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Featured Online Writing Class

WRITING YOUR NOVEL FROM THE GROUND UP: How to Build Your Story While Building Yourself as a Writer for Long-Term Success–In Two Parts by Diane O’Connell & Renate Reimann, PhD


DURATION:  8 weeks for each part, 16 weeks for the entire class

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  What prevents writers from completing their novels? Chances are they have not put in place the structures necessary for success, both in the process of constructing a story and in setting up their lives in support of their writing goals. Writing a novel is like building a house: you need to start with a vision and a clear blueprint, then construct it from the inside out. This class will help you learn techniques to write your novel effortlessly, as well as to overcome the personal obstacles that may block you from completing your manuscript.

Expert editor and book crafting coach Diane O’Connell will teach you how to create a solid foundation and reliable structures for your story. Productivity coach Renate Reimann, PhD, will guide you in restructuring your life in support of your writing, as well as overcoming fears and self-doubt that could stand in the way of your success as an author.

This class is designed for you to jump in wherever you are in the process. If you are just beginning your story, or have gotten stuck partway through, start with Part I, “Your Story Blueprint.” If you have the story arc and characters firmly in place, then Part II, “Completing Your Draft” would be a perfect place to begin.

For the Class:

Before this class I knew I had a story to tell. Now I know what it takes to actually put it to paper, both concrete ways to craft a novel that works as well as how to find the time and space in my life to commit to it. Diane was supportive and honest. Renate was always encouraging, reminding me that I’m not a victim of my life. I can make small tweaks to make this novel happen. Thanks again for a wonderful class! ~ Corinne Mahoney

This course helped me learn to provide more structure to my writing projects and greatly helped me gain momentum towards completing my novel. Diane has the ability to give specific feedback that can totally transform the work. Renate is incredibly positive and supportive. The lessons added greatly to my general self-awareness as a writer and as a person. I found the entire class very motivating. I would urge anyone interested in writing a novel to go for it! You will not be disappointed. ~ Natalie Watkins

I just wanted to say I am loving the mini draft process. I have the bones of the scenes down and can clearly see where the flesh is just not going to stick. Things that have seemed obvious to me in the past now beg for support and clarification. ~ Berta Rosenberg

Here’s what I got from this course:

Organization. First time since I have started this book that I have felt that I am putting together a framework that will lead to The End.

Liberation. The scene stack doesn’t mean that I would squash any creativity about going where the muse leads. Instead it offers me a structure on which to let my imagination soar. It also points out where there are some weaknesses. The process helped me realize that some of what I had already written was too easy for the characters, and all was sweetness and light. The cards helped me focus on the conflict, showed room to grow, and greatly helped with the pacing.

Now that I know about this novel-writing process, I feel like I will finally stop wandering in the wilderness, writing one scene after another, with no end in sight. ~ Katherine Rapp

For Diane O’Connell:

One of the great things about working with Diane is her obvious love of writing—the whole process, reading, editing, publishing. This combines with her actual experience in the field to give you a tremendous certainty that she speaks the truth. If she says the writing is good, then you know she is not just buttering you up. If she says it is not working you know she is probably right—and follows this with invaluable editing guidance delivered in a very positive way. She is the real deal. I can state categorically that my first novel would never have been published without Diane. ~ Cody McFadyen, author of Abandoned, The Darker Side, The Face of Death and Shadow Man (Bantam)

Though I’m a published author, I still can’t learn enough from Diane O’Connell. She coached me through my first book and I found that her knowledge of writing craft is amazing. I love her class on “Mastering Point of View,” which has steered my writing to have more impact than I would have thought possible. I recommend Diane and her classes whenever I can. ~ Lucinda D. Schroeder, author of A Hunt for Justice (Falcon Press)

It has been a pleasure working with Diane! She challenged me to see beyond the words on a page and into the eyes of my characters. Every step of the way, she was always there for me and provided helpful and honest insight. I feel honored to have worked with her. ~ Erica Negi, author of My Life in Loubies (Crane Lake)

For Renate Reimann:

Working with Renate is extremely valuable. The accountability and encouragement keeps me on track towards joyfully living the best version of my life. I have concrete strategies for walking, with joy, down the path to my dreams. She is both extremely skilled and compassionate. I highly recommend her services to anyone interested in reaching their potential while fully living their life. ~ Natalie Watkins, San Antonio, TX

My most apparent growth as a writer was setting up a writing routine and honoring it. Renate helped me by identifying how I was giving it up and not sticking to my schedule. I now ‘work’ as in write from 8:00am to 1:00pm Monday through Friday. ~ V. Sonne, Globe, AZ

I was impressed with the ease with which Renate facilitated our conversations, the fresh ideas and approaches we uncovered, and the way she helped me structure the execution of these approaches. I continue to engage Renate to coach me through other projects, and strongly endorse her services. ~ Patrick Dail, Borough of Manhattan Community College, New York, NY


PART I: Your Story Blueprint (September 17 – November 12, 2013)

Do you have this awesome idea for a novel but don’t really know where to start? Are you clear on your main character but the story still is nebulous or vice versa? If you are at that all crucial early stage of your novel, this class will lead you from clarifying your ideas to finishing a story blueprint.

