Margie Lawson

Make your writing soar


Virtues, Vices and Plots!

Characters are like people. Each of us has "good" traits, like courage and resilience and intelligence, but we also have traits that get us into trouble like foolhardiness, stubbornness, and too smart for our own good. Same with our characters. We create strong traits, on both sides of the spectrum, and watch as our characters stumble through the story.

But they don't need to stumble! We can harness those traits and direct them into strong, cohesive plots. Actually, nailing all those plot points and inciting incidents and black moments in the perfect place is like trying to scratch that hard-to-reach place on your back. But, once you know how it works, it's easy-peasy.

Whether you're starting a new book or editing an existing one, this course can help you put the "punch" in exactly the right place.

What you’ll learn:

  • Character archetypes and how to blend them into the story
  • Character traits – the good, the bad, and the ugly!
  • How we break our stories into eight equal parts – Three Act, Eight Scene structure
  • How to create a character arc that is an integral part of your story and is completely believable!
  • Find the perfect place to insert the perfect scene to drive the story forward

Who should take this course:

This is both a beginning and a master's course, usable on both levels, and can be used to develop a new story or rescue a finished one. 

Lesson Plan

Lesson One:

Overview of archetypes, character arcs, and character traits

Lesson Two:

Archetypes and how they create instant recognition in readers

Lesson Three:

Archetype traits – virtues and vices – and how to incorporate them in writing

Lesson Four:

How to create a story grid

Lesson Five (or Four, part two):

Continuation of story grid

Lesson Six:

Goal, Motivation, Conflict – the magic "three"

Lesson Seven:

Creating your own story grid

Lesson Eight:

Wrap up

Every lesson comes with reference material and homework assignments.


Sarah (Sally) Hamer

Sarah (Sally) Hamer is eternally fascinated by people and how they ‘tick’ and works hard to incorporate individual idiosyncrasies to create living, breathing characters in her many works of fiction. She writes in many genres – mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, medieval history, non-fiction – and has won awards at both local and national levels, including two Golden Heart finals.

A teacher of beginning and advanced creative fiction writing and screenwriting at Louisiana State University – S for over ten years, she also is a book coach, with many of her students and critique partners becoming successful, award-winning authors.




Learned so much about character motivation and character arcs as a way to move the story forward.

Rated 5.0 out of 5
August 11, 2022

I really loved Sarah's teaching style and how each lesson built on the previous lesson until you have a general plot for your story. This class is great for learning how to flesh out character motivation, helping you to plot your character arcs, culminating in using character arcs to plot your story.

Sarah makes herself accessible and makes it a point to give thorough feedback, I look forward to taking more of her classes.

Avatar for Irene

No Sagging Middle Here

Rated 5.0 out of 5
November 16, 2021

Having trouble with you plot, learning your characters motivation? This class is for you. Sarah is great at explaining GMC and helping to make sure you've thought about all possibilities to make your story the strongest.

Avatar for Megan Ganesh
Megan Ganesh

Characters and Plots made easy

Rated 5.0 out of 5
May 12, 2021

Sarah's class was perfectly paced to all students time to understand and complete homework. She was so attentive and supportive in answering questions. She gave us excellent resources that really brought characters to life and gave us an indepth approach to creating well developed characters. Each lesson builds upons each other to give a you completed outline plot of any novel. It was so much fun and gave a you clear understanding of your novel. Highly recommend this class!

Avatar for Jeri Hoag
Jeri Hoag

Transformed My Character Work

Rated 5.0 out of 5
May 3, 2021

Sarah's Virtues, Vices, & Plots course centers on creating powerful, conflict-motivated, understood characters with clear arcs, and it has been transformative for my writing process. Her approach to each character's traits, archetypes, internal conflict, and eventual change were explained thoroughly with workable assignments that asked the tough questions in a way my writer-brain needed them worded. Take this class!

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