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Structuring Your Plot and Subplot: How to Use Narrative Digression to Move Your Story Forward

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St. Edward's University
Doyle 130

3/23/2013 From 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Sorry, this class is sold out. To be put on a waiting list, please email Jennifer Ziegler at

with John Pipkin

              $99 for members (log in for member price)

             $159 for nonmembers

Learning how to sustain a consistent and compelling plot is one of the most challenging aspects of writing an extended narrative, and achieving this is crucial not only to the novel, but also to the short story form. This craft lecture will explore ways of defining and structuring plot and will examine strategies for maintaining tension, pacing, and character development. We will focus specifically on how subplots--which are sometimes feared as detrimental or disruptive to the plot's advancement--can actually be used to remedy one of the main problems writers face when plotting longer works, namely, how to keep the story moving forward in the dreaded "second act."

Students should be prepared for very brief references to fractal geometry.

John Pipkin’s first novel, Woodsburner, was published to national acclaim by Nan A. Talese/Doubleday in April 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 for First Novel. John was the Dobie Paisano Fellow for the spring of 2011. He recently sold his second novel to Doubleday.


NOTE: Tickets are not refundable. For more information on class policies, please visit our Classes page.

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This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Economic Growth & Redevelopment Services Office/Cultural Arts Division believing an investment in the Arts is an investment in Austin’s future. 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 


The Writers' League of Texas would like to thank St. Edward's University for its generous support and commitment to community, ongoing education, and the arts. Visit