30-day outline workshop
LIVE on Zoom

Begins October 18th, 2023


The 30-Day Outline is a Live-on-Zoom workshop with Alan Watt that will take you from initial idea to the completion of a solid outline in 5 weeks.

"Story structure is not a formula, it's an immutable paradigm that holds within it the DNA of your protagonist's transformation."


The challenge in outlining a novel, memoir, or screenplay lies in marrying the wildness of your imagination to the rigor of story structure. There is no formula to creating an outline, but there is craft involved.

In this five-week workshop, you will discover a process of connecting to the primal forces in your characters to reveal plot. Through this process, you'll discover the foundational elements that will help you to unlock the story within. The workshop includes lecture, stream-of-consciousness writing exercises, and structure questions designed to help you build a compelling narrative. We will watch clips from popular films and review scenes from works of memoir and fiction to illustrate the principles.

WHEN: Wednesdays, Oct. 18th, Oct. 25th, Nov. 1st, Nov. 8th, and Nov. 15th 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. (Pacific Time)

WHERE: Live on Zoom with Alan Watt

about the workshop

live on zoom - Alan Watt teaching an online writing class at his computer office books behind him

We meet once a week LIVE on Zoom from 10-12 pm Pacific Time, for 5 consecutive weeks. Each class is followed by a live Q&A to answer any questions that emerge.

The workshop involves lecture, writing exercises, film clips, and working one-on-one with writers to illustrate the principles.

Each Zoom workshop is recorded. You will receive a link to rewatch the workshop as often as you wish for up to three weeks after the last class.

Over the course of the 5-week workshop, I offer one-on-one story consultations where you can send me your three-page outline and I review it, make notes, and go over it with you in a one-hour consult to explore the most dynamic and compelling way to tell your story before you begin your first draft. There is an additional cost and a limited number of spots for this service.

one-on-one story consults - Alan Watt standing by an open door smiling

course breakdown

Week OneUnlock the Story Within
Through a series of exercises, each writer will connect to the protagonist’s dilemma at the heart of the story. The dilemma is the source of the story from which all tension and conflict arise. We will explore your protagonist’s wants and needs, uncover their transformation at the climax, and discover why you are uniquely qualified to tell this story.

Week TwoAct One/Thesis
We will take a close look at the first act of your story. Through lecture, discussion, and one-on-one work, we will cover the five key stages in your protagonist’s journey, from Inciting Incident to Opposing Argument to the Decision that propels your protagonist into the second act.

Week ThreeAct Two/Antithesis
In this workshop, we will explore the four key stages that your protagonist goes through: 1) False Hope, 2) Temptation, 3) Suffering, and 4) Surrender.

Week FourAct Three/Synthesis
In this workshop we will explore the final four stages in your protagonist’s journey from
1) Accepting Reality to 2) Taking Action to 3) Battle Scene and finally 4) New Equilibrium

Week Five Completing Your Outline
In this workshop we will integrate the material covered in the previous four weeks and deepen our relationship to the process of marrying the wildness of your imagination to the rigor of story structure.

meet your teacher Alan Watt

alan watt standing in front of an L.A. Hillside smiling, hand in pocket

Hi, I'm Al. They call me the Writer Whisperer.

I'm the L.A. Times bestselling author of the novels, Diamond Dogs and Days Are Gone, and the recipient of the American Library Association's Alex Award, a Book Sense Pick, a New York Time's New and Noteworthy book pick, and winner of France's Prix Printemps for best foreign novel of the year. Along with the national bestseller, The 90-Day Novel®, (Amazon's #1 book on writing for five months) the lab has published five other books on writing. I teach a process of marrying the wildness of your imagination to the rigor of structure, and my students span the range from first-time writers to best-selling authors and filmmakers who've won numerous accolades for their work including the Pulitzer Prize.

I’m also the writer/director of the independent feature, Eddie, Kill the President (formerly Interior Night), which won four best feature awards at U.S. film festivals as well as The Boston Film Festival's Filmmaker Visionary Award. Oh, I also had a small part on Seinfeld back in the 90s when I had a thick lustrous head of chestnut hair. It's the Chinese gum episode. I'm the movie theater vendor who sells Kramer the vile hotdog.

American Horror Story

“I cannot recommend Al highly enough. He's my guy. If you take your career seriously, make him yours.”
Jessica Sharzer, Screenwriter, A Simple Favor, Co-Executive Producer, American Horror Story

Gathering Lights

“I already had an MFA and I teach and direct a college creative writing program, but I really didn’t have an organic understanding of story. Al’s ability to merge intuition and structure is unique and invaluable. I was able to work through my outline-phobia because of the way he approached structure as a holistic approach, rather than a rigid box. Al encourages the writer to live within the questions of the story, not the answers.”
Laraine Herring, Author of Gathering Lights, Winner of the Barbara Deming Award for Women


“As I had already completed the first draft of my novel, I wasn't sure if I'd learn much on this course, but I could not have been more wrong! I now feel much better equipped to get to the core of what my story is 'really' about and to make that the focus of the second draft. Al is a gifted, humane, experienced, humble and utterly relatable teacher and, whether you are a new writer or an experienced one, offers so much insight to the writing process. Highly recommended.”
Jody Day, Author of Living The Life Unexpected

Mirror in the sky book cover

“I seriously didn’t think getting published could be a reality until I took your workshop!”
Aditi Khorana, Author of Mirror in the Sky, Razorbill, Penguin Books


“Al Watt is a master teacher, with a brilliant, intuitive understanding of story.”
Allen Zadoff, Author of The Unknown Assassin series, Little Brown

Winnipeg Free Press

“Watt is a superb storyteller with an amazing ability to create suspense… fascinating and elaborate characters… multi-layered, complex and tragically realistic.”
Winnipeg Free Press

Andrew Lampl

“Al Watt delivers the most concise, most graspable breakdown of story structure that I've ever heard.”
Andrew J. Lampl, Playwright, The Van Gogh Cafe

The globe and the mail

“Watt has an assured talent for complex narrative.”
The Globe and The Mail

Anita Santiago Advertising

“Alan is the best writing instructor on the planet. He shines a light and steps out of the way. He honors the creative process and he respects the writer's soul. He is insightful and caring and generous. I feel lucky to have crossed paths with such an inspiring person.”
Anita Santiago

join the 30-day outline

Registration - $400 | Current Student Discount - $325 until Oct. 4th