Back to Calendar

"Novel Essentials" Online Class Package

Add to my calendar

Register until

Members: Login to receive members-only pricing.


2/6/2021 to 3/27/2021

$196 for members 

$436 for nonmembers

This is the perfect package for any writer getting ready to finally write that novel. From getting the spark of an idea onto the page to nailing those last sentences (and everything in between), these four classes will help any writer make their way from Chapter 1 to “The End.” Everyone who purchases the package will get access to an exclusive Q&A session with the package instructors and they'll get the chance to meet their fellow cohort in a virtual meet-up.

Before purchasing, be sure to check the dates. As always, there are no refunds on classes.

Each class can be purchased individually by clicking on the class title.

Can't make it to every class? No worries! All registrants will have access to the class recordings for the duration of the package, plus an additional week.


"The Novel Hatchery: From Idea to the Page" with Stacey Swann

     Saturday, February 6, 2021, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST

Do you have a great idea for a novel but aren’t sure how to dive in? Or have you already begun but hit an early wall?

No matter what type of novel you’re writing, this class will increase your skills and confidence to jump in head first. Together, we’ll explore the following areas:

Foundational pre-writing, getting a clearer sense of our characters and their problems
Roadmaps, whether they be detailed outlines or a handful of bullet points
Crafting effective opening chapters
Using craft elements to expand our drafts: stakes, theme, and setting
By the end of the class, your novels will have cracked their shells, ready to grow and fly to completion.

Stacey Swann holds an MFA from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her fiction has appeared in Epoch, Memorious, Versal, and other journals, and she is a Contributing Editor of American Short Fiction.


"Pacing the Plot of Your Novel or Short Story" with John Pipkin

     Saturday, February 20, 2021, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST

Writers often make the mistake of assuming that the only way to improve the pace of a story is to make as much stuff happen as quickly as possible. But a well-paced story is one in which the narrative unfolds at the speed and rhythm that the characters, scenes, and themes require. And pacing is determined not just by what happens but by the mechanics of how the story is being told, sentence by sentence. Sometimes, decisions as simple as word choice can have a profound effect on the pace of a story.

In this class, participants will examine the characteristics of successful pacing and study some basic strategies for helping their story develop at the rhythm that feels well-suited to the plot.The class will also identify some of the sign-posts that can indicate pacing problems in a story and how to handle these issues in the revision stage.

John Pipkin’s first novel, Woodsburner, was published to national acclaim by Doubleday in 2009. Woodsburner won the New York Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, the Massachusetts Center for the Book Novel Prize, and the Texas Institute of Letters Stephen Turner Prize. His novel The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter was published by Bloomsbury in 2016. John has won fellowships to MacDowell, Yaddo, and Dobie-Paisano. He is the Director of the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at UT-Austin, and he also teaches in the Low-residency MFA Program at Spalding University in Louisville, KY.


"Throw More Stones: How to Build Your Character Through Conflict" with Samantha M. Clark

     Saturday, March 20, 2021, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST

No matter whether you’re writing a character-driven or plot-driven story, comedy, drama or tragedy, it’s the characters that readers follow. And to keep those characters moving and growing, you need conflict.

Conflict can be big or small, come from outside or inside, but it must be challenging. When story gurus tell students to chase their characters up a tree then throw stones at them, they’re talking about conflict. Conflict not only drives stories forward, it helps readers learn who the characters are by the decisions and actions they make. Conflict makes the story go round!

In this class, you’ll learn…

  • About developing well-rounded, fully realized characters
  • The importance of conflict
  • The types of conflict
  • And how to use it to make your stories better 

Samantha M Clark is the award-winning author of The Boy, The Boat, and The Beast and the forthcoming Arrow (June 22, 2021), both published by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster, as well as upcoming books from Penguin Workshop and Bloomsbury. She has always loved stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. After all, if four ordinary brothers and sisters can find a magical world at the back of a wardrobe, why can’t she? While she looks for her real-life Narnia, she writes about other ordinary children and teens who’ve stumbled into a wardrobe of their own. In a past life, Samantha was a photojournalist and managing editor for newspapers and magazines. She lives with her husband and two kooky dogs in Austin, Texas. Samantha is the Regional Advisor for the Austin chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and explores wardrobes every chance she gets. Sign up for news and giveaways at

"Final Pages, Final Paragraphs: Finding the Right Ending for Fiction" with Chaitali Sen

     Saturday, March 27, 2021, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. CST

Many of the best stories have memorable beginnings, but endings are equally important to creating a cohesive piece that resonates with readers long after they have put it down. The best endings should both satisfy and haunt readers. In this class, we will look exclusively at endings. If you can nail your ending, you have solved the hardest problem of storytelling.

This class will cover endings and their role in the story, looking at examples of effective endings, common mistakes in developing endings, and exercises that help us construct and revise endings that feel both inevitable and surprising. There will be examples from published texts and questions to prompt thinking about what makes something an effective or haunting ending.

Chaitali Sen is the author of a novel The Pathless Sky, a finalist for the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best First Fiction, and included on Idra Novey’s Buzzfeed list “10 Books That Challenge Our Political Landscape by Inventing New Ones,” Library Journals “Top Fall Indie Fiction,” and’s “25 Essential Reads to Make Women’s History Last Longer than a Month.” Her work has appeared in Ecotone, Shenandoah, New England Review, New Ohio Review, Colorado Review, Electric Literature, LitHub, Los Angeles Review of Books, Catapult, and many other publications.






$196 members (sign in for member pricing)

$436 nonmembers

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.  

Online registration will close at 5 p.m. CST on Friday, Februray 5. If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click here for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it. If you prefer this option, please email with a copy of the form as well. We are working out of our office at this time.

Once a purchase has been made, tickets are not refundable and registration cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a ticket and then find you cannot attend, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at and let us know so that we can update the class roster.


Our classes offer a combination of lecture and practical exercises, determined by the individual instructor, on focused aspects of the craft and business of writing. Your fellow participants will come from a range of writing experience, from beginners to people with MFA degrees and published books. WLT instructors, participants, and administrators all work together to create a welcoming, supportive environment.

If you haven't taken a class with us in recent years, feel free to email WLT Program Director Sam Babiak at if you'd like to discuss whether our programming is the right fit for your needs.


Once you register for the class, you'll receive an email with detailed instructions. You should expect 2-2.5 hours of direct teaching and 30 minutes of Q&A (for three hours total). If you need to leave the class early or can't attend the class on that date, all registrants will have access to the recording for one week after the class date. No microphone or camera required, just an Internet connection capable of streaming video. All online classes are hosted on Zoom. To learn more about how Zoom works, click HERE.

A couple of days before the class, you will receive an email with login information. Plan to log in to the online platform several hours before the class so that you can update your computer's Flash or any other settings required to access the platform. (Updates usually take only a few minutes, but you don't want to wait until the beginning of class.) Questions? Email us at


This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at


Writers' League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts - Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to


This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit


This project is supported in part by the Mid-America Arts Alliance. For more information, go to