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Second Chances: “Plotting Your Novel in Three Acts” with Amy Gentry RECORDING

November 15, 2023 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM CST



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NOTE: This is not a live class registration. When you register, you’ll be receiving access to a previously recorded class taught for a live audience. Registration includes access to any handouts, readings, and slides the instructor originally shared with students. The video will be available for viewing immediately upon purchase (attached to the emailed receipt), and will expire on April 30, 2024.

If you’ve read a novel written in the past 200 years (not to mention seen a movie), chances are you’ve already internalized 3-act structure. But are you deploying it effectively in your own work?

Novels written without a strong understanding of 3-act structure often feel disjointed, saggy in the middle, or lacking in focus. Others never get finished at all! Some writers worry that 3-act structure will make their novels “formulaic.” But plot is the grammar of story, and studying 3-act structure is like learning to identify the noun and the verb in a complete sentence.

The key to using it to strengthen a novel without flattening it out is understanding the relationships between the basic story beats (aka plot points). Once you’ve internalized these relationships, you can use them to diagnose issues with pacing and character, as well as untangling your plot. The best part? With a solid understanding of 3-act structure, you can often find solutions to these problems, already buried in your story.

Using a modified version of the Save the Cat! Beat Sheet as a jumping off point, this class will focus on understanding story structure, strengthening the relationships between story beats, and harnessing the infinite flexibility of 3-act structure to plot your novel.


  • You have a great idea for a novel, but aren’t sure how to get started.
  • You’ve hit the 50-page mark and don’t know where to go from here.
  • You’re two-thirds into a draft, and you suddenly feel like giving up.
  • You’ve finished a novel draft, but something just isn’t working!
  • Your novel, genre or literary, has pacing issues.
  • You know the basics of 3-act structure, and you want to brush up/go deeper/apply them to your novel.


Amy Gentry headshotAmy Gentry is the bestselling author of the thrillers Good as Gone, Last Woman Standing, and Bad Habits, as well as a book of music criticism, Tori Amos's Boys for Pele, for Bloomsbury Press's 33 1/3 series. Her reviews and essays have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Paris Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Salon.com, Texas Monthly, Austin Chronicle, The Best Food Writing of 2014, and many other outlets. She holds a PhD in English and is a teacher and book coach in Austin, Texas.

Before purchasing, please read all policies as noted below and on our Classes page.

If your browser has difficulty with our website store, or if you prefer to mail in a check, click here for a class registration form. The document provides instructions on where to mail it. If you prefer this option, please email wlt@writersleague.org with a copy of the form as well to ensure we add you to the class roster as soon as possible.

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Confirm you are logged into your account first and foremost. The member price will only appear when you are logged into your account and have an active membership on file. If you are having trouble accessing your account, please email member@writersleague.org and explain the situation.

Class & Event Registration Policy

Once a purchase has been made, registrations are not refundable and cannot be transferred to a different class or event. No exceptions will be made. If you purchase a registration and then find you cannot attend the class or event, someone else can attend in your stead. Simply contact us at wlt@writersleague.org and let us know the name and contact information for the person who will be using the registration so that we can update the class or event roster.

Accessibility Policy

Closed captioning is available for all online classes and special events.

The WLT is committed to making its programs & services accessible to all writers. Please contact us at wlt@writersleague.org or at 512-499-8914 for more information or to discuss accommodations you may need.

Credit Card Transaction Handling Fee Policy

All credit card transactions will incur a 4% handling fee. If you’d prefer to pay by check for membership, a class, or an event, you can use the provided forms on the membership or event pages and mail to: WLT, P.O. Box 14355, Austin, TX, 78704.


Our classes offer a combination of lecture and practical exercises, determined by the individual instructor, on focused aspects of the craft and business of writing. Your fellow participants will come from a range of writing experience, from beginners to people with MFA degrees and published books. WLT instructors, participants, and administrators all work together to create a welcoming, supportive environment.

If you haven’t taken a class with us in recent years, feel free to email the WLT staff at wlt@writersleague.org if you’d like to discuss whether our programming is the right fit for your needs.


Once you register for the class, you’ll receive an email with detailed instructions no later than 48 hours before the class date. You should expect 2-2.5 hours of direct teaching and 30 minutes of Q&A (for three hours total). If you need to leave the class early or can’t attend the class on that date, all registrants will have access to the recording for one month after the class date. No microphone or camera required, just an Internet connection capable of streaming video. All online classes are hosted on Zoom. To learn more about how Zoom works, click HERE. 

Plan to log in to the online platform an hour before the class so that you can update your software or any other settings required to access the platform. (Updates usually only take a few minutes, but you don’t want to wait until the beginning of class.) Questions? Email us at wlt@writersleague.org.

Cultural Arts City of Austin

This project is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department. Visit Austin at NowPlayingAustin.com.

Texas Commission on the Arts

Writers’ League of Texas classes and workshops are also funded in part by the Texas Commission on the Arts – Investing in a Creative Texas. For more information, go to www.arts.texas.gov.

National Endowment for the Arts

This project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. To find out more about how National Endowment for the Arts grants impact individuals and communities, visit www.arts.gov.

Mid-America Arts Alliance

This project is supported in part by the Mid-America Arts Alliance. For more information, go to www.maaa.org.


November 15, 2023
6:30 PM - 9:30 PM CST
Event Categories:


Online via Zoom