Margie Lawson

Make your writing soar


Plot Your Reliable Story Compass

This course is for fiction authors who want to find the true purpose of their story and write a compelling novel every time, so they can avoid getting lost in a plot-hole wilderness.

But it is so much more than a plotting class.

There are hundreds of plot maps in cyberspace and having one doesn’t automatically mean you will write a cohesive book. What you’re missing is a compass to help you navigate those maps.

Shaking out all the excess baggage of minor characters, subplots, truckloads of research and fascinating backstory, will reveal the critical foundation of your story. Once exposed, it’s easier to look at it objectively and see opportunities for improvement. Then, all that’s left to do is mold those ideas into an unputdownable adventure.

We’ll explore:

  • Why you want to write this particular story and the best way to showcase your voice.
  • The deep-seated desires and motivations of your main characters and how to use them to make their lives difficult.
  • How to isolate the main through-line and use it to stay focused on the elements that matter.
  • How to weave subplots and secondary characters around the main through-line.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve written a manuscript that needs fixing, have started and abandoned dozens of stories, or are planning the next book; by the end of this course, you will have a solid roadmap to keep your plot focused on its true north.

Now is the time to save your manuscript from the slush pile (or your recycle bin) and realise the book you dreamed of.

This course will give you the skills to:

  • Identify the themes you want to explore and your opinions surrounding them.
  • Move from a big idea to the details of a well-thought-out plot.
  • Develop meaningful characters with strong desires and motivations that will drive the story.
  • Harness the power of a story summary to stay laser-focused on the right aspects of the plot.
  • Check that the story hits key structural marks with built-in conflict.
  • Use subplots and secondary characters to support the main through-line.

What’s included

I am passionate about ensuring participants fully understand concepts, so provide opportunities to apply what you’ve learnt to your own story. Each lesson includes:

  • Examples, exercises and a reference handout to keep.
  • Detailed assignment feedback with explanations and examples to affect lasting changes in your writing.
  • Live group chat sessions where participants can ask questions about this topic and the fiction writing industry in general.


  • Figuring out why you want to tell this particular story.
  • Finding key themes that set the tone of the story.
  • How to move from a big idea to the details of a well-thought-out plot.
  • Understand how genre affects reader expectations.
  • Thinking outside the square and come up with fresh ideas.
  • Develop characters with desperate desires and strong motivations.
  • Map character arcs so you take readers on a satisfying journey.
  • Map plot arcs so you know you are hitting the right plot points.
  • Build high stakes into the narrative.
  • Write a story summary to keep your story cohesive.
  • Bonus checklist of common plot pitfalls.


Sandy Vaile

Sandy Vaile is a motorbike-riding daredevil who isn’t content with a story unless there are a courageous heroine and a dead body. She writes romantic-suspense for Simon & Schuster US and empowers modern writers to produce novels they can be proud of (and that get noticed by agents and publishers).

Sandy is an experienced course presenter with a decade of experience in the industry, and prides herself on providing a nurturing learning environment that enables participants to truly absorb the material and apply it to their own work.

In her spare time, Sandy composes procedures for high-risk industrial processes, judges writing competitions, runs The Fearless Novelist Facebook group, and offers coaching and critiquing services.

Also connect with Sandy on Facebook and YouTube.




A fun class

July 14, 2023

Although I came to a full stop half way through this class due to my husband going into hospital, I still managed to get my through-line and once things settle down in my home life, I'll get back to my current WIP with more confidence. Sandy's feedback in this class was outstanding.

June Whyte

Heading in the right direction

June 30, 2023

Wow. This class is a game changer. All those creative story ideas floating around in my head now have a way to land on a page and head in the right direction, a compass to bring all those pieces together and take my reader on a wonderful journey.

Sandy provides great feedback and encouragement. I fully recommend this class.

Jane Petersen-Foret

Such a well-organized and fun class!

June 29, 2023

I used this class to work on revisions for a horribly messy first draft. I'm a pantser/discovery writer, which means my first drafts look like a 6-year-old wrote them. They go off on tangents and change direction and are frankly the stuff nightmares are made of. But going through the assignments in this class really helped me to see the book I wanted to write -- I now believe I can actually fix this mess into something readable. The handouts are easy to read and Sandy explains concepts in a way that really makes sense. Her assignments gave me clarity about my characters and the structure of my book. And the best part? Her feedback. She made some comments that were "DUH" moments for me. As in, "Duh. How could I have not seen that or thought of that?"

I can't wait to use this process on my other first drafts and to someday try it before writing a new book.

Rebecca Clark

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© 2024 Margie Lawson, all rights reserved.

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