Along the way you will also create a blueprint for your writing life: what you want to achieve exactly, when and where to write and how to face your anxieties about writing.

Included will be three 30-minute individual phone coaching sessions: two with Renate and one with Diane (a $450 value).

Week 1: Creating the Vision
Before you begin to write your novel, you must first ask yourself, “What is it about?” Through a series of questions and exercises, this crucial first step will help you understand the difference between plot and story. Once you zero in on the deeper meaning of your story your writing becomes more focused and your story will flow in an organized way. You’ll also learn the importance of setting and how it plays a role in your story.

Objectives: Detail the world of your story and write the “flap copy” for your novel.

Week 2: Define Writing Your Novel as a SMART Goal
Not only does the novel need a vision, you need to re-envision your life to make it happen. For best results, you have to clearly formulate your goal, commit to it and make it an integral part of your daily life. This lesson will guide you to effectively define your goal of writing a novel.

Objectives: Create your SMART goal and supporting affirmations.

Week 3: Drawing up a Blueprint
The most successful novels have vividly drawn characters with rich inner lives. But how do you get there? By getting to know everything about your characters: their culture, their history, how they got to this place in your novel, and what drives them. You’ll also devise a clear journey for your main character.

Objective: Create a Character Blueprint for each of your main characters and Journey Map for your main character.

Week 4: How to Make Writing Part of Your Daily Life
Now that your goal is in place, let’s see how you can fit consistent writing time into your life. Because our needs and patterns vary, each writer needs to develop a customized time management strategy that fits her circumstances. This week you will devise a plan to make writing a regular part of your life.

Objectives: Keep a time log and devise a writing plan.

Week 5: Building the Foundation
Now that you have a clear idea what and who your novel is going to be about, you need to build the foundation upon which to put your characters. What do your main characters want? What’s getting in their way? What are the key moments in the story? This lesson will help you build a solid plot progression.

Objective: Create a Story Blueprint

Week 6: How to Set Up Your Writing Space
In addition to making time for writing, your actual physical writing process also needs to be anchored in a supportive environment. In this class you will learn how to organize your space for greater productivity.

Objective: Set up your writing space.

Week 7: Create a Story Timeline
Now that you have your key moments in place, it’s time to fill in the spaces between—those scenes that either lead up to or lead away from those moments. In this lesson we will talk about how to create the scaffolding upon which to hang your scenes.

Objective: Create a Scene Stack and synopsis of your novel.

Week 8: Turn Fear into Creativity
At this stage, you might start to feel fear kicking in because you are actually working on your novel. The doubts that have held you back in the past make their comeback or awe-inspiring new worries emerge. This class will give you ideas of how to channel those fears to fuel your creativity.

Objective: Write a scene in which your main character overcomes fear in inspirational ways.

PART II: Completing Your Draft (January 14 – March 11, 2014)

When you have the basic story in place and your main characters mapped out, it’s time to put together an early draft. In Part II of Writing Your Novel from the Ground Up writing coach Diane O’Connell guides you from creating a mini-draft to completing a draft of your entire novel.

Productivity coach Renate Reimann, PhD, will teach you how to keep the momentum going and avoid the pitfalls of self-sabotage. In addition, you will create a timeline for your novel and reclaim the writer within and without.

Included will be three 30-minute individual phone coaching sessions: two with Renate, and one with Diane (a $450 value).

Week 1: Create a Mini-Draft
The Mini Draft is your story in miniature—essentially a stripped-down version of your novel. It contains everything that happens—but without the art and style. The Mini Draft is akin to laying in all the “guts” of the house: the plumbing, electricity, insulation, etc. It’s not pretty—and it’s pretty arduous to do, but it’s absolutely vital to building a functional house.

Think of this step as a final way for you to lay out the bare bones of your plot before you get caught up in the flashy stuff: flowery descriptions, dialogue, etc. We’ll get into exactly how to do this later in this lesson.

Objective: Start writing the Mini Draft of your novel.

Week 2: Create a Novel Timeline
Deadlines motivate. Writing a novel takes months if not years. How can you stay on track? This week you will create a novel timeline with meaningful milestones and precise deadlines.

