Margie Lawson

Make your writing soar


Surfing through Story Structure and Character Development: An Introductory Class

What is Surfing through Story Structure and Character Development?

Beautiful words and exciting scenes aren't enough to propel the reader through a novel. Stories need a plan, a focus, a solid story structure and character development that's well-developed from beginning to end.

In this intro class, you’ll learn how to analyze examples from bestselling novels, movies, or TV shows. We’ll paddle together into the learning waves to uncover the versatility and strength of the basic Four-Part Story Structure and beginning Character Development. As the sun sets, you’ll have a collection of activities and techniques to help you hone your skills and understand what makes a book a bestseller.

You’ll receive feedback from the instructors, and often from other classmates, to aid in your understanding of the concepts.

Suiting up for Surfing, we’ll ask you to find a Creative Guide, in the form of a bestseller or other popular novels, movies, and TV series. With your Creative Guide in hand, you’ll dive in and learn how authors meet or exceed reader’s expectations.

Surfing is a discovery, exploration, and knowledge building class. You could compare your story idea with the elements of story structure and characters.

If you want to work more in-depth on your story, check out Story Structure Safari and Creating a Constellation of Characters.

Who should take this class?

Writers who have been floating around with a story idea, but the waters are murky on how to start or plan the story.

Writers at any level who thirst to learn why great stories capture their attention.

So much can wipe you out in creating and completing compelling stories, so we welcome writers at all levels and will meet you where you are in the writing and learning process.

In general Surfing is for those who want to:

  • understand how your favorite stories created complex, authentic characters that captured readers, whether the characters were loved or despised.
  • diversify their characters, understand what makes stories so powerful, and hold reader interest while exceeding reader expectations.
  • learn new techniques to analyze characters in bestselling works and award-winning shows and be able to apply that new knowledge to their writing.
  • learn more about character creation, character development, and story structure.
  • write more quickly by identifying character’s contrasts, conflicts, and relationships.
  • avoid tangents, redundancies, and wasted scenes by concentrating on the scenes that advance the character arcs.

What you’ll learn:

  • How to identify fundamental elements of story structure using best-selling novels, movies or TV series.
  • How to identify fundamental elements of character development using best-selling novels, movies or TV series.
  • Story Genre
  • Identifying 4 Zone Structure and Basic Landmarks of a Story.
  • How to compare your Creative Guide’s Protagonist to the archetype character in each zone and find examples in the Guide.
  • Identifying Admired, Despised, and Memorable Characters in Literature, Movies, and TV Shows.
  • How to identify the Brightest Star or Protagonist.
  • Identifying elements of a Fleshed-Out Character.
  • Exploring how to build a Community in a story by identifying places and people who populate the story.
  • Exploring and identifying Character Relationships.
  • Exploring and identifying Antagonists and the Villain.

Ready to hit the waves and learn more? Jump in; the water is perfect.


Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller retired from teaching and counseling after 30 years. While she loved writing YA fiction, she has been drawn back into teaching. Not always finding the writing classes she needed; Lisa scoured the internet and how-to books for self-instruction. She funneled that knowledge into the creation of the Story Structure Safari class and merged it with her master teaching skills and experience with different learning styles. This is her ninth year to teach the class and she continues to update materials and expand her knowledge to best meet writer needs.




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