Up next:
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

A must to develop a great framework for storytelling.

Tom Crouser



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

Upcoming Classes

Masks are not required, but we’ll provide masks for those who want them. We are no longer requesting proof of vaccination.

More Covid details
  • Starts Tuesday, August 13
    Online, anytime
    3-Week Intensive
  • Starts Tuesday, September 10
    Online, anytime
    3-Week Intensive
  • Starts Tuesday, October 8
    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:
     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.


Tommy Jenkins
Tommy Jenkins

Tommy Jenkins wrote the short film "Come Back to the Five and Dime Buster Keaton, Buster Keaton," which won Best Comedy at the Polo Ralph Lauren/New Line Columbia Film Festival, and his short film "Obit" has been screened at several film festivals. He authored a chapter on Plot in Gotham's book Writing Movies (Bloomsbury USA), and he is the author of Movie Trivia Quiz Book and The TV Trivia Book (Barnes & Noble). He is also the author of the graphic novel Drawing the Vote (Abrams ComicArts). He has taught at Columbia University and Louisburg College. He holds a BA from UNC at Chapel Hill and an MFA in Film from Columbia University.

Read more