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Plot 2: Machinations

Plot 1: Mechanics

Plot 1: Mechanics

Plot 1: Mechanics is an Intensive, meaning it happens in a short time span (1 day in NYC, or 2 days on Zoom, or 3 weeks Online). The course includes a mixture of lectures and exercises. It’s open to writers of any level. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

If you feel you’re solid with the basics of plot, you may go straight to Plot 2. If you’re in doubt about this, start with Plot 1; it will be valuable even if some of it is review.

Plot is the art of drawing them in, then delivering a sequence of events that grows progressively more interesting and culminates with a killer ending. A good plot is what most readers and audiences crave…and what most writers fear.

Whether you’re working on something true or completely made-up, short or long, we’ll show you how to craft a plot that keeps them rapt from beginning to middle to end.

Plot 1 teaches the basic mechanics of plotting, the things you can’t get far without, such as: desire driving the story, the beginning/middle/end structure, cause and effect, how characters determine which way the plot goes.

Plot 2 teaches the crafty machinations required for expert plotting: the techniques for twisting and turning, intriguing and dazzling, and, most of all, keeping people hooked until the breathtaking finish.

About Plot
Plot 1: Mechanics

Packed with great information!

Michelle Mahlik

instructor of philosophy


This is a cross-genre course, applicable to any kind of writing that contains storytelling, including nonfiction.

Upcoming Classes

To ensure everyone's good health, students in NYC classes must provide proof of full Covid vaccinations (the initial series of Covid vaccines plus at least one booster). We will accept your Covid vaccine card (or a digital scan), a NY State Excelsior digital card, or another form of government-approved proof. We will contact you before class begins about showing us proof. Masks are encouraged, but not required. We'll provide masks for those who need them.

More Covid details
  • Starts Tuesday, October 10
    Online, anytime
    3-Week Intensive
  • Starts Tuesday, November 7
    Online, anytime
    3-Week Intensive


Registration fee $25, paid once per term



This course gives an overview of the central mechanics of plotting, in any genre. Course components:
     Brief lectures
     Writing exercises

Week 1
The Search for Treasure: Plot introduced. Types of Plot—simple, complex, character-driven, plot-driven. Premise. Desire—goal, deeper desire, external obstacles, internal obstacles.

Week 2
Structure and Steps: Structure for simple and complex plots. Dividing a story into sections. Positive and negative swings. Cause and effect.

Week 3
Adding Depth: Character choice and change. Theme. Subplots. Plot strands. Point of view.

Each week students are provided with case studies of great stories, as well as notes on the working out of a from-scratch plot.

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.


Jason Greiff
Jason Greiff

Jason Greiff wrote the feature screenplay The Godparents, which was developed with Universal Studios and Marc Platt Productions. He has produced credits in children’s animation in China and Portugal, and has helped develop shows for Disney Asia and China’s largest media company CCTV. His screenplays have won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award, the Lew Wasserman Award for Best Comedy, and a national competition sponsored by the Writers Guild of America. He authored the chapter on Tone/Theme in Gotham’s book Writing Movies (Bloomsbury USA). He has taught at NYU. He holds a BA from SUNY Purchase and an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU/Tisch.

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