essentially helping to put some clay on the potter’s wheel. I have seen the formidable blank screen cause many writers to freeze and not write anything.

If you are a planner, the workshop workbook exercises will let you get highly detailed with every internal-struggle scene. If you like to have the plot unfold as you write, you are welcome to use the lessons here to create an overarching vision and then see what happens!

If you are in the middle of a story, working through the workbook exercises will get you unstuck and back on track so that you can move forward.

I'm currently in the process of outlining and plotting my novel and this was SO helpful! I especially appreciate the section where different plotting/outlining methods and tips are explained. Thank you so much!



If you're ready to dive into your story then join Plot Essentials and let’s get started!


A Little About Me...

My name is Barbara Vance, and over the past sixteen years I have helped thousands of students bring their stories to life.

What started as an early and sincere delight in literature turned into focused study on what makes stories good. How do they work? This culminated in a PhD in storytelling and media, and a subsequent position at a tier-one university.

But I wanted to do more. I wanted to reach more people and provide them not just with the knowledge I had accumulated over the years, but also actionable, step-by-step processes that would help them find and develop their characters and stories, stay on track, and finish what they started . . . even while juggling busy careers and a family.

As a published author and educator, I don’t just understand story; I understand storytellers, and the rewarding, albeit sometimes challenging process that articulating a vision can be.

So I created a collection of proven courses that delve deeply into the components of great stories and how to write them.

It is a joy to help so many find their voice, discover their story, and get it done.

I Don't Just Know Stories; I Know Storytellers

This workshops is based on 16+ years of helping writers through their biggest plot development challenges. I made this so you can avoid the common pitfalls.

Sometimes we don’t start something because we are unsure of how to begin.

Many writers have a story they want to tell, but they do not understand how to translate the events and characters in their head into a structured plot. So they just start writing, counting on their imaginations to provide one story event after another.

But eventually, the next idea doesn’t arrive, writer’s block sets in, and the story winds up in a drawer.

And it might have been a wonderful story. It just lacked structure.

This plot-development overview will give you more than enough to get started on your story or get unstuck if you feel your plot is not progressing. It will introduce you to the components of a story, which will make writing more manageable and fun—and it doesn’t confine you to formulas that don’t fit your vision.

I cannot encourage you enough to invest in your creativity! Writing stories can change your life, and understanding the nuances of story design will make you a more creative, independent writer. I am so excited for your storytelling journey, and I wish you well with your writing!