Objective: Decide on a timeline for writing your novel.

Week 3: Creating the Passion Draft
Just as the Mini Draft is the bare bones framework of your novel, the passion draft is everything else: the emotion, description, internal dialogue, metaphor, simile. This draft contains everything you want to convey in your scene; it’s the scene written from your heart. In this draft you will pour out the effect you want each scene to have on your reader—the fear you want to convey in a ghost story, the anger from a betrayal, the heartbreak of a loss, the embarrassment of being caught in a lie, the wonder of a discovery, the flush of new love.

Objective: Create the Passion Draft of your novel.

Week 4: Self-Sabotage—How to Recognize, Counter, and Defeat It
You are almost there . . . and then it happens—self-sabotage. Very often it is a way of handling stress that backfires. This session focuses on realizing when you undermine yourself and increase your ability to manage pressure.

Objective: Identify self-sabotaging behavior, including perfectionism, and replace it with self-nurturing.

Week 5: Putting It Together
You now have separate drafts of your novel: the Mini Draft and the Passion Draft. The next step is to merge the two to arrive at a more complete draft. This lesson will show you how to do that most effectively.

Objective: Create a first Whole Draft.

Week 6: What Makes you a Writer?
Many of us have been told that writing a novel is not a “real job” or that being an artist is not for you. In this class, you will develop strategies to reclaim the writer within and without.

Objective: Writer’s Statement.

Week 7: Creating the Texture Draft
You now have a complete first draft, but no doubt it feels like there’s something missing. This week, you will go back into your draft and add in those smaller details that truly make your scenes come alive.

Objective: Fully realize each scene in your novel to complete a Refined First Draft.

Week 8: Finishing and Letting Go
Despite our desire to finish the novel and get recognized for our accomplishment, it can be surprisingly difficult to let go. What if it is not perfect or critics won’t like it? It’s time to confront your fears and celebrate the benefits of finishing.

Objective: Prepare yourself for sending your finished novel into the world.

Materials needed: You will need a computer with Internet service, e-mail address, and ability to sign-up for a Google account.

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTORS:  Diane O’Connell has been a New York publishing professional for 25 years and has worked as an editor at some of the top publishing houses, including Random House. Since forming Write to Sell Your Book, LLC, she has helped dozens of writers become published authors—including a first-time novelist who got a $500,000 two-book contract from Bantam after working with her. Diane is also the author of five traditionally published books, including the groundbreaking, critically acclaimed Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths, which was the subject of a 20/20 report by John Stossel.

A passionate writing coach, teacher, as well as editor, Diane is also the instructor of WOW! Women on Writing’s Mastering Point of View.

Renate Reimann, PhD, is the founder of FreshLife Coaching and a Certified Life Coach. She developed the Beyond Procrastination™ Coaching System to help her clients jump-start important projects and changes. This system is especially effective for writers.

Teaching is one of Renate’s passions. As a sociology professor, she has taught at Hamilton College as well as at Queens College and Brooklyn College in New York City.

A published author herself, Renate understands the rigors of the writing process. She is currently working on a book on overcoming procrastination and new educational audio and video resources for improving productivity while increasing work/life balance.

Renate holds a Certificate in Personal and Life Coaching from New York University and a Ph.D. in Sociology from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She lives in New York City and works with clients all over the world.

COST: $495 per class; $895 for both ($95 savings), which includes weekly lessons that come direct to your e-mail box and 3 private phone coaching sessions per class—one from Diane and two from Renate—via telephone.

BONUS: Free downloads of Renate’s latest audiobook, Move Beyond Procrastination and Get Things Done! (which includes a PDF workbook), and Diane’s e-book: 50 Ways to Avoid the Rejection Pile.

BUY NOW:  WRITING YOUR NOVEL FROM THE GROUND UP: How to Build Your Story While Building Yourself as a Writer for Long-Term Success—in Two Parts by Diane O’Connell & Renate Reimann. 8 weeks for each part or 16 weeks for the entire class, starting 9/17/2013 (Part I), and 1/14/2014 (Part II). Class size is strictly limited to 10 students. Early registration is recommended.


PART I: Your Story Blueprint (September 17 – November 12, 2013)

Part I is now closed. Please check here for our current schedule.


Part II: Completing Your Draft (January 14 – March 11, 2014)

Part II is now closed. Please check here for our current schedule.


PART I & II (Save $95!) (Part I: September 17 – November 12, 2013 and Part II: January 14 – March 11, 2014)

The two-part session discount is now closed. Please check here for our current schedule.

Notes: Upon successful completion of payment, your name, email address, and contact info will be submitted to your instructor. She will contact you with details on how to get started.

Questions? Email Marcia & Angela at:


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