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"Pacing and Motivation: What Novelists Can Learn from Screenwriters" ONLINE with Richard Santos

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12/12/2020 From 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM


$49 for Members
$109 for Non-Members

All registrants will have access to the class recording for one week.

Learn how to keep your plot moving, your characters focused, and your readers hooked.

Have you been told your novel manuscript has a "messy middle?" Do your readers have trouble following your characters' motivations? Maybe the answer isn't in a book but in a movie. This class will explore the traditional screenplay structure and show how novelists can incorporate these techniques and best practices into their writing. The best movies are masterpieces of precision and pacing. For example, in the first five minutes of most movies the protagonist is established and the plot is set in motion. Join us as we look at film clips and screenplays to learn how to keep our plots moving, our characters focused, and our readers hooked. We'll look at a range of movies (from art house classics to modern blockbusters) and apply their storytelling lessons to our own fiction.


  • You're a film lover who wants to write a novel.

  • Your work in progress has stalled.

  • You want to make sure your protagonists are clear, the middle of your book keeps moving, and your ending makes sense. 


Richard Z. Santos is a writer and teacher in Austin. His debut novel, Trust Me, was published in March 2020. He is a Board Member of The National Book Critics Circle and served as one of the 2019 Nonfiction Judges for The Kirkus Prize. Recent work can be found in Texas Monthly, Awst Press, Kirkus Reviews, CrimeReads, and many more. In a previous career he worked for some of the nation's top political campaigns, consulting firms, and labor unions.   





$49 members (sign in for member pricing)

$109 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, December 11. 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