top of page
  • brent

Novel Train

Okay, I need your help.

Three "asks" coming up.

Please send a quick email to with your responses.

I am creating an online course in how to write a market-ready fictional novel.


My intention is compile all of my formal and self-study learnings - from books, seminars, film school, discussions with other writers, and practical experiences with writing & publishing - and compile it into an easy-to-follow, non-boring, practical online learning course that can be purchased for a reasonable fee.

The course has 12 stages:

  1. Preamble (why this course?)

  2. Idea

  3. Structure

  4. Character

  5. Setting

  6. Conflict

  7. Refining

  8. Scene

  9. Tools

  10. Process

  11. Rewriting

  12. Polish

The arrangement is cumulative: from preparation to writing to re-writing.

There is a central analogy at the heart of this course, that of a train:

  • tracks are the laying down of plot / journey / structure;

  • railcars are the elements needed, assembled in the order best suiting the writer;

  • mighty engines are required to pull through this long, often arduous journey;

  • tunnels are, well, those dark days faced by all writers;

  • stations are key milestones along the way.

  • etc.

Getting up and running is often the hardest part. The principles of solid writing are connected and work together. Don't let your novel run away on you. This is a train-ing course, after all!

Oh, there's so much to that train analogy that works for writing a novel!


My approach is to bring material together in video format: me talking / walking through the material, images and text capturing the ideas, and captions at the bottom.

Here's a mock-up of the layout, with me looking my pandemic-best:

When I record the actual course, the background will be tidy, I will sport a clean dress shirt, and I will look dapper with a fresh haircut.

For now, look how I'm angled: as if I, too, were engaging with the text and graphics flitting in and out of the main area.

One thing it won't be is: boring.

Those subtitles at the top? Those are the major topics within each stage, and we move left-to-right through them, which also helps mark the time of the video.

I've seen plenty of online content where a person stands before a static background and speaks in a scripted way, using their hands to show their soft underbelly, talking at you.

The style I find most engaging is when the presenter works through the material with me - at first, these were found solely in computer-program learnings; but I've come to appreciate the intimacy of having someone in their natural habitat talking with you.

Ask #1:

Have you ever taken an online course? If so, what style of presentation do you prefer?

I'm currently toying with the idea of wearing my Corsair gaming headset with microphone, which makes me look like a pilot but is best for sound capture (i.e. less ambient room noise).

My wife, Wendy, isn't 100% convinced. She is usually right, but she hasn't outright scoffed at the idea.

If you forgive the background, glasses and scruffy beard-thingy, you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Ask #2:

"Yes" or "No" to the headset + microphone?

Production-wise, it will make the lessons more personable, less stiff, with clearer sound.

I like the notion of sharing in the journey - I'm at my computer hacking away; how about you?


Where to host it?

I've got my website and my production company, Lost Art Productions, has Don't go to the Lost Art one yet because, well, it's a skinny skeleton choking on a crust of bread. It ain't nearly ready yet.

I'm considering making a members-only component to the Lost Art site, behind which this entire course - and much more - will live.

The beauty of this approach is that I can add incredible material - members would have access to much more than these videos: writing tools, techniques, links, glossaries, articles and, possibly, a shared forum where people can post questions and get feedback from peers.

Or I could pay to have it sit on other platforms, video content only ... maybe a questionnaire or two ... and a place for comments from the course-takers.

Searches on Google provide myriad platforms to choose from; here are but a few:

I've taken a couple LinkedIn courses recently.

They were well done, content-wise, but that platform is best for professional + polished (read: stiff) styles. I'm looking to bring out the ol' Brently charm in my videos, which is likely less conducive to that forum.

Ask #3:

Which delivery method do you prefer for online courses?


Okay, since you've read this far, let me ask U one final Q:

Bonus Ask:

Would you or anyone you know be interested in this course? If so, at what price-point?

As mentioned above, if I set this course behind a "members only" gateway on the Lost Art Productions site, there will be so much more there - valuable extras, links, materials, etc. - to help writings on their journey. Dynamic and fun. Much more bang for the buck.

Thanks for your help!


18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page